An expat rides out the pandemic in paradise

Apr 30, 2021 | 3 comments

It was interesting that last year, a few weeks before the lockdown would begin in mid-March, I had decided to leave my paradise in Jadan as little as possible. Luckily for me I am married to a Cuencana who cherishes her time with her tribal clan so she was happy to be the sole shopper for our family each week. My daughter and I literally went nowhere for several months. Another lucky break for me was that I had envisioned uninterrupted time beginning March 1 for six months, putting my time and energy into building a stone cottage. I carried stone up from our creek each day for the first few months, buying only the concrete and sand/gravel with which to build the foundation. All told I moved about 60,000 pounds of material; it was quite a feat for this 67-year old to accomplish.

Louis Bourgeois and his daughter Amalie at home in Jadan.

Today, the current lockdown offers me the same routine I enjoy every day. Time in the morning by my cottage, chopping wood and enjoying a campfire. Later in the morning each day I spend some time playing in the quebrada (mountain stream) collecting crystals and building a sandy beach for my daughter, Amelie, now 5. The morning is complete with some time in my greenhouse, tending my tomatoes. I am the family cook, so at 11 I begin preparations for our lunch, the main meal of each day, Ecuadorian style. A short siesta after lunch and then the afternoon is devoted to playing with my daughter.  Some of our time is outdoors, enjoying the nature that I love so much, and some time indoors enjoying Amelie’s choice of games or books to read.

A sunset over the valley in Jadan, east of Cuenca.

My paradise is a steady state, each day ideally identical to every other day. I have no interest in travel, going to restaurants, going into the city, so the lockdowns have zero affect on my day. In fact I enjoy the added quiet the lockdowns afford me. I accept that for most the restrictions are inconvenient to say the least. I feel compassion for those who are struggling with tribal and egoic challenges, for whom the lockdowns feel like a prison sentence.

One challenge I needed to face was telling my mother, now 96, that I would never be traveling again to the USA, meaning I would never see her again face-to-face. We enjoy a video chat on Skype each week, and she enjoys seeing me and my family. She accepts her confinement in her nursing home, with little left in life to look forward to. Once we had a lovely fantasy that she would come and live with us in Ecuador, but that fantasy would never come to be.

Our world is changing in dramatic ways. I extend an invitation regularly to those with ears to hear to come and live with me in our paradise, building an intentional community together. But is seems that most still have unfinished business where they are, unable yet to find true freedom. Luckily for me my paradise is not dependent on the choices of others. And yet I welcome the company one day of other like-minded friends.

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