23-26 FEBRUARY 2017, COSTA RICA
By John Karlo Torres
Let me begin by stating that the simple act of writing this piece, is setting in that Envision is over. A reality that I am not yet willing to accept because who the fuck wants to leave Costa Rica and all its magic? Help me by keeping the energy alive and envisioning the journey through this beautiful Costa Rican jungle by the beach.
For most, Envision festival begins long before actually passing through the entrance gate. Participants came from all over the world, even the most remote islands you didn't know existed. Traveling to another country to experience a festival is a truly special experience. I stepped out of work in San Francisco on a Tuesday with my backpack on to find rain, cold, and busy streets and ended up in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday to heat, humidity, and Spanish language tongues. This complete shift in environment really took this experience to another level and I was stoked to leave the rain behind. If you have any reservations about going to Envision because of the travel, just stop. Costa Rica is an incredible country and Envision is the best excuse to explore this magical land. The travel was part of all the fun and I had some pretty cool highlights along the way.
Envision sits upon 8 pillars, all working together to create a unique festival experience. The pillars are: Permaculture, Spirituality, Movement, Art, Music, Community, Health, and Ecobuilding. I will touch just a tad on some of the pillars and what influenced my journey.
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature" - Bill Mollison. Aside from the many spoken workshops available whose topics touch the ideas of permaculture, some tangible examples really caught my attention.
- Community Carbon Trees gave you a chance to plant new baby trees around the festival grounds to foster new growth and future life.
- There were no disposable plates or utensils with any of the food vendors or various drink booths. Envision is a Reusables Only event and if you didn't happen to lug around your own reusable dish ware, you could rent a plate for $3 and get a ticket to reuse and reuse over and over again.
Nature was everywhere and the integration of the village into the landscape was breathtaking. Hands down my favorite festival space I have attended and nothing beats the amazing ocean cove Envision sits upon.
Spirituality looks and feels differently for everyone. I personally started my journey to Envision with an intention of spiritual grounding and healing. My life and mind were moving like a derailed freight train and I needed a well overdue reset.
- The incredible nature surrounding you at every moment is power enough to connect with your spirit. Being submersed in the jungle, connecting your bare feet to the earth, and smelling the ocean remind you how important this connection is to our well-being.
- The Healing Sanctuary was an area where you could take a breather and rest your mind and body. From Village Witches workshops, herbal elixir bars, to Temple of the Moon, Sun, and Earth, if you needed some healing, you were in the right place. If you are more into a light-weight spiritual touch, the yoga and meditation available during sunlit hours was top notch.
Many of the pillars start to crisscross with one another like a beautiful knitted blanket. Movement touched almost every aspect of life at Envision. Walking around the village all day, dancing until the sun came up, soothing your tired body with restorative yoga to swimming in the beautiful ocean, movement was alive. For the first time in a long time, my whole body was sore by the end of the festival and I loved every ache of it. If somehow you go to Envision and manage to sit on your ass all day, that is straight dedication to relaxation.
The festival this year probably had around 4,000 participants. It was a pretty large space and I did not feel remotely crowded at all. I can get sort of anxious when shit gets sardine-like but the participant count this year was perfect for me. There were people from all over the world and a cute little map where you could pin your homeland. The community was beautiful, so many healthy, loving bodies and smiles all as diverse as the biodiversity of the jungle itself. A lot if not most of the food vendors were from Costa Rica and it seemed like the local community was definitely involved in many ways. Being a native Spanish speaker, all of the Spanish being thrown around really pulled on my heart strings. <3
I think it is a given that a highlight of any festival is the music. Envision had four stages to shake the sand off your half-naked body or help you get all heated up to the point you wanted to take a deep dip in the perfect ocean. Village, Lapa, and Sol stages all provided great dancey times but BY FAR my favorite stage was the Luna Stage, The Reliquarium created magic. The entire area was beautiful and the stage felt like home. Music was alive and well on-stage and off. People gathered at the beach for daily drum circles, the Healing Sanctuary offered sound healing services and workshops, and the birds and monkeys rounded out the atmospheric ambiance. The best thing about my musical experience at Envision was staying up all night Saturday and Sunday to watch the sunrise and listen to amazing artist. Overall Highlights were Rising Appalachia, Random Rab, Ott., Dragonfly, Dreamers Delight, and an insane set by Clozee. I did not attend Envision for the music lineup but it was an unforgettable treat. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be returning to Envision for many reasons but the music had me up all night with ZER0 drugs. Check out Dragonfly and Clozee, absolutely killed it.
I was most interested in this pillar before attending Envision and post-journey I was extremely satisfied with the thought put into prioritizing health at the festival. Due to a wasp bite and a killer sun burn I stepped into the free Herbal Clinic and was blown away, a FUCKING FREE HERBAL CLINIC! I was welcomed by enormous smiles and healing hearts each and every time. I am already a big botanical freak and use herbs on the daily so this space really did it for me. Whether you felt physically ill, were a sad panda, or burned your sexy body to a crisp, this free herbal clinic had just the right remedy. Did you know tobacco pulls poison out of wounds?! Seriously though, visit your local Apothecary when you don't feel good, it's straight up magic.
I ate all my meals in the village and the food was great. Vegan, gluten-free, meat-eater, ant-eater, greens lover, ceviche addict, food hoarder, I mean all the options for every palate. You never know what to expect when it comes to food but I sampled a ton of vendors and was never disappointed.
I really wanted to participate in healing at Envision and the Healing Sanctuary was everything I wanted for a much needed recharge. It was important for me to support the healing body workers and learn more about the different practices.
I was fortunate enough to schedule a deep tissue massage with Matt Abrams and let me tell you, getting a massage in the middle of the jungle is glorious! Matt was super sweet and my muscles were blissfully healed after our session. The hot, humid environment really makes for great massage work. The best part is that I ran into Matt later in the festival at the Luna Stage and it just solidified what a community Envision can really be.
Another healing session I had was with Ayurvedic Practitioner Susan Melina, a wonderful practitioner currently based out of California. This was my first ever Ayurvedic consultation and it completely impacted me, especially post festival. Spiritually this session was absolutely necessary, it affirmed a lot of things I was feeling and shed new light on how to balance my life. We shared a powerful moment and I definitely cried during our session. I also fell in love with Sooz the moment we bonded over our excitement for Clozee and watching Random Rab's sunrise set. Ayurveda is a pretty awesome science of life and quite honestly felt like magic.