Reflections on 20 Years on the Mountain

So, it’s been two decades since I co-purchased a little degraded piece of an Andean mountainside, and committed to found a community and dedicate the next 15 years to regenerating the land. 

20 years offer quite a lot to reflect on. It’s hard to know where to begin and how to keep out short. I suppose one of the largest highlights has been all the people who made the strenuous hike up, to help manifest my sacred dream. Whether they were just volunteers staying for a couple weeks, or community members who made Sacred Sueños their home, I cherish all the connections that I made. One of my biggest disappointments is that the intentional community didn’t last, and so few visitors have been gracing the project. This off-road, off-grid, & off-line lifestyle was already pretty radical when I began. I feel that modern society has even further progressed, to the point that hiking 2 hours to live an extremely simple lifestyle without internet access, isn’t attracting people like it used to. 

At least on the other focus, regenerating the land, I think I’ve been more successful. I’ve managed to plant thousands of trees. I’ve fought several fires, and chased off stray pigs and cattle hundreds of times, to give Nature the serenity to ecologically succeed towards the cloud forest that was once here. It’s nothing short of magical, observing the steady increase in biodiversity. 

Twenty years ago, I made a sacred commitment to heal and nurture this land for the next fifteen years. The initial plan was to leave 5 years ago! In a parallel universe, I’m sailing around the world today. But in this one,  I’m still here, with no plan to leave anytime soon. I started with a simple project on 10 hectares, but it soon burgeoned into a larger one several times the area. I also had imagined there being a community her that would steward the land when I leave. Both of these are really empty excuses. The land is doing fine, regenerating on her own, and I could simply donate her to one of many conservation groups.

I’d thought that, with no plans to reproduce, this land was going to be my child. I’d planned to nurture her like a child, and give her independence after those 15 years. Well, children seem to depend on their parents for much longer, so there’s that. But most importantly, I HAVE reproduced. I’ve got a wonderful partner, with two children and a third on the way. THAT is my community: family. Whenever Kristine and I have contemplated raising our family somewhere else, we just can’t imagine finding somewhere that offers what we have here: peace and tranquility; delicious pure water, food,  and air; a life without the treadmill of bills and keeping up with the Joneses; keeping an ecological footprint that ensures we’re not part of the problem; and being able to be fully available and connected to our children.

I honestly don’t think I’ll be here for another twenty years, but you never know.  I do know that I’ve cherished these past decades here, and appreciate all that my experience has given me… And I’m sure that there’ll be plenty of unexpected events and lessons to come. Today I’m celebrating both. I’m going on a long hike to immerse myself in this magical land.