Think global, act local
Inspiration Shot February 2022
For years we’ve practiced ‘global thinking’: the further away and the larger the scale, the better. Nowadays we tend to focus more on local products, local initiatives, on a smaller scale, which feels more ‘real’.
What does it really mean to be ‘local’? For me it is staying longer in one place and not acting like a tourist, but rather immersing myself in local life. I like to return to the same restaurants and I feel successful when the locals recognize me after a while and remember me the next time I visit. This month I offer some ‘food for thought’ on this theme.
How long do you have to stay in 1 place to actually be a local?
When I did my Master’s in Anthropology at the University of Florida, we had to do our thesis research. I wanted to collect information about the use of tobacco for medicinal purposes in various Mayan villages, but that turned out to be ‘not done’. According to the faculty, you had to stay in one place for as long as possible (at least the full 3 months of your internship) in order to see the ‘local perspective’.
But how long do you have to stay somewhere to be seen as a local? A professor told a story that I will never forget. There was a researcher who really did ‘participant anthropology’: he had been living in a small Maya village for 40 years, in order to really become ‘one of them’. Do you know what the locals still call him? ‘The foreigner’… 🙂
Sometimes it is better to recognize that you will always look through your own lens, and to embrace that outsider perspective.
I have found a fun way to connect with locals when traveling: book an Airbnb experience. You discover something new, get to know the place better, and meet nice people. In Cape Town, I dined twice at people’s homes and I booked a photo tour with a local photographer. The result: I discovered nice new places in the city and ended up with beautiful photos (many pics in this Inspiration Shot are from this shoot) at a very friendly price.
And there is another great thing about Airbnb experiences: I advised the Uber driver, who took me to his township where he helps local children without parents, to set up such an experience himself. That way he will get more visitors, who can help the locals.
I often go back to places where I feel at home, where I am seen as a local (alas one that often leaves and comes back). And because I notice that others are curious about those places and how I live there, I organize my writing weeks and other retreats there.
Often enough I get an offer to organize a retreat in someone’s hotel or B&B, but I only go to places I really know. For example, I am organizing another writing retreat in Curaçao, where I lived for 7 years, from March 20-26th. And an Inspiration retreat to Puglia from May 4-9th, because more and more people are interested in perhaps buying something and making use of the favorable subsidy scheme that I am discovering. And of course, from May 24th-31st there will be another writing retreat on my beloved Mallorca!
Local FB groups
Are you going on a trip, vacation or are you moving (temporarily) to a new place? Tip: collect information from locals, ask all your questions and make contacts via the many Facebook groups. Some of my favorite Dutch ones are: durftevragen Curaçao, Wereldvrouwen, Nederlanders in de provincie Brindisi, Nederlanders in Kaapstad. And of course, there are international ones, such as Chiang Mai Digital Nomads or Digital Nomad Girls Community or one of the many ‘van life’ groups. You will always find the latest information about Covid and other rules, the situation and atmosphere on the street, rental cars, b&b’s, nice local tips, etc.
The biggest little farm
All these principles of ‘back to basics’, rooting into the place where you are, and making contact with nature are reflected in this wonderful feel-good documentary film. If you haven’t seen it yet; please do watch it! And if you already know the movie, it will make you just as happy the second or third time around… :). It conveys the important message that we should trust that everything is as it should be and that everything will be fine if we just let nature take its course. Enjoy!
Did you know...?
…that my lifestyle often provokes interesting discussions? Some people think I should stop flying completely. Of course, flying is bad for the environment, but there are some nuances to be made. In this (Dutch) article in the lifestyle magazine Grazia, ‘You really can’t fly anymore!‘ I explain my point of view. Strangely enough, they portrayed me as the ‘opponent’ of the quote…
Where is Esther?
It is wonderful to be in Amsterdam for 12 days! Unlike most people here, I enjoy the cold, the grayness, and dressing up warmly. I walk through the city, enjoy the beautiful setting intensely, and try to see as many friends as possible before I leave for another month or two.
Next week I will be in Puglia to monitor the progress of the construction of my tiny house. Are you curious? Then follow me on Instagram at @tinytrullo for regular updates. (I still don’t have my own Instagram account back, even after three months! I’ll keep trying; if anyone can help, please!).
I’m also going to buy some empty liter cans in Puglia. I had kept 10 liters of olive oil for myself in Amsterdam. Not really smart to keep so much oil in a place where you hardly spend time 😜. Especially because my entire olive harvest was sold out within three weeks and many people ask if they can still order my olive oil. So if you want one of those popular liters, send me a message.
At the beginning of March, I will visit my father, who, thanks to my viral post on LinkedIn, is assured of fantastic caretakers for the coming year. Then I will be on my beloved Curaçao for three weeks, for a small-scale, super-luxurious writing retreat. There is still 1 spot if you want to write your book in the sun…
After that, I will move on to Mexico, but I’ll tell you more about that next time…
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