by Kevin Majoros
Scientist Carl Sagan was once quoted as saying, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
In the mountainous region surrounding Mendoza, Argentina, there was a young Sagan fan named Manu Bustelo who also dreamed of what lies beyond the stars. Bustelo would come to discover, that the best exploring and the most interesting life forms could be found on his own planet.
Though he would meet the ocean for the first time at five years old, Bustelo spent the first two decades of his life adventuring in the elevated playground that surrounded him; seeing the world from above.
By the time he was 18 years old, he had summited Aconcagua twice – the highest mountain in the Andes chain at 6,961 meters. He would also become the first man to mountain bike downhill from 6,800 meters (22,310 feet) and would go on to promote mountain bike racing in Central America.
Looking for more challenges, he competed multiple times in Guanaride – a five-day mountain bike race in Costa Rica. His Italian roots led to a move to Europe in his mid-twenties where he initiated a company that works in the skiing industry.
It was on one of his adventures that someone suggested that he take up scuba diving. Realizing that over 70% of our planet’s surface is covered in water, Bustelo immediately jumped in to discover what lies beneath.
“You really understand what that 70% number means once you are under the water,” says Bustelo. “After I started exploring the world under the surface, I began see the planet in a different way – the importance of those ecosystems and the threats from climate change and pollution.”
Bustelo spent two months in Roatan receiving his PADI Dive Master Certification and has been hooked ever since. His diving has taken him from Thailand to the Red Sea to the Great Barrier Reef. His current home base of Andorra offers him the opportunity for diving in high altitude lakes.
His lifestyle has exposed him to the knowledge that caring for our planet involves a connection to our resources and a willingness to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. His means of transportation – a Volta electric motorbike.
“We are becoming detached from the planet that we live on and adventuring can put you back in touch with nature,” Bustelo says. “It has been natural for me to take it one more step and to work in the industry.”
Bustelo is serving as an AmbassaDiver with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and producing content for them on topics ranging from marine conservation to tourism. Coming up he will begin instructing other divers.
“In the past, I had never wanted to teach any of the sports that I love,” says Bustelo. “Now I have the need to introduce people to being under the water, and connecting to the water. What better way to find that perspective than by seeing it.”
He points to an August moonlit night in Roatan, during a night dive, that he saw beautiful life forms that weren’t much different than what he had hoped we would find on other planets.
“I watched a soft sea star releasing eggs – thousands of red dots,” Bustelo says. “And then, the activity from other things coming to eat them.”
With the Cassini space mission coming to an end recently, the possibility of finding life on other worlds has once again been put on hold. Bustelo shares a metaphor and what it means to him to be connected to our planet and the life forms living here.
“If you find gold and it is the only gold mine on your planet, you should take care of it,” says Bustelo. “I am a lucky person to find this balance and stability. I get to work and adventure in the playfields that I love, with a passion.”
Visit www.manuelbustelo.com to see his adventures.
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