One winter six or seven years ago Merri and I spent the entire winter at our Ecuadorian plantation living in a 10’x 10′ hut, no electricity, no phone and no hot water…for all those months.

We lived with the natives there, living as they do, to understand them, but what we did not expect was to learn how much we truly are blessed in life and how much we have to be thankful for.

Though they had nothing and earned about $30 a month, the joy and happiness during that time with those people was infectious. Laughter was always waiting to bubble over at any event. I remember cutting bamboo with our friend, Manuel. Rain has poured and we were all wet, muddy and cold. Manuel was tugging at an unforgiving stick. When it ripped out unexpectedly he slipped and slid all the way down the hill! He pulled himself from the slime his face wet, darkened with mud. All I saw was white teeth and his huge grin! A short belly laugh later we were all rolling in the mud…hilarious. Then happily to work. How warming a laugh can be!

A sense of peace and harmony rolled over us as we worked, stopped and looked down at the lushness of the valley below, the mists rising, the waterfalls folding in lacy cascades, bird songs trilling through the clear air. The river although far below was a great bubbling, a joy not felt since we were kids. Not a worry in the world except getting the next piece of bamboo down.

One weekend Merri and I went into Quito into what some may call “civilization”. The hotels there always gave us a sumptuous suite. We dined from the gourmet table in modern lush surroundings. We had hot baths, exotic shopping and afternoon tea in the hotel lobby classically serenaded by a string quartet.

We should have been ecstatic over a long hot bath, beautiful service and a king sized bed. Though that was all pleasurable…we saw that these pleasures were not nearly as important as we thought.

We eagerly looked forward to getting back to our farm, hard work, simple fresh food, an evening around the fire and learning ancient ways. We learned that joy is in the doing and giving and sharing. The gratitude of the locals for our help is the greatest gift we have ever felt. Our purpose there, we thought, was to help these people learn modern ways and to increase their efficiency.

But they have helped us learn more…learning to be happy. A precious gift.


Join us for our Super Thinking – Super Spanish course. Enjoy Ecuador and the sun! See real estate for sale. Inspect the great markets as you learn to speak Spanish. For details go to

Here is a wonderful shot of San Pablo Lake, a gorgeous water with some excellent real estate for sale. The restaurant across the road from this pier is for sale at $50,000 asking. We hope you’ll come see the beauty and the land with us some day.