Updated: Jun 2
In this article, we sit down with Alejandro Hidalgo: traveller, creator, connector and doer who hails from Costa Rica but tells people he is “from everywhere” because “[identity] isn’t about where you’re born but what you learn from the places you go”. ONEOFTHE8 co-creator, Jake Whalley serendipitously met Ale (as we’ll fondly refer to him) at a mutual friend’s wedding in India back in January 2019 – just one of his many pit stops around the globe.
'It isn’t about where you’re born but what you learn from the places you go'
Ale was born in Costa Rica but left during his early twenties, destination: United States of America. Here, he was headhunted into the big wide world of corporate 9-5 but after a few years, wanted to unshackle his creativity through the means of travel and meeting people from different walks of life.
His stint in social convention did, however, help him identify a valuable knack for spotting talent and connecting those skillsets with the people or businesses which need them. This supplemented years of freelance work in marketing, design and photographer and his contemporary harnessing of the theory that no matter where you are or who you are, you’re only ever six people away from anybody. Even Obama.
Modern technology means that we’re now only ever one click away from somebody which is a concept that has built the foundations of Ale’s ongoing work in the online creative industry. So, tech and digital presence is a huge part of his life but how does somebody with such a free spirit and intense empathy flourish when so attached to something which many of us see as a metaphorical prison?
'They’re human, they have feelings [...] and once you find a way to help them, you find your purpose'
We spoke about the uplifting benefits of social media and technology and how they facilitate a freedom and a connectivity that can be used to positively influence people when used correctly. People aren’t avatars made of pixels, “they’re human, they have feelings, they have dreams; broken dreams and once you find a way to help them, you find your purpose”.
No longer should supporting somebody else be nothing more than a semi-detached transaction of cash. Sure, financial donations are always going to be invaluable in supporting charities and organisations but what if we started exchanging more in the currency of human connection?
Ale opened up to ONEOFTHE8 about a phase of depression he found himself in and how a trip to the Dargah temple in Ahmedabad was what pulled him through the other side...
Outside the temple was a young girl, being used by her mother to lure in the generosity of sentimental tourists. Ale had snapped a photograph of the girl, which he later looked back on and instantly made a connection with the deep sadness in her eyes, cut deeper by the fly resting on her cheek. Little did he know that this image would have such a profound impact on the next epochs of his life.
This incredible photograph is something which Ale has set as the background on his phone and a visual he shares with anybody he feels might not relate to such depravity thanks to the fortune of their own reality. He hits home the paramount importance of making the connection between that girl and your daughter, your niece, your sister… because “before that, it’s just something that happens to other people”.
'The more I help, the more I feel better in myself'
The photograph is a powerful reminder of how different life could be and something which motivates Ale to make a difference, over money. It’s his dream to one day make a documentary about the young girl outside the temple with the fly on her cheek, to help her through human connection then replicate this model to help others. “The more I help, the better I feel in myself,'' he says and this is a feeling almost all of us can identify with.
During our conversation, Ale rightly said how “it’s easy to give money” but that “it used to be just paper and now it’s just numbers on a computer” and “when you go after money and go after money, you lose yourself”. It’s only when you forge emotional and intellectual connections that you become human again.
'Just find a reason to be alive – that’s it'
Being human is about being alive. We’re a mortal species with emotions, beliefs and a biological expiry date. Ale’s real life story teaches us that personal well being is intrinsically connected to the happiness of others and the extent to which we help nurture that. Not just via monthly direct debits to charities or circulating messages on social media but by making the welfare of at least one other human being your motivation; your purpose.
Find out more about Alejandro’s story, his travels and his work by listening to his episode on the ONEOFTHE8 podcast. To check out more of Alejandro’s photography, make sure to follow him on Instagram @phototravelportrait.