Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Spanish navigator and explorer Alvaro de Marichalar visits Belize as part of his world tour


Alvaro de Marichalar Saenz de Tejada is a Spanish navigator, explorer, and academic of the Royal Academy of the Sea. He arrived in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, on Friday, December 2nd, on a mission to continue his campaign, raising awareness against plastic pollution and overfishing via his world tour. Alvaro’s expedition started in Seville, Spain, in 2019, intending to circumnavigate the globe aboard the smallest craft in history.
The 62-year-old explorer crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a modified nine-foot-long Jet Ski called Numancia, which he prefers as the Trans-Atlantic small vessel. After Monaco and Gibraltar, he visited the Lesser and Greater Antilles in the Caribbean before arriving in Miami, Florida, USA. The Spanish navigator was stuck in Florida for quite some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When he continued his journey, he travelled along the Gulf of Mexico until he arrived in Quintana Roo. Alvaro’s next move was heading south to Belize, where he arrived in San Pedro around midday on Friday. He cheerfully embraced the Belizean flag and was overjoyed to be in Belize.
He was welcomed by a handful of locals and members of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). BTB’s Mike Hernandez hosted Alvaro on La Isla Bonita as he prepared to head south to Guatemala and eventually the Panama Canal in Panama. Then reach the Pacific Ocean and head northbound for Alaska, USA. From there, he plans to cross into Asia, entering through Japan and Russia, the Philippines, Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and Black Seas, and then entering Europe and arriving back in Spain.
The purpose, route, and fuel use
The project is to raise awareness of plastic pollution and honour the world’s first circumnavigation 500 years ago, done in an expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano supported by the Spanish royalty. The trip started in Seville, Spain, in 1519 and was completed in 1522.
Alvaro shared that he uses gasoline made from plastic debris produced in Mexico. “That is amazing,” he said. “We are looking for sustainable solutions, not just talking about it but implementing them as well.” Alvaro refers to his craft as his Trans-Atlantic small vessel. “It’s my home, it’s my yacht, I have everything in this small vessel,” he said. Alvaro said he is travelling light, but communication equipment needs to be with him. He explained that he often tries to reach a city or town to sleep in a hotel, but when this is not possible, he simply rests on the small vessel. For safety purposes, Alvaro is accompanied by a support crew aboard a larger boat; however, there are periods in which he is travelling alone, and his support crew may wait for him or meet him at his next stop.
Other goals of the world tour
Alvaro’s expedition also aims to raise awareness about the ocean ecosystem, which has become endangered due to increasing plastic waste, illegal fishing, and damage caused by oil spills. He wants to inspire others to be focused, persistent and driven in their passions and goals. Alvaro wants to promote peace and brotherhood between nations and cultures worldwide. The other is to foster the spirit of exploration, sports, and a healthy lifestyle. Alvaro also mentioned uncovering and reporting human trafficking and setting a new ‘World Record Solo’ expedition circumnavigating the globe aboard the smallest vessel ever.
Alvaro has been involved in these expeditions for the last 40 years campaigning against plastic pollution in the sea and overfishing. He has embarked on 40 maritime journeys achieving 14 navigation world records. Among other achievements, he solo navigated from Hong Kong to Tokyo, from Rome to New York City, USA, and from Barcelona to Odesa (Ukraine). Alvaro also went around Puerto Rico and all around the Caribbean Sea. Álvaro is an aviation pilot and served in the Spanish Royal Air Force. As a result of a car accident, he could not continue his vocation as a fighter pilot. Besides being an explorer, Alvaro is a motivational speaker and an entrepreneur in telecommunications and real estate. In 1983 he founded TeleSat, the first Spanish company for satellite dishes.
This is the second time Alvaro de Marichalar has visited Belize in such a unique way of travelling. In December 2013, he made a pit stop in Belize City on his way from the United States. He then headed to Panama and reached the Pacific Ocean as explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa did in the 1500s when he became the first European to set foot on the Pacific Ocean.
The current expedition has a charitable side and commits to supporting the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, an international humanitarian organization founded by millions of volunteers worldwide to prevent and alleviate human suffering. This organization was awarded the Nobel prize in 1917, 1944, and 1963.

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