Vision Series: Gabby, the Conservation Traveller
Let me introduce - the vision series. On this blog I will interview some people I have met along the way who are living their dreams, or happily trying to do so, to help you see that it is possible. To help you see it is not all picture perfect either, but more than worth it if you fully embrace your path. First up is Gabby, a 34 years old power woman, born in El Salvador and raised in Australia from the age of 3. She calls herself a junior animal conversationist. I met her while teaching yoga during this amazing volunteering experience. Her light and passion is undeniably contagious. Thank you for being part of this journey!
You can follow her on www.conservationtraveller.org or www.theseaturtleproject.com. As well as on Facebook: @TheSeaTurtleProject @ConservationAdvisor @GabrielaReyesLopez. And Instagram: @SeaTurtleProject @ConservationTraveller @Traveller_Lopez
One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist ~Stephen Hawking
What are the tree main themes your life is about? (values, emotions, concepts)
Living a life I imagine: I believe we are all programmed to live in modern society forgetting who we are. We could live our passion and be human which means being imperfect. There are far too many beautiful people and places to meet and see. Blocking yourself from being will limit expressing gratitude, love and many other hidden interactive emotions. I want to help others in need in any small way so they can also experience what we have been gifted to be. Human.
Love and balance: Sometimes we forget who we are with so many distractions our world has placed in front of us. e.g. video games, smart phones and stereotypes. Although we all need digital interaction, wether it’s to keep in touch with friends around the world or send social media posts for education, balance is key to help us remain in our reality and what’s really important, love. Love is the most powerful emotion humans can experience, expressing love is contagious and addictive so if we can remain powerful enough to express what we feel, we can feel gratitude for those who we share a part of ourselves with.
Animal Welfare: I suppose anyone that knows me understands my passion for animal conservation. To summarise my key value for animals; I am the voice for the voiceless. So much cruelty is happening. More so in our modern ages than ever before in many sectors; fashion, entertainment and exploitation, over onsumption of agriculture, game hunting and outdated cultural tradition. In all of these animals are defenceless and suffer in horrible ways. We must have lost our way somehow, but if you open your heart you will feel their sorrow and if you open your mouth you will speak for them.
What does your vision for life look like?
A life with less greed and more gratitude for the world. Ethical, moral and leading by example. Hypothetically a life without animal abuse. A world without plastic and pollution. Realistically my views for my life is growing old with countless memories, projects and ethical work I am proud of that makes a difference and I can smile at.
When did this vision start to take shape in your mind?
Since I was a little girl I would rescue street dogs walking past my family home. My parents had reached their limits on finding homes for them so the very last dog I hid away for a month in my room. We eventually adopted ‘Joey’ and he lived a very happy 16 years. People would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d reply ‘I want to buy a van and save all the homeless dogs from the streets’.
However, four years ago I quit my job and flew to Africa because one thought grew stronger in my mind and that was ‘there must be more to life’! Africa is truly inspiring, it changed my vision of life and who I am today. One year later I created my brand Conservation Traveller.
When/why did you make the decision to fully embrace it and go for it?
I met so many inspiring people in Africa who made their dreams a reality. People trying to make a difference. I became raw and vulnerable because of the overwhelming emotion I felt for the love they expressed. There are far more important values in our world but we are blinded by cities and social status. My passion for animals grew over many years following Africa but it wasn’t till I travelled to Thailand 1 year later and visited what I thought was an Elephant Sanctuary. I saw 4 elephants chained in the sun looking sad. I realised greed drives people to use animals for their own entertainment and exploitation purposes that making animals endure mistreatment. I refused to ride the elephants but instead I demanded they unchain one elephant at a time so I could walk them through the jungle in freedom, like they are suppose to live. Visiting this sanctuary contributed to the very place I am not in favor of supporting, but they sell tours misleading tourists they are a conservation. Once my day was almost over, I bathed a baby elephant by a river. I overheard other tourists riding the other elephants and I wondered how they couldn't see what I saw? Ignorance is bliss, if only they knew the torture that happens behind closed doors to break and discipline an elephant. A light bulb lit my mind - it’s education.
That’s when Conservation Advisor/Traveller was born. And that’s why my logo represents an elephant. My purpose to animal conservation is education to people looking to travel. If I can reach people about what happens behind closed doors, they can choose to make an ethical decision when visiting any animal related place. Understanding every tourist wants to interact with animals, I can lead them to sanctuaries that support proper conservation and not tourist pools breaching animal welfare. Today I travel to make a difference to the welfare of animals. My latest work is The Sea Turtle Project which I created to make a difference to the way people see sea turtles in El Salvador.
How far along are you in making it your reality? Has it shifted a bit since you first started?
Yes, good question. I usually work for animal conservations volunteering and writing where I can in a blog but in 2017 I made my dream a reality. I created and founded The Sea Turtle Project. My views on education shifted a little, I was now driving a project with my own key objectives and with my very own volunteers. My first year was tough as I didn’t know much. Most of my knowledge was learnt through local tortugerros (turtle poachers) and research but 2018 will be about learning from our previous season. Making a bigger hatchery for our turtle nests, reaching out to schools to educate our future generation in far more interactive ways to create an emotional alignment to change cultural tradition of egg consumption, are next steps. As well as publishing my very first children’s book about ‘The Life Of the Green Turtle’ to showcase the struggles of a turtles life (In a nice playful way) and donate it to junior schools. I have big dreams but I need to, this drives me to do more.
What have been the biggest obstacles/challenges along the way and how do you deal with them?
My first big challenge was leaving the comfort and security of my Australia reality. Not knowing if this was crazy or a true leap of faith, either way being brave enough to leave it all behind to pursue my dream was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I had criticism and judgement along the way. People were constantly telling me "this is a phase", my father was losing his mind because I wasn’t living a ‘normal’ life. My motivation was continuing to feel worthless when watching inspirational people live their passion in animal conservation. I knew I could be more, I could make a difference even if it’s in a small way but I never imagined achieving what I have now.
My second big challenge was facing the truth on animal cruelty and seeing it first hand. There were nights in Thailand where I’d lay in bed crying, wondering what is this all for. Nights in El Salvador I would watch dead turtles wash up purposely killed for their eggs. It’s a harsh reality but it’s what I need to see to drive me to help more animals from a horrible fate. I just need to keep telling myself, if you have the ability to help save a life, why wouldn’t you? And hopefully along the way my actions will be contagious and inspire people to live their dreams and do more.
What have you learned from choosing to chase your vision that you did not expect?
Being vulnerable is not a bad thing. Being vulnerable allows you to feel emotion and receive real love. Not taking life too seriously but instead stop to embrace all that life throws at you, good and bad. I was always chasing something with not enough time to listen or really interact with anyone. That’s now my nightmare.
Do you have any practises that balance you out, or keep you grounded along this path?
I love meditating weather that be running and feeling my heart beat or practising different yoga poses, I need to take time to be with myself. I love feeling other peoples energy and positive energy is always good to maintain, it attracts like minded people but without my balance in life, my energy can shift. Energy and spirituality are super important to me, I like to feel happy as well as seeing people happy. Seeing the world in a positive way is my motto as harsh as my reality can be or negative energy can distract me. I try to maintain my positive energy and thoughts positive.
What mantra/thought keeps you going?
Always live a life I imagine. My thoughts will become my reality because I’m asking the universe to make my dreams my reality. So you see it’s a cycle. My mantra has many different meanings but it always leads back to living my dream. Never stop and always live a life I imagine.
What do you wish you knew before starting? Any advice for others? Books or resources?
Prepare a foundation is my biggest advice. Part of that foundation is documenting your journey which can be through digital social media such as a blog or videography. Tell your story from the beginning and watch your journey unravel. A large hard drive for photos! They create memories and document your dream. Everything else will fall into place if you have an open mind. Accept everything that life throws at you because it can be a lesson or something you use later in life. Listen to local people if traveling, they are your best resource of knowledge and adapt to changes.
Have you had any mentors or examples along the way? Fictional or real life, may be famous, may be your grandma.
Dr Jane Goodall - Animal conservationist and primatologist.
~ Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.
~Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.
~The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Sir David Attenborough - Animal conservationists and broadcaster.
I love this man because he is the pinnacle of animal education and speaks to the world in the upmost calmest positive realistic manner. Beautiful.
~ The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?
~An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.
~I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored
Thank you lovely Gabby!
If you liked this interview, please get over to her pages and give her some support here www.conservationtraveller.org or here www.theseaturtleproject.com. And please pay attention to the desire burning in your own heart, listen to it, and let it out into the world.