It was 2:12 A.M. and I woke up sweating.
For quite some time, I had been feeling lost.
But this night, I had had an incredible dream.
The details of the dream aren’t too important, but the message was clear: “Move to the beach and eat raw foods and you will regain your health and purpose.”
Now, this wasn’t just a one of those fleeting dreams. This was persistent. It was so clear in my head and I couldn’t forget the dream or the message.
As the weeks went on, it kept repeating its message to me. So strong was its pounding repetition in my head, that I simply could not ignore it. It got to the the point where almost nothing else mattered.
So I went for it.
I found a Spanish school right on the beach, where I could learn Spanish in the mornings and then do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day. Beautiful beaches. Lovely food. Surf boards. What was not to like?
Did I mention that it was located in a small fishing village in Ecuador?
It was not an easy place to get to.
International flight to Quito. Eight hour bus ride through the Andes mountains on a bus without a bathroom. I had to, umm, improvise at about the four hour mark (let’s just say that the most important item that I brought on the entire trip was a twelve ounce Kleen Kanteen).
When I landed on the coast, I still wasn’t home free.
The bus dropped me off in the dark on the side of the road. I wasn’t really sure where I was. So I walked in the dark until I came to a boat landing, which ferried me across the river.
From there, I took a rickshaw to my final destination. Which was closed (because it was so late).
So I went with Plan B and found another hotel room for the night.
By the time I got settled into my Spanish school and hotel, it was everything that I hoped it would be. I studied Spanish in the morning, and read, wrote, and explored in the afternoons. My Spanish lessons were either with the old man who owned the place or a cute young local girl.
One day my buddy Glenn, who was taking a break from his archeological dig for the summer, said there was supposed to be a fiesta in town that night.
What the hell, it was a Monday night in South America, why not?
Now, if you’ve never been to South America, you need to know that they LOVE their fiestas. It can be any day of the week and they will think up a reason for a fiesta.
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill start at seven, shut down at eleven kinds of fiestas. These are all night brouhahas. You might see the grandmother, the mother, and the baby still out there at 2 A.M. dancing away (yes, somehow the babies in South America come out with full recall of how to samba, salsa, and meringue).
I almost didn’t go, but at the last minute, I went. It was a night that changed my life, a night of destiny.
Because that night I met my future wife.
I certainly wasn’t out wife (or anything) hunting. I just wanted to try the Canelazo and check everything out.
So there I was leaning against the wall doing my best Ricky Martin immitation and this beautiful Ecuadorian woman looks back at me and smiles and then whispers to her friend, “Do you think he’s gay?”
OK, maybe my Ricky Martin immitation was *too* good.
After that, we danced. A lot.
I kept forgetting her name because of the damned Canelazo. Raquel. OK, good, got it.
The next day, I was like a love-sick, lost puppy. I had her first name and nothing else. No phone number, no email. Nothing.
But I kept feeling this pressure in my chest and this magnetic pull. “I have to get to know this woman. There is something important there.”
It wasn’t like a flash of light or a voice from God told me this was to be my future wife, just a strong pull that urged me to follow it wherever it took me. Much like the original dream that had brought me here in the first place.
Well, this was a small town, so I figured that I could find her easily. I walked in all the shops and tourist places looking for a Raquel. No luck.
By the next day, I had confided in my friend that there was something special about this woman and that I was a bit crestfallen because I couldn’t seem to find her.
The next afternoon, Glenn came bounding into my room with a huge smile.
“I found out where Raquel works.”
“Whoa! Where, where?!!”
I showered and shaved and put on my surfing town best and went straight there, intent to ask her on a date.
When I got there, the power promptly went out.
I wasn’t going to let a technicality stop me.
Looking for my lady in the dark was fun. I hadn’t rehearsed anything to say and my Spanish was terrible at that point, so I wasn’t really sure how this was all going to go down.
When they lit the candles in the tienda, I finally found her. She saw me too … and panicked.
After that awkward adjustment of “What the hell are you doing showing up at my work?,” I asked her out in my best bad Spanish, concluding with the phrase, “Todo es posible.”
We had this really incredible yet awkward candlelight moment in her place of work in front of all her co-workers, and the rest is history.
Just last month, we were married in a church in her hometown overlooking the ocean. We have lived in five places in Ecuador, three in Chile, and are just now getting settled into our dome home in the Valley of Longevity, Ecuador.
I tell this story mainly to encourage you to follow your intuition and dreams. You never know where they are going to lead you, but you can’t find out if you don’t jump!