Colorado town councilman and his family leave the U.S. ‘rat race’ for a sabbatical in Cuenca

Sep 17, 2010

Matt Scherr, a councilman in Minturn, a small town outside of Vail, Colorado, is packing up and moving to Ecuador.

Scherr plans to spend about two and a half years in the South American country with his wife, Diana, 6-year-old daughter, Piper, and 4-year-old son, Duncan.

“For me, the primary drive is the kids — spending some time with them and giving them some cultural perspective,” Scherr said.

The Scherrs leave Oct. 21. They will be settling in Cuenca, a mountain city with about half a million people and Spanish Colonial architecture.

Scherr isn't sure where the family will live or what he'll do for work. He's planning to figure that out once he gets there.

He and his wife will be homeschooling their kids but also enrolling them in an Ecuadorian school.

“It's the best way to learn the language and be immersed in the culture,” Scherr said.

He looks forward to visiting the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands while he's in the country. One of Vail's most vocal champions of green living, Scherr said he's curious about Ecuador's environmental policies.

Ecuador has a reputation as the “poster child for American abuse of natural resources in other countries,” Scherr notes. That said, the country has done some interesting things to try to curb deforestation and oil exploitation, he added.

“I'd like to try and understand the cultural sentiment about the environment,” Scherr said. “It's hard to tell looking from the outside in. If the government does something it doesn't mean it's widely supported by the people.”

Scherr, 43, has done a lot of traveling and never thought of himself as the type to get caught up in the “rat race.”

Yet his life in Minturn has all the trappings of American adulthood: a full-time job, a house and even a civic position on Minturn town council.

For a while, he's leaving all that behind. His agenda in Ecuador includes such rigorous activities as “look at clouds, lay in a hammock.”

Scherr will be leaving his full-time job as the executive director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability. He expects to hire a replacement today.

He and his wife plan to rent their Minturn home while they're abroad. Whoever ends up living at the house will inherit Scherr's environmentally conscious amenities. His house comes equipped with a chicken coop, compost piles and solar panels.

Credit: by Sarah Mausolf, Vail Daily News, www.VailDaily.com; photo caption: Minturn councilman Matt Scherr and his wife, Diana Scherr, are moving to Ecuador with their children, Duncan and Piper.

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