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Before I start I want to remind the viewer that this series (originating on Steemit) are not meant to be extremely well edited or refined. Rather, I am trying to take some of the millions of thoughts from my brain and put them down on paper in hopes that they will be of value to me at a later date, or simply interesting/entertaining to voyeurs. With that in mind, please enjoy these thoughts. They will be collected and written into a full essay at some point soon.

On December 1st I will be turning 33.

Last year I attempted to visit Costa Rica for my birthday, but I was called back to support and document the final showdown in Standing Rock, North Dakota. I decided I would not be able to enjoy myself in paradise if I was watching my friends get pepper sprayed or arrested via livestream. So I bailed on my birthday trip and spent my 32nd birthday standing with water protectors in -8 degree weather. It was worth it.

But as the universe always has a funny way of working things out, I happened to have a credit with the airline and was able to get another ticket for Costa Rica! Not only that, but I was able to get a ticket for my partner Miriam! This will be our first time in CR and we are extremely excited. We leave early on the 29th of this month and will return to Houston on the 5th of December.

I had been working out the details of where we are going to stay when another synchronicity happened. Long story short, I found myself connected to one of the founders of the amazing transformational festival, Envision! Envision has been taking place every February in Costa Rica since 2011. The organizers focus on bringing together yoga, meditation, music, workshops, permaculture, indigenous teachings, and so much more, into one cohesive festival that is truly a transformative experience. Through my own determination (and lots of love from the universe) I was added as a speaker to the festival for February 2018! ‘This means I will be speaking in Mexico at Anarchapulco in February, immediately followed by a speaking slot at Envision!

And that’s not all…

Miriam and I are also going to be staying at the Punta Mona Center while we are in Costa Rica for my birthday! Punta Mona describes itself as “an 85-acre, off-the-grid, beachfront, family owned, environmental education center, botanical collection, established organic permaculture farm and an eco-lodge, dedicated to regenerative ways of living.” We will be spending a week hanging out at this awesome center, and hopefully picking up lots of knowledge along the way!

As the trip gets closer my mind goes to where it inevitably does every time I travel (especially when traveling abroad):

how can I be respectful to the locals and the indigenous communities while visiting?

I never liked thinking of myself as a “tourist” while on vacation. A tourist is defined as someone who is traveling or visiting a location distinct from their typical work and social hangouts for the purpose of pleasure or leisure. The definition doesn’t inherently mean douchebag who is disrespectful of the locals and the environment, completely and utterly ignorant of local customs and norms, but it certainly is a strong stereotype in my mind. It’s something I always strive to avoid. I don’t want to be the obnoxious, loud, ignorant tourist (or American) who gets eyes rolls from the natives.

To me this means making an effort to speak the local dialect, learning the mannerisms and traditions which are a part of daily life to locals, and generally, leaving the place better than I found it. Obviously, these should be practices every human being employs on a regular basis regardless of location, but I think it’s a matter of respect when visiting someone else’s home. This is a lesson I also learned in activism. Namely, when you come to someone else’s city to support their movement or to join the local protest movement, you don’t come in and tell the locals how to run their campaign. You take a step back, listen, and assist in the way the local community wants. You wouldn’t come into your neighbor’s house and tell them how to live and you wouldn’t litter on a friend’s lawn, so don’t be a dick while on vacation. 🙂

Anyways, I am stoked for this trip! If any of you have suggestions on other places to check out, please do not hesitate to share! I am looking for a waterfall I saw in a vision last year… let me know if you know where I can find it!