Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….
As I sat down to write this post, I thought about ways that I could bring some humour into the familiar festival ways. You know the ones; the stinky and almost full porta-potties, the ridiculously long line-ups to get anything, the throngs of people pushing and bumping on the dance floor, the Squish of 1000’s of tents squeezed in together, leaving only small pathways between them, creating a blinding maze of zigging and zagging, every time you are to return to yours. But I have to say, in the aftermath of what was a spectacularly run festival, I find not much humour in it at all.
Sure, there were some toilets that left little to be desired, but really, they were cleaned frequently, and if you were smart about the ones you chose (Hint: don’t go in the first 4!), they weren’t bad at all. The line ups really weren’t all that long, and I have to say, that with roughly 5000 over the top friendly people attending the festival, the chit chats that took place in those line-ups made them flash by. Similarly, the dance floors were a happy bumping vibe, not too many people, plenty of room for everyone. And the tents, well, they were certainly squished in but coming and going was manageable for sure, and I must say, I enjoyed the challenge of finding ours each and every time.
One of my biggest take-aways from the 4 day festival was that I literally did not witness one bad exchange between any two people. I saw nobody who was drunk and unruly, yelling at their friends, nobody angry or upset. All that we saw, day in and day out, was happy people! Gloriously happy people!
My partner and I volunteered for Envision Festival this year. It was our first time volunteering for such an event and it was our first time attending Envision. It just happens that it’s held about 40 minutes south of where we have been living for the past 4 months in Costa Rica, so it seemed silly to not partake in some way or another. Volunteering seemed like a great option, it would save money, and it would give us an insiders look into the goings on of events of this nature. And like all good experiences, we have no regrets and are exceedingly happy that we took part in the way that we did. We each worked 3-6 hour shifts in our respective departments, and were able to enjoy the festival around those times as we wanted. With each shift came a meal voucher, so we would hit up the Cantina where the kitchen crew was constantly cooking up delicious food for the masses, and we would sit and mingle with other volunteers and staff alike, chatting about the world, where we come from, where we are going next.
There were people attending from all over the world, but I have to say that out of all the people that we met, I’m pretty sure the scales were tipped in Canada’s favour. I was astounded at the number of Canadians that were there! Like my good friend Joseph said “Canadians are always well represented at cool events!”
But many other places were well represented as well, including a large contingent from Costa Rica itself. The Ticos were many and could be seen not only just taking the festival in, but also volunteering and working the festival grounds. We met people from many places in Europe, South and Central America, North America and many other places in between. It was truly diverse.
Why do you want to go?
I was asked this question a few times before heading to the festival. Of course, the main focus of most festivals is around the music, but this wasn’t my interest. There was an astounding yoga component to this festival, and I’m pretty sure there was a different yoga class happening at least every 2 hours through the day, if not more, but we weren’t going for yoga (but we probably should have been). There were plenty of lectures planned and lots of opportunity to learn about all manner of things to do with different thoughts on Society, the Environment, living in alternative communities and the like, and I knew that I would partake in some of these along the way.
But, as an artist and creator, my answer always somehow revolved around wanting to witness the artwork, of which I had heard great things. I knew there would be a ton of art and I couldn’t wait to feast my eyes on it, but I also had another reason to want to go. I wanted to meet more people of a similar mindset to me. I wanted to find more people that I could slot into my growing global community of friends. I knew that these sorts of festivals draw a different crowd. These festivals draw people who want to see the world in a different way. They draw people who want to step away from the 9-5 corporate life, those who wish to seek out a life of purpose, one of passion, one of building community and one of making the world a better place.
I was not disappointed!
Well, I can assure you that I was not disappointed! To begin with, the artwork…….well the artwork was simply breathtaking! Over the course of the weekend, we witnessed several paintings evolve that were being live painted throughout the day and night. This included large scale pieces by famous South and Central American artists, and also smaller canvasses by many up and coming and renowned artists from the United States and beyond. The art gallery was literally dripping in talents from all sorts of different people, from all stages of life. I would lazily stroll through, numerous times in a night, always finding something that I hadn’t noticed before, always coming out more amazed then when I went in.
After dark was when colours, sounds and lights would come to life! The stages were lit up with the most incredible audiovisual displays that I have ever seen, and we would spend most of our time at night wandering from art piece to art piece, watching each canvas evolve and transform over time. And although we didn’t take many pictures of some of our favourites, their memories are etched into our brains, in a certain section that is reserved for the magical things we see in life. We listened to some music (it was impossible not to), danced a little here and there, but we were mostly focused on seeing the art. We loved the art, and we came away incredibly inspired.
We also were not disappointed with the people that we met! We met some great new friends that we have appropriately slotted into our growing global community. And of course, Facebook is such a great way to continue to keep in touch with our new friends, many of which are full time travellers themselves, and others that are now being convinced to become them.
We had many invigorating and interesting conversations with people that we met while we waited in lines, or while we sat in the village during lazy afternoons. Conversations revolved around ways that people were passionate to see a change in the world, how they felt that they could make a difference. It was inspiring to have deep conversations with complete strangers, about things that normally are reserved for close friends, or people that we know are on the same page as us. It seemed though, that most people at Envision were on the same page as us.
The village was the central hub of the festival, and where much of the daytime activity happened. Around one side of the village was the food vendors where one could find many different options of good wholesome quality food being served. This was not a place with deep fried doughnuts, mars bars or chicken nuggets! These vendors prepared fresh, wholesome food, many times vegan or vegetarian, and always healthy. There was a local craft beer booth, Envision Festival coffee, roasted specifically for this years festival, vegan hamburgers, smoothies, Thai Wraps, wood fired pizza and so much more! Everyday we found ourselves wandering up and down from booth to booth trying to decide what delectable thing we would try next.
Envision is officially a Zero Waste festival meaning that at the end of it all, there would be as little garbage as possible to deal with. This meant that they had a plate and cup exchange program. If you didn’t have your own, you could rent one for $3 from the first vendor that you visited. When you were finished with your plate, there was a dish pit where you could drop your plate off to get a voucher for a new plate, that you would give to the next vendor and so on and so on. There were also numerous bins set up for compost, recyclables, Etc. All of this went to a massive central hub that sorted and recycled anything that could be, and then composted the rest. Of course, there were always pieces of non-recyclable plastic in the actual “garbage” bin, but it was definitely not the fullest bin of them all, which was nice to see.
The other side of the village was lined with various artisans booths filled with all manner of exquisite creations. From delectable dehydrated goodies (we tried dehydrated watermelon!), to the most impossibly intricate Guatemalan beaded necklaces, to funky festival clothing, jewellery, face paints and stunning tapestries, all manner of creations were very well represented. We spent as little time as possible strolling through this zone as it was nothing but a HUGE temptation to spend money on more THINGS! However, we did both come away with a couple items to remember the festival by.
During the days, if we weren’t working, we would lay our ground sheet down in the center of the village and sit and draw, trying endlessly to get out the inspiration that we had taken in, and would chat with many other’s that were relaxing in the shade and just taking it all in. Above us stood massive palms and other trees, providing a welcome umbrella from the unrelentingly hot Costa Rican sun that was blazing above. Once in a while I would see a lone Howler monkey crawling around, hanging out on the branches and looking down at us and I’m sure, wondering what the heck we were all doing there. And one morning I heard the familiar call of a Toucan high up in the trees, and was able to spot it and show it to someone else before it hastily flew away. Drums were being played, songs were being sung, it was peaceful, it was serene, but best of all it was a community. A community of people that seemed intent, at least in those moments, of working together to find ways to make the world a better place to live, of helping each other out, and of caring for each other.
On the edges of the village, and throughout the grounds, there were different stages that had constant presentations going on. As we sat in the shade and relaxed, we were able to listen to one or the other and tune in to what we wanted to hear. Topics of these presentations were diverse, but many could be heard about how we can instill change in the planet, about what we can do to make a difference. It was at times impossible to walk from one place to the next without hearing some sort of important message being told on a nearby stage. Us and many others, I’m sure, came away inspired by what we heard, empowered to try and make a difference. And of course, the main message always was that if you can ENVISION it, then you can CREATE it!
Drugs, Alcohol and Shenanigans
Of course, like all festivals of this type, there was a very obvious drug component to the festival, and I would be dishonest in my post if I didn’t report on this aspect as well. However, as with any of these events, you can partake in any way that you see fit. Sure drugs were being sold, and the craft beer booth was always busy, but there were also families there with young children. Parents who maybe wanted to introduce their kids to a different type of community than the one they live in back home. Possibly there were parents who wanted to expose their kids to more artwork and creativity.
There are so many different reasons for people to want to attend this festival, from yogis to artists, musicians to climate change specialists, people from all walks of life were very well represented. It’s unfortunate that in some peoples eyes, Envision is just another “rave” or party where people are getting wired on all sorts of things. Of course that is going on as well, as it does everywhere in the world, but I would say that the majority are there for so many other reasons, and really “Drugs” is definitely not the most important one.
You Should GO!
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica next year, I highly recommend this experience! Because that is what it is……..an EXPERIENCE! It is an experience like no other and if you open yourself up to that, and just take in the parts of the festival that you are interested in, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed! As for us…….we will be back for sure! In what capacity, I can’t say for certain, but we were both very inspired by it and I can imagine will continue to be involved in one way or the other in the coming years.
To check out the Envision Festival website head to: www.envisionfestival.com. Here you will find all the information you need to learn about the festival, volunteer, be a guest artist, performer and more! Check it out and get involved!
Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!
Xoxoxo Happy Travels!
Current Location: We are managing a Cabina on the beach at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with fellow travellers!
Travelling Plans: On March 15th we are headed up into the Costa Rica mountains to stay at our friends farm in the jungle. There we will be helping him with some large landscaping projects for 5-6 weeks. After that we have been accepted to housesit at a house in Rivas, Nicaragua beginning May 4th. We will be there for 4.5 months. To learn how you can housesit, click here.
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