Once upon a time…
I am just a regular guy doing the best I can. I’ve had some grand successes, some miserable failures and a lot of stuff in the middle; like I said, regular. I don’t think I’ve had any more or any less success or challenges, by ratio, than anyone else.
I’ve found and parted company with love, been married and divorced, made and lost money, fathered and actively parented two wonderful sons and have already dealt with the gut-wrenching, accidental death of one of them.
Like too many others, I grew up in a horrifically dysfunctional home fueled by alcohol and violence. As soon as I could, I joined the Air Force, serving 8 years with tours in the Philippines, Vietnam and a couple of stateside locations ending up with an assignment to Alaska. Alaska suited me just fine as a young man. It offered a rugged, individualistic opportunity where a spirit of adventure, a bit of entrepreneurial energy and a ton of hard work could propel a guy a long way. It was the Trans-Alaska Pipeline construction days and what a boom it was!!! Life was good!
Alaska and then, Hawaii
I left Air Force life and stayed in Alaska for some 20 years, working, owning businesses, flying and fishing and generally enjoying an active, aviation and outdoor-oriented lifestyle. Nothing seemed hard. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty damned good!
I was really, really cold! I had been in Alaska for some 20 years or so and the winters had become, it seemed, much darker and colder. The snow seemed deeper, the summers shorter and wetter and the adventures began to feel almost repetitive. Even my beloved airplanes had become run-of-the mill. It was time to go. We sold everything including a successful business and decided to take a year or so off. We flew from Anchorage to Hawaii for a couple of weeks to thaw out. Then we flew to Seattle, bought a Jeep and travel trailer, hitched them together and hit the road with no particular destinations in mind. We would literally wake up in the mornings and decide where we wanted to go; in what general direction. Sometimes we decided to stay put for awhile. It was a great adventure. For nearly a year, we criss-crossed the entire United States eventually finding our way into New England and parked in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Shortly, I announced that I was becoming bored. I drove to the corner market and picked up several local “shopper-type” free publications. You’ve seen them; a mixture of local news, photos of the 8th grade football team, stories of lost dogs along with gardening tips, lots of coupons and advertisements and, of course, a classified section. I went straight for the classifieds.
After circling a few that sounded promising, I saw an ad seeking a married couple to work with children. In fact, this ad was listed in each of the small newspapers. After a rather lengthy conversation, we submitted our resumes and in three days, the BoysTown program called.
That began a long and rewarding career serving the needs of abused and neglected children, through the operation of specialized, residential treatment programs. We achieved a number of special certifications over the years, ultimately instructing and consulting other programs across the nation. Without a doubt, it was the absolute most challenging thing I’ve ever done.
Working With Kids
Our work with these kids and our particular certifications allowed for numerous opportunities to live in some great places. We eventually took a position in Ft. Lauderdale. While gratifying, I had my own ideas about working with these children and after a short while… founded our own children’s residential facility. That project completely drained me of all energy. I was out of gas! And then, my youngest son was killed in a freak accident in Alaska. The cards had been dealt and I needed to reorganize my entire life; all of it!
We had survived a decade longer than most in this field and it was, once again, time for some changes; A change of careers and a change in marital status. HUGE changes. I continued to work in the non-profit sector as an Administrator for many years but never returned to working directly with children. Finally, with a great new woman in my life, the Pocket Babe and I charted new courses together. Diane was and remains my best love.
I had always written, sometimes for a few dollars but mostly for my own enjoyment. In fact, I could not avoid writing. To me, it feels like the words are trapped inside my head and I need to release them. I’ve spoken to many other writers about their process. Some struggle to give birth to each word and go through periods where nothing happens. For better or worse, I’ve not yet had that problem.
I have always loved words and particularly enjoy placing them and manipulating them to create the exact image I want to project. I suppose part of it is knowing that, done correctly, I can lead my readers wherever I wish. (Now you feel manipulated…right?)
When my health issues converged at the same time with a crumbling U.S. economy and the loss of our modest home and savings, I began a desperate internal process to create a rescue plan. I built several projections, planning a number of “what if” scenarios on spread sheets. Nothing was working until I began to look at other locations on the planet. After a relatively short while, a plan…a very workable plan began to take shape.
Our decision to retire to a South American Country where we had never even visited was a big deal. We didn’t take it lightly. I began to record the process of our preparations as it happened. Selling our lives to the highest bidders was only one element. There were many others and I wrote a short book (or maybe it was a long magazine article) about that process.
Once we arrived in Ecuador, each day was filled with the experiences of adjusting to a completely new culture. Our Spanish language skills were pathetic and my brain needed to dump all these adventures onto my computer screen.There simply was no choice. I posted our adventures onto my FaceBook pages as regular entries and was surprised at the numbers of followers they drew. Apparently, our story resonated with others in similar circumstances, many of whom were considering a similar move themselves.
Helping Others Consider Ecuador
I would frequently receive questions about something I may have written about months before. I would then “copy and paste” my piece in response. I was spending considerable time each week providing resource material for folks on FaceBook as well as others on several Expat forums. I certainly claimed no expertise. I simply told our story as it happened but it seemed that others wanted to read about our daily lives here.
After our eighth month and while still “rookies” here in Ecuador, I decided to compile and edit my writings and make them available for folks through the Amazon/Kindle process. I did it primarily so that others would have a resource and I may no longer have to respond to so many individual questions.
So now, you know a bit more of me…of us…and how the book came about. I’m still writing about our adventures and the blog page of this site is where you can find my most recent entries.
Facinating first hand account of life in Ecuador, April 26, 2013
“I have been researching Ecuador for 7 months with the intent of a possible relocation. I have joined all the available blogs, Facebook pages and groups that I could find providing information about Ecuador. I have also read a few travel guides and magazine articles. But this e-book is the most well-written and captivating account of starting a new life on the coast of Ecuador that I have encountered. It is a must-read, honest description of an ex-pat couple’s first 8 months in Ecuador. It left me wanting more and I look forward to future publications by this wonderful author.” By Debby Larsen
Good information, May 12, 2013
Well written. Not jaded nor sugar coated. Just what I wanted to know . Anyone contemplating a move to Ecuador should read this.
By Tom Godart (MIAMI, FL, US)