The Best Days of Your Life Are the New Normal in Ecuador

The place was packed; festive and noisy with a funky, thumping rhythm adding to the party atmosphere. It was a mixed crowd—some retired gringos along with a younger North American group accounted for about 60% with the rest a mix of European travelers and locals. Everyone was having a great time.

My wife Diane and I were fortunate to snag a table. At the very moment a group stood to leave, I moved quickly to claim the space. It reminded me of playing musical chairs as a kid.

Another guy went for it, too, but I was quicker and had 40 pounds on him. You know that feeling you get when you slide into a great parking spot barely ahead of another person?

It was Thursday night at the Surf Shak in Canoa, about 15 minutes from our home in San Vicente, Ecuador. They offer homemade pizzas, thick burgers, fresh veggie burgers, perfect onion rings and ice-cold drinks; all the right bait!

It’s not just for the great food that people come to Canoa. Canoa is an internationally known center for surfing as well as a popular destination for paragliders who fly from the nearby cliffs overlooking the Pacific.

But we were there to entertain ourselves. Shortly after we placed our order, the room became quiet as Pete turned off the music. A live performer had entered from the street. He was holding a guitar and had a pan flute fastened to his neck and chest. With no introduction, he began an amazing performance that lasted for 15-20 minutes as he strolled through the room.

His selections ranged from traditional lilting melodies with an ancient Incan feel to much faster and more modern tunes, his mouth moving furiously from one pipe to the next. As he left, he collected some appreciative offerings from the crowd and said his goodbyes, telling us that he was from the Patagonia region of Chile.

The food was amazing, the beer was cold, and Diane said her Pina Colada was perfect as usual. It was time to head back home. As we drove the short 15 minutes back to our place in San Vicente, we both reflected on how much we loved our lives.

See, the thing is that this particular night wasn’t a rare thing. Having a great day is also not rare. Wonderful days and amazing nights is our “normal” these days. And we’re incredibly grateful for it.

Not quite two years ago, we left a very stressful life in the States after dealing with some serious health issues and a personal financial collapse. After some significant research, we sold what remained of our lives to the highest bidders, packed six suitcases and moved, sight-unseen, to San Vicente, Ecuador on the Bay of Caraquez. Now, every day is Saturday and completely stress free…and we could not be happier!

The temperatures here range from about 75-85 Fahrenheit almost every day, and if we get a bit too hot, we take a dip in the pool while Fatima (our housekeeper) prepares our lunch. I know! It sounds like the lifestyle of the rich and famous but we are far from rich. We are simply retired and living on a fixed income. Because the cost of living here is so much lower than in the States, the things we enjoy take very little money

Our new everyday normal is better than our very best days in our previous lives.

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