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Equilibrio

Festivals, it seems, have become somewhat of a passion of mine. I’ve made my way now to several around the world – Burning Man in the Nevada desert, Tomorrowland in a Belgian neverland, Sunjam on the shores of Honduras, Mardi Gras in the heart of New Orleans, and Batabano in the streets of Grand Cayman, to name a few.

But never have I felt so much a part of something as I did at , an intimate hundred-and-twenty person festival that came to life this year on the coast of El Salvador.

Equilibrio Festival

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio El Salvador

Equilibrio Festival

Lasting four days in late February, Equilibrio was a blend of meaningful ceremonies, playful parties, yoga and movement classes, and workshops in topics ranging from writing to organic soap making — all set against the backdrop of beautiful El Cuco.

Future Clear, the organizers of Equilibrio and three of my close friends from Brooklyn, created an artist’s playground across two beautiful spaces on El Cuco beach. The first was La Tortuga Verde, the second, a short stroll down the sand away, was Rio Mar, and hand drawn maps directed festival-goers between them. Attendees were organized by locally handmade bracelets embroidered with a number and color based on your element group — fire, earth, air, or water. I was thrilled, of course, to find that I was in the water element.

The numbers on our wristbands corresponded to a tab. While three meals per day, a camping space and all activities were included in the insanely reasonably $150 event price tag, extras like cocktails, handmade cacao balls, restaurant meals, massages, and more were able to be added to a tab, allowing for a blissfully cash-free festival.

Equilibrio Festival

Future Clear Productions

As the name of the festival suggests, at its core, Equilibrio is about finding balance. Balance between light and dark, between sunset yoga and sunrise dance sessions, between the community and the individual, between spirituality and silliness, between learning and letting go.

Equilibrio El Salvador

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio Festival

Equilibrio El Salvador

“So this sounds like… a hippie festival,” was the reaction I got several times as I tried to explain the experience afterwards to fellow travelers I met throughout Central America. And it was. If I’d taken a (locally sourced, organic and hand infused) shot for every time I heard the word permaculture or someone alluded to manifesting their own reality, I would have passed out mid afternoon on day one and not come to until long after the hammocks had been hauled up and the scent of patchouli and lavender was nothing but a distant memory. That much is true.

But it was so, so much more. In a future post, I’ll focus on the dark and silly side of Equilibrio – but this post is all about the learning and the light.

Equilibrio El Salvador

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio Festival

Equilibrio El Salvador

Equilibrio El Salvador

Workshops

Workshops led by festival participants were the beating heart of Equilibrio. Topics ranged from figure drawing taught by a New York based book designer to natural beet dying taught by a Guatemala City expat industrial designer. Other classes that I starred in my program included natural soap making, air gardening, environmental policy, permaculture, and more, more, more.

Each morning began with a struggle over which of the many simultaneous offerings to attend. I’m a natural student at heart and loved this aspect of Equilibrio.

Equilibrio Workshops

Equilibrio Workshops

Equilibrio Workshops

Equilibrio El Salvador

Equilibrio Workshops

Equilibrio Workshops

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio Workshops

I personally led a workshop on travel writing, which filled me with nerves and excitement ahead of time but ended up one of the most inspiring experiences of my Central America travels. I couldn’t believe how many bodies wiggled onto those benches or into those hammocks, but I shouldn’t have been surprised — this was a group with some serious stories to tell.

The hours spent in this workshop triggered new personal writing projects that I never thought I’d embark on — that previously non-existent type of writing that neither (a) will appear on this blog nor (b) someone is paying me for. Creative, non-blog writing. Writing for joy. Writing for therapy. I’d almost forgotten it existed. Equilibrio helped me remember.

Equilibrio Writing Workshop

Movement

Each day at Equilibrio started with sunrise yoga and meditation classes — though that was just the beginning. Throughout the day there were workshops I attended like Burn Your Buns (where coconuts acted as free-weights!), Partner Yoga, and Acro Yoga as well as workshops I couldn’t quite fit in, like Breakdancing, Twerking, and Slack Lining. Regular yoga practice was a huge part of my Central America travels, and I soaked up as many of the different teaching styles and class types as I could.

In addition, there were workshops on healing arts such as reflexology, acupuncture, and massage, in which participants were able to experience those treatments and in some cases learn to give them. With so many talented masseuses and healers at the festival, a massage tent was set up where practitioners could set their own prices and weary festival goers could schedule a relaxing ocean-front hour.

Equilibrio Workshops

Equilibrio Festival

Equilibrio Festival

Equilibrio El Salvador

Ceremonies

Equilibrio also had a strong spiritual component, with ceremonies all over the place — opening ceremonies, cacao ceremonies, moon ceremonies, closing ceremonies, ceremony ceremonies, etc. I admit that this aspect was somewhat outside my comfort zone, though I enjoyed challenging myself to try to connect with the moment during these rituals. I have a predisposition to eye-rolling, and I think it’s good for me to give in and just get swept away sometimes.

Most of the ceremonies were conducted by a group called The Healing Caravan who built their own dedicated space in the woods. Upon reflection, I’m sad to say that I only visited it once, during the opening ceremony — however, with so much to see and do, I accept that as with any festival there was no way I could have seen it all.

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio Ceremonies

Equilibrio Festival

Future Clear Productions

Equilibrio El Salvador

Equilibrio Festival

Equilibrio El Salvador

This is just one aspect of the magic that was Equilibrio. Stay tuned for Part II!

Are you fest obsessed? Would you consider checking out an alternative to the standard music festival?

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52 Comments...
  • Sarah
    May 17 2015

    Oh my god, this looks too perfect!
    Count me in for next year!

    PS: love the light and the perspective in the picture with the machete
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      Thanks Sarah! That’s one of my favorites from the festival as well.

  • Ashley
    May 17 2015

    I’ve been to pathetically few festivals in my life, but Equilibrio sounds incredible – I love that it’s centered around workshops, exercise, and wellness. I’ve been searching for more ways to incorporate holostic health and learning experiences into my future travels, and this type of festival is exactly what I had in mind!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      As you’ll see in the next post, there was some typical festival debauchery fun thrown in there too 🙂 But yes, overall, I loved the focus on learning and sustainability! Sounds like it would be a great fit for you.

  • Caroline
    May 17 2015

    This looks amazing Meihoukai! The learning aspect of the festival really appeals to me. Looking forward to the next post! 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      Thanks Caroline! As a lifelong learner who frequently reminisces about my classroom days, I loved every minute 🙂

  • Sonja Riemenschneider
    May 17 2015

    Is it bad that I’m most excited for the silly stories from this event? Looks like a very unique and rewarding experience though, and wow, such a bargain!
    Sonja Riemenschneider recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      Yup, it was a great deal! I chose to stay in a room and not camp which added a bit to the price but there were room levels at various price ranges. I also got a massage and many snacks and some drinks, but overall it was insanely reasonably.

  • Emma
    May 17 2015

    This looks amazing – you must be so proud of your friends!

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      I was bursting with pride! I feel so lucky to have such a smart and creative crew.

  • Sarah
    May 17 2015

    Sounds like such a cool festival, Id love to go one day! xx

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      It was amazing. Stay tuned to Future Clear’s website and social media for details on next year’s event!

  • becky hutner
    May 17 2015

    I want to know more about your travel writing workshop! How long was it? What kind of exercises did you have people do? Did you send any budding Paul Therouxs on their way???
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      Ha, I think I may have! It was two hours long and we jam packed every moment. I planned to start with a little lecture on how I got started and how my site works, and then go into writing exercises and prompts (many inspired by the Koh Tao Writer’s Retreat I participated in!) and then set up a follow up renegade workshop for those interested in sharing and critiquing longer pieces.

      In reality, there was so much interest in so many questions on the my writing and the business end, we had tragically little time for writing prompts, though the most interested writers and I had lunch together the next day and some great writing came out of it 🙂 I wish I had days more with everyone! I loved their questions, stories, and ideas — it was such a crazy fun experience.

  • I can imagine that it would be very easy to get swept up in the festival! But closing your eyes rather than rolling them seems like a good idea 🙂
    Francesca @ Cheskie’s Gap Life recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2015

      It’s a refreshing change every once in a while 🙂

  • Katie
    May 17 2015

    It sounds similar to the Wanderlust Festival which I have wanted to go to for ages but on a much smaller scale which I would definitely prefer. I would love to learn to use natural dyes.
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2015

      That is one that is also on my list, Katie! So many amazing festivals, so little time…

  • Meihoukai
    May 17 2015

    This sounds absolutely amazing. 4 days sounds way too short. I will have to do this within the next couple of years. This sounds like the commune spirit I’m looking for! Ha
    Meihoukai recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2015

      Maybe I’ll see you there next year, Meihoukai 🙂

  • Justine
    May 17 2015

    I think it’s incredible that your friends were able to pull this together. And the location seems almost too good to be true! I always love being surrounded by creative-minded people so, in my opinion, this event seems pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2015

      It really was the most magical place. I’m so glad it brought me to El Salvador and allowed me to really spend some quality time there.

  • Adrienne
    May 17 2015

    Equilibrio was truly all about the balance!
    By day I enjoyed a swim, a partner yoga class, a writing/travel blog workshop (thanks for all the inspiration Meihoukai) and a Squish massage; by night I feasted on some amazing vegetarian food and danced my culo off!
    There really was something for everyone at Equilibrio and that will definitely have me coming back for more next year.

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2015

      It was so great to meet you at Equilibrio Adrienne! Loved connecting with you in many of those workshops… though sorry to say I missed the Squish massage 🙂

  • I really need that yoga in my life. We are now planning to go to Central America Feb/March next year. Your posts are getting me very excited (typing from South America though so can’t complain!)
    Gemma Two Scots Abroad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 18 2015

      I love South America but I love Central America ever more! You have a lot to look forward to… including yoga EVERYWHERE!

  • Leah
    May 18 2015

    I would totally attend a festival like this. Central America generally has pretty hippy dippy vibes anyway (dirty and barefoot all the time, nappy hair from the saltwater, etc haha) so especially in that location, it would have felt appropriate.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 19 2015

      There are SO many more hippie vibes in Central America than in Southeast Asia, from what I’ve seen. I can’t quite figure out what it is but from a backpacker standpoint I think it’s one of the biggest differences!

  • This looks so fun! I love everything about this! Partying, loud music and drinking into the wee hours isn’t really my thing so I’ve always avoided festivals BUT everything about this IS MY THING! Is there an email list to get information about next year’s festival?
    Kristin @ Hello Passport recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 19 2015

      Hey Kristin, definitely keep an eye on the Future Clear website and Facebook page! They should be launching a big site update in a few days, from what I hear.

  • Kacy
    May 18 2015

    This is so intriguing to me, and sounds like a wonderful experience for sure! I have to admit a festival like this would be out of my comfort zone, but it sounds so awesome anyway!
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 19 2015

      It was a bit out of mine, but I love realizing how comfortable I really can be out of my comfort zone… if that makes any sense 🙂

  • Rachel
    May 18 2015

    I love this. After having gone to school for so many years, sometimes I miss being in a learning environment. And it’s even cooler that the workshops and classes are about things like art, yoga, and writing. Your friends are incredible for putting something like this together! I love the idea of having a tab, a trading post, and letting the masseuses set their own prices – like a little self-sustaining micro-economy.
    Rachel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 19 2015

      Indeed! Like Burning Man, it was very much its own little city there for four days.

  • kalie
    May 19 2015

    Meihoukai,

    What are Cacao Balls and what is a Cacao Ceremony?

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2015

      Hey Kalie, great questions! does a better job of explaining it than I could 🙂

  • Camels & Chocolate
    May 21 2015

    Give me all the yoga, all day, errryday!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

  • Erika
    May 22 2015

    I’ve never actually been to a festival. I’m not crazy about large crowds, so I’ve never found one that appealed to me. This one looks much more my style! It sounds so inspiring and beautiful!
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 26 2015

      I definitely think you need to have some serious crowd tolerance to survive your standard festival. This one would be a good one for the group averse!

  • Amy M
    May 23 2015

    What a beautiful festival!
    It’s not often you stumble across them that have a little bit of everything!
    This one seems dreamy! xo

    • Meihoukai
      May 26 2015

      Dreamy is the perfect adjective. It felt incredibly surreal!

  • Neysha
    May 27 2015

    I’m looking for something like this in Asia, but haven’t found anything quite as similar. Very cool! Thanks for sharing.
    Neysha recently posted..

  • Marni
    May 28 2015

    This is amazing! It sounds like an incredibly moving festival… not to mention it seems to take place in one of the most serene locations ever.

    • Meihoukai
      May 28 2015

      El Cuco was definitely one of the major players at this festival 🙂 The location really made it!

  • Theo
    June 19 2015

    I love this! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    And would love to see some of the creative, non-blog writing that Equilibrio inspired!
    Theo recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      June 21 2015

      I definitely hope to share it with the world someday, Theo 🙂 Though probably, by definition, not on this blog!

  • Eva Casey
    October 12 2015

    Hey! Do you think there will be another Equilibrio Festival this year?? It looks SO cool, and I will be in Central America this winter!
    Eva Casey recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 13 2015

      From what I hear they are planning a sequel! Stay tuned to their website and Facebook page for more details — it’s well worth going out of your way to attend!

  • Sandy
    May 30 2017

    I haven’t read part 2 yet but this part of the festival makes it sound like a retreat both good for the mind and body.

    • Meihoukai
      June 1 2017

      It truly was! Such an amazing experience — one of my best festivals.