After 30 Days of Full-time Travel

It has now been one month since we left behind our house and committed to a life as nomads. What has happened in this short time frame is astounding. The first days gone by seem to be a positive premonition for what the future holds.

We travel not to seek the greatest number of stamps in our passports, but to gain the greatest amount of knowledge from our experiences in the world. This month has been the first tiny step in the revelations of what the power of the world holds. The personal growth that has ignited in each of us is evidence of knowledge untold.

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This month has revolved around a strong emphasis on empowering our family to be self-sufficient. These are tools that will not only prove beneficial to our personal travel style, but also towards an independent lifestyle in general. We are drawn to rural life and to destinations that are lesser known and off the beaten path. We want to understand life outside of modern society and to connect with the practices from the ancestors of each culture. We have a strong desire to go back in time and capture the essence of a simpler, happier existence.

Before this trip began, we were already a close-knit family. As in, a family that spent copious amounts of time together. We feel that we have always encouraged deep, personal relationships between each of us. The experiences of the past months have certainly strengthened that bond, but in new ways that we had not discovered previously. We had the opportunity to practice numerous activities that many would consider “team building” drills. Experiences that required the participation of each family member and highlighted the strengths in each of us. We have learned a lot about claiming achievements as a unit, rather than as individuals. Yet, in the process we have had many unique opportunities to cherish the attributes of the others.

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We have learned that both of our children have a very strong interest in food prep and “kitchen” duties. They are fascinated by the processes of how our food gets to the table. They are equally interested in gathering the food, preparing it, and eating it. At ages 3 and 4, they are much more capable of participating in meal prep than we had realized before. In just one month we have learned to make bread, cheese, ketchup, marmalade, and sugar cane syrup. We also took hands on classes for preparing long term pre-made dry storage meals. Our vehicle is now stocked for at least 5 weeks of quick-prep breakfast with whole, unprocessed foods and the best ingredients in the world! Think steel-cut oats and whole wheat pancakes.

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My husband has gained a ton of knowledge about how to make modifications to our car that support the vagabond lifestyle. We now have over-head storage, a 20-gallon water storage system with shower fixtures, two spare tire racks, a mattress and bed platform, under bed storage, and privacy curtains…all of which were designed by my husband and were custom made to fit our vehicle. He has also learned an impressive amount about how to diagnose and correct basic to major car complications. He even charged the car battery with a solar panel and learned how to create an adapter to charge our laptop while we are driving!

 

Our daughter discovered a huge interest in animal care and fully immersed herself in learning how to care for both goats and rabbits. She has never had an opportunity to care for animals before and her passion for it trumped all other activities of our daily life. Milking, herding, feeding, and pen care were the highlights of her days. Her ability to be solely responsible for what the animals needed was completely inspiring. Her desire to teach her knowledge to other people was also incredibly intriguing. Her confidence and independence blossomed ten-fold during our farm stay. We now recognize strong leadership skills and an obvious preference for animals over humans.

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Our son impressed us with his athleticism and physical abilities, hiking through meadows and mountains, likely several miles a day. Usually in lieu of nap time, too! We never imagined that a three year could be capable of such intense physical exertion. He also shows a clear strength in his social ability, to connect with just about any person in his presence. We have always known him to be sweet natured, but had not previously witnessed him reaching out to others with such eloquence. Always eager to include everyone, through sharing, eye contact, or body language gestures; he is quite the social butterfly! We really came to appreciate his adventurous spirit.

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Personally, I learned a lot about homesteading and off-the-grid life. It is a strong interest of mine to learn how to live and provide necessities without refrigeration and with very little to no electricity. Each year I try to learn more about living an unprocessed life. We buy less processed goods every month, so understanding how to purchase and prepare homemade goods has been a very beneficial part of my experience. Gaining knowledge of appropriate family portions and the “shelf life” of a prepared meal have become  important values in waste reduction and efficiency. I also felt very fortunate to have numerous experiences to learn about natural plant remedies for minor ailments like cuts, bee stings, seasonal allergies, iron deficiency, fevers, stomach ache, indigestion, and a lingering cough.

As a family, we learned to identify numerous trees and plants that we were previously unaware of. We harvested all sorts of edibles including oranges, guayaba, aloe, coffee, and macadamia nuts. We genuinely learned how to plan our day around the sun and routine, not by a clock. We learned about compost toilets, mountain water systems, and solar energy.

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We spent more time in nature than we have in 7 years. We learned more about living the kind of life we want to live, than we have in our entire lives.  Imagine the potential of 30 weeks, 30 months, or even 30 years of travel? We understand that there is more information to be gained from the world, than we can possibly absorb in one life. We are more inspired than ever to claim as much of this knowledge as possible in whatever time we are allotted.

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A Girl & A Goat

We all dream of the day when our children tell us they are in love. We hope and wish with all our might that their chosen one is a righteous choice, an honorable prospect, and an endearing decision. What we don’t expect is that such a proclamation will come from a four- year- old. Or that the love of her life will be a billy goat!

So that is our story this week, of how our daughter claimed her first love in the Chirusco Valley of Southern Ecuador in a sweet place appropriately named Neverland Farm. A proclamation for a steady and true, tall and smelly, sweet and supportive billy that we all call Jack. I don’t know much about goats, and neither does our daughter, but from what we hear Jack is probably quite deserving of her affection. He really is kind and gentle, curious and tolerant. Never hurrying her or butting her, careful not to step on her toes, and willing to be pulled along by her determined tugs on his lead.

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Her First Love: Jack

She runs through the meadows, tangles flying everywhere, pink rubber boots clomping along the animal trail; calling to her friend “Jaccckkkkk! Jackkkk! I’m here!!” She wraps her arms around his thick, white neck and tucks a tiny blue blossom into the fur atop his head. He promptly shakes it off and nuzzles his head under her arms, looking for the sweet sugary drink she carries in a large, metal pail. She giggles with the jangle, jangle of his bell as he trots a circle around her heels; tangling his rope between her ankles.

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“Everyone says he stinks, but I think he smells like flowers and molasses,” she explains. “And he’s not soft like the babies, but his fur is still as white and clean as the clouds, even though he lives in the wilderness.” Then she returns her attention back to him, roaring with laughter as he rears up on his hind legs to reach his favorite leaves up in a nearby tree. “You silly goat! You think you are squirrel in the trees or a bucking horse in the rodeo. But, you are just a goat!”

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These types of exchanges have been going on for several weeks now, during the extent of our farm stay at an agro-eco farm in Ecuador. We have learned about the loving ways to care for goats, through herding and corralling, petting, milking, and overall loving. The kids have relished in the opportunity to take some responsibilities for the animals. From this experience, they will know no other way, than to truly appreciate a goat.

DSC_0125 (2)The goats come in every size, shape, color, and temperament. Babies, yearlings, mamas, grandmas, and finally the billy. There are a few very cute, cuddly babies and a few real beauties in the females. Our children genuinely love taking them out to pasture in the morning, taking them sweet water in the afternoons, and then herding them back home again with the bell just before nightfall. Each of them have enjoyed milking the mothers and prepping the pens for the youngsters. They don’t particularly like the milk or the goat cheese either, acquired tastes I suppose.

They have pet the goats like cats and carried the babies around like puppies. For the most part, the animals don’t seem to mind one bit. I would have guessed that their favorites would be the babies, and that is pretty much true for our three-year-old son. But, for our daughter, she is infatuated with the billy! She even seems to have traded in her life-long love of cows in exchange for one hundred percent affection for Jack.

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She tells me she is in love with him, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She says she wants to frame a photo of them together to carry along on all our travels. She says that she will remember him forever. Maybe she will.

We never know what our kids will take away from travel, from nature, or from a spectacular farm that infiltrated our lives for several weeks in 2017. We don’t know what she will do with the knowledge or love that she has gained. But, we know that she is happy and thriving. She is having experiences that we alone could not have provided. Learning and living, practicing and doing, touching, feeling, believing. Understanding.

The confidence and compassion she has gained are astounding. She is a little girl growing up in the world. And we are so proud to be her parents, feeling confident that we have found the pillars of the right learning environment for her. So thankful for the present and so eager for the future.

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The Whisper of the Universe

The universe is calling. Can you hear her? The voice is pure and delicate. Like the sweet whisper of morning dew as it rests on the first flowers of spring. Her message is clear, mirroring the hints from a sunbeam that refracts against the crystal gem of water. Enlightenment has begun.

How much more time can we wait to acknowledge that we’ve been listening? For us, not a single year more will slide by in this denial. The time has come for us to reveal what our purposeful future holds.

It has been some time coming, though we didn’t know it then. The universe has been infinitely patient and she smiles on us as we finally surrender. There is a quote that comes to mind right now, a recent favorite of mine.

“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet”- Rachel Wolchin.

If we were meant to

Maybe I’ve known this all along. Maybe my husband has, too. Since leaving the warmth beneath our parents’ wings, we have neither been the type to stay in one place very long. We have sure tried in earnest, but the peacefulness that is meant to hold us, never arrives in time. In the thresholds of a historic home, perched atop the perfect acreage retreat, and even here on the shores that have tried to lull us to sleep. It seems, nothing can keep our feet from wandering.

Home isn’t a place for us; it is a sense of being. And the honest truth that we have come to find, is that four walls are rather suffocating for our spirits. We need to soar high across the purple mountains and far over the azul seas, through the softest dunes and roughest roads. We need to be constantly seeking, frequently roaming, and always pleasing our nomadic souls.

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If the suggestions are a little too subtle, we are ready to move on again.

We haven’t been planning this long, we aren’t the planning type. Just a few months ago we found ourselves dreaming of places near and far, searching destinations and discovering an incurable wanderlust. The more lands we added to our list, the less we felt like staying home. And then we began to wonder…”what if we didn’t”? What if we didn’t come back home?

This is apparently how it begins, when a family decides to become perpetually nomadic. We are now in the final stages of planning our new life on the road. Indefinitely.  Some will call us hippies. Some will call us crazy. Many will call us worse, and a few will call us better. But, we aren’t doing this for any of them. We are doing this for us.

Yes, there it is in plain text, right on the screen!! We’ve finally made our announcement for the whole world to see. We are indeed just about to move into a camper van/truck/altered-vehicle-thingy. We are on the brink of becoming a fulltime traveling family! All six of us! You didn’t think we were about to leave the dogs behind now, did you? The hubby and I, our two kids (nearly 3 and 4.5) and our big, old mutts are nearly ready to begin an adventure of epic proportions.

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Our journey will begin as an elaborate tour of the rest of Ecuador before we move on to discover South America in its entirety. We will be traveling all of it by road, and as much of it as possible via 4X4! We’ll be camping by both car and tent, cooking by the campfire, and living in the vast, wide open world. We don’t have any set route or destination at this point, but we certainly won’t be in a hurry. We plan to travel as slowly as we like, quite possibly spending several weeks to several months in each country. There are no plans other than that!

We are over-the-moon excited to share with all of you, many places that you may have never heard of or seen before. And of course, I’m sure we’ll have plenty to show of the stunning destinations all around South America that most of us are well informed of.

Stay tuned to see more about the in-between places, inside peeks about this transformational time, and some very raw travel and lifestyle inspiration! We are so excited to make this announcement and we can’t wait to hear the reactions!

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*This is just an intermission from our regular stories, more from our recent trip to the Valley of the Volcanoes are brewing!

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We Don’t Need Rockets to Visit Volcanoes

The house is buzzing with preparations. Half hazard organization in carefully laid piles amidst the chaos that is typical of a house run by toddlers. Rainbows colored puddle jumpers, freshly folded jeans, and fuzzy alpaca sweaters that smell like an old closet. Four carefully planned backpacks, a gifted picnic basket, and small bag of dog chow. Glitter spilled in a cup of soup, milk on the floor, and a freshly cleaned beach towel soaking in the dog bowl!

It is as ridiculous as it sounds, preparing for our first legitimate camping trip. With two kids under 5. And two large mutts along for the ride. We don’t have a tent, or sleeping bags. Not even a cooking pan! If this sounds like a do-or-die adventure, it probably is. We are completely ready to go exploring, in mind, body, and spirit. We have absolutely no clue what on earth we are doing. We are leaving in three days, or maybe four. Or, maybe tomorrow.

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We have been expat to Ecuador for over a year now.

If we weren’t the completely spontaneous, take-a-leap- of-faith type of people…we wouldn’t have abruptly picked up and moved to Ecuador just over a year ago. We’ve been itching for awhile to get moving and exploring. We are over the initial humps of being first-time expats. We are settled I suppose, comfortable with adventuring about. Not nervous or afraid or over-whelmed anymore. We want to see more of Ecuador. And we know that there is so, so much more.

A few months ago we candidly asked our kids, just 2 and 4, where they would go if they could choose any destination. They chose a trip to outer space, a visit to the lost city of Atlantis, or an exploration of an active Volcano. This is quite the ambitious crew we are dealing with!! Of course it took a long and drawn out conversation to rule out the first two options. Although our kids do travel to outer space almost daily…from the rocket ship we painted in our only closet. They have become quite familiar with the moon, the sun, planet Earth, Saturn, Mercury, and Venus. We haven’t quite figured it out yet, how to visit Atlantis.

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The closet Rocket Ship!

As for the Volcano? “Piece of cake,” my husband said. Our 2 year old was quick to agree, “We can take our rocket to see a Volcano!”

Luckily, we won’t need rocket fuel for this excursion. We LIVE in Ecuador. Did you know that the tiny of country of Ecuador is similar in size to the American State of Nevada…and is home to approximately 50 volcanoes? Approximately. Because you know, there just might be one that hasn’t been discovered yet.  But, we aren’t looking for just any volcano; we need an active one. As in currently spewing, spitting, or fuming. Something along those lines to ease our curious little minds. As of today, at least 4 of the volcanoes in Ecuador are considered active.

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Just being a kid…in Ecuador 🙂

For this trip, we have chosen Cotopaxi. This is one of the more famous volcanoes in the country, and has been very active in recent years. It is known to sporadically grace it’s viewers with fumes or ash. It is not covered in hardened lava, like you might imagine. This is not a tropical volcano similar to something in Hawaii. It is relatively cold and there is snow at the top! Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano, located in the Andes Mountains chain. The summit is just over 19,000 feet. It is also one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. It is a pretty special place indeed, a volcano, a mountain, and a glacier all in one…and it just happens to be resting on the equator.

But, it wouldn’t be us to show up and stay at a sparkling hotel with an impeccable view of the majestic site. We need a little more than the typical tourist. So, we have decided to pack up and stay in the area for a week or more. We are looking forward to strolling through the tiny, indigenous villages that speckle the base of the volcano. We are hoping to stumble upon a local festival, indulge in a few moments near a bull ring, and to immerse ourselves in any blissful occurrences that simply can’t be planned.

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Hanging out in the Pichincha Volcanoes Region in Quito.

We are antsy, anticipating this grand new adventure for our family. We struggle to stay focused, on planning and packing. Our minds are already out the door and our feet are dancing in the threshold. We are walking around dreaming of dramatic freckled skies and crackling amber fires. Sleeping faces caked in melted marshmallows and placid puppies curled up in the cool grass.

But for now…there are dishes in the sink, spilled sunscreen on the counter, toothbrushes and toiletries to pack. Tiny socks to double count, frayed mittens to stuff into pockets, batteries to charge. And most importantly, a husband patiently waiting for me to decide my day is done.

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Living the good life in Ecuador!

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Dandelions and Daisies Don’t Live on Mars

Our wheels cracked over the crumbling rocks as they smushed into the soft, rich soil beneath the Jeep. I pushed my nose out the window to breathe in the crisp, clean air. I pulled the soft, furry edges of my alpaca wool jacket closer to my ears. The door creaked open as I slid out into the strange, cold, and humid atmosphere.

I turned back to clutch two tiny hands in mine, as each of our kids tumbled from the car kicking pebbles at my shoes. Their eyes were wide and unblinking, staring hard into the distance. I watched them, as they took in our surroundings. Piles of jagged black rocks gave way to startling, desolate canyons and then climbed again to peaks on the other side. My husband stepped up next to us, taking our daughter by the hand. She looked up at him and said, “Dad, are we on Mars?” His eyes sparkled with laughter as he looked down at her and put his finger to her rosy nose. “No, my dear, we are still in Ecuador.”

 

 

 

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Ecuador’s Sardine Festival

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1st Annual Sardine Festival of San Clemente, Ecuador

Festival de Pinchagua

Saturday, August 13, was the first annual Festival de Pinchagua in the Manabi province of Ecuador. This event was organized by the Board of Tourism to increase visitor traffic to areas affected by the devastating earthquake that occurred earlier in the year. As residents of San Clemente, this is the first public event or holiday, that we have seen being observed since our move to the village almost 4 months ago. We were thrilled for the activity, and it was fun, just for one day, to see a couple thousand people in the streets of this typically quiet fishing area.

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Non-Food Vendors were selling toys, bubbles, jewelry, and hats.
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A street vendor, walking on foot selling inflatable toys.

The town center was full of lively activity, the streets lined with food tents, historical presentations, vendors on foot, and of course, the public. Soon after our arrival, we watched as a few determined men attempted to blow up a larger than life inflatable beer bottle. In my humble opinion, it was the epitome of ego at its finest. The obstrocity had no place being pinched between the power lines, a street blocking stage, and hundreds of bystanders. But, none the less, by sheer determination, the men finally wedged it up onto the opposite side of the street.

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The monsterous Cervesa!

We tugged our children through the crowds, curious to see what there was to be discovered around each corner. While, there were 2 tents that displayed historically important antiques, all else was related to food, beer and music. There is no such thing as an open container law here, and the legal drinking age seems of little importance. Kids can drink alcohol at the age of 18 in this country, but the coming of age milestone, lacks the stigma that it does in the states. I’ve never seen a police officer checking someone’s ID or issue a breathalyzer. Drinking or not drinking does seem to be of great significance and nobody really pays much attention to who is legal and who is not. Still, we haven’t come across many rowdy over-indulgers in our time here.  Even in the wee hours of the morning, we have occasionally been woken up by music that is far too loud for 3 am, but harmless none the less.  We once heard that the worst the party goers do, is try to steal chickens in the middle of the night! It is incredible how a culture is affected when something like drinking alcohol isn’t viewed as forbidden or taboo.

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Tents and people in the streets at San Clemente’s 1st Annual Pichagau Festival

There were far too many food tents, to consider trying each different sardine dish, or even to consider eating at two. Each tent was competing against the others for an award as the best pinchagua or sardine dish in the village. For awhile we wandered through canopies covering the tables, eyeing the plates in front of the customers, and sniffing at the air. It was hard to decide which plate to pick, especially when I’d never had sardines before. I let my husband do the selecting, while subtly reminding him that myself and our young children (age 2 and 4) would be partaking as well. Even after almost a half a year in Ecuador, I still get squeamish when it comes to fish. I have no valid reason for my hesitation, as I’ve always loved fish. But, then again, it’s something of a different circumstance here, as fish is almost always served with the bones still in. Actually, many times the skin still intact too, and dare I say, I’ve seen more fish heads staring back at me, than I care to remember. So, naturally, when I hear “fish dish”, I know that I will have to forgo my first visual impression, and dig right in, knowing that the taste will far exceed the appearance. This is a tough thing to do, when you’ve spent you’re entire life in America, the land of skinned, de-boned, and dyed everything. But, as strange as it may seem, I have definitely learned that in a place like this, you can’t and shouldn’t judge food by its appearance.

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Yum! Pinchagua Hornada with Plaintain Chips!

All of that being said; I didn’t even look at the food that my husband chose, until it was steaming beneath my nose. At first glance, it really wasn’t that bad. It easily could have been mistaken for shredded pork. And then I peered closer, and saw the undeniable metallic shine of sardine skin…and tiny white bones! I watched my husband scarf in his first few bites, one after the other, with no pause between. He exclaimed, “I think you’ll all love it, babe! It tastes just like Tuna!” I hate to admit it, but I did not believe him at all, and even let him give each kid a bite, before I trusted his taste buds.  So then I ate it, and to me, it tasted just like Chili. I don’t know how it’s possible, but the skin and bones were virtually not existent in every bite. Yes, I could see them, but I couldn’t taste or feel them.  Apparently, the skin is thin and the bones are soft, and even if I tried, I couldn’t notice them. The dish passed the test for the kids too, as they ate right alongside us, not even noticing what I expected them to spit out.

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The lovely ladies who made our lunch at the Barrio Norte Orfrece

After lunch, we spent some time perusing the tents and stands, even listening in on a fascinating account of antique Ecuadorian kitchen equipment, given by a woman sporting a traditional Manibitan festival dress.  As we departed from the tent, the music was just starting up again, after a brief pause. Ecuadorians like their music, and they like it loud, really loud. Like, blast away any thoughts floating in your brain, and forget the concept of conversation, kind of loud. Sometimes at night, we can hear the music from the local Discotek at our house, at least half a mile away. It streams in the windows so clearly, that it’s hard to believe we don’t have a teenager blaring a stereo downstairs. So, as our toddler bobbed his drowsy head against my shoulder, we figured, this was as good of a time as any, to make our departure.

Just as we turned to leave, the speakers cut out, leaving the singer standing center stage with a voice that couldn’t carry. Next to the stage, the larger than life beer bottle slowly drifted sideways as it began to slump without air. We looked around at the scene and chuckled, what a terrible time for one of the village’s customary power outages. They happen at least once a week, usually only lasting a few seconds to a few hours. We didn’t think much of it, and figured it was just a good excuse for an afternoon siesta.

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Waiting for Raspados, a typical hand shaved iced treat.

We trudged home beneath the baking mid day sun, talking just the way our parents once did, about how the kids had way too much sugar for one day. But, really what was the harm in a little indulgence? How could we say no the towering pink clouds of cotton candy

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Fully stocked Cotton Candy vendors, ready for a busy day!

soaking up the salty air? Or to the rainbow syrup drenched snow cones that misted us with their hand shaved ice as they were being made? And while talking about indulgences, we may as well include the overpriced blowing bubbles that would be dumped out on the street before nightfall.

After all, this is stuff memories are made of, the icons of summer-time and vacation, and childhood.  And lucky for us, these are the symbols of our first festival in Ecuador, and the markers of our first year abroad.

Note:  (FYI: by over-priced, I mean, by Ecuadorian standards. The entire day full of events for all four of us, cost  just $26).

 

The Symbolism in a Suitcase

13620845_779765945493821_7700818682570113459_nI caught the kids playing in this suitcase today. I immediately thought, great..they dumped all their toys out again. And then, I started reminiscing about packing that suitcase, back in Iowa, when we were just beginning this crazy adventure. Can you believe that it’s been almost 5 months since we left?! And secondly, can you believe that almost ALL of their toys fit into this suitcase?!
It is just incredible how much can happen in five short months, how much we can change, grow and evolve under the right circumstances. I look at this small suitcase and I shudder to think about how many toys they used to have, how much “stuff” we used to have. And I remember how incredibly stressful it was to figure out how we would downsize all of it to just 8 duffel bags.
But, then it was all done, all gone..and it was so liberating. It was the beginning of a new life for us, and we have changed so much, that now I struggle to understand how we came to exist in the way that we did back then.
When we visit the city for necessities, we don’t even look for toys now…or clothes, jewelry, make up, or anything unnecessary at all. The “want” has left us. All of us. The kids understand now, that we are going shopping for we really need. ..and less for what we want. I can’t remember the last time they asked for toys. Often times, we get home to realize that we forgot to get something. That something is always something that one of us wanted, but didn’t NEED..so we forgot. It wasn’t long ago, that the opposite was true. I remember going to the city for necessitities in Iowa, as well. Only we drove home questioning how we spent the money we did, and wondering what was even in the sacks, in the back of the truck. More often than not, we came home, having forgotten several important items, but with equally as many things that we didn’t really need.
I’m incredibly grateful that this type of crazy consumerism has stopped for us. That our children see greater value in other things. We don’t cringe over broken toys and stained clothes anymore. Instead, we find a way to fix them, to make them last a bit longer, to see them in a new light. We live in a society that lives this way, and it has changed us for the better. We have come to understand the world from a different angle.
We are seeing little changes, subtle enlightenment, big evolution. It is so exciting to look back and reflect on these milestones that have snuck right by. I am proud of us, for allowing it all to happen.
And I can’t wait to see, what will be next!

Life for our Expat kids

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Inspired by local kids to try out skateboarding.

 

It’s really neat to watch our kids come alive here. Neither of them are the shy type, but it has been a big adjustment for them.. to approach children that look and sound different from American kids. Not only that, but the local kids also find them to look and sound strange.
Their early interactions involved a little confusion and a bit of intimidation. But, as the weeks and months have worn on, these emotions have melted into curiosity and acceptance. They have all come to realize that the other is not an alien from another planet… rather, a kid just the same as them.. with a little different coloring.

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Loved by the local young ladies!

Before they reached the current state of play, it was fascinating to watch their interactions change as they dared to investigate the strange and unknown. Often, the local kids would want to touch the odd, light-colored hair of our children. Sometimes, ours and theirs, would intertwine their fingers and look with wonder at how we can all be the same, but so different at the same time. And the most interesting is when adults and children alike, stoop down to peer into their eyes to check the color. They are often surprised that none of us have blue eyes, an apparent stereotype of the light-haired, light-skinned gringo. Sometimes, people are shocked to learn that Carlos is Ecuadorian. He is considered light skinned, and very tall for this culture.

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Watch and learn…

Although the kids are I are by no means fluent in Spanish, but we have learned enough now to engage other children. We can ask to join in with play in progress and we can invite an onlooker to come into our circle as well. And kids, they have a knack for making their needs and wants know, with little to no words.

In the past week, I’ve taken a step back…refusing to do the inviting for them, and largely just looking on from a distance to see what unfolds.(Or, maybe just prodding a little, by mentioning that I see someone playing nearby). It has come at no surprise, that they really don’t need me anymore. In fact, we even had an instance when Peanut happily grabbed the hand of another little girl and walked off with not a single glance behind. I let her get a full block away before scolding her and reminding her of the need to check with me before leaving…only to congratulate her in the next sentence, for her bold initiative!

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Lending a helping hand…

Monkey has become the true heart-throb of the town, attracting the adoration of every passing girl from ages 12-22, and sometimes beyond! They fawn over him, fight each other to hold him and kiss him, and they even tease him.. having learned to say, “Won’t you come home with me?”. Although they are not serious, I’m sure he would also happily walk away with any of them.
It’s nice to see them fitting in, becoming apart of this friendly small town. I genuinely appreciate the welcome and acceptance, as I realize that we have passed the warming period and have officially graduated from tourists to residents.

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All together now!

Now, if only the rest of the world could see how simple it is, to understand that friendship and acceptance have very few barriers. That culture, religion, and physical appearance have no relevance on the kindness of the others. What if we could ALL just see beyond the surface, do a little investigation, and come to the understanding that we are no different from each other?

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Lesson from big sister.

A Beach Holiday

May 28, 2016

 

So what do Ecuadorians do for the holidays?
They head to the beach! So… we too, are spending the long weekend at the beach!
Happy “Battle of Pichincha” to the Ecuadorians, and “Happy Memorial Day” to the Americans!

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The Products of Our New Life

We’ve been in Ecuador for 3 months (May 27th) now! It’s been long enough that we have started to get a little more comfortable with Ecuadorian products. When we first arrived, going to the grocery store was one of the most overwhelmingly experiences for me. Most items here are NOT American… which meant that I did not recognize logos, packaging, or labels. I also did not even recognize what nearly 80% off the items were. And to add to all of that, of course everything is in Spanish. Even if I didn’t know what something was, I couldn’t rely on a package to tell me if I couldn’t read it.
We really do not buy very many packaged items here, most of the items that we really need can be bought from a street vendor or from a Mom’n’Pop type of establishment.
Of course, there are some things that you can’t expect to be “made” by the people, like toilet paper for example.
I took a few photos of the staples that we typically get from either the big box type store or from a local tienda (shop/store).

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