11/19/2013 05:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Retiring Overseas: It Takes a Village

This is not a story about martinis.

It's a story about how a village can improve your life.

Last weekend we had a home night--an evening when we stay in, make our favorite drinks, cook ourselves a special dinner, relax with something interesting on the TV or the sound system, and just enjoy each other's company.

Just to set the record straight, our home nights are not rare occasions. In fact, when we're not on the road on editorial assignments or at events or conferences, most of our nights are home nights. It's the way we prefer to spend our evenings when we're actually at home in our little Andean mountain village in Ecuador.


Photo courtesy of Hugo Ghiara,

On this particular home night last weekend, we were looking forward to cooking up something really special. Good friends of ours run an organic farm outside our village, and they'd just put together a batch of fresh, hand-made bratwurst--some of the best we've ever tasted. And we'd just taken delivery of some, along with some Italian sausage and ground chicken. We were going to spend the evening using these magnificent brats in a new recipe calling for lots of onion, cabbage, tomato, and spices.

We were also looking forward to having vodka martinis while preparing dinner. The bottle of vodka had been in the freezer for days, and it poured like honey. Then we reached for the olives...

No olives.

This is where we make it clear that this is also not a story about olives. As we said above, it's a story about how living in a village can improve your life.

In our case, it improves our lives by being small, walkable, and having a temperate climate year around.

Which means that, when you're having a special evening and discover that you're out of martini olives, it isn't a disaster. You know that olives are just three blocks away, you can get there and back on foot in 15 minutes, and the only thought you need to give about going outside is whether you need a hat and sunglasses or not.

Fifteen minutes later, olives secured, our home night continued without a hitch.

This is how almost everything works for us here in our village. We've been here long enough to accommodate our routines, tastes, and schedules to the rhythms and availabilities of village life.

And honestly, we now find life more convenient than it ever was back where we could get 10 brands of anything on the planet. Because we no longer need 10 brands of everything... we just need one, and we've become very used to it being within easy walking distance in excellent weather.

And our village makes all that possible.

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