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Changing directions at the middle of the world

blue morpho on a leaf

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.”

Here’s Cheryl:

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.


Me again:

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:

Cows having their own small chautauqua

Butterfly at Mindo

One of many views

El encanto

More pictures!


Blue Morpho photo by Andrea

Richard April 10, 2014 at 2:13 am

Good grief, that looks amazing, if I had the money now I’d go like a shot. I hope you do the same next year as I’d love to have an experience like that and have a bit more time to raise funds.

Good luck David, I think you’ll be a great success and thanks once again for such a splendid blog.

Gunhild April 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

Oh, I would love to go, but the plane ticket from where I live to Ecuador is $ 1650. Too much for me, I’m afraid.
But I wish a good time for those fortunate enough to go!

Thea April 10, 2014 at 6:16 am

As a very big fan of your blog, who visited Ecuador last year (and knows how beautiful the country really is!!), this sounds like the ultimate adventure! As a student in Scandinavia it’s just a bit too out of reach, but I’ll keep dreaming..

Anyway, this is my first ever comment here – just want to say that your blog is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever come across!!

David Cain April 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hi Thea. I’m really excited to see Ecuador. I’ve never been to South America. Anyway, congrats on your first comment — I hope we get to hear from you again.

Wan April 10, 2014 at 6:52 am


That looks amazing. One place to put into my bucket-list.

Thanks for sharing this, David.

Max April 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

Sorry – as a physicist, I couldn’t help but point out: you cannot notice the Coriolis force effects on fluid at a small scale (smaller than the size of a hurricane). The direction of motion in the container is 100% dominated by the shape of the container and the way the water is poured in. This is just a trick to take money away from the tourists. See more here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/03/27/flushing-out-an-equatorial-fraud/

David Cain April 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

Ah you’re right, thanks Max. I’ve removed that part.

Jo April 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm

What a dream! As a poor college student, my chances of making it a reality are slim. However, I do graduate in August. Now, if only I had rich relatives…

Ed April 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Ecuador is definitely beautiful! Hope you’ll have time to explore the country before or after the retreat!!!

Vishal April 11, 2014 at 12:32 am

This sounds like its going to be quit a trip. Hope you help out as many people as you can. All the best.

Keith April 12, 2014 at 11:38 am

What about 2015? Where do I sign up for that trip? I need to start saving now haha!

Janene April 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I do hope there will be another set in 2015. The 2014 is too soon for me to get time off work but this would be a top priority for me next year. I also wonder if she has a place to donate to the disabled kids’ parents mentioned in the post. I would love to contribute something for those hard working Mama’s and Papa’s.

Al Kuhn April 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

Sounds so inviting and useful. I would love to join in but the altitude and my COPD don’t mix. I’ll follow it “virtually”, as we say today.

d.s April 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm

David – I very much admire your thinking and writing, and I benefit from it. And I sincerely wish you a wonderful trip to Ecuador. I often dream of such an adventure. I also wish you a successful presentation. Your subject – personal transformation – is the most important issue we face in our current state of dominance over all life on Earth, and sharing what you’ve learned is most worthy… But for what purpose?

May I suggest a sobering question to be considered by the members of your retreat? “Is economic disparity a form of violence against your hosts?” (The people who have lived in Ecuador for thousands of years.)

I also sincerely apologize for this downer comment – but we’re running out of time to bring ourselves into harmony with our host planet.

BrownVagabonder April 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm

My partner and I have been driving down from Toronto to Panama for the past 9 months. We wanted to go over to South America, but he got a really great job offer for end of May, so we are cutting it short in Panama. But I have always wanted to go to certain places in South America. I’m sure you will be a great speaker in this series, and once, I have a job back in Toronto, and have saved up enough for travel again, I will be sure to join up with this retreat. Growth has always been a goal of mine, be it in Toronto, or while travelling. Thanks!

Kirsten April 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

Super excited! I’m going! (insert happy dance here :-) )

David Cain April 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm

*Happy dance*

ANDRES C May 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

hi david, i´m andres from Ecuador, i hope your travell be pleasent,
our country has many beautiful sites to visit, I hope you have a great time, if you stay a few more days, it would be a pleasure could give you a guided tour of the best of Quito.

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