Category Archives: Life style

Travel, wander, gone! Travel around the world without taking a single plane!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 25th April 2014

Photography:  © Ayack

One of the great things when you work your way around is that you meet fascinating people and one of them is my good friend Ayack. I met Ayack when I was working in Tulamben, north east of Bali island in Indonesia. Ayack journey is full of adventures, life changing encounters and wild experiences.

It all started in Ireland in 2006, after an Erasmus exchange that was to seal Ayacks thirst for new horizons. After this successful exchange, Ayack set its sail to East Africa where he completed a Masters in Geography and Urban Management and Development studies. Stepping out of his comfort zone and facing racism, Ayack managed to adapt pretty well, stood up to the challenge and successfully completed his masters. The logical next step after this was for him to go on to a Doctorate but he decided to decline the student grant and to take off for the world instead!  And this, without taking a single plane!

Photography:  © Ayack So what was your main motivation when you decided not to take a single plane?

-        I didn’t want to go for the «easy way around» and I wanted to keep my carbon footprint to a strict minimum. But above all, I wanted to give Time back to Space. I wanted to set myself in a purely geographical approach, as Geography is the encounter of Time and Space. I wanted to follow the approach of these Arabic Geographers who used to move around the geographical limits of the Land such as Muhammad al-Idrisi or Ibn Hawqal. I also wanted to escape France and its never-ending crisis.

How long did you think it would take you?

-        2 years maybe 3. It actually took 5 years.

How many countries did your travel through?

-        About 40 but I didn’t really count.

Did you take anything particular with you in your travels?

-        Yes, I took Purification Tablets (Potassium Permanganate) to purify water as I didn’t want to buy plastic bottles. I also brought a machete and a harpoon but these were confiscated by the American customs. Actually, I got more stuff taken away from me by authorities than thieves!

What challenges did you face during your travels?

-        In Colombia, 300 grams of cocaine were placed in my bag whilst I was going through a body search. I had to argument with the guys for a few hours not to get arrested. In the Bahamas, I was fishing with a Hawaiian sling and I got chased by two huge bull sharks quite obviously interested by the fish I had caught, so I let go of the fish and saw the two bull sharks feasting on it. I didn’t hang around too long after that and went back onto the boat.

-        When I was crossing Kyrgyzstan with a couple of horses, we went through an area ridden with horse flies that were harassing the horses quite badly. At some point, the horses totally flipped out and started galloping away quite frenetically. In the process I fell off together with most of my equipment for camp. I managed to gather most of it back and set off running after the horses. I was quite conscious that I was in the middle of the wilderness and that without the horses I could en up stranded there. I found myself confronted with myself and I was on the verge of flipping out just like the horses had done. I had 2 ways to react: give up or keep going so I just started running in the same direction the horses took and after about a mile, they were within sight again! I knew that eventually, they would stop running but I didn’t know when!

Photography:  © Ayack

Have you travelled through all the oceans?

-        I have not crossed the Indian Ocean but I have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 5 months and the Pacific Ocean in a year and a half. I took 2 boats from Panama to Tahiti and then Tahiti to New Zealand with the Infinity crew.

Did you travel through the Amazon?

-        Yes, I travelled through the mighty river, which brings life there and saw breath-taking red blood sunsets over the jungle. I also crossed through El Mirador in Guatemala.

What are the strongest moments of your 5 years travels around the world?

-        Moments in the wild, the Mayans Pyramids over the canopy, the volcano of Tambora, storms in the Strait of Gibraltar, the horses running away in the Himalayan foothills, the Australian desert and its bush fires.

What would you say the travels have brought you?

-        Naivety, innocence, suspicion and a definite will to keep a certain capacity to stay enchanted by new horizons and the immense beauty of this world.

©AYACK All Rights Reserved

Petitions: do they really work and how?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 7th April 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

The straight answer to this question is yes, petitions do work!

Successful petitions put pressure on corporations, governments and other local authorities.

How? By helping information circulate in an unbiased way, petitions keep people informed of what is going on and help spread the word on particular aspects of information that may not be covered by the mainstream medias. The great thing about petitions and particularly about online petitioning or e-petitioning is that it makes it very easy for people to do something about a cause they may have at heart to defend and to force groups or institutions who may not want to hear to actually listen to people’s opinion.

How does the petition process work exactly? To create an e-petition it’s very simple; you can go on different online petition websites such as www.avaaz.org , www.care2.com , www.change.org  and many others. Should you want to find a petition site in your country, you just need to search for the petition in your own language in Google and you find many in your own language or related to your country. Before creating a petition, make sure that there is not one already existing which defends the same cause.

Some people think that signing e-petitions will not make any difference in the great scheme of things, well, they are simply wrong and I am going to give you some examples showing that in a couple of clicks and less than a minute people can make a positive difference in society. Of course, I am not talking about “all heroic happy-ending” unrealistic scenarios like “petitions-will-save-the-world” type of scenarios, I am saying that thanks to e-petitions, people can easily gather as a powerful group of individuals whose voices and opinions cannot be ignored by institutions.

In the UK for instance, when an e-petition reaches 100 000 signatures, the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee receives a notification from the Leader of the House of Commons (Parliament) about the petition which is then taken into consideration and discussed during the weekly hearing of MPs representations. MP’s have to make the case for the e-petition consideration.

Here are a few examples of successful outcomes thanks to e-petitions:

In December last year, thanks to a WWF[1] “I Will If You Will” campaign for Earth Hour 2012 which gathered the voices of 120,000 Russians and presented it to the government, the Russian Parliament voted a long-awaited law to protect the country’s seas from oil pollution.

On March 8th 2013 the California Coastal Commission (CCC)[2] who heard people’s outcry and petitions voted unanimously to reject the US Navy’s request to maintain military testing, sonar and bomb deployments throughout Southern California, Hawaii, Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast. Many dolphins and whales have been killed already but should the CCC have approved the maintenance of the Navy’s project, millions of cetaceans would have been killed in the next 5 years so this is a prime example of how efficient petitioning helped towards life preservation of numerable cetaceans.

In his very comprehensive article “Slacktivism: Why Snopes got it Wrong About Internet Petitions”[3] Randy Paynter gives a few good examples of how petitions can make a positive difference like the striking story of independent journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who were imprisoned in North Korea, charged with grave crimes against the state, and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. As Randy Paynter relates, “Their friends and family created petitions on “Care2” to raise awareness and call on North Korea to free the women. Close to 90,000 people signed these petitions, helping to keep the story in the national spotlight for months and eventually former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea and negotiated Laura and Euna’s release”.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/slacktivism-why-snopes-got-it-wrong-about-internet-petitions.html#ixzz2PagpvGwg

I personally sign about 2 to 3 petitions a day on average because this is a great way to help causes and raise awareness about things that are happening in the world and that people may not know about, because people don’t necessarily have the time to get informed or simply because some issues receive very low mainstream media coverage. So, if like me, you care about justice and want to get involved, then, think about petitioning as a first easy step to make a positive difference!

To conclude, I will cite Margaret Mead’s famous words:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I will finish with a petition working towards Nature and Ocean Conservation which mainly pleads to ban non-biodegradable packaging for food which would help reducing the dramatic impact of plastic on nature and a whole array of animals and especially aquatic life:

http://signon.org/sign/ban-non-biodegradable.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=1333790

Many thanks.

Angelina Cecchetto

 

Nature vs “Civilization”, do we have to choose?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 30th January 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

Nature versus culture or “civilization” could be a philosophical topic for many philosophy students. For me it is a question that sits at the core of my life decisions, choices and directions. Some people may call this dichotomy or life dilemma. I call it simply having options.

When I made some 360 degrees life and career changes going from capital city life to natural heavens the people closest to me at the time thought I was mad because this implied major salary cuts. It so happened that a few years later I happened to have tripled the salary I had prior to change, so somehow something about the “crazy” life and career changes I had done was right.

We all have the choice to live different lives and in different countries but many people are scared of the unknown and because of this they keep living a life that doesn’t necessarily fulfill their needs. They keep living it for the sake of what I would call “fitting expectations” may these expectations be family, economically or socially based. From what I have seen, generally people who do that end up banging their heads against the walls sooner or later.

I truly believe that change can make us better and more adaptable so people shouldn’t be scared by complete changeovers. The important is to believe in yourself, do what is most important for you and think outside the “mainstream box” that society tries to mold us into.

Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do from a young age but for all the others I would say that if you are lucky enough to be “gifted” for several things, then go ahead and try them all out and eventually you will find what you are really made for. It is never too late to give a chance to a passion. This may require drastic changes from city life to nature life and a few “adjustments” but I believe this transition is achievable by most of us. The important is finding a healthy life balance and being in phase with what we like to do or what we are passionate about. Follow your dreams! If you slightly went “off-pist” doing so, well I am sure you would have learned some very good life lessons in the process. Don’t be afraid of getting lost, as you may well find that it is by getting lost that you find your way.

Angelina Cecchetto.