by Carlos Anchondo '14
Weathered, creased, and worn, Jeremy Dack’s boots have seen it all. They have crushed gravel beneath their soles, strode over smooth pavement, splashed through mountain streams, and felt the cool powder of freshly fallen snow. In Huesca, Spain, at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains, Dack and his boots traverse the region for Iberian Adventures, his outdoor tourism business. The “soft adventure” tours take clients hiking, climbing, and exploring through Spain’s diverse and dramatic northern landscape.
Co-founded and owned with his business partner Josefina, Iberian Adventures has introduced its customers to a “new side of Spain” since 1997. Clients choose from a select range of itineraries that include hiking and adventure trips, custom or private expeditions, and tours along the famed Camino de Santiago. Dack says the company offers tourists a “more intimate picture” of Spain, particularly those looking to discover its natural beauty.
“For those who would like to get to know Spain on a deeper level, these trips mix the outdoors with a lot of cultural and historical elements,” Dack says. “Our customers receive highly personalized attention that brings them into close contact with Spain’s people and the land itself.”
Dack first discovered Spain through Josefina, whom he met while teaching English in Japan. The pair, now divorced, moved to Josefina’s native Spain in 1997, creating Iberian Adventures in the winsome mountain village of Arenas de San Pedro. As the business grew, Dack also worked as a translator, a profession that allowed him to explore the local Sierra de Gredos Mountains and bolster his hiking and climbing abilities. He also continued to practice aikido, a defensive, nonviolent form of martial arts that he learned in Japan.
A self-described “outdoor and adventure lover,” Dack still gets a thrill planning new or custom trips. He takes great pride in knowing that every trail, every restaurant, every hostel, and every church that customers visit has already been screened and approved by him or someone on the staff. Dack’s favorite trip to lead is hiking into the national parks along the Pyrenees; a close second is the Camino Primitivo de Santiago. Unlike the more popular Camino Frances, the Primitivo route is less traveled, is the oldest route, and wanders through what Dack describes as “outstandingly beautiful terrain.” Iberian Adventures was one of the first tourism businesses to aid pilgrims as they made their journey along the Way of St. James.
The motto for Iberian Adventures states, “Spain is our home and the outdoors is our passion.” It is a maxim Dack says evolved naturally and sums up how he feels about his adopted country. A British citizen, Dack has been an expat his entire life. He was born in Venezuela and moved to Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines before settling in Houston for high school. A desire to attend a small, liberal arts college led him to Trinity where he majored in business administration. In addition to playing intramural sports and enjoying a hodgepodge Frisbee golf course through campus, Dack was a founding member of social fraternity Omega Phi. Dack also made frequent use of Texas’ natural beauty, camping at Pedernales Falls, Enchanted Rock, and Big Bend National Park.
“At Trinity, I had the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people and backgrounds,” Dack says. “Nowadays, the business I am in requires me to be quite social and to interact with a client base that comes from all around the world.”
Whether they journey from Japan, the U.S., or Australia, Dack hopes to provide his customers with a sense of the Spain he experiences on a daily basis. He has found, even after two decades in Spain, that doing business can be somewhat difficult in a country that works to live and not vice versa. Yet, despite having to navigate around constantly changing business hours, Dack says he appreciates the Spanish priority on family and the sense of community, even in a city of 53,000 like Huesca. By hand-selecting restaurants and hotels, as well as guides, Dack offers customers an authentic slice of Spanish life. It is fitting, then, that more than 60 percent of Dack’s tours are requested custom trips, a testament to the attention to detail put into each itinerary.
As Iberian Adventures approaches 20 years, Dack cannot imagine living anywhere but Spain. For someone who has lived all over the globe, this outdoor enthusiast says he has likely made his last move, a decision that brings him peace.
“Spain is my home now,” Dack says. “Sometimes you get tired of being a foreigner, but that is my lot in life.”