What We’ve Been Up To Lately

I don’t even know where to begin….  !

SO much has happened since I last wrote.

Remember how I said that – regardless of whether or not I got pregnant – it was going to be the start of a new life for us?

Well, I wasn’t kidding!  Though at the time, we didn’t quite yet know exactly what it was going to look like.  But in the last few weeks since our failed IVF, we’ve been working on figuring a few things out.  It hasn’t been all rainbows.  I mean, we’ve had to think about completely re-inventing our lives, which has actually been a very, very difficult, complicated thing to do.  I hope to write more about this as it’s been quite an experience (and continues to be).  But it’s one of those times when we’ve have to completely surrender to a life that is nothing at all like what we had planned on.  Yes, we’ve been applying every bit of the truths that we have written about here on the blog.  They have, once again, proven to be life changing.  Good things have been happening in our hearts and souls.  To me, it is one of the greatest miracles of my life.

For now, I’ll get you up to date on some HUGE, HUGE things that have happened in our lives (I still can hardly wrap my head around it all.):

-The very next work day after our IVF didn’t work out, Danny gave his 2 weeks notice and quit his job.  We had been discussing this for months and determined that if the IVF was unsuccessful, we would most likely make some big changes. And because I wasn’t pregnant and we weren’t planning any more treatments, we had so much more flexibility.  Most people our age are very concerned about schools, insurance, security, having a home, having a job, having a car, possibly living near grandparents, etc.-all to accommodate a current or future family.  Since we always planned on kids, we were very concerned about those things, too.  But since kids are not currently in the picture and we also don’t have to be in one spot for infertility treatments (which has been my life for the last 10 years), well…it changes things – a LOT.  

Now, because our income was going to be significantly reduced, we knew that it would be smart to leave New York for the time being.  🙁 Did I just write LEAVE NEW YORK?!?!?  Oh, man.  I can’t even tell you how much trauma I’ve been through just thinking about leaving my beloved home of Brooklyn.  14 years of my life have been rooted in this amazing city.  Living in New York has changed my life in every way imaginable.  I feel as though I’ve grown up here.  My life transformed here.  I learned about life here…and love.  My very best friends in the world are here (or from here).  I really, really could stay here for the rest of my life.  So the idea of leaving has been a hugely complicated thing for me to process (all while processing the idea of not having children. Oh my. Yes, it has been an interesting few weeks to say the least.  🙂

-So, we’ve been trying to figure out where to live.  For awhile, we considered selling our apartment and moving somewhere in the States, but nothing was pulling us in.  Nothing felt right.  It was hard to get excited about moving.  We had been thinking of all of this for months, actually, and we really were at a loss about what we should do.  But, the idea of moving abroad kept coming to our minds.  So we began doing some research.  We decided to go some place where the cost of living is low so that we could afford to step out of the rat race for awhile and just LIVE, serve, rejuvenate and work on projects that are meaningful to us.  We considered moving to many countries (and if you have any suggestions, please, please please let us know as anything is still possible!!!!!)  But one country kept coming up in our research as one of the best places in the world to retire…Ecuador. The cost of living is like living in the 1950s.  Think rents under $500.  Home purchases are $50k-$150k. 15-20 bananas for $1.  The bus is 25 cents.  Cabs anywhere are $1.  You can stay in many hotels for $18/night.  A Dr. visit is $10-$20 total.  A root canal by a very good dentist is $100-$150 total.  We’re planning to rent out our apartment in Brooklyn, which will cover our costs of living in Ecuador.  Also, the infrastructure in Ecuador is mostly very, very good, considering.  Health care is known for being very high quality (many expats say they get better care there than in the States), transportation is good, crime is low (aside from pick pockets and thieves, similar to Europe or any big city), and the country is stable enough that people are very, very happy living here.

-And so, we decided to visit Ecuador for 1 month to check it out.  In fact, we are here right now!  When we checked on airfare, the prices were so good that we up and left within 5 days. We’ve been here for about a week now and so far, our experience has been amazing.  We are loving it here.  We have a lot to still see and experience, but we are currently really, really excited about the prospect of living here.  We are considering the areas of Cuenca, Cotacachi, Otavalo, and Vilcabamba.  We’re trying to keep up with sharing some details and photos on Twitter…we invite you to follow us there if you’d like!

Photos above:
1- We’re currently in the town of Cotacachi.  All the sidewalks look like this.
2- An early morning view of Cotacachi, before all the merchants are open.
3- A view of a crater in the Andes Mountains, near Quito.  This gives you an idea of how green the Andes are.
4- We had to quickly order some books before our trip.
5- The downtown streets of Cotacachi look a lot like this.

Now, have you ever been to Ecuador?  Do you know anyone who has lived here? We would so love to hear ANY and all details you might have.  (Also, we are so open to suggestions if you know of another country we should consider, though for now we’re particularly interested in countries with a low cost of living.)

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  1. Anonymous November 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    wow! i'm so excited for you…. an incredible wise and exciting choice to have made. this put a smile on my face. best wishes & enjoy yourself!!

  2. urbanrhetoric November 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    my husband's family is from quito, so i went a couple of years ago. i don't know if we would ever move there (unemployment is SO high) but it certainly is beautiful. i would highly recommend going to the equator, as well as any towns that border colombia for great leather goods. enjoy your time there!


  3. Joe and Joanne November 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I've heard Belize is a very up-and-coming place to buy property. It's supposedly an extremely safe country and real estate, as mentioned, is fantastic. Definitely look into it! Looking forward to reading more about your new adventures!

  4. Jessica Brown November 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    My parents served a mission there a few years ago and are there right now visiting friends and traveling. They love the people (so kind and humble and happy) and the church and the surroundings. Otavala was a favorite and I remember amazing pictures.

    And my mom was just at her favorite Ecuadorian dentist the other day on purpose so the health care must be good.

    On my blog under friends and family click on Mom and Dad to see their experiences.

    Good luck!

  5. Michelle Bunt November 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    So excited for you! Big changes afoot! Enjoy the process! 🙂

  6. Sarah Stone November 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Really lovely photos. I hope you will make the right choice and find the right place for you. Wish you best of luck!

  7. Nomadic Nourishment November 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    I love Ecuador!! I lived in Peru for a summer for school and visited Ecuador for 2 weeks. Total magic. Cuenca is so charming and I think it's a pretty popular expat town, and those flower markets! The whole town smells like flowers. It's also a good spot – between Quito and the capital. We loved the area surrounding Banos, too. All those natural thermal pools are truly amazing and restorative. Can't wait to see more – please keep us updated. 🙂

  8. Alexis November 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I just love how you seem to truly "do" as you write about here. This all sounds very exciting. I cannot wait to see more about where you go and what you do. Do you know what type of service you want to get into? I have always wanted to serve at an orphanage or school. Best wishes to you both!

  9. LouLou in Paris November 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    WOW this is all so so so so so so so amazing!!!!!!! X

  10. Delona M. November 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I have friends who went to Ecuador to serve in orphanages with their seven children. They ended up adopting two children from there even though they were told it was nearly impossible to adopt from Ecuador. A beautiful place with beautiful people. I am happy for you.

    • Jill Taylor December 2, 2013 at 2:37 am - Reply

      My sister is in the process of adopting a child from Ecuador after having served in the orphanages there! They were also told it was nearly impossible and yet doors are being opened left and right for them! It has been amazing! So glad to hear it has happened for others too!

  11. Maria Petrova November 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    You are amazing. What a beautiful change. Sending so much love from (temporarily) Bulgaria. xoxo

  12. seguita November 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    ha-HA! I am definitely not a commenter-type, BUT I saw the picture of the crater and couldn't believe it–I thought, "that looks like that crater in Quito….which I was just at LAST WEEK!!!" Then I read your next paragraphs and I was right! My husband and I just got back a week ago from a 10 day trip to Ecuador–so our planes probably crossed paths in the air 🙂 My in-laws are in Quito serving a mission for the Perpetual Education Fund, so we went down to visit them. We spent half the time in Quito and the other half in Banos–would have loved to visit the areas you talked about, but not enough time. Banos was really charming, but probably more of a tourist area than a retirement area. Definitely worth getting out though–the jungle was really amazing. My mother-in-law was telling us about some friends they have thinking of retiring in Ecuador (maybe Cuenca?). And the owner of the place we stayed at in Banos was a lady from Chicago who'd bought the place with her husband a few years back. Good luck with all your decisions and talk about a small world!

  13. Mimi November 30, 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

    I've heard wonderful things about Vilcabamba! The couple who started http://www.rawfoodworld.com live there and post videos of their experiences. It's supposed to be a really beautiful serene place. Good luck on your adventure!

  14. Mimi November 30, 2013 at 12:21 am - Reply

    Whoops – it's actually http://www.therawfoodworld.com

  15. Tabitha November 30, 2013 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Hi Mara, this is the most wonderful news. I'm curious how the food situation will be in regards being able to eat gluten and dairy free. I'm just back from a 5 month stay in Beirut and while there are some gluten free options, I found it really tough to eat gf/cf. You guys just amaze me post after post. Thanks for the update and enjoy your trip!

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:11 am - Reply

      Tabitha – luckily, many of the traditional foods here are naturally GF/DF (ceviche, lots of corn dishes and tortillas, beef/pork/chicken/fish, potatoes, soups, manioc, quinoa, beans, and tons of fruit and vegetables.) For snacks on the road, it's been tricky…I can hardly find a snack that I can eat other than banana chips, potato chips, and popcorn. In certain areas I've been able to find more nuts and dried fruit, but those are not necessarily plentiful. Luckily I brought along some nuts and jerky and granola, which I have really come in handy. As for the occasional treat-I'm pretty hard up, which I guess is a good thing in the long run. They eat tons of icecream here and there are bakeries everywhere you look! So far I've found some dark chocolate which was made w/o milk. But actually, chocolate doesn't seem to be plentiful around here, strangely, since one of their main exports is cocoa beans!

  16. Anonymous November 30, 2013 at 2:59 am - Reply

    This is very exciting news! Can't wait to hear more.


  17. Jamie November 30, 2013 at 3:30 am - Reply

    So cool. My grandparents served a mission there years ago and I got to come and visit them – right there in Otavalo! I was only 11, but I have so many fond memories of the food, street markets and people. Oh my, the people were so amazing! What a fun adventure. If you meet any Campos (strong LDS family) in Otavalo, tell them hello!

  18. Allison November 30, 2013 at 3:51 am - Reply

    Oh! My heart is soaring from this post! I am so happy for you two!

  19. 9 to 5 November 30, 2013 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Now that's inspiring

  20. ashanddoug November 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I think that you are embarking upon a great journey. So good to take a chance and renew. I love Quito, but have you looke at Surrey, England? There's a quaint town known as St. Margarets and its lovely. The cost of living is moderate and everyone walks, rides bikes, really enjoys nature and the small town. There are several small churches and the community is all about helping others. Plus you're not far from London and can get access to the NHS and travel back to the States is a breeze. Check it out.

  21. Toronto Lotus November 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    I think that both Nicaragua and Colombia, especially Bogata and Medellin would be worthwhile visiting, to see if of interest. Medellin more affordable than Bogata. Nicaragua seems to be having a real upsurge in popularity for Americans & Canadians, lots of great surfing and affordable, as of right now. Great that you are doing this! Safe travels to you both and enjoy every moment. 🙂

  22. Franee Mills November 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness, what large and exciting changes! Ecuador looks beautiful and it's so fortunate that you were able to up and leave right away! My hubby has lately had the urge to up and move but us, being still quite young, and eventually wanting kids like you, I just can't seem to get past leaving our families to go across the world. Though the savings on money seems enticing there! Enjoy every second of your journey! I hope to be able to follow in your guys' steps one day with my husband 🙂

  23. nathalia November 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Wishing you both the best and cheering for you on this adventure! So glad that you are willing to take the risks and enjoy each other and open your hearts! Living vicariously through you settles my wanderlust and desire to travel and be flexible!

  24. annalee November 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Visit Canoa! It is a cute little beach town. While you are there you have to eat at cafe flor for breakfast.

  25. Anonymous December 1, 2013 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Very exciting and bold! I just returned from more than 10 years living abroad and recommend that before you settle on anywhere you check the Visa requirements. Some countries are easier than others, many will make you leave and return every three months which eats up your savings. Best of luck!!

  26. nathalia December 1, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Also, thought you might enjoy this website if you haven't seen it already – EscapefromAmerica.com:
    http://www.escapefromamerica.com/?s=ecuador&x=-1097&y=-89 (I did a little search for Ecuador)

  27. Brianne December 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    How exciting! My parents were looking around for the same sort of thing. They visited and spent a month in Costa Rica because it was supposed to be so cheap to live there. They said it was beautiful. Unfortunately, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly after that so they never were able to make that dream happen. Proud of you guys for following your own way and being bold about it!

  28. Cait December 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm - Reply


    As I began reading your blog post and had mentioned moving I knew you would mention Ecuador before even finishing. I had the opportunity to live in Cuenca, Ecuador for about 6 months of which changed my life forever. I love everything about that area and there is something truly special about those people. I worked in a few orphanages in the city and in surrounding cities and was able to do a bit of traveling as well. I am so jealous that you are there! There is an orphanage in Cuenca called Los Pequenitos de Osso and Dando Amor that were both started by men from Idaho.They are always looking for couples to help teach the volunteers and to just keep things going. If you have the chance to stop by…do! They also team up with many different organizations that may add to your wonderful journey. Those special children will melt you heart after meeting them just one time:) You will love Ecuador! It has so much to offer throughout the entire country. Make sure to stop by the food markets and down town Cuenca( ask locals about the few streets in town to avoid), don't let taxis charge you more than $1.50 ever, and stalk up on the inexpensive beautiful leather bags and scarves (there is a hole in the wall shop in down town Cuenca called the Galapagos, I think, that usually has a blue mail box in front of the doorway. Go up the stairs and it is on the second floor. The owner is amazing and will have so much fun stuff) Enjoy your trip! I cannot wait to hear more about it!! My thoughts and prayers will be with you. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences and insight. I am sure it is not always easy but please know that you are changing lives and inspiring many! Thank you.

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:14 am - Reply

      Thank you so, so much for this recommendation. I'd love to find that orphanage. We are in Cuenca now and LOVE it. It feels very European, which we love.

  29. eden December 1, 2013 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    i'm so jealous! this sounds like such a wonderful experience.

    i served my mission in sub-Saharan Africa and i would be very remiss in not suggesting Malawi as a place to live. i was there for about 7 months and i absolutely loved it. it's called 'the warm heart of Africa' for a reason. (: the people are wonderful. and it is incredibly beautiful! i served also in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but due to the political/economic/etc. problems they're having in Zimbabwe i can't, in clear conscience, recommend that. Zambia is more stable than Zim, but i think Malawi is maybe the best of the three. (:

    if you end up in that area at all, make sure you see Victoria Falls! i missed in, and i'm hoping to get back sometime just for that.

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:16 am - Reply

      LOVE that you recommended Africa. Africa has been on my wish list forever. Perhaps we can visit there soon…and who knows, maybe live there someday. Thanks for mentioning Malawi!

  30. Jill Taylor December 2, 2013 at 2:29 am - Reply

    My sister and her family went to Ecuador this past April on a humanitarian trip to help out in orphanages. They are now in the process of adopting a 15-year-old boy they fell in love with at one of the orphanages! They have been through so much and have witnessed sooooo many amazing miracles happen over the course of their journey! My sister has to live there for 6-8 weeks to finalize the adoption. She loves it there!!! Here is a link to a small bit of their journey, just in case you were interested. 🙂 http://journeyoftheconsciousmom.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/we-belong-to-each-other/

    • Jill Taylor December 2, 2013 at 2:33 am - Reply

      The above comment by Cait actually mentions Dando Amor, the organization that owns and operates the orphanage my soon-to-be nephew is being adopted from! I can easily get you in contact with the owner if you would like to help out there at all. They always need help!!!

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

      Wow – so, so cool…and what a small world. Thanks for mentioning the orphanages. We'd love to get involved…

    • Jill Taylor December 8, 2013 at 2:53 am - Reply

      I told my sister about your blog, she will get you all the information you want! Look for her comments soon! They visited a handicapped orphanage there in Cuenca and had the most amazing time with those beautiful children!

  31. Tiffany December 2, 2013 at 4:35 am - Reply

    I am so excited for you guys. Living internationally is a dream of mine. I too am in the midst of trying to figure out my next life steps as I am coming to grips with the fact that my life path wont be what I always thought it would. It is not easy. Bravo to you guys for taking some big exciting leaps.

  32. Mairi December 2, 2013 at 6:07 am - Reply

    This is so great! I loved reading about this decision of yours. I love that you two are so open to life and to the joy it can hold if we are open to living it! Wishing you all the best of luck on this new adveture in your lives 🙂

  33. smallspoon December 2, 2013 at 7:27 am - Reply

    i'm new to this blog, and it seems like you and your husband are definitely the couple that people want to be. it brings me joy to see other happy couples in the world. good luck on the move, and please visit hong kong if you get a chance! my mister and i would love to meet a couple like you 🙂

    on the other hand, please feel free to give me your two cents on what love looks like (in your eyes). i'd love to post in your name!


    best of luck in the future

  34. Sonel December 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Moving to Ecuador is brilliant. There are times in life where a good shakeup is just what you need. To learn Spanish well and quickly, buy the full Pimsleur program. As someone who used it to learn both Spanish and Portuguese, I can tell you it works! Have fun!

  35. Rochelleht December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Very very cool. This is where my husband served his mission and even 25 years later, I hear the word Ecuador at least once a day and Cuenca once a week. He had intended to take the girls down this summer to do service, but we are thinking they should be a couple of years older for safety reasons. If you're still there, we'll come say hey. 😉

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:18 am - Reply

      So, so cool. I love this connection. If we're here when you come, we'd definitely love to meet up!!

  36. Anonymous December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Congratulations!!!! How exciting!! If only everyone would embrace their circumstances instead of fighting them and focus on the best aspects of whatever hand they are facing in life. It's so much more liberating to maximize the benefits of your situation rather than bemoaning one's fate and forever fighting something like infertility.

    Oddly, your experience makes me wish that more people could have the experience of a delay in having children so that they could have more time to figure out if it's what they REALLY want (versus just automatically doing what society or family expects of them). While having children is amazing, it's also pretty amazing to have a life without them – so much more freedom (financially, emotionally, geographically, etc), more time to help others and to help important causes, and so many other benefits. It's wonderful to see you exploring the benefits of your current situation!!!!

  37. Martha December 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Good for you guys! Have a relaxing extended vacation or whatever it turns into. You deserve it.

  38. marlene December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Making a commitment to pursue MEANING in life is difficult and scary. moving abroad is amazing but also takes an enormous amount of courage, patience, resilience and inner peace. I'm so impressed by you both. You're living out most people's dreams — setting the example that getting out of your rut and doing something that doesn't fit any mold. Congratulations! All the best.

  39. marlene December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    oh btw, thich nhat hanh's books changed my life. so much wisdom, so universal. i hope you're enjoying this one too!

  40. MW de Jesus December 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I am Brasilian born and US raised and my cousin is Ecuadorian born and US raised. Both of us have returned to our "roots" so to speak and we both love where we live (me in São Paulo = NOT cheap and her in Quito = much more affordable). This is the very first post I am reading on your blog and it is a big one. Sounds like you and your husband are grounded and eflective people that have considered your options. Based on my own experience do you have any roots in another country that may be worth exploring? I am a firm believer in the transformative/breaking open/self exploration component of living in another culture but to be worth while (and not a constant litany of comparison between US and new cultural exp) it needs to be based on deep personal/emotional motives (in my opinion). Best of luck on all your explorations.

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:24 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your perspective…it makes total sense.
      I guess we do have somewhat of a connection to South America as Danny lived in Brazil for 2 years. My mom also lived in Peru for awhile with her family when she was younger. My dad lived in Argentina for 2 years and my grandparents also lived in Peru for about 4 years. So I have lots of Spanish speakers in my family! We love the culture and love the opportunity to speak Spanish. Hopefully we'll feel deeply connected here.

  41. Anonymous December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Hello – I'm a spouse of a Foreign Service officer. So for the past 6 years I have lived abroad – both in Asia and in South America. There is a group on Facebook group called LDS Foreign Service. Just ask and I'm certain there are a lot of families in Quito and Guayaquil that could answer a lot of your questions. Also Talesmag.com is a great resource for expats. I have LOVE living abroad. But I must warn you, once you start living in different parts of the world it's difficult to stop exploring:) Good luck in your new adventure!

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:26 am - Reply

      Ha! I have wondered about that…
      If you can pull off a move to one country, it seems you might as well try a few different ones. Thanks for the info.!

  42. Amanda December 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    DANG!!! I wish I'd known you were there. I was in Guiyaquil and Quito/Otavalo the 2nd week of November and would have loved to meet you. I thought about you guys on my 7hr layover at JFK.

    I LOVE Cuenca, walking those streets I felt like I was in Spain/Europe. And the PEOPLE!! Oh how I ADORE the people of Cuenca and Otavalo.

    I am friends with a family of 5 sisters that are from Ecuador, and to keep their mother's memory alive they do a humanitarian trip to Ecuador every year. They spend the year bringing toys, clothes, shoes, school supplies, etc down to Ecuador and every November we spend two weeks passing them out to the poorer areas of Guayaquil. We always get some winter gear being from Utah, so there is always a trip to the mountain areas and those people are so humble and grateful for anything.
    Maybe I can touch base with you next year when we come down. It's always the first two weeks of November. Enjoy, have some empanadas for me, and the chicken soup, to DIE for!!

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:27 am - Reply

      This comment made me so happy. Thank you. 🙂 🙂 And yes, we would LOVE to meet up if we're here when you come.

  43. ellen December 3, 2013 at 3:15 am - Reply

    That's really cool. Good for you. There's no time like the present. I thought of you over the weekend when I was in NYC at the Macy's parade. 🙂

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:28 am - Reply

      Ahhh….so wonderful you got to experience Thanksgiving in NYC. That is wonderful. I'm jealous. I missed it this year.

  44. Holly Olsen December 4, 2013 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Wow that is sooo exciting! I'm anxious to follow along on your adventures. My husband and I have always dreamed of living abroad. Best of luck!

  45. Catfish December 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    So excited for the two of you. I love how you have continued to see the blessings in situations that could be so daunting and scary.

  46. Becki December 5, 2013 at 6:06 am - Reply

    I have lived abroad in Europe several times throughout my life so far. Also, my husband, 1-year-old daughter, and I lived in Miravalle, a suburb of Quito for 6 months. It was a wonderful experience. Living near Quito was helpful: airport, medical care, visa office, etc. I'm sure you will find a great niche for yourselves!

  47. Anonymous December 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Mara and Danny, you guys are amazing!!!!

    I'm going through a total reinvention and it's been a rollercoaster. For what feels like a big spike DOWN right now, I really needed this post… and wouldn't you know, I found it today 🙂

    I don't have the perfect words to say as I'm hurrying out the door and I want to write a nine-page letter of how much you guys have changed my life!! But a quick post is all I can do right now, and for the breath of fresh air your post was you deserve at least this much 🙂

    So, a few months ago I left a bad marriage. Then I lost my well-paying job… while I was on vacation. My countenance has been very positive for so long, but the holidays have been forcing me to face what has been stripped of me (all the material trappings that meant so much to me before… even though I now crave spiritual sustenance, I realize those shallow material things were my comfort for so long, so it's hard having to reestablish equilibrium!). I spent the last few weeks seriously looking at my next steps and I've decided what I want to do career-wise, but I felt so… grief-struck, angry, hurt that I could barely move forward. Just today I realized that I NEED this "low point" in my life – that G-d stripped me of everything I thought I needed, so that I could see clearly what I truly need (His love, serving others, family/friends, being honest and authentic, doing for others because I want them to feel joy). I'm not saying it'll be all pink lemonade and unicorns from here out because there's a LOT I need to put into action over the next months, but I am saying this post has helped me FEEL grateful for where I am. I believe that knowing something intellectually only goes so far (and that's not far at all!), you need to FEEL it to believe, to be able to put it in your own words because it's in your heart. I know I need this, so I can stop fighting it and start pushing through it and really acknowledging what's gone.

    Ah, I know this is vague so I hope it makes sense. THANK YOU GUYS for sharing your story. THANK YOU for all you share. Being willing to change, considering what you want and then experimenting with it (really getting down and dirty – no matter how scary or how different it looks from what you've had and what you thought you needed) has the power to change your lives… and sharing it has the power to change so many, many more. I can't wait to hear more from you!!

    Best wishes and love always,
    Ms. Pink Feet

    • mara December 7, 2013 at 5:29 am - Reply

      This made us smile from ear to ear. Thank you for your heart felt comment. We just adore you and know that good things are ahead for you! xoxo

  48. Anonymous December 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    My husband is a physician and goes to Ecuador once a year to do a medical mission trip. He is in love with the beauty, culture, and people in the country. Our son and I plan to join him one of these years.

  49. Melanie December 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    oh, man!
    I may be the lucky mother of 5 beautiful and healthy children, but I am trying really hard right now not to COVET your life!!
    Please, do Enjoy!

  50. Melissa December 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Oh, those colorful houses looks so pretty! *-*


  51. mara December 7, 2013 at 5:31 am - Reply

    Thanks to ALL of you!!! You have made us smile big here in Ecuador. We appreciate your kindness and support regarding this rather huge change. Much love, Mara

  52. Jessica Oglesby December 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I am currently living and studying in Lugano, Switzerland and while I would NOT recommend Switzerland as inexpensive, I would definitely recommend you look into Thailand!! I spent two weeks there in July 2012 and loved it! The natural beauty is unbeatable, the people are kind, the prices are low and there are some many areas to explore! I was working in a rural village in the south (kind of near Phuket) but I have heard great things about the Chang Mai area too!


  53. Nicole December 10, 2013 at 4:09 am - Reply

    Hi Mara- I am an in-law of your cousin, Jared Papa, and heard about your site. I love your pictures of Ecuador! I served a mission there many years ago and love the people. I have an organization that provides scholarships for children, in the poorest parts of Guayaquil, to go to school. We partner with a wonderful local organization there that administers the scholarship program and functions as a sort of "after school program" in a tutor center we helped build for them. The tutor center provides the children with tutoring help and extra-curricular activities that they don't get in school, such as music, art, values workshops and health education. If you are interested in visiting or even working with the children, I can put you in contact with them. Our website is http://www.humanitycorps.org Have a great time! -Nicole Heywood

  54. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Well, Ecuador looks cool. If you need something more metropolitan, try Buenos Aires (not as cheap, but still amazingly inexpensive for an awesome city). Safe, good mass transit, western style comforts 🙂

  55. Shelly N. January 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    I'm a new reader to your blog, but feel compelled to add that i spent a few weeks in Cuenca volunteering for Orphanage Support Services Organization (OSSO) in a few of their orphanages there and not a day goes by that I don't think about the kids I met there. I'd strongly recommend reading out to them. They are located out of Idaho. I'm very jealous of your move!

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