The Live Better team just returned from its third trip to El Salvador since late last year, with one more scheduled stop in November for our first public retreat. It is one of the few destinations across the world, among many I have traveled to, where I now feel I have another “home.”
This concept of “home” to a regular traveler can take on interesting meaning and significance. We have been lucky enough to travel, create, and meet with so many wonderful creative people who “travel” for a living - they create in the world in which they want to live, which may take them from Hawaii to California to Europe to the Bahamas…and back.
To them, “home" might not suggest as much a physical structure. It could represent the feeling they get in certain places or around certain people. It’s a feeling of comfort and acknowledgement of being cared for while everything else might be a bit foreign (hotel rooms, food, etc.). I call Chicago “home.” But I also feel home in many other places, including Cincinnati, Hilton Head (SC), Switzerland, and Vancouver, all for various reasons.
I can now add El Salvador to that list.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what most people’s perception of El Salvador is. That is one reason why we have taken on a project such as this - the world should know what a beautiful place it is, how beautiful the people are, and how beautiful the culture is.
The 5 things El Salvador has taught me about travel.
- People around the world generally want and care for the same things - happiness, enough food, shelter, and water to be healthy, sunshine, a sense of community, and to be smiled at on the street.
- Education is paramount to building up developing nations and providing opportunity for growth. Simply donating money is not enough. “Teach a man to fish…” Hands on experiences go much farther than your dollar.
- When you ask someone “How are you?”, expect a genuine answer. In the US, the standard response is “Fine, thanks, how’re you?” It’s a bullshit exchange of pleasantries, that while pleasant, don’t do anything in getting to know your neighbor. In countries outside the US, like El Salvador, they’ll tell you if something is off. Be prepared to have a human conversation (attempt it in the native language!) about life, love, and the pursuit of the best day ever, every single day.
- Have an end goal in mind, but be flexible in the path you take to get there. I’ve had so many unique experiences in El Salvador, some by pure chance, like visiting Las Flores Resort for only two hours on our first trip and deciding it was our retreat mecca. Had we not gone to visit the jungle resort we can now consider “home” on a whim, we might not have had the same success in launching our retreats. Travel requires flexibility, adaptability, and a PMA (hint: best day ever).
- Be proud of where you come from, and always take the chance to crush a few pupusas. And if you’re not particularly proud of where you come from, or what’s going on at home…do something about it.