2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd annual Anarchapulco conference. Last year’s conference changed my life; I met some people who are now great friends, I heard Dayna Martin speak for the first time, which was no small part in my decision to have children in the near future, and when I got back to Portland from the conference, I knew I couldn’t continue working a job & paying rent.
This year, I knew I wanted to get even more out of the experience, spend more time with the community, and do whatever I could to make it life-changing for everyone else attending. To start my journey to Acapulco, 3 friends and I traveled to Guatemala, attended the Rainbow Gathering there, and spent some time visiting Lake Atitlan. At the beginning of February, I made my journey north, finding a ride with some friends on their way back to Colorado. Over the course of our 2 day drive from the lake to Acapulco, we managed to get to the Guatemala-Mexico border right as it closed for the night, and we were stopped about 2 dozen times at Policia Federales checkpoints. The first time we were stopped, all three of us were asked to step out of the car. I had been in the back of the van full of gear, wearing just a pair of shorts as it was ~90 degrees out, and when I got out, the female officer pointed at my chest hair and looked at her compatriots a few times before running her hands through it and making a purring sound. Getting sexually harassed by the police less than an hour into a country has got to be some sort of record.
Upon arriving in Acapulco, I met up with Juan Galt, one of the local anarchists, who had been helping me find a place to rent, and offered to let me stay with him while checking a few out. Juan and his roommate Ryan are awesome guys, and starting that very night, we had many hours of wonderful conversation. Juan is working on a documentary series about Acapulco and its anarchist community, and Ryan is creating a wi-fi network to span the city. Since the guys had a blender in their apartment, I started making us all smoothies every morning, one of my favorite ways to start the day. After talking to Ryan about my plans for my website, he helped me set everything up and get started, and with the laptop that Juan let me borrow, I got to working. After a couple of days staying with them, I ended up renting the apartment downstairs for the rest of the month, so I would have a place for my friends to stay when they started arriving in town. As it turned out, the apartment across the hall from me was also being rented by Kurt, another anarchist in town for the conference, so we started getting to know each other as well. As people started arriving to stay with Kurt or myself, I kept making smoothies for everyone, a slightly bigger batch each day it seemed like. Just about every day there was some kind of meet-up, party, or adventure to go on with the community in town, and I took every opportunity I could to connect with these amazing people. As more and more people started arriving in town, I began making large meals and offering them to anyone who wanted to try my vegan cooking. Many of these folks gave me pesos when they would come and eat, and this allowed me to keep making more food for myself, my neighbors, and anyone else who was hungry. After my first two weeks in Acapulco, I mentioned to a friend that I already felt like I had gotten more out of my trip than last year, without the conference even having started yet.
As the conference drew close, I focused on getting my website to the point where I felt comfortable handing out business cards with a link on them. On Wednesday the 17th, the first day of workshops for the event, I reached out to my friend Alais, who was on her way down to headline the concert, and discovered she had missed her flight. After many hours of scrambling, we lined her up an alternative, which was more complicated, but would still get her to town a few hours before the concert was scheduled to start Friday evening. I spent much of Thursday cooking a huge dish of curry and putting it into containers to share with people. Friday I headed to the conference room and listened to Jeff’s opening speech, as well as the one after him (the only speeches I actually heard all weekend), before heading back to my place to pick up some meals to deliver, then catching a taxi to the airport to pick Alais up. The rest of the day was just a blur of talking to amazing people, giving out business cards, and re-connecting with friends I hadn’t seen since the 2015 conference. When the conference ended for the day, we brought the sound equipment out to the pool area and started setting up for the evening’s concert. Once it was obvious that the set-up was going smoothly, I went to wake Alais up from a nap, get a smoothie from Verde Vegan, and head to the concert. Things didn’t get rolling until a couple of hours after they were scheduled to, but when they did! Nadia D opened it up, and her voice was absolutely beautiful. She was followed by Jeff Berwick himself, performing a song from his past life as the #2 white rapper in 90’s Canada. Next up was my good friend Kurt, performing a few songs, including fan favorite “To Acapulco“. L-Dixon came on next, and While I had never heard of him before, I’m definitely a fan now. Finally, Alais came on stage and absolutely BLEW EVERYONE AWAY! You would not believe the amount of praise she got from the audience (and I did for getting her down there).
For the next part of my experience to make sense, I need to mention part of last year’s conference. Both years now, Dayna Martin has offered a full-day workshop on peaceful parenting & unschooling. Last year, since I had no intentions of having children, I skipped her workshop. I did, however, catch her 30 minute presentation during the conference proper, and besides bringing just about everyone in the room to tears, her talk was one of the major factors in my recent decision to get myself to the point that I am the kind of person I want to see raising kids. Getting ready for this year’s conference, I decided that I most definitely would be attending her workshop this time around. About a week before the conference, I sent out my most recent email update, and at the end of the email I mentioned that I wanted to attend this workshop (a $150 cost), and asked for assistance coming up with these funds. About a day later, I received a message that Dayna was hoping to have some vegan treats handed out at the end of her presentation during the conference, and if I would be interested in making & distributing these, I could attend the workshop. Of course I jumped at the opportunity, excited not only to attend the workshop, but also to be able to share some food medicine with all the attendees of the conference. I decided on making a no-bake cookie / bliss-ball mashup (recipe to be posted soon), adding a good bit of ginger and turmeric for immune system support as many at the conference had been coming down with various bugs. First thing Saturday morning, I headed up to the Freeman house, where Dayna & her family were staying, to prepare the treats. I was at the house until about 3 in the afternoon, getting to know Dayna & her husband Joe, and getting to observe their interactions with their kids. The cookies were extremely gooey at this point, as I had never made gallons of bliss balls before, and the amount of moisture was way off. We all talked about the possibilities, and let go of any attachment to the desserts being given out at 5:30 during her speech. When we left the house and their family all went to Verde Vegan to grab lunch before heading to the conference, I bought some coconut flour and headed to my apartment to see what I could do. I managed to get the moisture level a little more normalized, and my friends helped me roll up almost 300 balls just in time to get over about halfway through Dayna’s talk.
Sunday morning, I headed out early to start preparing food for a post-conference party on Monday night that I was helping cater. We started the day with a trip to the grocery store, where we filled 2 entire carts (to the point of overflowing) with food, then got all that food, as well as the 4 of us, into a Volkswagen Beetle. From there we headed back to the villa, and I spent the next hours making huge amounts of hummus, guacamole, superfood pudding, chocolate dip for the fruit tray, and sunflower seed pate veggie bites. I caught a ride back to the conference and spent some time mingling & networking before calling it another early night. Monday I started the day with smoothies for the gang once again, then headed off to Dayna’s workshop (although I already felt like I had gotten more than I hoped for just from hanging out with her and her family). While waiting for things to get started, I realized it would be awesome if Alais could perform for everyone at the party, so I started reaching out to everyone who had some say in the use of the sound equipment. The workshop was great, offering quite a bit of insight and many stories of how the Martin family handles their lifestyle. I won’t go into too much detail here, as I’m planning to do a write-up about my take away once I finish reading Dayna’s book, “Radical Unschooling”. After the workshop was over, I went back to my apartment to freshen up, then back to the hotel to round up the sound equipment and head up to the villa. When I got there, Alais & Ryan took over setting up the equipment while I made ingredients lists for my dishes, leaving one of my business cards next to each one as well. Alais got a chance to perform about 3.5 songs before we started having some technical difficulties.
I spent the next week at a VERY low energy level, mostly just sleeping, listening to music, and smoking surprisingly stony Mexican weed. At the beginning of March, after spending my last evening in town with the Freemans, I caught a bus to Mexico City, then 2 flights to get my to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I am writing this.
Although I missed much of the “conference” in terms of the speeches, I can certainly say that my experience was even better than last year, the variety of topics being spoken about was much more widespread, and I met many more people I resonated with than the previous year. You can be sure I’ll be attending Anarchapulco again next year, and I know it will be even better than this year.
I want to give a huge thanks to:
-Nathan & Lisa, for all the opportunities & support you offered me. Nathan, I would especially like to thank you for all of your hard work putting together this year’s conference.
-Juan, for letting me stay with you, loaning me your laptop for a few weeks, translating, and helping me find an apartment.
-Ryan, for letting me stay with you, and helping me set up my website.
-Dayna & Joe, for working out a direct energy exchange for me to attend your workshop, and for being such an amazing example of what parents can look like.
-Alais, for letting me drag you thousands of miles to perform for 45 minutes.
-Michael & Candice, for letting me prepare food for your party.
-My parents, for supporting me in everything that I do!
-And everyone else who bought my food, welcomed me into their life, offered their support, and helped make February such an amazing month for me: Steve & Achara, Pontus & Ulrika, Linus, Steven, David, Kurt, Haji, Jennifer, Victor, Lil, Aaron, Leo, Pal, Gustavo, Adam, and many more…