Christmas Confessions… Ecuador 2014

| December 24, 2014 | 79 Replies

Bless Me Father, For I’m About To Sin

Ecuador 2014

Ecuador 2014

Part One       (Jack and Paula)

We’ve decided to leave the country and retire in South America. It’s the place that seems to be the most affordable.

Dammit, I thought there would be more in our savings account, but things didn’t work out like I had hoped.

The equity in our home is gone. Not sure if there is even enough value in the property to pay the realtor fees.

We could just walk away. I hear of people doing that all the time.

Our retirement savings is just a smidge over $20,000.

I think by selling all the furniture, we could afford the airline tickets without touching the savings.

We don’t show enough income for a residency Visa… Our Social Security is all we have, and it’s off the mark by $32.

I found a place on line that will send me a degree for $165.

Then maybe I could qualify for a professional Visa and wouldn’t need to verify income.

This is all starting to feel like I’m doing something wrong.

But these are desperate times…

If we stay here, we will go through our retirement savings in less than 2 years.

Something needs to be done now.

A friend of mine just walked away from everything, even his car. He just got on an airplane and left.

Another friend, who has even less than we do, started taking cash advances from her charge card. Over a 2 month period she was able to take $5500 in cash before Wells Fargo shut her down.

My wife Paula doesn’t know, but we’re two months behind on the house payment.

Paula says I’ve been mumbling in my sleep, and she’s asking me why I seem so stressed out.

I feel like some of these decisions are being made for me.  What choices do I really have here?

If we just go now, we could be starting a new life next month instead of late next year. And we would have more in our savings account if we just walked away.

All these moral and ethical dilemmas, and I might have to choose the low road just to get us out of here.

This is not how I planned it… This is shameful but I’m not sure what else we can do…

How will I keep this from Paula?    How will I live with myself?

How did I ever let it get this bad?

To be continued……



Happy Holiday’s

Ecuador 2014

Oh my God, is that you?

Merry Christmas everyone… Thought I’d start off with this really awful story and then work up to a joyous epiphany… or something along those lines…

This little dramatization is more common than you might think.

Sometimes the choices we have to make are difficult. And like the story above, sometimes the writing is on the wall, and we really don’t have a choice, at least not one that is clear to us.

Does integrity and honor go into the toilet when faced with certain challenges?

What do you think?



Bless Me Father… For I’m About To Sin Again

Part Two     (Jack and Paula)

The story continues. Two months have passed and this couple has already settled in Cuenca, Ecuador…


What’s my degree in?

I have a Doctorate in Russian History and a Masters in Scientology. 

I taught college level history for about 10 years, wrote a book, and then completely changed careers and went into marketing and advertising.

I did write a column for the local newspaper for a few years. Thought about writing another book but never had the time.

We also owned a 40 unit apartment building in our town. We were doing great until the real estate crash in 2008. The value of our property ended up lower than the mortgage we had on it. We had to pull from our savings just to sell and get out from under it.

I will never forgive those criminal bankers.

Walk away from it?

No, we just couldn’t ethically do that and feel good about ourselves.

Ya, the United States is in the toilet now. Don’t think it will ever be the country it was. So many liars and cheats. The politicians are puppets for the corporations. You don’t know who you can trust anymore.

Are we glad to be out of there?

You bet. Retirement is good. We love it here.

Would I ever go back?

No, there’s nothing left for us there….


This is also an all to familiar story.

Instead of starting over, clean and free of all that crap from back home, this couple started telling little white lies that turned into the  “reinventing of themselves”.

And for what reason?

Is it pride and ego winning out over humility and honesty?

I don’t know.


I do know it’s next to impossible to build a strong future on a foundation of lies.

It will eat away at you.

And someone will probably find out.

And then what will you do?


Now go my children, this sermon is over.




Another Christmas Confession… My Own

Oh my god these people have no sense of what is going on around them. They just stand there, somehow able to block an entire aisle with only one shopping cart. You would think they were the only ones in this entire store.

Look at that. What a rip off, $3.25 for dog treats. I wouldn’t feed that junk to Dick Cheney.

Why is this kid laying in the middle of the aisle? Where are her parents?

How do these people even survive a single day in the real world?  How do they wash and feed themselves, get to work on time or even manage to hold a job for more than 2 weeks.  Look at that guy, cigarette burns all over his shirt.  Wonder how much of his kids college tuition he’s puffed away with his 3 packs a day habit…

Man, I could make a fortune selling double wides to that group in the liquor department…

And now little miss hip hop is writing a check in the cash only line… I give up.


That was me 5 years ago…. I didn’t realize it then, but I was up to here with all these messed up people.


Everyone was crazy but me.

Except 2 minutes after leaving the market, I was slipping into the neighborhood bar for a quick drink, or 3, before the drive up the mountain. Then once home I would have a glass of wine, or the whole bottle, and then I would think it was perfectly normal to mow the lawn at 8 in the evening…


But I’m not crazy, everyone else is.


So, what happened?

How does a sarcastic, narcissistic. passive aggressive, ego maniacal, finger pointing, immature adult find a way out of all that crazy?

It was simple.


All I had to do was admit to myself that there was something wrong and that I was unhappy.


And that was pretty easy to do three weeks later as a judge was reading the charges against me.

Felony flight, DUI, and reckless endangerment. This all came with a mandatory 6 month prison sentence.

Not only was I very unhappy, but I decided at that very moment that I would make a deal with the almighty. Get me out of this one God and we will talk.  I guess I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask…

This was the most horrible moment in my life…. but it would eventually become the best moment of my life. Funny how that happens.


At 54 years old it was time for me to grow up.


What followed this moment was humility, rigorous honesty, recognizing and accepting that there are things that I have no control over, letting go, and of course, I needed to realize that the world did not revolve around me.

I remember one afternoon I was saying goodbye to all my “stuff”. I was going to lose my home and my job because of this. I was in the kitchen saying goodbye to all my new appliances. They were not happy. The washing machine was particularly agitated.

The reality was, I did not have 6 months of income saved, so my home and everything in it would be gone. And my professional life would be over.  You can not hold a contractors license with a felony conviction.


But of course, I didn’t go to jail.

Ah yes, that magic hand of fate, and a very good lawyer, had touched me again. (They dropped the misdemeanors and only prosecuted the felony. As a first offender, the felony offense was reduced to nothing if community service was completed.)

For the first time in my life I was grateful instead of invincible. I had always thought that humility was a weakness only to find out it can be one of our greatest strengths.

And the courts helped me to improve a couple of my other personality defects by awarding me 300 hours of community service and mandatory drug and alcohol counseling.

How thoughtful.

So this Christmas I celebrate a much healthier existence because of what happened on the worse day of my life.  And although this little story is abbreviated and many of the details have been left out, it does show how quickly life’s circumstances can change, and then change again, and then change again.

Gratitude and humility are great jumping off points for so many other good things.



Holiday Party In Cuenca

Ecuador 2014

Elaine Makes A Mean Artichoke and Chicken Dish.      The Perfect Hostess

One of the perks of writing this blog is we often meet some pretty nice people and get invited to some really nice places.

We were buying some cheese from the “Cheese Man” a few months back and met a nice group of wild ladies at the adjacent cafe. We became fast friends.

Then last week an invitation showed up in our email.

We really liked these ladies so Chad and I decided to go.

Well, we scored big time.

What a spread. The last time I saw food like that was at a wedding on the top of a 45 story building in New York City.

The apartment was beautiful and the people were fantastic. No politics, no religion other than a couple Catholic limericks, and nothing but fun, food, and a little naughty frolic.

Thank you Elaine and John for a great evening and thank you Jane for picking us up and bringing us along.

We are available anytime…



Ecuador 2014 Christmas

The Holiday Decorations Were Spectacular




Jane and Stephanie    


Ecuador 2014 Christmas

Chad and Santa



A Christmas Angel

Before I put this last issue of 2014 to bed I wanted to thank Susan Shepard for her generosity.

I had posted in a local publication that a friend needed some help and Susan contacted us and donated a beautiful, like new, dining room table.

Chad and I walked over to her home, moved the table outside, then walked over a block and hired a truck taxi to help us.

We paid the taxi driver $5 total and he helped lift and secure the table and four chairs into his truck and we delivered the table to its new home.

So many smiles that day.

Susan, you are truly a Christmas Angel.


Ecuador 2014

Susan Shepard Christmas 2014 Cuenca Ecuador


Have a great holiday everyone.

Leave a comment, share or friend me, and let’s make 2015 the best year ever.

Feliz Navidad y Un Feliz Ano Nuevo

Thank you Chad for another great year.


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Category: Living in Ecuador, Random Thoughts, Retiring in Ecuador

Comments (79)

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  1. Lorrie says:

    Merry Christmas George,
    Enjoyed your post, as always.
    A new fresh year starts soon and I hope it will be your best ever, mine too. I could also use a good one. Couldn’t we all.
    Love, Your friend Lorrie

  2. David Forgues says:

    Merry Christmas Uncle George. We love reading your blog!!!

  3. Sheila says:

    Merry Christmas George and Chad!!

  4. Jaci says:

    Again… Feliz Navidad. What an experience we’re blessed to have. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your day.

    Sorry to have missed Elaine and John’s party – the beach called. It looks like it was a blast.

    Let’s PLAN to bump into each other, again, sometime soon.

    • Jaci,
      The rest of our day was great. Good seeing you today.
      If you two ever want to travel back to the coast, let us know. We want to try a bus trip, just a backpack and a week of adventure.
      Let’s talk. See you two soon,

  5. Amy Keane says:

    Great read. Was nice meeting THE George today ( and Chad too). Merry Christmas and a Wonder filled New Year!

    • Hi Amy,
      It was great meeting you too. I mentioned you to Lee last night at dinner. He smiled. We talked about your apartment. I hope I have this right, you are moving to Portugal??? I would love pictures and a story when it happens. Love seeing new places. Merry Christmas.


  6. Mike Frohling says:

    Merry Christmas, fellas. Looking forward to seeing you more in 2015.

  7. Cecil Wilson says:

    Such a great read esta noche. Tú es un fantástico escritor. Enjoyed it very much, as always.

    Feliz Navidad

    Have a merry christmas George and Chad.

    • Cecil,
      Hope your holiday has been fantastic too. We had a great time on Christmas Eve, first at a great afternoon gathering in El Centro, and then a beautiful and tasty sit down Christmas dinner. Thanks for the nice comment about the blog story. Hope to have more good stuff next year, and maybe a book.


  8. Egyirba says:

    Beautiful, George. Thanks for the Christmas story and sharing your love and life lessons. I pray this season is full of joy, love, and peace for you and Chad, and that more goodness come your way in 2015. I am so happy to know you.

    • Eva Wagner says:

      Hi George and Chad,
      I know you more from the blog than in real life, but the couple of times I met you, I liked you right away. So I just enjoy you indirectly through your sharing. And what a honest introspective recent life story to throw out there! Have you no shame?? Just kidding – when transformation has happened, shameful behavior was just the stepping stone to the worst, from which can come the best future. I know, it has happened to me also. The secrets don’t have to be secrets any more! Great life now, here.
      Have a wonderful holiday season and excellent 2015! I’ll be reading …

      • Eva,
        I’ve worked with people who have a much more colorful past than I do. Many of them have made huge improvements in their life. Life is a great ride. Hope yours is going great.


    • Egyibra,
      Hola mi amiga… Great seeing you yesterday. Nice seeing your son too. You know you are welcome here anytime, so just stop by. We have your special seat reserved out on the terrace. Happy New Year.


  9. Dennis Fahey says:

    Merry Christmas, George, and congratulations on finding a better life. I hope your new year will be filled with happiness!

    • Dennis,
      It is a better life. Funny how you think you have it great when in reality there is an even better life just a few steps away… Sometime the grass is greener….
      Have a great holiday.


  10. Lavonne says:

    Feliz navidad, George & Chad!

    • Hi Lavonne,
      Thank you. Today we are spending Christmas at home, doing nothing, feet up, reading, watching TV, cooking cakes and cookies… and talking to family on the phone. I am going to try and roast a whole chicken tonight. Love a good Christmas Chicken….
      Have a great day,


  11. Danne Brown says:

    Enjoying your blog. Merry Christmas to you and Chad.

  12. mary severine says:

    George, thanks for the sharing of your crazy years. My “confession” would be similar except for the encounter with law enforcement. Now I don’t have to go to Meeting today!
    (()) virtual hug). Merry Christmas and have a wonderful 2015!!

    • Hi Mary,
      Wonderful to hear from you. my real police encounter happened in my mid-30’s but I kept up with my bad habits until my mid-50’s. I am grateful that I finally was able to see things clearly, even if it took two decades. You two should come visit us. Ecuador is beautiful.


  13. Don Deffenbaugh says:

    George and Chad,

    Have a great Christmas and wonderful New Year, all is well and not a creature is stirring, except for the dogs barking!!!

    Take care,

    • Don,
      Fireworks and firecrackers all day long here in Cuenca. Our dog is having a major problem with this type of noise. Not sure what to do about it, holding her is not working. She hides in the shower, in the only area where the noise is not noticeable.

      Have a great holiday Don.
      And a great New Year.


      • Terri McNeil says:

        Hi George and Chad,

        First off.. Merry Christmas! I too really enjoy reading your blog.
        About the firecrackers though, we got our dog a Thundershirt that worked GREAT! She would literally go from shivering and trying to dig a hole in the floor during our monsoon thunderstorms to a calm and quiet dog. At the first sign of lightening we would put it on her and then the whole household could sleep peacefully. Worth a try if you can find one there.


        • Ecuador George says:

          We have looked for one here but no luck. I will buy one in April when we travel home for 6 weeks. Thanks for the suggestion and thank you for reading the blog. George

  14. Joy Brandt says:

    George, you are one heck of a good writer! I love reading your blog, and I miss Ecuador, terribly, every time I read it. I am back in the U.S. after having spent a year traveling in Central/South America and another year living and volunteering in Ecuador. That was long enough time away from the U.S. that I probably will never get used to our prices again. Everything costs so much! I still can’t afford health insurance but apparently I will have to pay an additional tax now – thank you, Obamacare – because I can’t afford health insurance here. Sheesh! Of course it is winter here now. Winter…do you remember what that is? Actually, in Portland, OR, where I live, it is not nearly as awful as New York where I hear they are buried in snow. Here it just rains, and rains, and rains…. I miss Ecuador winters, full of sunshine and t-shirts. But I am happy to see all my old friends again here in the U.S., and perhaps in 2016 I will go back to Ecuador to visit all my South American friends. Meanwhile I am keeping my Spanish up. I plan to do some volunteering where I can use my Spanish and help Latino immigrants living here. ¡Feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo!

    • Joy,
      We miss you too, and the school really misses you. They have not been the same since you’ve been gone.

      We have to budget at least $5000 each time we go back to the states. Airfare is insane, and then car rental and food is outrageous compared to Ecuador.

      We were going to visit back home twice a year but now we are spreading it out to every 9 or 10 months.

      Come back soon, Ecuador needs you.


  15. JoyulaReign-Himbert says:

    Love you George and Chad. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. We are happy to be going into the new year together and we hope that we can have the pleasure of sharing with you again Joyula and John

  16. bill s. says:

    merry Christmas George and chad. George I have been reading your blog since you started, and its about time I thank you for your cool stories. ” THANK YOU ” ..

    • Bill,
      I have another confession… That supermarket scenario in my confession was written right after I got back from our local market here in Cuenca. It was the day before Christmas Eve and the store was crowded, and I was hoping to get in and out quickly. That was my big mistake. I caught my anxiety about half way though my shopping and adjusted my expectations, but I chuckled at my impatience.

      There are some cultural differences here that take a little time to get used to. One of them is trying to shop while someone is reading the entire label on a can of soup and blocking the aisle.

      Happy Holidays Bill,


  17. Joie says:

    Merry Christmas. Happy, healthy New Year. Love getting your blog.

    • Joie,
      You have a very interesting first name. I am assuming it is pronounced “Joy”, like Joy to the World? Glad you like the blog. I enjoy writing it. Gets some of the poison out sometimes…
      Have a great holiday.


  18. Josh says:

    Merry Christmas George,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year and I must say I truly enjoy every installment!
    My final “bounce” is to land in Ecuador just as you have.. And all your true, raw and honest insights walk hand in hand with my experiences in Ecuador only to further my desire to land there in my not so distant future.
    I wish you, chad and all your friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


    • Josh,
      Thanks for reading. I try to keep it as real as I can without making my mother blush…
      Please look us up when you get settled in. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or ask right here in the comments section. Thanks again and have a great New Year.


  19. Wayne says:

    Feliz Navidad George & Chad, your vulnerability is truly inspiring, keep it real. Wishing you two a year filled with good health, happiness and optimism!


    • Wayne,
      There is a method to my confession madness that I will be talking about later in the new year. I am learning more and more as I experiment with certain issues, and one of those is honesty and getting rid of all the old baggage. Makes life so much easier and opens my eyes to opportunities I never noticed before.
      Thanks for reading and have a great new year….


  20. Gina says:

    Feliz Navidad! Holidays must be wonderful there. Do they celebrate Valentine’s Day?

  21. zainal says:

    Happy holidays 🙂

  22. Jimbolai says:

    Thanks again George for your wonderful way of story telling. I seem to remember your blog when you moved to or moved from Thailand but perhaps I am mistaken.
    Did you ever move to Thailand and what happened? I am interested because I have lived in Thailand for a year and a bit but will move to Ecuador early next year. Thanks for answereing George and say Hi to Chad. Jack

    • Hi Jimbolai,
      We have not every been to Thailand but it is was on our short list, and some friends of ours were living in Ecuador for about 2 years and then moved to Kuala Lumpur I think… That may be where the confusion is. Jack, you need to write a little story and send me 5 or 6 pictures and I will feature you here on Ecuador George. Hope to make it to Thailand in the next couple of years.


  23. George In Quito says:

    You’re “confession” leaves me thinking of my reasons for making the change and taking the steps. This is a good time of year for reflecting on our “sins” and trying to improve ourselves. Thanks for sharing, and you and Chad have a great Christmas.

    • George In Quito,
      A few years back I had a long talk with Chad and we agreed it would be a good idea if we set ourselves some goals. One of mine was to stop drinking. There is no way we could have been focused on the move with me “over relaxing” every evening.

      This was actually the first thing I worked on. I am certainly not a veteran non drinker yet, but almost have 4 years under my belt. Now if I could do that with ice cream and chocolate, I would be a miracle baby.

      My next goal is the Spanish language. My guess is another year and I will be able to manage basic conversations. That will be nice.

      Keep up your good work.


  24. Dave says:

    George, I’ve been watching your blog for a while now, as retirement is coming very soon, and someone planted the Ecuador idea in our heads last year. I appreciated this post especially, because we have more in common than I realized. My own escapades ended, Universe willing, 27 years ago. Looking forward to meeting you and Chad someday, sooner than later. Best wishes for a happy, joyous and free New Year!

    • Dave,
      Come on down, Ecuador is pretty good. I am working on the inner peace thing these days. Interesting stuff. I will write about it in 2015. Wow, 27 years, that is great. Good luck and look us up when you are in town.


  25. Lorraine Fullerton says:

    Feliz Navidad, George and Chad, from one of the “Wild Women” you met at the CheeseMan. It was great seeing you at Elaine and John’s holiday party, and “picking your brains” about Medellin – it’s on my 2015 bucket list! Hope to see you guys down in El Centro New Year’s Eve , celebrating.

    • Lorraine,
      It was great seeing you at the party. What a great time we had and what a nice group of people. Hope to see you and the “group” more often this coming year. I run into Jane at least once a week when I am walking the dog.

      You will love Medellin. If we had to make a choice, it would be a toss up between Cuenca and Medellin. All of us absolutely loved Colombia.

      Take care,

  26. Marty says:

    I was happy to see your blog in my email this morning. Reading about your life in Ecuador, makes our eventual move more immediate (probably this coming September, hard to wait!). Today’s blog was remarkable! At first I was caught off guard by the level of honesty and vulnerability of both stories, but on further reflection I think you struck exactly the right chord for a Christmas message. You created reflection. Thank you! All the best to you and Chad in 2015!

    • Marty,
      My stories are not for everyone.

      In this case, I took a current story that I have heard more than once and just turned it into a monologue. The reason for my own story was to offer a little balance to the mild finger pointing that I was doing at other people. If it is good for them it should be good for me.

      I like your “bit of reflection” comment. We could all use a little more of that.

      Happy New Year Marty…


  27. Hola! so awesome to read the stories. That poor couple is now trapped by lies. The lies just get bigger and bigger and someone somewhere will find out. Don’t need that kind of stress.
    I read your bio and I am so impressed by your honesty and am so glad that you were able to find the right path for you. Be Happy you did it! Feliz Navidad to you and to Chad. Blessings for a wonderful 2015.

    • Kathy,
      You understand the stories, I am glad. Sometimes I get readers that do not understand. And as for the path that I am on, I only try to make a little headway each day. So many bad habits to work on…
      Have a great holiday.


  28. Tom Gallagher says:

    Hi George,

    I hope that all is well forever in your circle. Best to you and Chad (Missy too)


  29. Jimbolai says:

    Please answer George, about Thailand. Thanks Jack

    Thanks again George for your wonderful way of story telling. I seem to remember your blog when you moved to or moved from Thailand but perhaps I am mistaken.
    Did you ever move to Thailand and what happened? I am interested because I have lived in Thailand for a year and a bit but will move to Ecuador early next year. Thanks for answereing George and say Hi to Chad. Jack

    • Hey Jack,
      I just answered your comment above. Sometimes it takes me a few days after a post to answer all the comments. I will eventually get to 99% of the comments. I was serious about sending me your thoughts about where you are living. Love to hear from you. George

  30. Sarah says:

    George, great post! We understand completely! My husband is at end stage of his Cancer, and he just said, “we’ve got to get out of here before I die. You won’t be able to afford living in our Alabama home after I’m gone.” We too, lost a most of our equity on the home, and since we’ve not been able to sell…even with three price decreases….we’re loosing even more as I’m writing. We are living frugally, but as I was back in the States last ten days, my husband was admitted to Santa Inez, and not IESS (he was unable to communicate this, and I was temp unreachable) so we ended with a $3,000. Bill I put on credit card. Ecuador is still our best option We’ve just got to get better educated about health care, how to unload the house back there, and recouperation some of our savings.

    • Sarah,
      Sounds like you are right in the middle of it. All I can offer is my best wishes and hopes that your husbands health improves. All we can do is our best. Hope you get back to Ecuador soon.


  31. Wayne Dubois says:

    George ,
    I always look forward to your writings as when I first began to think of this as an alternate life style I found your blog. Circumstances changed a bit and the move got delayed but am rethinking the options again. Wishing both you and chad the best in the new year.

    • Wayne,
      We knew when we planned this move that things would come up. They always do. My health, family and friends, financial things… but we were determined to go so we just kept pushing and finally the day came and we jumped on that jet. Hope you make all the right decisions.


  32. Rick says:

    Gratitude and humility. Thanks for a needed reminder George. I know how difficult absolute honesty can be and how vital it is when trying to change one’s life for the better.

    Enjoy your blog very much. Happy New Year to you and your family!

    • Rick,
      I am hoping to discover much more this year. Little doors keep opening for me. A lot of those irrational fears are going away. My perspective keeps changing, and I am not as selfish as I once was. It is a very exciting time. Thanks for reading and have a great new year.


  33. Rick,
    I believe you can reach different levels of consciousness and awareness if you get rid of resentments and all that baggage most of us accumulate over a lifetime. That is what I am trying to do. It is a very interesting ride. Good luck to you in the new year.


  34. Emily J. says:

    Thank you, EG, for your blog. I’m taking a short contract to teach in Panama starting January 10th, 2015. I’m still visiting countries (Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, now Panama) to determine if /where/when I’ll wind up. Ecuador is also on the radar because of friends who have moved there to live. Happy New Year!

  35. Dena Jo says:

    “I was in the kitchen saying goodbye to all my new appliances. They were not happy. The washing machine was particularly agitated.”

    What a fabulous line!

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