By David Morrill
Louis Bougeois is up early each day and by sunrise he’s usually busy with projects in the quebrada just below his house. He clears underbrush from the banks of the creek that runs through the quebrada, builds benches, stairs and walkways, cuts and removes fallen trees. He moves rocks in the creek bed ranging in size from boulders as big trucks to fist-size rocks and small pebbles.
Sometimes, following a heavy rain, when the creek becomes a raging torrent, he has to reposition the larger rocks again. Sisyphus would be proud.
Some people would call his project work but for Louis it’s fun. “I get to play in the water and look for precious stones. I get to make a beautiful place more beautiful and a place where people can come play and relax,” he says. (Click here, to read more about Louis’ project.)
There is also a spiritual component of the project. A teacher of conscious living and conscious dying, Louis views his efforts as part of his life’s journey, and beyond. “The Oasis is a logical destination for me,” he says. “I want others to discover it as a place to appreciate the value and meaning of living. Besides that, I want people to enjoy a place only a few minutes from Cuenca, unwind and have a good time.”
The Oasis that Louis refers to is the Oasis Ecoresort and Center for Conscious Living that he first established in Minneapolis in the U.S. in 2009. The center relocated to Ecuador with Louis in 2014 where he first held classes at his house in the Cajas Moutain foothills, on the west side of Cuenca.
The center relocated to the current location in 2018 when, with the help of a friend, he and his Ecuadorian wife Katy purchased land and an unfinished hotel in Jadan, 15 miles northeast of Cuenca. The resort is built around a large volcanic outcrop left from massive eruptions hundreds of thousands of years ago that shaped the landscape near Cuenca. The outcrop, which rises to 100 feet in places, is not only the central feature of the land comprising Oasis, it is actually part of the main lodge, intruding prominently into the living room and upstairs bedrooms.
“When I first saw the place I knew this was where I would spend the rest of my life,” Louis says. “It’s only a few minutes from the city but it’s another world.”
Louis and Katy have been busy finishing the lodge, which they live in, adding guest rooms and a large kitchen where Louis, a one-time professional chef, prepares meals for guests and his family. They’ve also built a rooftop greenhouse which produces heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers, among other crops.
For guests who want more privacy, there are two casitas up the driveway from the lodge, built within the last year. Perched on the edge of the volcanic rock, the casitas offer stunning views of the valley below and the mountain ridge that separates Jadan from Cuenca. The casitas have bathrooms, a small kitchen area, a fireplace and two double beds.
Plans for next year are to build more casitas, Louis says, as well as a larger building to accommodate larger overnight groups.
For those looking for an introduction to the Oasis, Louis and Katty are hosting a New Year’s Eve wine tasting dinner. The event begins at 5 p.m. and includes four courses and eight wines. The hosts suggest guests arrive early to enjoy the surroundings.
This feast will be served fireside in the main lodge, after which guests can retire to the casitas or rooms in the lodge. On New Year’s morning, breakfast will be served at a time to suit the guests.
The Oasis can accommodate a total of 12 guests.