Ecuadorian Culture

When embarking on this journey I was looking forward to the vast bio-diversity offered by this tiny little Country, what I was not aware of is the incredible cultural diversity here.  There are 16 distinct Native Cultures here, all very proud of their own traditions, food, language and festivals.  The country is divided into 3 regions, The Oriente (Amazon), The Highlands (Sierra), and The Coast, each with it’s own magnificant offering.  When planning our trip we decided to spend all of our time in the Highlands so that we could fully learn about and explore this region.  We are here for 30 days and even that does not seem enough!  We hope to explore the Oriente and Coast in future visits to this beautiful country.

The Oriente, is thought to be by many archeologists, home to some of the oldest cultures, at 10,000 years old.  These indigenous people believe that humans are part of the rainforest and they are a deeply spiritual people.  To them the rainforest is their home, their drugstore, their supermarket and their church.  The people here are thought to be very poor by world economic standards, but they live rich spiritual lives, in a peaceful setting surrounded by their families.  We did meet some travellers who spent time in this region and they all agreed that it was both incredibly beautiful yet severely poverty stricken by our standards.  We met a gal who volunteered there for 3 months and she said it was the funniest thing to walk by a hut in the mud, with dirt floor and straw roof, and hear music blaring from a ghetto blaster out the glassless windows.  She figures they would have had to save for a VERY long time (or trade something very valuable) to afford such a luxury and they would not have even considered improving their dwelling with the savings, they are happy to live in those conditions.

The Highlands, where we are spending our time, is rich with culture.  It may not be the oldest but it is by far the most visited and well known region, due to the PanAmerican Highway that runs the length of it.  Now when I say Highway I am being very generous!  It could be worse, it is paved afterall, I just don’t understand what the engineers were thinking when they built this road.  With the hairpin turns and 800 foot drops with no guard rails (like Andrew says… what is a guard rail going to do any?), I am always thankful to hit the bus station and plant my feet on solid ground.  There is a large variety of natives in this region, each maintaining it’s culture thru dress, language and celebrations.  Quichua is the most common language and even those who are fluent in spanish have a hard time understanding them.  We saw many indigenous Quichua and they always amazed me.  They are incredibly hard working, have never had any mode of transportation other than mule and horse, and they farm land on mountainsides that are more steep than any of us could even manage to climb up.  Many times we saw women carrying huge loads on their backs, I think my 40 pound backpack is heavy and I’m sure they were carrying loads twice that heavy.  Funny thing… I didn’t see any men carrying these loads, not sure what they do, maybe the farming?  Everything they do here is manual labour, incredibly intensive and painstakingly challenging.  I marvel at their tenacity and persistence.  Their dress is very bright, filled with vibrant pinks, oranges and reds.  The women wear long thick stockings, black skirts and then layers of brightly coloured sweaters and ponchos.  They all wear funky felt or wool hats and I can’t imagine how they do not roast in all those clothes as the average temperature year round is about 72 degrees!  Funny thing is that many of them wear low healed dress shoes!  They climb mountains and do farming in these shoes… crazy!

The Coast, a region I would love to visit for it’s gorgeous beaches is home to the oldest cultures in America, dating back from 8800 to 3500 bc.  There are a few cultures still intact today, living in the tropical rainforest, far from civilization.  Not much is known about these cultures and I would be eager to journey into their villages to meet and learn from them.

Some of the things that really stuck out for us were:

- traffic laws are pretty much non existent.  Stop signs are optional and rarely adhered to, speed limits are ignored and taxi and bus drivers rope both feet to the gas pedal and keep one hand on the horn, as they honk at EVERYONE.  No one is aggressive or angry though, it is all quite strangely peaceful. 

- Almost everyone rides in the back of the pick-up trucks, which at first really freaked me out but I did eventually let Brooklyn ride in the back and even I climbed in once :o)  Sometimes we saw like a dozen people riding in the back of a little old datsun truck! 

- Motorbikes are very common and seemingly most riders never took a test nor have a license to ride.  No one wears helmets and we often saw entire families riding on a bike.  The funniest was when we saw a three year old up at the handle bars (huge grin on his face), then the Dad, 8 year old and then the Mom, riding on the fender.  Seriously!!!

- Dogs are everywhere, many pregnant or lactating.  These dogs wander about everywhere, in and out of shops and restaurants and are generally very friendly.  Chickens are pretty much the same, EVERYWHERE!  Drivers will swerve or slow down for a chicken but not for the dogs :o( 

- The people are incredibly friendly and seemingly very proud.  They are incredibly hard working, live simple lives and have fun together.  The sense of community is very strong and family ties are very important.  They love the saying ‘Pura Vida’ or ‘Pure Life’.  I like it :o)

When we told people we were heading to Ecuador for a month many said, ‘why Ecuador?’  We said ‘why not?’, now I would say, ‘because it is a remarkable Country, with vast diversity in both biology and culture, with genuine and wonderful people’.  Anyone travelling to South America should make Ecuador a main destination, no one would be disappointed.

A Beautiful Contradiction

We left Vilcabamba this morning and on the 5 hour bus ride back to Cuenca (where we forgot our passports in the hotel safe), I was able to ponder our 2 weeks in The Valley of Longevity. 

Vilcabamba was our ultimate destination and it lived up to all our expectations, we were all very sad to leave and wished we could stay longer.  In fact, had we not paid a 50% deposit on our next stop, a cool Eco-Lodge in the Cotopaxi Region, we would have finished off our time in Ecuador there.  However, from all we have heard from fellow travellers The Black Sheep Inn is spectacular and I am sure we will enjoy our time there as well.  We head out there tomorrow, on a harrowing 8 hour bus ride, should be fun! 

Vilca is a town of about 1500 locals, with 200 permanent ex-pats (foreigners), and up to 2000 ex-pats making Vilca a part time ‘home away from home’.  This little town is tucked into a gorgeous valley, far from any type of pollution and about a 45 minute drive to Loja, a city of about 100,000.  It seems to be that each and every town/city has a ’town square’, where locals gather, and Vilca is no exception.  The square, which is filled with beautiful trees, a fountain and lots of benches, is surrounded by restaurants and shops, along with a church, and in Vilca, this is where most ex-pats hang out.  There are a number of great hang outs bordering the square, some offering fresh organic juice and smoothies, and the energy is upbeat and fun. 

Restaurants offer a mix of traditional food, which mostly consists of some sort of meat and rice, plantain and bean soup, not many veggies and salad is unheard of, along with western favorites such as pizza and hamburgers.  I was able to enjoy a delicious dish of talapia (white pond fish), with mashed potatoes and salad at a great place called Sambuca’s, owned by an awesome young Mexican couple who have a huge organic farm (which we visited) and use food from their garden in the restaurant.  It’s hilarious to watch them run their restaurant, they go back and forth from their little store front where they sell their garden goods to the kitchen, chatting and nibbling off of guests plates all the while.  Brooklyn loved their tradional soup, Locre, a mix of potatoes avocadoes and egg in a cream broth, she ate that at least a half dozen times.  Pork is common on the menus here and we did try some dried and roasted pork, it was very tasty.  One thing we never did try was Guinea Pig, a BIG thing here in Ecuador.  I may try it yet, if given the opportunity.  Our horse guide, Holgar, tried to entice Andrew with some local tequilla, made with sugar cane and a coral snake, seriously!  Could still happen at New Years, I hate to hear his moans should he partake.  Beer here is very cheap, $1.00 for the biggest beer bottle I have ever seen.  Andrew was initially disappointed by the lack of variety, they have Pilsner or Club, that is it.  However, the bottles are big and beer is beer so he got over it pretty quickly.of any shop, at any time, you can listen to or even jump into any number of varying conversations, many of which focus on their feelings that North America, and even the world, is going to hell and that Vilca is the safest place to be.  We have had many a chuckle and although I consider Andrew a Conspiracy Theorist he has nothing on these guy’s!  As we sit, watching over the square, we see foreigners engaged in conversations, dogs wandering in and out of shops and restaurants (the odd chicken would no longer surprise me), and locals riding along in the back of pick up trucks or visiting in the square.  It’s like there are 2 totally different dimensions occuring simutaneously, it really is something to witness.  Sadly most of the locals could never afford to eat in the $4 - $5 dollar a plate restaurants so mingling with the locals is difficult here.  

The meal above was $3.50 and it included a huge bowl of delicious soup and dessert as well!

It seems that a majority of the ex-pats have not bothered to learn much spanish so they are unable to communicate and build relationships with the locals, an absolute shame in our opinion.  What would be the point of moving to this lovely area if not for building relationships with the locals and immersing in the culture???

From what I can gather, ex-pats have pretty much come in and taken over this quite little town.  Back in 2005, Vilca was virtually unheard of and life for the locals would have been no different than in any other small ecuadorian town, with no one having or needing any more than a few coins in their pockets.  Trade would have been a common way to conduct transactions and land could be bought or traded for close to nil.  It is plain to see now the rift that ex-pats have created here.  There are those who have been eager to ‘cash in’, to a great degree at the expense of the locals and their culture.  Land a few years ago was within grasp of young locals, today, they would have to move far into the mountains or to a nearby little town in hopes of ever owning land.  Within the past 5 years land has gone from $50 an acre (or much less) to sometimes over $100,000 an acre!  All it took was one or two foreigners to come in and offer someone who had never seen more than $100 in their lifetime a ridiculous price for their land.  By ridiculous I mean $$1000 - $5000 per acre (an absolute steel in our opinion of course).  What the locals did not realize was that this would set the scene for years to come and would change their world as they know it.  Due to this many locals have become disenchanted with ex-pats and I don´t blame them.  For us, the price of land is dirt cheap, and the land available is absolutely beautiful.  The soil is very fertile, with year round growing conditions and many pieces have natural water sources, making a self sustained existance possible.  The views are out of this world, as you can imagine, surrounded by the Andes.  We looked at some land, just over 2.4 acres, with a 360 degree view, with irrigation already set up and power to the driveway, for $40k, about 20 minutes from Vilca, in a lovely little town called Malacatos.  If we were looking to relocate to paradise, this would be a good option :o)

Picture below is one of the views from the property we looked at.


Another view… this property literally has a 360 degree, million dollar view!

Picture below is from a new friend’s land.  He bought 45 acres for $14k, in the rural area of Malacatos.  This was a couple years ago and it was a private sale, making it a stellar deal.  He has many fruit bearing trees, a number of natural springs and views to die for!

I love Vilca, it has much to offer and I could go on all day, however the time has come for dinner so I will let Andrew share his perspective on the many contraditions within this incredible land, in a post to follow shortly.

Missing you all,


Our Horseback Adventure in Paradise

Brooklyn and Andrew eagerly awaiting our guide and horses.  Check out Brook´s hat, she LOVES it!  I think there will be some discussions with teacher, upon return to school, as she would sleep in that hat if possible.

Whew… it has been some time since we have been able to access a good internet connection.  We were able to borrow a new friends computer to upload these pics, thank you Bill, but were not able to blog at that time so we have indeed fallen quite far behind!

Our initial plan had been to embark on a 3 day horse trek into the Podocarpus National Park, but that plan was foiled by unusually rainy weather, necessitating a change to our plans.  As usual, this unexpected change turned out to be for the best.  We ended up talking with locals and finding out that there were much better guides than the one we were originally set up with, it´s funny how things work out sometimes…

It is 9am, on a gorgeous morning and we are on our way… Brooklyn´s smile could have lit up the town…

The fellow who brought us out for the 6 hour trek is Holgar, the Horse Guy.  He was born and raised in Vilcabamba and has a real love of horses and adventure.  He could speak English which was incredibly important to me as I have only been a horse twice in my life and we were embarking on a trek into the Andres Mountains, with steep and difficult terrain.  We met Holgar the night before our ride and I expressed to him that I was very inexperienced, Brooklyn proceeded to tell him that she was ´very´experienced and would like a strong and frisky horse and Andrew simply said ´I can handle anything´. 

Morning came and we were all very excited.  When Holgar arrived with his horses, my heart started to pound a little harder as the reality of this undertaking pressed upon me.  I was riding into the Andes, on a horse, and would be riding for 6 hours… I was suddenly scared to death.  Could I handle the heights, could I handle the horse, could my body withstand the ordeal… Not wanting to freak Brooklyn out at all, I put on my strong smiley face and climbed aboard.  We trotted through town, with my legs wrapped so tight around ´Cortosone´I am surprised the poor guy could breath!  It was a good thing we were able to ride on a road for quite some time before hitting the trail, as this allowed me time to get somewhat comfortable and settle into the ride.  Holgar is a smart man and although he brought Brooklyn what she asked for, a strong and frisky horse, it became apparent within a few minutes of riding that she could not handle that horse.  He let her struggle for about 15 minutes and then very kindly asked her if she would like to trade horses with him.  The relief on her face was priceless and she will be eternally grateful for his foresight.  She ended up with a great horse, ´Senore´, and was able to relax and enjoy the ride.  Brooklyn is indeed a great rider, with a lot of natural riding ability, and both Andrew and I were very proud of how she handled herself on this trek.

Just I was getting comfortable on ´Cortosone´, we headed off the road and onto the trail.  The views were stunning and I was able to loose myself in breathtaking landscape.  Andrew is an absolute natural and looks to have been born riding.  With his new hat, sitting on ´Te Te´, he looked as though he had been riding all his life.  He claims it is due to his motorbike riding experience but I would have to disagree, he is a natural born rider, not only on bikes, but on horses as well.  He got quite a kick out of my gasps and wimpers as we began to climb into the mountains.  Holgar was very sensitive and kept assuring me that horses are ´quartro por quartro´, or 4 x 4, and that I had nothing to worry about, just trust in the horse.  Easy for him to say as he rides along, relaxed, with arms crossed, while we tackle hair pin turns on a path about 1 foot wide, with 600 foot drops!!! 

There were a few times when I honestly felt that had my stomach been feeling like it had a few days prior I would have… excuse my language… shit myself all over that poor horse.

Brooklyn and Andrew were in the lead and looked completely at ease.  I kept my eyes on them and could not even enjoy the views they were raving about because as soon I took my eyes off of them and attempted to look around I would get horribly dizzy and feel as though as I was going to fall off ´Cortosone´.  The mountain we climbed is called Mandango and Holgar´s parents own 100 acres on this moutain.  When we finally arrived at the top we were on his parents land and this is where we took a break for lunch.  I climbed off my horse and hobbled around for about 5 minutes, while my muscles thanked me for the rest.  I was finally able to take in the stunning views and although we took many pictures there are no words or pictures that could adequately describe what we saw up there. 

Holgar´s parents are 100% self sufficient, have lived on this land for more than 50 years, and raised 10 children here.  This has been one of my most special moments in Ecuador.  To truely experience what life if like here, living off the land, with no need or want for money, no materialism whatsoever, and pure happiness to top it off.  Holgar was proud to share with us him family home, the farm and to introduce us to his mom.  They raise cows, chickens and turkeys and grow a huge variety of food.  Everything they grow is used to feed themselves and their animals.  They get their water from down the mountain, using mules to bring it up in boxes.  They grow coffee and when Andrew mentioned that he loved Ecuadorian coffee Holgar had his mom make him a cup.  They had fresh picked and roasted beans and his Mom went into the ´dirt floor kitchen´to boil a pot of water on a fire which she started in the corner, it was really something to witness.  With the smoke from the fire escaping through the holes in the roof and chickens scratching around at her feet she took a tea cup and small plate off a little wooden shelf to prepare Andrew his coffee.  I marvelled at the fact that she raised 10 kids in this tiny little dirt floor abode, with no hydro or running water, 2000 meters up from the closest town!

Andrew with freshly roasted, organic coffee beans.

My horse, ´Cortosone´.  He was the most incredible partner for this journey. 

View from Holgar´s parents place.  This was a 360 degree view, from the top of the world!

Holgar had packed a lunch for us in his saddle bags and at his parents kitchen table, which is outside, he prepared for us a delicious meal of fresh made quacamole, fresh baked whole wheat bread and unpasturized Mozeralla cheese, it was awesome. 

Brooklyn on her new friend, ´Senore´.

After lunch it was time to head back and after Holgar assured me that the way back was different then whence we came I was able to muster up the courage to get back on the horse for the ride home.  Although difficult in spots the ride home was beautiful and we were all sad when it came to an end.  We did arrange for a second trek with Holgar, into the Podocarpus National Park, in a few days.  We will report on that asap.

Vilcabamba has proven to be everything we read about and imagined it to be.  In our next post we will share our discoveries about this hidden paradise on earth.

Best wishes to all!

Tammy and Family


This country is absolutely amazing.  Our bus ride from Cuenca to Loja and then to Vilcabamba included stunning views and amazing countryside.  The final bus from Loja to Vilcabamba was on a smaller bus but it was actually newer and nicer than the others so far.  When we arrived in the small town of less than 2000 there was a small little bus terminal and a bunch of small white, 4x4, diesel pick up trucks which are the taxis of this town.  We jumped in one and road to the edge of town to a little and very unique hostel called Madre Tierra. 

It has 24 separate cabin rooms, each one is extremely unique with an extreme amount of artistic flare.  Our cabin is up a bunch of stairs along the hillside, next to a large number of exotic trees including a banana tree and a lime tree.  The flowers and plants all around the many gardens are even more exotic with incredible colors and smells.  Our room has it’s own veranda and a hammock to relax in.

We are a short walk to the down town square (something every town in Ecuador seems to have) and we found an amazing outdoor restaurant called the Hidden Garden that offered amazing and freshly prepared Ecuadorian food.  By the time we finished supper it was dark out so we took one of the white pickup truck taxis for a buck and crashed.  The morning comes at about 6AM here every single day and we were greeted by a large variety of exotic birds. 


We spent about three hours mid day ridding around the country side looking at land and homes in the area.  Brook and I decided to sit in the back of the pickup truck which was a real highlight of her trip so far because this wouldn’t be something that would happen in a million years in Canada. 

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at an organic juice bar, another amazing restaurant and a pub like hang out. Each location brought new people to get to know and learn from.  At the pub (a rustic western style pub) latter on in the evening after it was dark we sat with a bunch of expats, travellers and the odd nut case. Yes Brooklyn was there too and I can tell you that not many 10 year olds will experience the random chaos of a Pilsner tainted conversation between approximately 12 adults from all over the world. Brook really held her own in the conversation and even ended up writing an amazing poem, performed a number of her silly lip tricks (that she apparently learned from me) and earned the nickname “booger” from one of the goofiest guys there.  One of the cool people we met was a guy a little younger than us who moved here 5 years ago.  He bought 10 acres for $10,000, 3 hours walking distance from town with no road access.  It was dead land that not even the Ecuadorians wanted.  His goal was to take his environmental and horticultural education and bring the land back to life and become self sustaining.  He has come a long way in 5 years and now has purchased more land and controls about 250 acres.  A lot of the land is steep and not usable but he is also very innovative.  About 100 travellers come from around the world each year to visit him and work … live on his land.  There are so many amazing people here we are having a hard time keeping track.  This part of the world seems to attract open minded, intelligent and well educated people from every corner of this planet.  There were chemical engineers, doctors, actors and so many others.  We can’t wait to meet, explore and experience more each day.  Until next time …

Taking it one minute at a time,

Andrew and family

We love Cuenca!

Well that gruelling 10 hour bus ride from Quito to Cuenca has proven to be well worth it!  We absolutely love it here! Upon arrival at the run down bus station, in the dark, I was doubting our decision to come here but after a good nights sleep everything looked so much better.  The hostel we are staying at, Villa Nova Inn, is right on the river that runs through the city and is right in the town center, which is the perfect location for adventuring by foot.  The view from our room is awesome, with the river and a park right across the street.  Our windows open wide so we can listen to the river all night long, it is wonderful.  Best thing… there are NO bugs here! We are at about 8000 ft so mosquitos don´t like it here.  The only bugs I have seen since we´ve been in Ecuador are moths and a gigantic beetle, so I am loving it :o)

Our first day in Cuenca we walked along the river and found a beautiful Inca Ruins site.  We spent hours enjoying the historical site, it was truely magnificent. The sacred gardens and bird sancuary were a highlight.  Brooklyn got a real kick out of the spanish talking parrots.  We would say Hola, they would repeat… we would laugh,  they would laugh… it was hilarious.  We spent hours enjoying this site and it was absolutely free!

Picture below is Sacred Garden, Inca Ruins site.

Everything shuts down here for a few hours in the afternoon for siesta time, which is great as it forces us to relax and recharge for evening adventures.  After the Inca Ruins and a siesta we headed up to the Old City Square to check out the market and grab some dinner.  The markets were bustling, with locals trying to sell all their fresh farmed goods, and hand made bags etc.  They are not at all obnoxious which was very nice.  You can get 3 yummy mangoes here for $1 and avocadoes are about .30 each!  I tried on a beautiful wool/alpaca sweater for $10 (negotiated down from $20) but seens as our backpacks provide little space for extras I decided to wait in case I find something I absolutely love and cannot leave behind.  Our first dinner in Cuenca was awesome, we found a spot with lots of character and great food.  The city comes alive at night so by the time we finished dinner the narrow little streets were hopping and filled with energy.  Cuenca feels very safe and we are quite comfortable walking around at night here. 

Our second day in Cuenca we decided to check out a 2 hour bus tour, on a double decker.  We sat at the top of the bus, and had to carefully watch our heads as the powerlines were sometimes so low that an alarm would sound and we had to duck!  It was a fantastic tour, offering us great views of the stunning architecture and as we rambled out of town in to the suburbs we were able to see some beautiful residential areas.  It was so funny to see cows tied up on the side of busy streets to graze, Brooklyn got a real kick out of that.  We arrived at a beautiful spot at the top of town and took a 20 minute break to take pictures and enjoy the stunning views.  I was starving so I braved some street vendor food for the first time.  I had boiled/fried potatoes from a huge wok style pan, cooked on a tiny little burner, they were delicious!  There was a very hungry looking dog hanging around so Brooklyn grabbed one of my potatoes and dropped it for her, much to the dismay of the locals.  She would have fed my entire plate to the dog had I let her.

The lovely vendor with the green tarp is where I got my yummy potatoes.  

We have met some amazing people here in Cuenca.  We met Sunni Karll, a midwife who came from Hawaii to establish a Sacred Birthing Centre.  She has been here for a year and has been a huge help to us in understanding the local culture and she has also pointed us to some great places to eat, safe for ´Gringo´s who have not been here long enough to handle the water (salads and fruit are very high in water content and are usually out until your digestive system has adjusted).  We´ve met people from Michagan, London, Ottawa, and Switzerland.  Lots of travellers here, loving Ecuador and especially Cuenca.

The weather here in Cuenca is perfect, we love it!  They get about 13 hours of daylight (year round), the mornings are beautiful at around 70 degrees, afternoon a little warmer and then the nights cool down.  They call it the Land of Eternal Spring and now we understand why.  Perfect weather and no bugs… it doesn´t get any better!

Today we are off on another bus adventure, this time a 5 hour ride through the mountains to Loja, from Loja we will take another short bus to Vilcabamba where we will stay for 10 days.  

Hasta luego,

Tammy & Family

*Picture below is view from our room.

Bus from Quito to Cuenca

Yesterday, the 10th of December, we took a bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador. The taxi ride was over an hour long from our hostel to the bus station and it only cost $17.  The bus station was very big and modern and it didn´t take us too long to figure out what bus to take with our very limited Spanish.  Amazingly, the price for a 10 hour bus ride was only $30 for the 3 of us, a whopping $1 per hour!  A bus ride from Vancouver to Calgary would be at least triple that for one person only.  We waited for an hour for our bus to arrive and were hoping for a good seat for Tammy & Brook to limit their motion sickness.  They got the front row with full road visability for the first couple of hours but then we discovered that there was actually assigned seating and they had to move back a couple of rows.  The bus was nicer than I expected, with more room than an airplane.  We started out at three quarter capacity but it didn´t take long to fill up after a number of stops.  The stops were an interesting experience all on their own.  New and exiting passengers flow in and out at the same time as vendors come into the bus with various food and drinks to sell.  They yell out what they have available and move back and forth as people buy what they have to offer.  When they have sold all they can it is time to get off.  The funny thing is that the bus has already started moving slowly through the town or small city.  The vendors simply step off the bus while it is moving and run back to the bus stop to wait for the next bus.  There was lots of honking because sometimes the vendors would hop off the bus right into oncoming traffic.  Sometimes, the vendors have a big presentation and stand close to the front facing the passengers and speak loudly in Spanish selling their products, these presentations went on for up to an hour.  In these cases they actually get off at the next town (while the bus is moving of course).  Sometimes the bus stops in the middle of the highway to pick up passengers and there isn´t much of a shoulder to pull over on.  The other traffic just drives around the stopped bus, coming from both directions, like this is completely normal.  Also, the traffic laws seem to be opptional for the most part.  A double solid line going up a hill just before a blind corner is a perfectly ok time to pass.  Also, speed limits are there for decoration as far as I can tell.  We were very lucky to drive by an active volcano.  A couple of nice older woman kindly tapped me on the shoulder and pointed it out.  The countryside is very beautiful and the towns became further and further apart the further we got from Quito.  One of the unique things Tammy and I noticed was that many of the homes seemed partially finished.  Rebar stuck out from the top of buildings like a secord or a third story was meant to be built but they didn´t get to it yet.  Maybe they ran out of money but more probably they planned to build up in the future when they have a need to expand.  Three quarters of the way we pulled over in the middle of the countryside and picked up a couple of older farmers who ended up standing in the isle because there were no seats left.  They almost seemed like hitchhikers getting picked up but after a few minutes the bus driver assistant comes back and collects $.15.  It doesn´t seem to matter how far these “hitchhikers” are travelling, the amount they paid always seemed to be the same ultra low fare.  

It started to rain at about 3pm and so all the passengers decided to close up the windows.  As nice as the bus was, it didn´t have air conditioning so it quickly got real stuffy and all the windows fogged up.  This is basically when I started to take notes about the journey for this blog latter on.  I also noticed that not just the windows got foggy, the outside was very foggy as well, visability was very poor and Tammy was thankful that the driver slowed down a little bit.  I´m guessing it was because we were in the mountains, high enough to be in the clouds.  Brook had to use the bathroom a couple of times and she described it as a bathroom built for a 6 year old that really stank.  At least there was a bathroom or we would have been in big trouble.  During the trip we passed an old pick up truck with a cow tied up in the back of the box which looked very odd.  Brook also noticed a fully skinned dead pick on a table on the side of the road in front of some sort of market and she thought that was very strange.  During parts of the trip the roads were very mountainous with some very extreme drop offs just feet from the edge of the highway, with no real guard rail to speak of.  The bus driver or the local passengers didn´t seem to notice this at all but it was pretty incredible to us, even when compared to driving through the rocky mountains.  About 2 hours outside of Cuenca the pavement ended and the dirt road began.  This really made it feel like we were in the middle of no where.  When we finally arrived it was dark, rainy and foggy so we couldn´t see much of the city of Cuenca.  The bus terminal at this end was much older and was part of a mall of some sort.  We all had to go to the washroom so we took turns paying our $.15 and then went outside to find many taxis waiting.  Our driver spoke no english but we had the name and address of the hostal we had reserved written down and he easily found his way there after a 20 minute ride and $3 later.  The hostel is called the Villa Nova Inn and is a great little place.  The staff speak great English and our room is very nice with a view of the fast flowing river.  Our windows open up wide so we can hear it rushing past.  After we got settled we needed to eat as we had very little to eat during the day.  We are right next to the old part of Cuenca (a world heritage site) so we just had to walk up some beautiful old stairs and to a street full of restaurants in beautifull old buildings.  We settled on an amazing restaurant with two levels and very high ceilings.  We ate on the second floor and the architecture and ambience was amazing, there were a couple of pool tables, couches and a fooseball table along with great murals and painting everywhere.  We had some sort of pounded chicken with sauce on it, it was really good.  After dinner we had to go back to the hotel and crash, after all, it was a very long day of adventure.

Untill next time,

Andrew and Family.

Hola! We have arrived!

Well, after an adventurous 22 hrs of travel time we have safely arrived at our destination.  No lost luggage or difficulties of any kind, it was great.  The final 2 flights even served free booze and food, which was nice.  The free food that is of course :o)

Upon our arrival in Quito, capital city of Ecuador, we checked in to our hotel, had a customary siesta, and then hit the street.  The weather here is great, around 20 degrees with intermittent sun, no rain so far and it is the rainy season so we are feeling pretty lucky.  Our wanders took us past some very neat sights, lots of yummy smelly street food vendors (of which we did not partake, not brave enough yet), and brought us to an Ecudorian Food restaurant, which was delicious and very cheap. 

Today we decided to explore Quito’s World Heritage site, Old Quito.  We took the local Troley to get there, which was quite the adventure!  Drivers here are very aggressive and they LOVE their horns!  Pedestrians take their lives into their own hands and mostly ignore the horns, cross busy streets in random locations, and even end up standing in the middle of the street, between car lanes, waiting for a moment to dash across.  The Troley was .25 for us and .5 for Brooklyn a bargain!  We have been drinking tonnes of water to help us acclimatize to the 9200 ft at which Quito sits, thank goodness the water is dirt cheap, for example a Dasani 3 litre bottle is only .85!  We have found that prices vary here, depending on where you are from.  For instance, we checked out a very cool money museum today, and they charged $1.00 for Canadians and $2.00 if you were brave enough to say you were from U.S.  Funny considering that they use US currency.  Local Ecudorians pay a fraction of those costs, they literally have a list for different prices, depending on where you are from.  Funny thing, we had to pay to use the toilet today!  A toilet with no seat and you have to ask the attendent for the toilet paper which is included in the .15 cent cost, if you could call 2 tissue paper thin squares toilet paper!

The beautiful hat that Brooklyn is wearing is a ‘Panama’ hat, hand made of straw, in Ecuador, no idea why they call them ‘Panama’ hats!  This will probably be one of the most expensive items we buy here as I got swindled by a very aggresive street pedaler.  He caught me coming out of a shop, said in very broken english, oh are you from California? As I proceeded to talk to him he said he was from California 25 years ago and encouraged us to follow him to his shop.  I should have known as we were walking away that it was a bad idea but I am a sucker!  We followed him for like 6 blocks (yes… we should have turned and ran) and then got stuck in his shop  as he aggresively tried to sell us everything he had in the store.  I learned a good lesson in ‘negotiating’ and was able to get him down from $35 to $12 but I have a feeling I’ll see the same hat in a market for $3 - $5.  I do love the hat though :o).

We are off on a 10 hour local bus ride through the Andes Mountains tomorrow, to a nice city called Cuanca, where we will stay for a few days.  Cuenca has been voted the #1 retirement city, in the world, for a few years in a row and it is also a World Heritage site.

Until next time, buenas noches.

Tammy & Family

We are on our way!

Our departure day has finally arrived!  Thank goodness we only planned this trip 3 weeks in advance, the wait would have been excruciating otherwise!  This seems to be the way we roll… talk about something forever, decide to put some action behind it, and then pull the trigger immediatly.  It’s like we just know when the timing is right.

Our bags are packed and eagerly waiting by the door, beside our hiking boots.  We think we packed light, but time will tell.  I haven’t felt nervous until right about now, my heart is starting to beat just a little faster now.  Slept like a baby last night, thank goodness, as we have a 19 hour trip ahead of us.  Could have taken a more direct route but that would have gotten us into Quito, Ecuador at 11pm and that just didn’t sit well with me, so I scoured the flights until I found one that arrived in the afternoon.  Day light will be a blessing I’m sure, as we adjust to our surroundings.  Another thing we will be adjusting to is the altitude, Quito sits at 9200 feet above sea level!  I’ve got my ‘natural remedy’ bag all packed up, along with lots of Monavie gel packs so I think we should be ok.  Some of the hikes we will be doing are up at 12,000 feet, so Quito will give us an opportunity to acclimatize.

Not sure when the next opportunity to post will be, but looking forward to sharing our experiences with you all! 

During our planning process we have discovered that less is more when backpacking.  We started with four outfits each and now are down to 3.  3 outfits for 30 days seems a little light but we are going to be very mobile and don’t want to be slowed down with excess. We are about 70% capacity which also leaves us a little room for keepsakes. 

During our planning process we have discovered that less is more when backpacking.  We started with four outfits each and now are down to 3.  3 outfits for 30 days seems a little light but we are going to be very mobile and don’t want to be slowed down with excess. We are about 70% capacity which also leaves us a little room for keepsakes. 

Our Agenda in Ecuador

Tue Dec 7, 2010 
2 p m Ecuador LEAVE HOME
W h e r e : Drive to Vancouver International Airport
5 p m Ecuador DEPARTURE YVR
W h e r e : Vancouver International Airport
8 p m Ecuador ARRIVAL LAX
W h e r e : Los Angeles International Airport

W e d D e c 8 , 2 0 1 0 
1 a m Ecuador DEPARTURE LAX
W h e r e : Los Angeles International Airport
1 0 : 2 4 a m Ecuador ARRIVAL Panama
W h e r e : Panama City Tocumen International airport
1 1 : 5 6 a m Ecuador DEPARTURE Panama
W h e r e : Panama City Tocument International airport
1 : 4 6 p m Ecuador ARRIVAL Quito
W h e r e : Quito Mariscal Sucre (UIO), Ecuador
Ecuador HOTEL Travellers Inn, Quito
W h e r e : Travellers Inn, La Pinta St. E4-435 & Amazonas Ave., Quito

Thu Dec 9, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Travellers Inn, Quito
W h e r e : Travellers Inn, La Pinta St. E4-435 & Amazonas Ave., Quito

Fri Dec 10, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Travellers Inn, Quito
W h e r e : Travellers Inn, La Pinta St. E4-435 & Amazonas Ave., Quito
8 : 3 0 a m Ecuador BUS Quito to Cuenca - 10 hours
W h e r e : Quito bus depot
6 : 3 0 p m Ecuador HOTEL CHECK IN Villa Nova Inn

Sat Dec 11, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Villa Nova Inn
W h e r e : Cuenca, Ecuador

Sun Dec 12, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Villa Nova Inn
W h e r e : Cuenca, Ecuador

M o n D e c 1 3 , 2 0 1 0 
Ecuador HOTEL Villa Nova Inn
W h e r e : Cuenca, Ecuador
9 a m Ecuador BUS Cuenca to Loja
2 p m Ecuador HOTEL Check in at unknown hostel
W h e r e : Loja

Tue Dec 14, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Loja - unknown hostel
W h e r e : Loja

W e d D e c 1 5 , 2 0 1 0 
Ecuador CABIN Cabanas Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba
W h e r e : Vilcabamba

Thu Dec 16, 2010 
Ecuador CABIN Cabanas Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba
W h e r e : Vilcabamba
Ecuador Horseback ride adventure

Fri Dec 17, 2010 
Ecuador CABIN Cabanas Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba
W h e r e : Vilcabamba
Ecuador Horseback ride adventure

Sat Dec 18, 2010 
Ecuador CABIN Cabanas Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba
W h e r e : Vilcabamba
Ecuador Horseback ride adventure

Sun Dec 19, 2010 
Ecuador CABIN Cabanas Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba
W h e r e : Vilcabamba

M o n D e c 2 0 , 2 0 1 0 
Ecuador CABIN Neverland

Tue Dec 21, 2010 
Ecuador CABIN Neverland

W e d D e c 2 2 , 2 0 1 0 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Thu Dec 23, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Fri Dec 24, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Sat Dec 25, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Sun Dec 26, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

M o n D e c 2 7 , 2 0 1 0 
Ecuador HOTEL Le Rendez-Vous
W h e r e : Hostal Le Rendez-Vous Diego Vaca De Vega 06-46, Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Ecuador BUS OR FLIGHT from Loja to Quito
5 p m Ecuador HOTEL Quito unknown hostel

Tue Dec 28, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Quito - unknown hostel

W e d D e c 2 9 , 2 0 1 0 
1 1 a m Ecuador BUS Quito to Black Sheep Inn
4 p m Ecuador HOTEL Black Sheep Inn Check-in
W h e r e : Chugchilan, Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Thu Dec 30, 2010 
Ecuador HOTEL Black Sheep Inn

Sat Jan 1, 2011 
Ecuador HOTEL Black Sheep Inn
New Year’s Day
Calendar: Canadian Holidays

Sun Jan 2, 2011 
Ecuador HOTEL Black Sheep Inn
1 0 a m Ecuador BUS from Black Sheep Inn to Quito
4 p m Ecuador HOTEL Quito - Unknown Hostel
W h e r e : Quito, Ecuador

Mon Jan 3, 2011 
Ecuador HOTEL Quito - Unknown Hostel
W h e r e : Quito, Ecuador

Tue Jan 4, 2011 
Ecuador HOTEL Quito - Unknown Hostel
W h e r e : Quito, Ecuador

Wed Jan 5, 2011 
Ecuador HOTEL Quito - Unknown Hostel
W h e r e : Quito, Ecuador
6 : 3 5 a m Ecuador DEPARTURE Quito Mariscal Sucre (UIO)
W h e r e : Quito Mariscal Sucre (UIO) International Airport, Ecuador
8 : 2 5 a m Ecuador ARRIVAL Panama City Tocument (PTY)
W h e r e : Panama City Tocument (PTY)
2 : 4 5 p m Ecuador DEPARTURE Panama City Tocumen International (PTY)
W h e r e : Panama City Tocumen International airport
6 : 0 6 p m Ecuador ARRIVAL Houston George Bush International airport (IAH)
W h e r e : Houston George Bush International airport, Texas
8 : 5 5 p m Ecuador DEPARTURE Houston George Bush International airport (IAH)
W h e r e : Houston George Bush International airport, Texas
1 1 : 5 6 p m Ecuador ARRIVAL Vancouver International airport (YVR)
W h e r e : Vancouver International airport


About 2 weeks ago we decided to book flights to Ecuador in South America.  This is a map showing where Ecuador is located in South America as well as a country specific map.  The country is very diverse and is split up into 3 major sections; Coastal, mountains (the Andes) and the Amazon Jungle.  We will be backpacking for 30 days and truly exploring this amazing country.  Some of the towns we will visit include Quito, Cotacachi, Cuenca, Loja and Vilcabamba.  These towns are all located in the Andes region of Ecuador where the weather is permanent spring 12 months per year.  

About 2 weeks ago we decided to book flights to Ecuador in South America.  This is a map showing where Ecuador is located in South America as well as a country specific map.  The country is very diverse and is split up into 3 major sections; Coastal, mountains (the Andes) and the Amazon Jungle.  We will be backpacking for 30 days and truly exploring this amazing country.  Some of the towns we will visit include Quito, Cotacachi, Cuenca, Loja and Vilcabamba.  These towns are all located in the Andes region of Ecuador where the weather is permanent spring 12 months per year.  

17 Simple Pathways to Health, Wealth and Wisdom

By Dr Richard Cawte

The 1st Pathway: Give yourself time!

Not long ago, I was on the phone to a client who, like all my clients, had stopped watching the news for a week when he started working with me. He called to tell me that he doesn’t watch television at all anymore. “I have so much time to do the things I want to do!” he said to me enthusiastically. “It’s changed my life!”.

It’s worth thinking about. How much time do you spend watching TV each week? Would it surprise you to know that the average is 28 hours every week? That works out at four hours per day, or if you want to look at it another way: 20 years of your life watching TV from morning to night if you live to be 80! That’s the average.

It’s not surprising. We’re all tired at the end of the day. We get back home, put a meal in the microwave and plonk down in front of the telly. It’s easy. But it takes up a lot of our time when we could be doing something else and, as you’ll see in my special report on the effects of television, there are a lot of good reasons for limiting the time you spend in front of “the box”.

What was great about talking to this particular client was that he was so enthusiastic about his life now. He was full of energy and he was enjoying his life more. In fact, he sounded more like one of my kids than a 55 year old!


The 2nd Pathway: Do what you love doing if you want to be rich.

When we are young we take on anything, we’re willing to take risks and ready to live life to the full: we’re enthusiastic. As we grow older, we tend to lose that enthusiasm. It seems to get buried under the mound of everyday routine chores and a fear of change.

How can you look forward to the day if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re doing? The answer is: you can’t. Sure, you might get through life, putting yourself on hold, pressing the pause button on your dreams, and you might earn good money, but does that make you happy?

Just what exactly does being rich mean for you anyway? Do you have a clear idea, because a lot of people say they want to be wealthy, but don’t really have much idea of what that means. So, here’s what is says in the dictionary.

Wealth is an "abundance of possessions and material riches", but it also involves a sense of "happiness, well being, community and common good."

That’s pretty interesting, don’t you think? Not many of us get taught that at school. We tend to think being wealthy means flashy cars, big yachts and huge houses: which is a part of it, but not all of it. Defining what wealth means for you is one of the first steps along the path the health, wealth and wisdom.


The 3rd Pathway: Unlearning what you know.


You might be surprised at what you really think about being rich, because most of us get conditioned to think it is not a good thing. Think of all the expressions you know about money: how many of them are positive? Not many, is my guess. We talk about the “stinking” rich and the “filthy” rich. We learn that it is easier for a camel to thread the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven. We’re told that money doesn’t buy us happiness, that the best things in life are free, and even that (the love of) money is the root of evil…

The third path is to unlearn all these things we are taught about wealth, to remember that the original definition of wealth does include happiness, a sense of community and doing things for the common good: to know that wealth means your own well being, in other words your health, instead of just money.


The 4th Pathway: Focus on what you do want, not on what you don’t.


The way to get what you want is to focus on it. A lot of people spend their time focusing on negatives. The daily news is a good example of this: it always focuses our minds on the terrible things in the world instead of on the millions of good things happening every day. That’s why I always ask my clients to stop watching the news for a week and then tell me how they feel. They always feel better!

If you let yourself focus on the negatives, that’s what life will bring you, because life is like a mirror: it reflects back what you think.

When you choose to do something that you really enjoy, you can chat it about with your friends on the phone, in the pub, or wherever it may be. It is easy to focus on it, because it is a part of who you are and what you truly want for yourself. The fourth path is to make your hobby your work, so that your leisure time becomes your income stream!

You’ll find it brings you all kinds of rewards as well as the financial ones.


The 5th Pathway: Your words are the diet of your mind.


When you’re doing what you love, it frees up your imagination to create life as you want it to be. When you’re doing something that makes you feel good, the words you use when you talk to friends about it will be words that make sense to you.

Words are the diet of your mind. When you use words that make you feel good, you feed your mind and your body, so you nurture yourself. It really is that simple. You actually do “eat your words”!

It’s been proven that imagining something is just as powerful as actually doing it. It impresses your subconscious mind. The fifth pathway is to use your words like a pair of scissors to cut out the future life that right now only exists in your imagination.


The 6th Pathway: You get what you expect.


Imagining life as you want it to be, instead of focusing on what you don’t want, means that you start to expect good things and, when you begin to expect good things, they come knocking at your door!

You really do get what you expect in life, so start to expect the best - from yourself, from your kids, from your friends, and even from people you have never met. It’s much more fun to be expecting good things instead of bad ones.

For instance, instead of saving for a rainy day, which means that you can be sure it will pour on you just when you don’t want it to, why not save for a sunny day? You’ll be expecting the best that way, instead of expecting the worst, and so you’ll open up the way for better things to come to you.


The 7th Pathway: Your ships come in over a calm sea.


There are plenty of opportunities out there. The deal of a decade doesn’t happen once every ten years, it happens as often as you want it to. Life is not about opportunity, it’s about choices: the choices you make each and every day. Are you choosing to welcome new opportunities or have you already decided that things never go your way, that someone else is always the lucky one?

One thing is for sure: if you are in a permanent state of high stress, worrying about money, fretting over how you’re going to pay the bills, you will find it harder to bring the wealth that you want into your life. It’s a simple rule: it doesn’t matter how many ships there are out at sea or how full of goodies they are, none of them can get into the harbour if there’s a storm raging.

We all have plenty of ships out there in the seas of opportunity, but often we are so anxious, so worried, that we create too much turbulence for them to get to the dock. To become a magnet that attracts what you want in life, you need to say farewell to worry and stress. After all, when did you last see a worried magnet?


The 8th Pathway: Walk up to your fears.


Stress is usually caused by fear. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll lose your job, or that you won’t be able to pay the bills next month. Maybe you’re afraid that, if you don’t work hard, you won’t be rewarded, or that someone else will get the promotion you so desperately want. Maybe you’re afraid of being successful just as much as you are of being a failure?

Once again, if you remember how you were when you were young, you’ll recall that you were not nearly so scared of taking risks, or trying something new. You had to learn new things all the time, so you just got on with it. As we get older, it gets harder and harder to break the patterns we get into, but it’s not impossible. You just need to walk right up to your fears and look them in the eye.

If you walk away from something out of fear, you take it with you. That’s one of the Laws of Attraction. One of the things I help my clients do is to face up to their fears, but not in a way that is uncomfortable. I don’t believe that we have to “move out of our comfort zone” in order to achieve success.

In fact, I help people do the opposite: move right into your comfort zone, because by doing that, you find you’re doing what comes naturally, and you find that you’ve walked up to your fears in the process, and that the monsters you created in your mind are really just poodles you can handle easily!


The 9th Pathway: Do it with a smile!


When you’re in your comfort zone, it’s easy to smile.

To me, that’s what life’s about. If you ask me how I measure wealth, I’d say that you can measure it in how many times you smile each day.

It makes good business sense, too. There’s a great Chinese proverb (I love those old proverbs!) that says: “A man who cannot smile must not open a shop” and that’s absolutely right. When you’re doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to smile, and that is attractive to other people.

For some reason, people seem to think we have to be serious to show we’re working hard. When the boss comes in to the office, everyone stops messing around and joking and pretends to be verrrry serious. It’s one of the things we all have to unlearn, because you can bet your bottom dollar that when you’re doing something that makes you smile, you’ll spend more time doing it, and you’ll be successful as a result.

So, it really does pay to be light-hearted!

The 10th Pathway: But-out and stop the excuses!

I have a friend who is often saying to people “Stop the excuses!” and she’s spot on. We all tend to procrastinate. We put things off: whether it’s doing the DIY, or looking for a new job, or doing the course we’ve been thinking about for years…it’s easier to say “I’ll do that tomorrow” instead of starting it today.

I would have done that, but…

I could do that, but…

We live in a world that likes to blame everyone else for everything. It’s always someone else’s fault, whether that is the government, or our parents, or our kids, or our boss, or our friends… “It’s not my fault,” people say, “I couldn’t do anything about it!” Well, you can do something about it, always, because it is always up to you.

The tenth pathway to health, wealth and wisdom is to stop making excuses, to stop butting-out and start doing what you want to right now.

If you spend life blaming other people, you lose your sense of strength and power. You hand over responsibility to them instead of grabbing it for yourself and taking your life where you want to. If you really want freedom from stress and hassle, you have to take responsibility for your own actions. The great thing about that is that it puts YOU in the driving seat. You take the decisions. You run your life. It’s not up to anyone else: it’s up to you!


The 11th Pathway: Choosing your friends wisely.


Something that often blocks people from following their dreams is the comments and discouragement from their friends and family. We tend to listen to what our friends say, but often they hold us back: not because they don’t love us, but because they worry that we might be changing, and many people don’t like change.

When you have an idea that is important to you, it’s crucial to let that idea grow at the right speed and in the right way. That’s why I often say to my clients that they should wait before sharing their ideas for their career until they are truly confident about implementing them. If you hear negative comments at the wrong time, they can act like frost on the bud of your genius, killing it off before it has had a chance to flower.

Ask yourself how you feel when you are with each and every one of your associates, and if there is something that makes you feel less good about some than others, figure out what it is and talk with them about it. If they can’t meet you half way, you may have to find new friends.

I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but you can measure the effect someone has on you quite simply: when you think about them, does a frown appear on your face, or do you smile?


The 12th Pathway: Every gift is an investment.


It’s an old chestnut, but none the worse for that: the more you give, the more you are given in return. It’s one of the simple rules of contentment. That’s why we all like other people’s birthdays: we love to see them opening presents. We love to receive the smile they give us afterwards.

Being generous with your time, money or energy means people will be generous in return and so, as I always say, every gift that you give someone is also an investment in yourself. More and more successful businesses are seeing the power of this law and are introducing a philanthropic element to their business plans. Wouldn’t it be great to see children being taught the power of generosity in school?


The 13th Pathway: Creating clear intent.


Why have I included a thirteenth key? Isn’t thirteen unlucky? Actually it’s not. It used to be regarded as the number of fruition, but the meaning got changed over the years. So, we’re going against the trend, which is something that I always advise my clients to do, because when you are counter-cyclical, you’re on the path to new discoveries.

A lot of people I work with have reached a kind of saturation point. They feel they just can’t fit any more into the glass. They want more time to be able to do the things they enjoy in life, but with so much happening in your life, it can be hard to focus, to have a clear intention, and to trust in yourself.

Having a clear intent is one of the most important elements of creating life as you want it to be. When you have clear intent, you transmit it to those around you and, in doing so, you transmit it to yourself. See the sections on Self Mastery and Mentoring on my website
for more details of the power of clear intent and how to access the dot-to-dot drawing of your perfect plan.


The 14th Pathway: Acting As If…


Once you have reached clarity in your intent, you can begin to act as if your dreams have already come true and that is a crucial step on your journey to perfect self-expression. When you act as if something has already happened, it has! Especially when you do so with feeling.

To make your dreams of the future live in the present, you must create the feeling of your wish fulfilled: you must adopt the emotions of it NOW so that the electrical circuitry of your body literally makes it current!

Acting as if" is a way to impress yourself, to rewire the pathways of your subconscious mind. It’s fun, it’s simple - and it works.

The 15th Pathway: Say farewell to the Three R’s!


School teaches us the “Three R’s”: reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. I have three new “R’s” for you to unlearn: resistance, resentment and regret.


Both your body and mind are run on electricity. When a circuit has least resistance, the electricity flows around it smoothly. In fact, electricity travels so fast that we can’t see the time it takes for a light bulb to light up when we flick a switch.

Look at yourself in the same way. When you resist things, you put blocks into your own circuit and those blocks will, as sure as eggs are eggs, cause you discomfort. It might be that you have an emotional block about something that has a knock on effect. It might be that you have a thought that blocks your mind. Applying the law of non-resistance helps to unblock your circuitry, which means you function a whole load better.

You don’t get sick so often for starters, because you are not in a state of dis-ease. And you release old thought patterns that are negative for you.


Why bother resenting someone else’s success? Hey, you can be successful, too! Resentment only eats away at your mind and stops you from living a full, happy life, because you get trapped in a loop that goes round and round and round.

For some reason, today’s media tends to feed our resentment. We look at others who succeed and think, “Lucky so-and-so!” We resent those who have more than we do. But does that get us anywhere? Of course not. Getting rid of resentment is a key aspect to living life as you want to.


The third “R” that we focus on so often is regret. How many hours have you spent casting your mind back over something you have said or done, or not said or done, wishing to yourself you’d done it differently? Often we hold onto a regret for something that took up such a small amount of time, so that it lasts for days, weeks, months, or even whole lifetimes! That has to be a waste of energy.

We all make mistakes and we need to. It’s how we learn. But we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. Think how many times you must have fallen over when you were learning to walk. I bet you didn’t regret it once: you just got right back up and started over again.

Part of the crucial eleventh path to health, wealth and wisdom is to find the ability to let things go, to release regret. Life’s too short to go wasting it regretting every other thing that you do or don’t do. Look at regret as though it is a mental tug of war and you are the person at both ends of the rope! All you have to do is stop pulling on one end and the tug of war is over…


The 16th Pathway: Give a warm welcome to the Three I’s.


So, say goodbye to the “Three R’s” and focus instead on the “Three I’s”: Instinct, Intuition and Inspiration.


We’re all born with it, and when we’re kids we rely on it all the time. Then we get taught to trust logic instead and, in my experience, whenever I’ve trusted logic over instinct, I’ve made an error of judgment. Your instincts are the result of millions of years of evolution, whereas logic is something we have only developed relatively recently. Your instincts can deal with multiple questions all at once, whereas logic can only look at one thing at a time.

Using your instincts means following how your body feels, which is another reason not to go beyond your comfort zone. Your body is never wrong, whereas your mind can play tricks on you. Follow your instincts and you are following your true path.


“What’s the difference between instinct and intuition?” people often ask me. Instinct is what you feel in your body. Intuition is what you know in your mind. If you like, intuition is how you interpret the promptings of your instincts.

Instinct is what tells you when someone is lying to you. Intuition is what prompts you to act in a way that goes beyond logic. It’s what helps you to follow your hunches, those ideas that pop into your mind for no apparent rhyme or reason. You don’t have a clue why you’re doing something, but when you do it, it always works out for the best.

Following your intuition, listening to those inner promptings, is ALWAYS a ticket to success.


We all like to meet someone who is “inspirational”, but what does that mean? How does someone inspire us? Well, to be inspired is to be breathed into, or to take breath. Taking breath is the number one essential of life, along with drinking water. So, when you do something that inspires you, you are filling your lungs with fresh air; you are literally feeding your body with the oxygen it needs to breathe, which is why inspiration is so important.

If you don’t fill your lungs regularly with air, the fact is that you will die pretty soon.

That’s why I say “inspiration makes life matter”. When you breathe in the ideas and use the words that make you feel good, you are inspiring yourself: you are literally feeding yourself with what is best for you. You give significance to your own life, so you make your life matter - you give it meaning. At the same time, you feed the cells in your body, so you literally make the matter of your life: you programme your own DNA! That’s how important inspiration is.

The added bonus: integrity.

When you use these three things: inspiration, intuition and instinct, you end up feeling whole, and, as a result, you gain the bonus of a fourth “I”: Integrity.

That one word sums up who you are, what you are here for, and how good you feel about yourself. The more you do to enhance your own sense of integrity, the more you attract others into your life that also have integrity: and believe me, there are plenty of people out there who are genuine, kind and generous, despite what the media would have us believe.


The 17th Pathway: Keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.


As we move further into the twenty-first century, we’re finding that science and mysticism are now shaking hands with each other. We’re finding that myths and legends are the basis of a new knowledge of how the world operates. We’re finding that the language of instant communication is not thought: it’s feeling.

The universe around us is a feeling one; whether you’re talking about humans, animals or plants. Everything that breathes has feeling. Even the air that we breathe and the water we drink contain feelings: perhaps even the earth and stones at our feet.

Like an invisible web that reaches out all around us and connects us to all living things, feeling translates into all languages at the same time. It’s what makes the world what it is, and the amazing thing is that feelings do not have to travel from one place to another. They are already there.

That means change can be instantaneous when you act with feeling as well as thought.

The starting point is to stop criticising ourselves. We tend to be our own worst enemy: telling ourselves we are not worth very much, convincing ourselves we have to settle for a life of compromise, a life pressing the pause button whilst we wait for the weekend.

We don’t do that when we are kids. When we’re small, we are happy with ourselves. We know who we are and we trust who we are. At the same time, we trust others, too. It’s only when we learn to criticise ourselves that we begin to erode our self-belief, we begin to lose our trust in our own goodness and in the goodness of other people.

It’s time for us all to show ourselves some compassion: to see the beauty that resides within us and connects us to all life.

Remember that life is a mirror: it reflects back what we think into it. So, when you show yourself compassion, you show it to the world around you. When you discover the beauty that is uniquely yours, you discover it in everything and everyone.

We live in a time of much change, just as humans have always done. Right now, the challenges that are in front of us appear to be greater than any of those our ancestors faced, although we can’t be sure of that. What we can be sure of is that, if we are to evolve, we need to move away from seeing the world as one of conflict and struggle. We need to move away from seeing ourselves as constantly in opposition to others.

We need to see ourselves as essentially the same as all other forms of life on the planet whilst acknowledging our own uniqueness.

The really fun part of all of this is that, when you take steps along these simple paths towards your own integrity, you also help others to do the same. Because we are all connected by the web of feeling that reaches out all around us and exists in all things, every breath we take, each thought we have, all feelings that pass through us, are experienced simultaneously everywhere else. And they don’t stop. They are always there, informing and creating the world as it is.

So it really is up to us! We can believe the world is the one that we’re shown on the news if that is the world we want. Or we can discover the beauty that resides deep within us and share it with the world, knowing that, when we do so, we create a world where every breath resonates with all others.

It’s up to us.

Amazing wisdom from Will Smith


… what are we missing in our very busy lives …

In Washington DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. 
About 4 minutes later: 

 The violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. 
At 6 minutes: 
 A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. 
At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time.  This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.
At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while.  About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded.  There was no recognition at all.
  No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.  Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.
 This is a true story.  Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the DC Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities
This experiment raised several questions: 
      *In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? 
      *If so, do we stop to appreciate it? 
      *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: 
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made … 

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?