Being aware of the kind of environmental footprint that I left behind was always something that came to mind growing up. You learn from an early age not to litter, you are required to take many different Earth science classes, and you are instructed to treat the Earth as if it was not going to last forever. This is something that all schools are pushing to teach kids these days, so upon visiting other countries for family vacations and other travel, I knew to treat the Earth with kindness.
But little did I know the impact that I could have on locals in the area when taking a vacation – and yet, it is sort of the same idea. Hotels come in and push locals out, foreign-owned restaurants are built and put local restaurants out of business, and stores are constructed that take money away from the skilled artisans in the area.
This idea was not clear to me until coming down to Mexico over my Winter Break, and participating in a Cultural Day Tour run by Human Connections. Taking the Human Connections tour made me take off the tourist lens and gave me fresh eyes to recognize the locals’ perspective of the tourism in the area. While tourism can work in ways to increase the income and create jobs, it can also destroy local businesses if we do not look for opportunities to support them.
The tour itself takes you to the other side of Bucerias, into the houses of artisans who have lived here for many years and call the town their home. Being welcomed into the individuals’ homes, hearing their stories, and seeing how they create their art, increased the respect I had for them, while also gave me an intimate connection to the people and area itself.
The tour has made me more aware of what I was spending my money towards in the Bucerias area, along with taking a new perspective of responsible tourism to anywhere I travel.
Written by Mallory Blonski, HC Winter Intern
Photo credit: Britt Natalia