As some of you know, I’m going to be speaking at a week-long retreat in the foothills of Ecuador in late August. The one last year was a huge success, and after reading about it on Mr Money Mustache I wished I had been there.
I wasn’t though, and so I couldn’t give a lot of details earlier. So I’ve asked Cheryl Reed (the proprietor and one of the presenters) to talk about what the trip entails. At the end of this post I’ll go over what my presentation is about.
Cheryl first visted Ecuador seventeen years ago on a volunteer trip. She was extremely moved by both the exceptional hospitality and incredible poverty she witnessed there.
“I worked with disabled children whose parents couldn’t afford diapers, so they used sweaters covered by plastic bags. I watched as one father carried his 14-year old child with cerebral palsy on his back eight blocks to the center every day because she didn’t have a wheelchair. I returned to the States and nothing made sense to me anymore, especially my consumerist lifestyle. Six months later I left everything and moved to Ecuador and it was the best decision I ever made.”
My dream since then has been to host week-long retreats in Ecuador in order to share her beauty, as well as what I’ve learned about following your dreams and finding happiness. Serendipity has always been on my side, and a financial blogger named Jim Collins contacted me and suggested adding bloggers to the list of presenters for the retreats.
Last year was our first chautauqua and it turned out better than I could have hoped. It was the perfect combination of twenty-seven like-minded people, spending time together in one of the most beautiful areas of Ecuador, discussing freedom, happiness and financial independence. I knew I was onto something special when people said it was life-changing.
This year, I decided to hold two chautauquas. The first one has a financial independence focus, with Jim Collins and Mr. Money Mustache (and is sold out.) For the second retreat, I wanted to delve more deeply into the topic of happiness and freedom, and to share the area where I live.
We have a great week planned. Attendees will arrive on Saturday in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. We’ll spend the night in the city and leave for the subtropics the next morning. Our first stop will be at the Intinan Solar Museum at the “Middle of the World.”
We will travel a mile up the road to have lunch at El Crater Restaurant, which overlooks Pululahua Crater. Pululahua is one of only two inhabited volcanic calderas in the world and the only one cultivated by its inhabitants. It has a 1500 foot tall volcanic cone in the center and is often enveloped in mist.
Then we will descend through the lungs of the world, from 10,000 feet above sea level to 5,000 feet. I know almost every curve of this mountain road because it’s the same road that leads to my farm. We will arrive at the gorgeous El Encanto Resort, which sits embedded in the side of a mountain, overlooking the Rio Blanco. On clear days you can see Pichincha and Cayambe, two of the mountains in Volcano Alley.
The schedule for the week includes presentations by David Cain, J.D. Roth, and myself, along with one-on-one meetings with one of us. David will talk more about his presentation and you can view the details for mine and J.D.’s on the website. We’ll have plenty of free time, as well as meals together where we can share our ideas about life and the topics discussed in the presentations.
During the week, we will visit Mindo, a cloud forest reserve, with a stop at the Mariposario, where you will see the complete process of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and you can then sit in an enclosed area surrounded by hundreds of butterflies fluttering around you. Next you’ll have a little adrenaline rush as you fly on a zip-line over the cloud forest. Another day will be spent on my farm, where you’ll see how a tiny seed turns into your morning cup of coffee.
Up the road from my house is the Tulipe Museum, which is home to the Pre-Incan ceremonial swimming pools built by the Yumbo Indians who lived in this area 900 years ago. We’ll experience a group Shamanic energy cleansing performed by the Tsachila Indians from Santo Domingo de los Colorados.
I feel it’s very important to give back to others and sometimes there’s no greater joy than making the life of someone else better, so we will also participate in a community activity. This activity has yet to be determined, but it is guaranteed to warm your heart. You will also have plenty of free time at the resort to swim, enjoy the jacuzzi or sauna, hike, take a nap, think and most importantly, to relax. Saturday you will head home with a new way of looking at your life.
That’s my goal for the presentation I’m giving — to help every participant have a pivotal, life-altering experience in Ecuador. This blog is the product of fifteen years of self-examination and the cultivation of insights about life, but the format allows me to convey it only in small pieces. I’m excited to be able to explore personal transformation more deeply with people in Ecuador, on a face-to-face basis.
I’ll be talking about how to make a dramatic improvement to the ease and freedom you experience in your normal, everyday state. I’ve changed my default state from mostly fearful and worried to mostly relaxed and alert, by relearning how to respond to what happens in the world around me — I’ll talk about how to set up daily practices that improve these vital skills, as well as how to create a lifestyle that supports them.
It runs from August 23 to 30 of this year. By all accounts the people who went last year had an amazing experience, made a ton of friends and hatched all kinds of inspiring plans for when they returned. If you’re a growth-minded person who likes to travel (or never has and would like to) you should consider coming.
If you want to register, or just want to learn more about it, click here to go to Cheryl’s website. If you have any questions for me or Cheryl, you can email me through the contact form.
And of course Ecuador is beautiful: