Interview with a Tripping Host - Antonio from Mexico

Antonio was born in Colima, Mexico, in the foothills of one the ten most active volcanos in the world. At eleven years old, Antonio and his family immigrated to the U.S. and became migrant farm workers. Thanks to teachers and friends, he went on to earn his doctorate from UC Davis' School of Medicine. For the next 23 years, Antonio not only worked as a family physician in Monterey County, California, but also spearheaded new treatments and policies to prevent pesticide poisoning, a major health concern for many field workers.  Antonio retired in 1998 but stays busy with volunteering, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.   What volunteer activities are you involved with? Twenty years ago an American couple came to visit the area and fell in love with the poor children of my village. They eventually established an educational /health/social program that provides full scholarships and support to those who have the potential but lack the means to pursue higher education. The program is a non-profit organization called www.projectamigo.org. It has become my favorite volunteer activity and I love to participate in the work weeks as well as a photographer, role model, driver, and guide.  Since retiring, I have also traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala on human rights delegations several times and act as an adviser for a scholarship program at UC Santa Cruz. As a local guide, what is the one place you always show guests? My hometown in Mexico is situated in the lush, vibrant foothills of a volcano, so I always like to take my guests on hikes. There are certain areas which are only accessible to locals due to their obscure location. In Santa Cruz, where I spend about half of the year I always take guests to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. When you travel, what are the top three ways that you connect with the local culture? I love to talk to people, visit sites frequented by the locals, and make friends who invite me into their homes. How can we encourage cultural understanding on a global scale? The most important factor to promoting positive exchanges between different groups is to treat each other with dignity and respect. Approach each situation with an open mind and you will come away with a better experience. Antonio loves to share stories and information about both his home towns and is happy to provide travel tips, meet up for coffee (which he grows and roasts himself) or welcome guests for home stays.  You can connect with him via his Tripping profile.