Gringo Trails is a new documentary that chronicles the impact that tourism has had on some of the most remote areas of the world over the span of a few decades. It examines both ends of the travel spectrum; how the explosive growth of visitation can allow a poor society to economically flourish yet destroy their pristine habitat, or how proper management and forethought can allow both visitor and its natives to cultivate a prosperous relationship that still protects the originality of the location.
While the film focuses on the collective path of backpackers, there are similar themes to how the yoga community travels for retreats; to isolated destinations where people can get away from it all, while providing an experience to explore places that are pure and untouched.
We follow our own “yogi trail” of travel trends whether we are descending on Costa Rica, Tulum, Mexico, Bali, Indonesia or India, we too are impacting the economic, social, and environmental aspects of these places that will shape the future of these destinations.
But we are different from the backpackers in that our tribe claims to practice “mindfulness.” Once our retreats are over, are we really leaving these places better than we found them? Are we approaching them with humility and respect? Are we interfering with nature and disrupting its natural course? Or are we being unconsciously selfish in only seeking to restore a sense of peace and balance within ourselves?
For any conscientious traveler, obviously, the best remedies to leave the lowest effect are to try to partake in eco-tourism and conservation. But in some parts of the world these are not yet an option.
Beyond what our teachers, the country’s government, our hosts, or what a tour guide may allow us to do, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. While our luggage may return home with us, we have to challenge our awareness that our very presence leaves behind some sort of impression whether that be physical, spiritual, or philosophical. All we can do is to be mindful and careful of what we are contributing to the globalization of tourism.
Please go see the film and you’ll see what I am referring to. This is a conversation that cannot be started early enough.
Gringo Trails’ website and Facebook are here: facebook.com/pages/Gringo-Trails-documentary
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