The morning air is cool and damp, the haunting song of the Rufus-throated Solitaire, Jilguero as we call it here, sung in a distinct minor key, has begun. The dew glistens as the night gives way to dawn. Mornings on the farm never get old, even after 20 years. This calming spiritual experience sooths my weary soul and quiets my noisy mind. I wake-up feeling somehow healthier, even after only my first night. Sleeping nestled in our Treehouse, high in the canopy in the middle of our farm is special. Intentionally creating physical distance from the worries of life and the many responsibilities that clamor for my attention is a gift I do not often enough allow myself to enjoy. As this new day comes to life, gratitude fills my soul.
Reflecting on where we are today, I can-not, with certainty, tell whether we are still in the same book or if this saga we are living spans many volumes. One thing is for certain, we are tuning the page to a new chapter…exploring what it means to slow down, be thankful and participate in the creation process. So much this particular journey has been about stewarding a coffee farm at the foothills of Pico Duarte. It’s almost surreal that peace can be found in close proximity to a bustling city.
Tomorrow we host our first of two Public Presentations in our little community of Angostura de Manabao. We will share our future plans for Spirit Mountain, the creation of an intentional community called Estancia Natura. This is one of the final steps of the Environmental Impact Study for the Ministry of the Environment here in the DR. As a developer, this is the third time I’ve been down this road. The first time was with ‘Jamaca de Dios’, a large residential vacation community, back in 2003. The second time was in 2012 with ‘The Village’, a small boutique residential project outside of Jarabacoa. This time around feels distinctly different. Spirit Mountain has been a family farm for more than a half century, and our intention when we purchased the farm from the Lopez Family was to preserve this legacy. This farm has become a special place for the Wallace family and we have no intention of ever walking away from it. I imagine generations of Wallace’s, telling stories around the campfire of these crazy gringos that moved to the DR Back in the 90’s and went native!
Our family’s decision to invite close friends and our extended family to join us in our story was a natural evolution. What makes us, the Dominican people, so unique is our radical hospitality. In all my travels, I have not met another people who so naturally love and care for their neighbors. Hospitality is deeply imbedded into our DNA, and we cannot, for long, keep things we love to ourselves. I also believe that this characteristic is the result of the deep faith we have in our creator.
Two years ago, we began scheming of how we could begin to write the people we loved into our story. Over the years, many of you have found yourselves in the Spirit Mountain narrative, soaking up the healing essence, as a guest. We have so enjoyed hosting you and your families and love hearing about your experiences. Fall of 2021, as COVID ravaged the world, people flocked to the farm in numbers that surprised us. This was the tipping point that pushed us to begin planning what has become Estancia Natura and formalize an invitation to join us. We still have details to work out and plans continue to evolve. As architects and artists, we never finish creating. With each person that enters into our story, the vision of our community develops and improves and expands and in many ways simplifies.
What we do not want to lose as we breathe life into Estancia Natura is what has made Spirit Mountain so special for so many people over the last couple of decades. We will always be a functioning coffee farm. We will always be a place where visitors can experience the natural beauty and wonder of the Dominican Mountains. We will always be committed to sustainability and protecting the environment. We will always be working to improve access to quality education and we will always be raving fans of loving each other.
This weekend I will be meeting with friends who are interested in learning more about how to write themselves into the Spirit Mountain story and I am thankful we have a book big enough for a bunch of extra chapters. I don’t know exactly what we will find as we move into the next chapters, but I am sure it will be good, because it’s with friends who are as excited about the adventure as we are.
We anticipate having permits in hand by the end of this summer to begin moving forward with development. If your interested in knowing more, please review our FAQ page or contact Kathryn Lake, my daughter, and she will schedule a call.