A Chicano’s Experience Outdoors

By Efraín Delgado

I traveled down California in a black, rented, soccer team van with six people I had only ever previously met through emails. We were on our way to the first ever Latino Outdoors Leadership Campout, which was being hosted at Malibu Creek State Park.

With the van’s windows down we drove into the parking lot just outside of our campsite with La Chona by Los Tucanes de Tijuana playing. The fatigue in our bodies was replaced with nostalgia and excitement as the fast-paced accordion, the slightly funky bass line, and the flashback-inducing chorus shook the cheap plastic interior of the van. For a nature loving Chicano this was a rare moment where two parts of my identity were able to transcend the border that regularly divides them.

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       On our way to the Leadership Campout!

 

At the campout I saw people wearing huaraches, people’s skin tones matched my own, and I heard conversations conducted in colloquial Spanglish. We shared stories of being the lone person of color in our professional settings while we mulled ideas on how to reconnect the Latinx community to the outdoors. José González, the Founder of Latino Outdoors, wore a faded black shirt with Tierra y Libertad, a slogan from the Mexican Revolution that translates to Land and Liberty, printed across the front in an old English font.

Latino Outdoors provided validation of my Chicano identity.


Julian’s Adventure at Kirby Cove

By Juan Telles

LO California, Central Valley Regional Coordinator

 

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“This week, I had the pleasure of taking my five-year-old son camping for the first time. This post is dedicated to him.”

 

Julian (aka Little Tigre) is a wild child; his imagination takes him to places that usually involve anything minecraft, zombies, sharks and dinosaurs. His outdoor experience has been, mainly, in our urban parks, trails, and day-hikes in nature. His favorite activity is collecting rocks and sticks to take home. His passion for sticks and stones consequently lead our family and friends to find little treasures in the nooks of our homes and the compartments of our vehicles. He is curious, energetic, and always ready for adventure. Camping with Little Tigre has been something on my to-do list for quite some time. I was inspired by many things to make this happen for my little tiger. More specifically, camping with Chasqui Mom in early May at The Latino Outdoors Campout Conference, the newfound confidence in my outdoor skills, and a new book I bought at The Children & Nature Network Conference, “Vitamin N” by Richard Louv—motivated me to create this opportunity for Little Tigre. Thus, an inspired dad jumped at the opportunity to camp at Kirby Cove in The Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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We camped with Julian’s Tio Orlando and Tio Clay. These men helped me introduce a new experience to the young nature lover. Upon arrival, we all struggled to set up our tents. The confusion lied in the fact that the tents had been recently purchased, and we had not assembled them prior to our trip.  After an hour, our camp was set, and we explored the site. Venturing around the recreation area gave us three different types of chills: the temperature, wind, and mist gave us the cold chills (This was a world of difference from the Central Valley climate of 100 degree heat.), the beautiful sights gave us the awe-inspired chills, and we all felt the serenity of the space fill our bodies with a relaxation (insert hashtag) chill. I knew Julian was having fun; his main activity consisted of collecting sticks and yelling out, “BANANAS” at random. Now, if you were to ask me, I would not have an answer as to why. However, I could only guess that it meant that he was winning at life. He was bonding with his uncles and father in a very absurdly, amazing way.

 

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We bonded around the camp-fire: lounging, making fire-sticks, and cooking amazing food like the asada pictured.

 

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We bonded as nature explorers: on the trail, on the beach, and admiring the features of our surroundings.

 

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Strengthened the bond between a boy and his elders.

 

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The camp adventure fulfilled something in Lil Tigre. He accomplished feat after feat. He battled the raccoons that threatened to take his food and rip his tent. He found so many sticks and a treasure chest. He slept outside for two nights. When asked about his favorite part, Julian joyfully responds that his favorite activities were, “Eating and making fire.”

 

Our time at Kirby Cove was epic. I can only hope our next adventure is just as amazing.

For more from Juan Telles, visit him at @onetelles  IG – Snapchat – Twitter

 


The 101 things that might, but probably won’t, kill me outside. – Michelle Piñon

Perhaps one of the most valuable and debilitating traits I inherited was a healthy of fear of everything. Literally everything. Mis padres siempra han sido miedosos despite the many bold decisions they’ve made (including their willingness to trade in the familiar calles of Ciudad Neza for the concrete grids of Southeast LA). Us Piñons are full of contradictions. In my case, I’d rather scale a granite mountain than deal with my irrational fear of El Cucuy. In fact, my paralyzing terror once compelled me to quit a job because I was /am convinced that there were/are ghosts in the basement of my would-be office.

veladorasMy family claims we’re not religious. However, at any given time, there are a minimum of five veladoras at my house. Just in case.

 

Needless to say, this semi-paralyzing fear of any unexplained noise and all unlit corners followed me outside.  I titled this blog after the many nights I’ve spent wide awake rattled by every little rustle outside my tent. My thoughts devolve quickly in this frazzled state. Just to give you a sampling of my constant terror, here’s how my thoughts tend to unfold….

“I’m so tired. Bedtime….and what was that?”

“Oh right…water because we’re next to a creek. All good”

“Shit – what if it’s a cougar? That’s a terrible way to go.”

“There aren’t any cougars in North Cascades, right? But they are reintroducing grizzlies…so maybe….or ghosts!”

“I need to pee.”

“If I go pee, I’ll get eaten. Best to hold it. ”

“But if don’t go, I’ll wet the sleeping bag. That would be the worst. Plus my camping mate is super cute…that’s like half as bad as getting eaten.”

“I’m going outside.”

“This is how I die.”

xochiI always pause when people ask if I believe in ghosts. Because no, of course not. But also, I shouldn’t say that because that would make the ghosts mad. So .. yes? But mostly no.

As you can imagine, I don’t often sleep well outside. Fear, compounded by that musk you get after 48 hours without deodorant, usually keeps me wide awake. I end up groggy, sleep-deprived and frustrated by the end of the night. So, as you might rightfully wonder, why subject myself to this? Why bother camping?

Well, it’s the mornings. It’s the first whiff of crisp mountain air that comes rushing in as you unzip your tent. It’s the excitement you feel when you discover that a glacial mountain was hidden behind yesterday’s clouds. It’s that first sip of pippin’ hot coffee from a campfire stove. If I don’t get through the night, I don’t get the mornings.

That’s the thing about our fears, anxieties, and irrational worries – they seem utterly useless yet they often lead us to moments of clarity. Fear is irrational and unwarranted but still deeply rooted in who we are as individuals. My miedo is part of who I am – my overactive, often imaginative mind, has led me to both moments of intense terror and unexpected courage. Morning coffees are made all the sweeter by knowing that 101 things outside my tent have not yet killed me. I worked through my fears and earned my alpine sunrise.

waterfall 2Aspiring REI model. Contact agent for bookings 😉

 

Even as I’ve logged in more hours outside, I’ve never stopped being terrified. And that’s okay. I’ve come to start appreciating fear as a necessary part of the human experience. Es parte de mi vida. Besides there isn’t anything really worth fearing in the woods – except running out of trails snacks.