This coming August, a new group of us will be returning to Ecuador to continue the fun that was started there in October 2013. The event is called a “Chautauqua”, and last year I estimated that the word means “A group of Fancy Adults gathering to further their mutual knowledge and success in life.” That definition turned out to be just about right.
From August 9-16, I will be joining our mutual friends Jim Collins (the Money, Life, and Business guy), Jesse Meecham (the charismatic storyteller who founded You Need a Budget) and Cheryl Reed (the happiness guru who actually lives in Ecuador and will be our organizer and host) for a week on the Equator.
The overall goal of this trip is simply to gather with a group of about 25 people to spend some time learning together in a new and extremely beautiful country. If we can get ourselves to the Quito airport, everything else will be facilitated by the hosts including transportation, accommodation and meals at a very sweet 15th century hotel in Otovalo. Our resort sits in a valley at 8000 feet surrounded by volcanoes and tropical equatorial vegetation, with hiking trails and and the traditional village immediately next door.
Now that I’ve been to one of these things before, I can tell you what it is like. Each morning, you rise and greet the sun, walking through the gardens or lounging on the stone patio outside the library with a laptop and a coffee.
Three times each day, everybody makes it to the large dining room where the restaurant staff feeds us an exceptional meal. Throughout the week, there are trips to the surrounding countryside for activities and a charitable project in the village nearby. But most of the time, the group just hangs out together, laughing and talking, buying too many bottles of wine from the town store and staying up too late by one of the fireplaces. Here are a few testimonials from others who took last year’s trip.
The fireplaces alone made this experience worthwhile for me last year. Although this is right on the equator in August, this part of Ecuador experiences a surprising climate with daytime highs in the 70F range and night lows in the 50s. Because of this, the hotel has dudes that sneak into your hotel room at 7:00 every evening to light a crackling fire in your personal woodstove, so the room is cozy for you when you return from staying up late with the gang.
On the more formal side of all this, each of your four hosts will be doing a presentation and available for one-on-one sessions for individual discussion.
Sure, it sounds good, but I will repeat my warning from last year’s announcement:
A trip like this is obviously suitable for only a small minority of readers of this blog about living an efficient life. While the retreat is not designed to sell anything and I’m accepting no pay myself*, the price of $1900 is still a non-trivial amount of money to spend for a vacation. If you’re in debt or otherwise struggling, a trip like this will not solve your problems, and I don’t want anyone to ever feel they have to pay to meet me or ask for advice. I hope to continue to host less formal gatherings in various places that are more affordable and convenient to reach than Ecuador, plus you could always just stop by Longmont, Colorado to say “Hi” on your next trip through here.
Also, Cheryl is hosting a second round with J.D. Roth and David Cain (the Raptitude guy) right after this retreat. So if you like those guys better, you might want to consider the second one. Or both :-)
So who IS the trip for? It’s for people whose response to the proposal is something like this:
With all this discussion aside, I now present you with the resources you need to get yourself on the list. Note that even last year when the blog was much smaller, this 25-person event sold out pretty quickly. So if you do decide to go, it would be wise to sign up fairly soon. See you there?
An Update: the event did fill all available spaces, and we had a great time. We may even do it again next year.
Register on Cheryl Reed’s Website: Above the Clouds Retreats
* Above the Clouds Retreats is a small business that attempts to make a living for its owner by organizing retreats like this one. She then uses some of the profits for charitable work in the area of Ecuador where she lives. She has named the effort “Project One Corner”, to acknowledge that while you can’t personally fix the whole world, you can do your best to help out in your own corner of it. In this case, the three presenters also agreed to donate any surplus from the budget to Project One Corner instead of getting paid ourselves.