Did you know that “Ecuador” is so named because it is located on the equator (which is, hello, “ecuador” in Spanish?)
Yes, you say? Everybody knows that? It’s obvious, you say?
Well, I didn’t…or at least, I never put two and two together. I guess I just never had a reason…until we started researching moving to Ecuador.
What? I guess I better back up.
I’ve been hesitating writing about this, because I feel like once it’s out there, all public-like, I can’t take it back. And part of me worries that the part of me that likes to get excited about new ideas and new places won’t override the part of me that strangely also kind of hates change and will cave in when the other part of me that enjoys comfort and habit starts freaking out, and the part of me that worries about looking like a flake thinks it’ll be terribly humiliating if the whole thing falls through if the scared-comfortable-habitual parts of me win out.
But wait, I gotta back up some more. Yes, we are planning a move to Ecuador. Not a forever-move, or even a particularly long time – a year max; probably less. But definitely an extended journey, a length of time too long to be considered a mere “vacation.”
(Here’s where I apologize if you are a close friend or family member and are hearing about this for the first time. We’ve been mulling this idea over for many months, and at this point I’ve forgotten who we’ve actually discussed it with, and who we haven’t.)
Here’s our motivation for this crazy plan:
Particularly those two on the left. My big boys, 13 and going-on-15. Growing up so fast that I almost can’t remember what they looked like when they were the ages of the younger boys. Growing so fast that keeping them in shoes that fit is becoming a serious challenge.
Their lives are changing. They’re getting busier, focusing on peers and school and sports and slowly distancing themselves away from the little rituals and comforts of home.
This is all very normal and desirable….and yet, it makes me feel a little panicky. I just don’t feel like I’ve had enough yet. Haven’t made enough time. Haven’t paid enough attention.
To quote Elisa Bernick, author of The Family Sabbatical Handbook, “…our family, like many others, had a vague sense that the best of life was slipping away and we were powerless to do anything about it. There was simply never enough time or psychic space for us or anyone we knew to savor the good lives, the marriages, the children that we were all working so hard to make.”
The thing is, I do love our life. We’ve actually held a pretty firm line against the modern-day craziness, the go-go-go of one activity or sport after another. We eat dinner together as a family most nights, spend leisurely weekend days with close family and friends, laugh together, and don’t stress too much.
And yet…as my oldest son stands on the cusp of manhood I find myself greedily wanting more. Time for us to have an adventure, all together, without anyone else’s expectations or needs or schedules getting in the way.
Another motivation is that I want my kids to experience what it’s like not to live in small-town, white-bread America.
Again, I love our town. We live in a beautiful, cozy haven filled with friendly people and great schools.
But I get the nagging feeling sometimes that my kids have it a little too easy. They’ve never had to struggle to learn a language or feel like an outsider. Besides the opportunity to learn a second language, I’m eager for them to experience another culture by immersion. Talk about an education.
Jon and I both love to travel, and share a sense of adventure and a “who says we can’t?” attitude that we definitely want to pass on to our kids. Sometimes I thank my lucky stars that I managed to marry somebody who cares about following the status quo as little as I do.
Finally, we want to do this because we can. Jon and I are both self-employed; my work is totally mobile, his becoming increasingly so. I know there are so many families out there who would love to have the flexibility to try something new and different like this; for us to have the opportunity and not to take it feels like a waste. Being self-employed definitely has its downsides…it’s just silly not to take full advantage of the benefit of geographical freedom!
There are a lot of details to work out, which I’ll be delving into in future posts so you can follow along as we plan this great adventure! But one question that might be on your mind right now is probably “Why Ecuador”?
There are a lot of practical reasons for this destination, which I’ll share in future posts, but in the meantime I wanted to leave you with this photographic persuasion:
This is Cuenca, Ecuador, the city we’re most strongly considering.
We could still be swayed to consider another place, but this one is ticking all the boxes, including that “makes my heart beat a little faster when I look at it” box. Isn’t it pretty?
Maybe you think this is nuts. Maybe you think this is the coolest thing ever. Maybe you couldn’t care less. Either way, fair warning: I’m going to be writing a lot about Ecuador, living abroad and the idea of a “family sabbatical” over the coming months.
(But even if you don’t care anything about international living, you might still want to follow along, so you can point and laugh the first time I eat a guinea pig.)
Not to mention the first time I try to carry on a conversation entirely in Spanish.
It’ll be fun. Stick around.