I just returned to the United States from the first annual Foro Poliamor in Spain, and was completely charmed by it all – the people I met, the places they showed me, and the conference itself.
If you have never been to Spain and could possibly travel there, I strongly suggest that you try to find somehow, someway to get there. It is a lovely, diverse, delightful country with friendly people and incredible places to visit. Going for the Foro is the perfect excuse to explore this incredible country!
The Catalunya region of Spain is gorgeous and diverse. A charming mix of ancient and ultra-modern, Barcelona is the transit, tourist, and business capitol of the region. The Foro Poliamor conference met at the delightful Hotel Cardos in the Pyrenees Mountains. Roughly three hours from Barcelona by car, the mountains have lovely trees and burbling brooks in the summer and skiing in the winter. With barely any competing light and clear air, the night sky in the Pyrenees is so dark and clear that you can see the band of the Milky Way standing stark amid the most stars I have ever seen.
Hotel Cardos is a charming, quirky, and comfortable hotel with a lovely deck, swimming pool, gardens, and grounds. A collectors’ dream, Hotel Cardos boasts a diverse and fascinating array of objects (especially nativity figures), sculptures, and wall-art gracing each of its six floors. The dining room offers a large and inviting space with a central buffet for breakfast, and long tables where lunch and dinner are served. The staff are delightful, incredibly friendly, and accommodating, and helped to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Inviting sleeping rooms provided comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and windows with gorgeous mountain views of the fierce late June sun during the day and lovely cooling breezes at night. The grounds of Hotel Cardos are filled with delightful nooks and crannies, from a fountain grotto with elaborate stone designs to a gazebo surrounded by trees and horses in the field next to the pool. Indoor spaces provide a wide range of places to hang out – among them the Piano room for big meetings and social chatting, the Zen room for quite thinking, reading, or meditation, the Botanica space that straddled the sunroom and stone patio, or the underground discotheque complete with lights and sound system.
Foro Poliamor Conference
A three-day fiesta of thoughts and interactions, learning and socializing – what’s not to like? In fact, the entire conference was lovely, from the flexible nature of the programming to the delightful conversations around delicious food. There were two organized tracks – four workshops with me and four workshops with Nico Castellanos. My workshops covered types of CNM and when they work (or not), a brief history of CNM and its place in social change, dealing with jealousy, and children in polyamorous families. Nico Castellanos presented workshops on four-hand massage, BDSM for the curious, conscious touch, and a sensory journey.
A third track was organized by the folks who came to the conference in the moment, with people writing suggestions for what they would like to discuss and others offering expertise in specific topics. I attended one of the open track sessions on ninja training led by the impressive and intrepid Irene and it kicked my ass, even though I was not in time to meet them for the running portion of the workout. Doing the stairs, jumping up and down a bench (except in my case more stepping up and down) and lifting blocks of concrete from a squat or in a lunge was more than enough for me. By the time we got to repeatedly jumping in the pool and lifting ourselves up using upper body strength I decided I might just stay in the pool for a while. Everyone was jovial and encouraging, some joining me in the pool to luxuriate in the delightful water and others continuing their (grueling I must say) workout. That moment was characteristic of the Foro for me – I was free to do as I wished with the delight and support from those around me in a relaxed learning and collaborative environment. Non-ninja-related topics included dancing, defining and establishing consent, working through the emotional pain that can come with polyamorous relationships, and many more.
There were many fun opportunities for relaxed socializing. Meals at long tables encouraged spontaneous conversations with folks who ended up next to each other, and the swimming pool and patio offered many opportunities to lounge and chat. A costume party Saturday night had everyone cross-dressing and boogieing in the disco and watching the absolutely incredible (I cannot sufficiently express how truly amazing) night sky.
While I learned a little bit of Spanish as an exchange student in Guadalajara, it was not even enough to really communicate then and I have forgotten most of it in the intervening years. Even with such limited skills, I was able to communicate easily with people at the conference because many of them spoke at least some English. During my workshops the Foro provided someone to translate between English and Spanish, and they even gave me a personal translator during the group meetings who whispered to me in English. In the rare case that the person I was chatting with could not understand my broken Spanish and could not speak to me in English, there was always someone else nearby who was happy to translate on the fly. Overall, I found the language quite easy to navigate and people happy to help me through stumbles.
The next Foro happens in June of 2018. Tickets to Barcelona are not all that expensive, especially if you start looking for deals early. If you start saving today, you might be able to travel to Spain next year for the Foro. In my experience, it was totally worth the time, effort, and expense to get there for the amazing experience.