Guy of the week – Ami (Greener Travel Company)

You like to travel with Jews?!
Yes, I do!

During a 6 month trip through Latin America after my IDF service and in the many trips I took around the world since, I was always interested in exploring and discovering the local Jewish/Israeli connections wherever I visited.  I have always enjoyed learning about the unique histories of the different communities. Traveling as a Jew, you always feel welcome by the community you visit – whether the Chabad House in Paris, the Reform synagogue in Berlin, or the tiny community in Guatemala City.  Traveling with Jews always means that the people traveling with me share the same curiosity I have, as well as the need to find a place to have Shabbat dinner.

What kind of programs do you do?
Two years ago I got a chance to turn my love of travel into an experience I could share with others. I created the Costa Rica Caribbean Experience, an experiential eco-tour, after visiting a farm owned by a Jewish guy in the Caribbean highlands – he has a dream of building a kibbutz-like community there. Visiting the place and the area, I fell in love once again with Costa Rica!

We offer amazing 9-10 day group trips for young Jewish professionals, an experience that includes a Shabbat visit to the San Jose (the capital) Jewish community, pristine tropical beaches, rainforest hikes and boat-rides in majestic jungle canals, amazing wildlife, whitewater rafting, Caribbean nightlife, a chocolate tour, a service project with the local indigenous community, a zipline adventure, a Caribbean cooking class, Israeli hummus in the jungle. The group spends the last Shabbat based at the cool and sprawling Jewish owned eco-farm of Finca Rio Perla, with its lush mountainous rainforest, waterfalls, and serenity – as well as optional farm activities, such as milking goats, cheese-making, tilapia fishing, working in the organic garden and re-planting jungle trees to offset carbon emissions!

And there is much, much more….

Can anyone go?
Yes – the tours are open to anyone from ages 23-45 that want to go on a unique adventure with other young Jews. The food throughout the trip is not strictly kosher (except at the Jewish community), but at all the places where we eat have vegan/vegetarian options, and Finca Rio Perla is a vegetarian farm.

When are your next trips?
Our next Jewish trips for 2012 are on February 18 – 26, May 26 – June 3, and August 11 – 19. Though the trips officially start on Saturday, if you are Shomer Shabbat and/or want to experience services and Shabbat meals with the Jewish community in San Jose, you can arrive on Friday.

In the future, the Greener Travel Company (our DC based LLC) plans on offering environmental trips to Israel, as well as eco-tours to Panama, Alaska and other unique destinations.

If you could go anywhere for 2 months, where would you go?
I would probably go above the arctic in the summer – I have been above the Arctic Circle quite a few times, and the serenity, wilderness, and midnight sun are just amazing!

What is the best part about Costa Rica?
Two things: The most amazing and hospitable people, and the stupendous nature and wildlife that is all around you.

What was your favorite Shabbat?
My favorite Shabbat was one spent in nature, in a forested area in upstate NY a few years ago – with a bunch of Jewish environmentalists: participating in outdoor services, and learning and discussing the meaning of “Eco-Shabbat.”

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
You will usually find me at Tikkun Leil Shabbat or Adas Israel at services – or hosting a dinner at my apartment.