I never imagined that the brutal, financial knock-out punch my wife, Diane, and I absorbed back in 2008 would turn out to be the best thing that's ever happened to us. It gave us the push we needed to leave the U.S. and begin our new lives overseas.
After significant research (aided greatly by International Living), we reckoned that Ecuador was the perfect place to begin our expat lives. It's gentle people and low cost of living allowed our psychological and financial wounds to heal and permitted the time for us to assess our next chapters. It also provided the portal to an entirely new and adventure-filled expat life that has stretched us beyond our previous bounds.
Exploring the Ecuadorian jungle had never been on any of my lists, and yet I regularly drove our rugged off-road vehicle along rough, slippery jungle trails, crossing swift rivers and once, spotted a small jungle cat. I've celebrated holidays by dancing in the streets among the locals. I've shared family meals with new friends in the humblest of surroundings, laughing together at my best attempts at the Spanish language.
A retired teacher, Diane often offered quick, basic English lessons to groups of children who regularly surrounded us in remote locations. We were an oddity and their curiosity was always disarming. I spent those first two years in wide-eyed wonder.
After two years, it was time to leave Ecuador. There was both sadness and excitement as we boarded the plane to Mexico.
I'm writing this from my home office in Cancún. The view through the large sliding door to my right is the sparkling Nichupte Lagoon just across the street. I am literally steps from a perfect, Caribbean beach on the other side of our building. And while the visuals of my current life are enviable postcards, they can't convey the sense of freedom that comes from a retirement without borders or the lack of pressure that accompanies zero financial worries. And there is also the pride that comes from learning a second language, and the comfort of having made friends in our adopted countries. None of that can be conveyed though a photograph…which is why, I suppose, I write about it.