I apologized to my parents last night for taking so long to “find myself.” I can’t even imagine how a “Lobiteno” would reply to that. Ironically, I find myself self-reflecting and reflecting on my trip more so now that I’m back in the rat race than I did during all of my time on the beach in Lobitos or even throughout the long bus/plane rides I endured.
A hard truth I realized in Lobitos is that there are people all over the world that will never get to experience another world outside their own. So it’s hard for me to accept that all the while I’ve been “finding myself,” and driving my family absolutely insane, there exists a small town like Lobitos, where the locals approach each day with a zest for life as they know it.
So while they may not get to travel or experience much outside of their culture, their raw innocence encourages happiness and a nonexistent crime/drug problem in Lobitos. They are inspired by WAVES volunteers, and do not expect pity, nor do they wallow in self-pity. I honestly don’t recall hearing anyone complain about anything at all. After all, why would they?
“When you are able to volunteer GLOBALLY is when you’ve really come full circle.”
This is what Anthony Robbins, a famous motivational speaker, preached at one of his five day intensive seminars my best friend attended the weekend before I left for Lobitos. I couldn’t understand the depth of that concept until now, after I’ve returned home.
When I first scheduled my trip, I knew I was going to Lobitos to volunteer blah blah, but there was a lot of selfish motive involved (exploring, surfing, sun, meeting new friends, etc). So when my friend told me what she learned from Mr. Robbins, my initial response was one of relief! I needed some justification for not opting to volunteer locally. After all, there are people in need in our own backyards who don’t require the gas mileage needed to get my ass to Lobitos, Peru!
I can fully grasp Mr. Robbins point now.
I would never be able to replicate my experience in Lobitos in my own backyard. There are different struggles and pleasures to be experienced on an international scale. And once you’ve spent some time in those other shoes, you are better for it.
Immersing myself with the “Lobitenos” for the last two weeks definitely gave me a renewed appreciation for all of the creature comforts I take for granted – namely, clean water, running water, no chronic diarrhea, a home all to myself, even WORK (seriously!).
It is so easy to forget how fortunate we are sometimes; it pays to be reminded. Volunteering globally is definitely the “quick fix.”
This piece is written by Jen Gonzalez, a former volunteer of the nonprofit, WAVES for Development. WAVES currently offers sustainable surf and volunteer trips to Peru, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Travel to surf while volunteering with locals in educational, environmental, and entrepreneurship programs to positively impact the community.
If you can’t go on the trip with WAVES yourself, consider donating to the NGO to support the locals in the growing surf communities or purchasing a tee from Illumine Collect who are currently donating 20% of their profits to WAVES.