The word “encuentros” translates in English to “meeting” or “to encounter”. Or as my friend translates it “Encuentros is a Meeting Point.” The philosophy behind this restaurant/bar/cafe in Granada, Nicaragua, is that it is a place to “meet the world”.

Having travelled the world making documentaries (as well as doing a Master in Peace and Conflict Studies in Sydney) Erik Hof, with the help of his dad Rob Hof, set up this unique fusion of world food, cocktails, culture and conversation, with pool parties and a cinema to top it off. No wonder I almost didn’t leave…

“It seems the path to peace must involve creating a place where people can meet ‘the other’, talk with ‘the other’, and see that in fact there is no ‘other’,” the Hof’s explained Encuentros’ philosophy. “It is much harder to cause harm to someone, to stereotype or hate groups of people, after you have met them. This is our attempt to create such a place, Encuentros: a place to meet the world. After you meet people from around the world, from different world’s within our shared world, it becomes explicitly clear that while we have our individual communities, we are also all part of one large global community. While we each have and share infinite number of stories, these stories combine together to create one shared story of humanity. These stories need to be shared, through conversation, and we need to talk about where our collective story is headed.”

Ok, so this is my elaboration on a many conversations I had with the Hofs (you can probably hear my words in this spiel loud and clear..) Anyway the Encuentros philosophy and idealistic aspirations lined up with my own. How you do carry it out in a realist’s world, I’m not sure.

Is it possible that by “meeting the world” or “putting a face to the other” we can move toward greater states of peace? Is a place like Encuentros a productive way to do this? Or (to maintain a critical perspective), is a place like Encuentros just another place to have fun? Well it’s definitely the latter, and if it’s even a little bit the former, then I think it’s a good thing 🙂

Some events photography I did for them: Encuentros – Salsa Night & Pool Party 13-14th Jan 2012: (click one to open in a viewing window)

Check out their website: