Nicaragua

Reviewing Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

As much as I like to believe I'm aware of the world's atrocities and doing my part to make things better, I know I'm very much a negative factor in many world struggles that I'm both conscious of and oblivious to. I suppose my hourly efforts go out to world education, but being interested in travel and the world's communities seems to impress the importance of caring about everything.

coffee-bean

coffee-bean

Where does my clothing come from? Am I supporting local farmers? Did my beer get to me via cargo ship? Man...this coffee tastes delicious.

In terms of these worries, coffee is certainly a big kahuna. It's a safe assumption that young children today associate the Starbucks counter with the origin of coffee. And sadly, I think many adults and consumers think that far into the commerce chain when purchasing their daily jolt. I know I envision lush fields and no faces when I see names like Highland Grog and Java Sumatra, while trying to buy the cheapest concoction possible.

Where does the profit from our caffeine flow? Who benefits from my flavored latte? What is it like to grow coffee for a ravenous global market?

Deans Beans

Deans Beans

Dean is this dude. He is the founding dude of Deans Beans. He also calls himself a Javatrekker. He's all about organic beans and fair traded coffee, not "fairly" traded, loophole-filled commerce that leaves the farmers out cold and hungry. His book reads like a compilation of travel essays from someone who's had unique, and at times treacherous, experiences in the jungles, arid flatlands, and mountain ranges of the coffee lands.

Though I'm normally attracted to straight narratives, I found the mental globe trotting on the same theme a great overall adventure with an informative pulse, which will resonate with any consumer of any good. Let's check out Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee.

The Storyline

Dig your little toesies into the arid soil of Ethiopia, the birthplace of the coffee bean - or at least the location of caffeine's discovery. Dean will walk you through the experience of getting clean, potable water to a region with a serious water paucity. Feel happy and inspired. Now head south to Kenya and get ready to rip the bureaucratic heads off those swindling the coffee farmers out of their money. And so this storyline oscillates from empowering and inspiring accomplishment to unfortunate setback and struggle.

Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee

Take a big flying leap over to South America where Dean witnesses incredible feats of guerilla engineering, connects with ailing nature's call, and swallows crippling fear and pain to help a region whose political struggle beheld the demise of his friends. His essays indicate the world's vast array of problems all affect the already difficult task of growing beans: global warming, natural disaster, political uproar, world market prices, foreign aid, and more. It all reminded me of the butterfly effect.

Green Coffee

Green Coffee

Dean's trips aren't just about agriculture. Officially observing democratic elections and visiting victims of amputation via train wheels are his errands. Tying his product directly to the effects his industry can exacerbate not only reveals a pivotal awareness of the realities related to coffee but those of all products with middlemen and foggy ground between their origin and destiny.

Island-nations of Asia and the South Pacific host Dean's experiences, in locales seldom seen by the likes of any foreign eyes. Regions ripped to shreds by civil war and political corruption work with him to help their caffeinated cash crop industry. Bringing simple machines to villages that lost out on money for lack of regulation and timely output, Dean appears like a savior to these co-ops in need. However, he's always first to mention his own miscalculations and wrongdoings alongside those of his fellow man.

While Dean does focus on the difficulties of coffee growers, he fills the pages with descriptive prose on the rituals of coffee consumption, the cultural nuances of each community meeting, the similar human spirit that unites the world's population, as well as the distinctive differences that remind us the vast spread of the social platter. One doesn't need to be a lover of coffee to appreciate this compilation; travelers and the business-minded alike have great lessons to gain from reading this bad boy.

The Bottom Line

Javatrekker

Javatrekker

How are we supposed to work eight hours, exercise for one, get seven hours of sleep, chew 25 times per bite, find time for friends and family, visit the doctor, drink eight glasses of water, clean the litter box, and floss three times a day? Our lives are already packed with must-dos and obligations that seemingly cannot go undone. So then, how can we layer on top of our daily checklist complete and utter social responsibility that would accompany hours of research and product comparison?

In other words, how are we supposed to know which thing we eat, drink, or wear is best for the world?

Don't worry; you'll live a long time, long enough to take it all in stride and read books like this to cover each issue at a time. And now, coffee is covered! Deans Beans is standing alongside the farmer, helping him or her pay for their cost of operation, their family's well-being, and enabling their vertical climb in commerce and life. That sounds responsible to me.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a friend, and there are affiliate links in this post. I believe this is a book worth purchasing as well as one worth sharing with your friends.

Journeys of a Lifetime in December

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Airboat in the Everglades: Get deep into the mangrove forests of Florida's backcountry where alligators seemingly get bigger as you go deeper; you may even catch the rare Florida panther if there's a blue moon out.

Lake Nicaragua: A freshwater lake surrounded by lush forest and volcanoes? Crocodile-like reptiles submerged below the jungle canals? Swordfish sport fishing in a mystic lagoon? Am I dreaming?

By Road

The Grand Trunk Road: Peshawar to Kolkata: a road some call "the great river of life." It's a highway beaded with historical and memorable cities that combine to make an incredible, South Asian road trip.

The Pan American Highway: It's pavement that spans continents, but taking a ride in Tierra del Fuego and reach the end of the world: Ushuaia. You'll see grazing grasslands and ominous, omni-present mountains. Pretty great, huh?

By Rail

El Chepe: Ride the rails through an unspoiled landscape four times larger than the Grand Canyon. Indigenous Indians of central Mexico line the way, giving you access to a brilliant Latino culture.

The TranzAlpine: Cross Arthur's Pass and witness a blizzard outside your train window on this mountainous journey through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Sounds like it gets wild.

On Foot

The Headhunters' Trail: Stay in a longhouse with Iban villages. Wade through the tea-colored waters while admiring the limestone spires. Hope you still have your head upon the trip's completion.

The Levadas of Madeira: The levadas of Portugal are a network of watercourses that hydrate the paradiasical sugarcane fields. Apparently, moseying along these canals is a camera-friendly activity.

In Search of Culture

Colonial Virginia: Even if reenactments and period acting isn't to your fancy, Christmas just may be, and Williamsburg does this holiday justice.

Ancient Egypt: Show up for the peak Nile cruising season and enjoy the history museums to make sure your time in this ancient landscape is epic.

In Gourmet Heaven

Blue Mountain Coffee: It's the best coffee in the world. It's the best time to visit Jamaica. Those are two good reasons.

Vietnamese Cuisine: Imagine a leaf of cilantro floating on a sea of seasoned broth, handmade noodles sitting below the surface like a hundred Loch Ness monsters. Are you hungry for some pho yet?

Into the Action

Surfing in Hawai'i: You're going to need a wetsuit in that chilly water, but you're also going to catch some towering waves at hot spots like Waimea beach or the Banzai pipeline on O'ahu island.

Friesland's Eleven Cities' Tour: 16,000 ice skaters jump at the proclamation of the Elfstedentocht race, which only happens on the rare occasion in Holland when the ice is 5.9 cm thick. Await the call of the race anxiously and follow the races route along the footpath beside the frozen river.

Up and Away

Skyriding over St. Lucia: This Caribbean island will make you see colors. Real colors. Absolutely vibrant hues popping through the tropical air. Zipline around the canopies of the forest, and then save some time for some fresh product at a cocoa estate.

Angkor by Helicopter: Seeing the world's largest religious monument in a way that few experience, an enlightened view from above. See what can be done with incredible planning, gray stone and a herd of trained elephants for heavy lifting.

In Their Footsteps

Hemingway in Cuba: The Malecon was Hemingway's first view of Havana after sailing from America. Go and be moved by the same places this famous writer and Nobel Laureate frequented during his time on this vivacious island.

Alex Haley's Roots: See what Alex Haley found when visiting Gambia, a main topic of his Pulitzer winning book Roots. It would involve a boat ride and a village chief...and surely an incredible cultural quest.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in January for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.