Envision is the ultimate festival experience. Not only do you get to attend a phenomenal festival, but you get to do it in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. It is easy to lose yourself in the excitement of it all, but there are a few things of which to be mindful, if you wish to ensure an optimal experience for yourself, as well as for future generations of Envision-goers.
We are very blessed that, for years, the community has allowed us to hold the festival in this extraordinary part of the world. As such, it is important that we, as visitors, maintain a good image and a positive relationship with the locals and that starts with each of us. This is even more crucial at this point in time, given the current dynamic of global and regional politics. We want to avoid falling into stereotypes of ignorance and narrow-mindedness. It helps to remember that beyond the blissful bubble-like festival grounds, is an entirely different culture, with beliefs and lifestyles which can be quite different from some of our own. So what does this all mean? It means that we must practice good tourist etiquette at all times. The following guidelines will help get you on your way to being an exemplary out-of-towner. Follow them and you’ll learn more, you’ll get better deals at the markets and you’ll have a whole lot more fun.
Respect is paramount in many Latin-American cultures, and it is a two-way street. Just as the local community respects our being temporarily part of their town, so too must we be respectful of them. There is a strong Christian faith in Uvita, as well as in much of Costa Rica. That being said, despite potential differing attitudes and convictions, it is important to take into consideration the more conservative aspects that come along with local religious beliefs. Dressing appropriately, when venturing into town is huge to some folks. For some could that’s as easy as remembering the service-person’s motto: “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service”. For others, it could be as simple as keeping public displays of affection under control, or just steering clear of publicly discussing taboo or polarizing topics like sex, drugs, gender issues or even politics and religion. Explore cautiously!
Be aware of your surroundings. Though it may not seem like it, when you are immersed in Envision’s colorful jungle backdrop, poverty here is a heavy burden in this community. Try to blend in, and avoid drawing excessive attention to yourself. Steer clear of decking yourself out in expensive or flashy gear, when you leave the festival grounds. That is not to say that you shouldn’t be yourself, but a trip to the grocery store or to a local restaurant may not be an appropriate time for the deepest form of radical self-expression. Try to think about what it might be like to see someone appear with so much spent on their appearance when you aren’t able to feed eachother. Many people deal with such struggles everyday, so try to be present in that and take the opportunity to learn from a new setting.
Be open to different ways of thinking. If you expect others to be tolerant of your way of life, it is crucial to be accepting of theirs. Try to learn about the culture and expand your horizons. The locals will greatly appreciate you showing an interest in their customs. It is also helpful to brush up on basic Spanish skills, as addressing someone in their native tongue is universally well-received. However, know when to look for a translator. Things can sometimes get lost in translation, leaving both parties exasperated, and confused. Be aware of which situations are sensitive enough to require the assistance of someone with a better grasp of the language.
The locals are generally warm, welcoming people. Latin-America is known for its friendliness. Take that into account when you’re trying to navigate conversations and public situations. Here, it is the norm to smile at strangers, and greet everyone in a courteous manner. Keep this in mind when visiting stores, taking taxis, etc. Assess the situation, of course, and let the other person set the tone but always practice kindness, even if someone is not as agreeable as you would like. At the end of the day, it is their home, and you are a guest in it. Be polite and considerate, and chances are, that you will receive that positive attitude in return.
Tip 5: Don’t Miss Opportunities to Practice Gratitude.
We cannot stress enough how lucky we are to get to festival in this magical location. If the community were not open to what Envision is all about, the festival would not be a reality. Keeping this in mind, and practicing gratitude will go a long way to making the local residents feel appreciated, as opposed to exploited. Hold that gratitude in your heart, and thank community members who have made your experience more pleasant. Be humble and grateful.
Though this advice may seem pretty common-sensical, tourists in this region have a reputation for occasionally being carelessly rude or just ignorant of cultural norms. Remember that you are an ambassador for your country of origin, as well as for the entire Envision community. Take the opportunity to demonstrate a side of your culture that you’d like the people of Costa Rica to see and join us in bringing positivity into every impression.
It’s a great way to get more out of the experience and you’ll be glad you did.