In Mexico, November 2 marks Día de los Muertos, a day to honor the dead with festive shrines, offerings of flowers and parades. And while many in Oaxaca flock to cemeteries to spend time with those who have passed, another Día de los Muertos event takes place in the ancient trails that snake through the Oaxacan highlands above. The Trans Sierra Norte is a multi-day enduro mountain bike race that rips through dense woods, burly singletrack and tiny villages, with bikers finishing in Oaxaca City right about the time the fireworks are blasting off.
Bryant Huffman spent his days deep water soloing, sport climbing and bouldering as founder of Climbing Puerto Rico. Then Hurricane Maria dropped a nuclear bomb of water and wind, which destroyed much of the island. With his work as a guide temporarily suspended, Huffman and his climbing buddies put their skills to good use by morphing into emergency arborists. And out of the devastation comes a glimmer of something positive. The hurricane peeled huge chunks of limestone from cliffs, creating scores of new routes. Climbing Out of Disaster is about shifting your perspective to see the silver lining in calamity.
In the tiny village of Donaciano Ojeda in Michoacan, Mexico, townspeople decide in bi-monthly community meetings to sanction any neighbor who cuts down a tree without permission. That’s because the forests surrounding the town are the winter home of the Monarch butterfly. The branches of the local oyamel tree are draped in the orange and black of thousands of hibernating Monarchs’ wings as the insects cluster together for warmth. Villagers have turned from logging to growing avocados and raising trout in order to salvage the precious trees, which they now fiercely protect. But forest restoration is complicated. Families still need wood to cook with, and many newly planted saplings won’t survive a rainstorm. The Guardians is about a community realizing it’s worth defending the forest from themselves to leave something for the next generation of people and butterflies.
In a small shack by the train tracks on the outskirts of Old Havana, 87-year-old Manuel Quintana Godinez sells an exotic handmade concoction called Pru Oriental for a living. He advertises the drink as a kind of elixir, good for the kidneys, cystitis, migraines, gastritis, bronchitis, circulation and depression. It is, according to Manuel’s hand-painted ad board, “A good drink for whatever age and interesting for those over 50.” To drive the implied point home, the board also says, “If you have a stallion — it’s restorative!” Like Manuel’s tonic, this short profile piece is sweet and uplifting (and not just for those over 50).
Skateboarding is an anomaly in Havana, Cuba and you have to be creative to find good places to skate. But one skateboarder is using his sport to bring young people together. Yojani is a snapshot of a skater who is creating a family out of the nascent Cuban skating community.