Since 2001 Dean Jacobs has traversed across the globe exploring over 50 countries on a low budget adventure, propelled by a desire to understand the world we share. We at Mountainsmith have been inspired by Dean and are pleased to take the time to share his mission. Not only does he leave a positive impact on the people he visits, he brings the experience back to share with schoolchildren in the States. Creating an appreciation in future generations for the great outdoors is a high priority for our brand, and we have Dean to thank for doing his part. The latest from Dean in his words…
With every passing minute, we left behind the noise of the so-called developed world as our plane flew deep into the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador.
The loud sound of the plane engine began to fade as I pressed my face against the plastic window to get a better view of the endless rainforest below. The unceasing green was occasionally separated, only briefly, by a brown river winding its way toward the mother of all rivers – the Amazon.
There is no place like the Amazon Rainforest in the world. Thirty percent of all the living species in the world are said to call it home. Most of those have yet to be documented.
I was on my way to visit a couple of indigenous villages from the Achuar nation of Ecuador. They are a proud and distinct people who have lived in harmony with the rainforest long before the Spanish ever arrived.
My mission this day was to deliver three duffle bags stuffed with school supplies to remote village schools. There is no store down the river for the Achuar people who are dedicated to educating and empowering their children to be good stewards of the rainforest. Their lives are a balancing act between two worlds – a sustainable existence in the rainforest and the consuming demands from the so-called developed world for the natural resources that surround them.
The Achuar are a dream culture. In the darkness of the early morning, the Achuar wake at 4 a.m. to interpret their dreams to gain insight on the actions to take for the day and the future. About 15 years ago, a dream appeared to the Achuar to reach out to the west, to the very people they considered being a threat to their way of life. The intention was to build a bridge between these two worlds to help preserve the rainforest and the world.
Their dreams have now reached me.
My first visit to the Achuar was as a guest of a tour. A friendship was formed on that trip, a new relationship was created and together we connect the young people from two worlds. I bring school supplies from the donations of school children and others in the United States. The Achuar welcome me back as their “yatzoro” or brother. They, in turn, walk me through the rainforest and share their knowledge and wisdom for me to take back to the schools in the United States and beyond.
Soon our plane dropped from the sky and landed onto a remote red dirt airstrip carved from the green sea of plant life that covers everything in every direction.
People with smiling faces wave; some are familiar from previous visits and others are new as they prepare to help me unload my cargo from the plane.
They show me where to set up my campsite. I unroll my Mountainsmith tent, set it up to be my home for the next several days and begin my part of fulfilling the dream.