Here is what they are saying:
My brother Kevin and I spent 2 fabulous weeks in Ecuador in August. The first week was spent at a 16th century hacienda 2 hours north of Quito with 23 strangers who were also followers of the financial blogs of either Mr. Money Mustache, James Collins or You Need a Budget (Jesse Mecham). We spent time listening to the wisdom of these smart guys, touring around, interacting with the local community, eating amazing food, drinking a fair amount of wine, discussing the state of the world and laughing continuously. I can honestly say it was one of the best weeks I've spent. We met some amazing new friends! Thanks to Cheryl Reed for bringing us together through Above the Clouds Retreats!
I haven't experienced this much joy since the birth of my twins!
The Chautauqua was more than I could have imagined or hoped. I actually got freaked out the week before and wondered if I should back out - traveling to a new country with 20+ people I'd never met? I must be crazy. I'd have been crazy to have missed it, though. My saying for the week became, "I can't remember the last time I smiled or laughed this much in a week!"
Cheryl did a fantastic job of putting together the itinerary and dealing with the logistics. I knew that from the moment I arrived in Ecuador, I'd be shuttled around and fed as needed, and with someone that's lived in the area (travel fears #1 and 2, gone).
I could go on for days about the beauty of our accommodations and surrounding area, but what made this such a special trip was the people. I was suddenly in deep conversations with like-minded people, who I could learn from and share a laugh with. The speakers presentations throughout the week were enlightening, but it's the personal interactions that really stick with you.
The best I can say to summarize is: laughter, lightness, and love; an enlightening experience in a strange country that feels like home.
It might seem that we spent all of our time on difficult mental exercises, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our days were filled with excellent meals, stimulating conversations and several interesting outings. We visiting an orphanage for local children with AIDS, made a trip to the Otavalo Market, hiked around the local countryside, had lunch and a boat ride inside an active volcano, observed a Shamanic Cleansing, and drank many, many bottles of wine.
My fellow attendees were a fascinating group. Somewhat surprisingly, given our universal interest in early retirement, most people actually seemed to enjoy their work. Nights were spent telling war stories and typically ended with sore cheeks from all the laughter. It was a wonderful group. I truly hope that we've made a lot of life-long friends.
Cheryl will be doing this again next year. If you have any interest in early retirement, seeing a fascinating country, or meeting interesting people then I'd highly recommend that you attend.
"The week long retreat in Ecuador arranged by the Cheryl Reed and company was nothing short of life changing for me and my wife. We both made life long friends and realized that early financial freedom was a distinct possibility and not a distant dream! Really enjoyed presentations from Cheryl, Jim Collins, J. D. Roth and Mr. Money Mustache! Below is a haiku from my wife that sums it up nicely!"
A Chautauqua Haiku
Good Morning Cusin!
Financial Freedom with Friends
Eat, sleep, laugh, new thoughts
The Chautauqua was, for me, a chance to reset, recharge, and refocus. The days were perfectly balanced between sight-seeing, learning, and just relaxing and getting to know others in the group. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
Blog post links written by past attendees and presenters about the Chautauqua:
Ariane at The Frugal Humanist.
Julie at Millennial Boss
Gwen at the Fiery Millennials
Leo Babauta from Zen Habits: The Way to Finding Powerful Human Connection