Life Lessons

Once you have made the decision to move to a foreign country, the next thing most people start to think about is “what should I bring with me?” This is an important question, but like most decisions when it comes to moving abroad, the answer is different for different people. When we decided to move to Ecuador, my wife and I shipped a 20-foot container. But I know several expats who brought only a couple of suitcases and are just...

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I would like to get some input from the readers of my blog on something. As some of you know, I have been working for some time now on a book framed around our decision to hike the Inca Trail, and our preparations for the journey. For me, most of the preparation revolved around losing enough weight to go from the morbidly obese category down to merely fat. That is only the framework, however. The heart of the book is...

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There's a moment of clarity, just before you begin, when you think calmly to yourself, "Why am I doing this?" Then the calm is shattered by sheer terror as you are flung out over the abyss. Now your brain is screaming "WHY AM I DOING THIS?!" This was my experience with the "Casa del Arbol" in Baños, Ecuador. Sometimes called "the Swing at the End of the World", this site was made famous by a 2014 photo taken for a...

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I am an American. I was born in Annapolis Maryland, one of the oldest cities in the nation. I've lived and worked in her small towns, her big cities, and some of her beautiful rural lands. We own property in America, pay taxes, and are registered voters. I did tech support in the US Senate, where I shared an elevator and chatted with Ted Kennedy, helped Susan Collins with her Blackberry, talked with John McCain about his break with Jon...

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Today I celebrate my second fifth wedding anniversary, by which I mean the fifth year of my second marriage. It seems a good time to reflect on a few things, and I've been trying to sort out and identify my feelings about "the institution of marriage". We hear a lot that the "institution" is threatened by the behavior or actions of one group or another; whether it is the LBGTQ community and same-sex couples, or hetero couples that change spouses...

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I saw an interesting post on Facebook over the weekend. Someone asked if anyone had seen the movie "The Shape of Water" and liked it. OP apparently did not like it at all, and wanted anyone who did enjoy the movie to explain why. I almost commented - in fact, I did post something, but within seconds I had reconsidered and deleted it. After all, at its heart, this post was a futile request. When it comes to art, you...

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Recently, we left our home in Salinas, Ecuador to visit the US for the best possible reason – my daughter had just given birth to twins, one boy and one girl! We had a great visit, but as always, there is some “reverse culture shock” to deal with when we are confronted with life in the States. I had one incident in particular that I found both amusing and instructive. As you might expect, I spent a lot of time...

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It was 1995. We were living in Charles Town, a little community of 3500 in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia. Early that summer, we attended a carnival in the even smaller town of Inwood with some out-of-state friends. Our Maryland friends were delighted with the small-town flavor of the carnival, and were amused to see you could win a rabbit pitching Ping-Pong balls at goldfish bowls. Seeing this, my son (Jonathan, then age 10) could not rest until he...

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It is hard to believe, but just seven weeks ago today, Rita and I set out on our hike to Machu Picchu. Actually, sometimes it is hard to believe we really did it. But we have the trail stamps and photographic evidence to prove it, and in fact Rita says I still have a bit of the bruise on my ass from the third day, so there's that too. Now that we have had a little time to gain some...

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Before finishing the story here, I need to offer two apologies. First, sorry about the issue with images not loading. I have resolved that now, so all images from all four days should load without problems now - just in time for a bunch of Machu Picchu pictures. Second, sorry it has taken so long to get the whole story online. You see, we didn't just return home after Machu Picchu - we've been on the road ever since. We...

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