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Monday, March 13, 2017

An interview on Expat Sandwich

For those of you who have been wondering, “What the heck happened down in Ecuador??,” here is a beautifully-crafted 20-minute interview that summarizes why I got the hell out of South America:…
(hint: it includes drugs, rapes, murders, broken bones, fire & earthquakes)

(Love that groovy graphic)

7 months later and the farm is still on the market. There have been a few viewings, but no offers.

Here's that listing:
Happy to pay a commission to anyone who finds me a buyer. (Just don't let them listen to the podcast - ha!)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Packing up my cacao nibs and going home

What a loooooooong strange trip it's been.
After nearly 3 years of the adventure of owning my orchard down in Ecuador, I've decided to return to Europe - probably Ireland, but considering Spain (now that I speak Spanish!), England & The Netherlands - to continue my end-of-life care studies. I won't be able to focus on my masters program and manage the farm from thousands of miles away, so I'm selling and investing the funds into a few years of serious study. Considering a thesis on something along the lines of "Ancient Celtic traditions of death and dying," then incorporating them into my practice. Wouldn't you love to hear celtic harp, whistle and fiddle as you lie by your turf fire and transition to the other side? (or, we could offer a wailing banshee, if you prefer)
Feel free to message me if you want more deets on my schedule/plans/whereabouts for the next few months. (Which are, of course, ever evolving)
Thanks for all of your support, my amazing, loving, generous friends - especially those of you who made it down to Terra Nova de Corazón, to help me survive my first year of living here! I'm here through August, if anyone wants to experience it while you can...

Here's the listing, if you know anyone looking for a new adventure:
Terra Nova de Corazón
1.1 Hectare Orchard/Food Forest covered in dozens of varieties of Mature Fruit Trees in Manglaralto, Ecuador

11,000 m2 lot (just under 3 acres)
3 structures:
- 10x10m blue-roofed structure enclosed with bamboo and mosquito netting has kitchen/dining area with tile floor downstairs, and loft/bedroom/yoga studio with wood floor above;
- 2-story white concrete building has bathroom/shower downstairs, bedroom/office + bamboo loft upstairs;
- newly constructed 3-story/split- level bamboo "treehouse" has 3x3m floors, with high ceilings and gorgeous views.
Entirely new electrical system installed in 2016, including transformer
Private well with pump and pressure tank
2000 liter rainwater collection system
Riverfront Property
Over 20 varieties of mature fruit trees
Prepared garden beds
Chicken coop
4 km (2.5 mi) to Manglaralto beach
6 km to Montañita
$25/m2 $275,000 - FINANCING AVAILABLE
Please email me with questions: cat(at)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Update from Ecuador, 3 days post earthquake

Since I have received dozens of concerned messages from friends and family around the globe, I figured I should let everyone know what is happening here on the ground. We had a massive 7.8 earthquake here (and several smaller), Saturday night. We at Terra Nova de Corazón are 5 hours south of the epicenter, but it took down buildings and highways 10 hours away. Ecuador hadn't seen a quake like this for 40 years.
We are safe here in Manglaralto, although all three of our buildings withstood some structural damage, which will need repair - including our new bamboo house* in the trees, scheduled to be completed this week. What Terra Nova is offering to the cause is *housing (hoping to find a family or two who needs a safe place until they can rebuild their lives) & some produce from our orchard. It occurs to me that if everyone in Ecuador who has a spare room or apartment could offer it to a family in need, everyone would be better off. I am slowed down by the broken foot I sustained while rescuing a small goat from the jaws of a street dog two weeks ago, but my support network is strong, and I will be eternally grateful to them.
In case your local news outlets are not showing the extent of the damage, I have included a photo album that depicts it quite well. This is a serious crisis for a country already hard hit by economic decline (due in no small part to declining oil prices and tourism). The annual income here is under $6k/year. Outdated and ill-maintained infrastructure leads to even greater suffering in a time of natural disaster. 
I'm a longtime member of Pachamama Alliance, so if you feel compelled to give financially, please do so here: (They've already met their goal, but I know all of the funds will make it to the relief effort.)
If you want to help me & Terra Nova personally, all we really need are hands. If any more (thank you, Amanda!) of my generous, skilled, hardworking friends want to take a working vacation in South would be a great time. You know I'll feed you well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bamboo Treehouse workshops, commencing this month!

(Sorry to everyone who received a virtually illegible blog posting yesterday. I needed to make the letters light, to be read on the dark background of the blog, but I obviously went a few shades too far!)


We are getting ready to host our first of many workshops on sustainable living. We soon have two architects (from Scotland and Italy) coming from 2 years of building with bamboo in Asia. This workshop will be bamboo TREEHOUSE building! Planning to start March 28, until we complete the build - probably 6-8 weeks. Join us for a week, or stay for the two months. Don't worry if you can't attend the entire time - our maestros will go over what you miss.
Building this tree house gives us the opportunity to learn about every stage of the design and building process from the ground up. The workshop won't just be a lesson on theory, but a chance to get practical hands on experience with the worlds most interesting species of grass. We will cover every aspect of the building process, from the foundation to the eaves of the roof. Through on-site lessons, we will learn to use the right tools to achieve both traditional and modern bamboo construction methods, while also learning the theory of these methods and why bamboo is such a sustainable building material.

Because we are a new community, building as we go, we don't yet have formal housing. Camping, hammocks, mattresses (with access to kitchen, toilet, shower, wifi, etc.) are available to participants. Vegetarian lunch will be prepared each work day and breakfast foods will be available to those staying on-site. Top-notch accommodations (A/C, wifi, pool, breakfast) can be had across the street at Hostería Arandú.

All of our classes, workshops, events, etc. will be donation/sliding-fee. We are asking just $150/week to cover participants meals and leaders' transportation. No one turned away for lack of funds. Because these architects don't speak much Spanish, this workshop will be conducted in English. Our next workshop, earth home construction (June/July), will be bilingual!

If you or anyone you know would like to join us, or if you have questions:
WhatsApp: +16129900046
Ecuador mobile: 0980096331

Follow our more frequent updates here:

Monday, December 14, 2015

The thought of an end to all flight is unbearable.

Two years ago this week, I bought a one-way ticket to Ecuador, with my life savings standing by, and the intention to purchase a little piece of land, where I could grow some food, and learn about living closer to the earth, surrounded by nature. I didn't have a clear vision of what the place would become, but I simply felt compelled to work towards realizing this project.

Tomorrow, I leave for Ecuador, again with a one-way ticket, but no real plans to return to the US. Other than, maybe to get my kitty, Chimney Sweep, if no one is able to bring her to me.

I still have no clear idea of what purpose Terra Nova will serve in my new community near the coast, lined up and down with fishing/surfing towns. Just some imaginings...

I am feeling supremely supported by a bunch of angels on the ground in Ecuador:
my fiends, Chris & Johnny, who recently moved to Quito from LA, with their 95 year-old mother;
Philip Baker (and his beautiful family), a colleague of my sister, who grows/exports chiles;
Rebeca, a friend in Salinas my mother recently adopted into our big, extended family;
Todd, my hero in Olón, who has made several trips to the finca, taking photos & videos to keep me up to date with what is going on on my land;
Noelia, my Argentine real estate agent, without whom I would've never found Terra Nova;
My first four volunteers for setting up Terra Nova - Mark (my buddy in Hollywood), Ted (retired builder moving from Vermont to Ecuador today), Kelley (like me, a former Angelina who grew tired of the Hollywood grind), and Kasijani, whom we found on The Poosh, and who shares a birthday with me (stop by Terra Nova January 6, if you wanna celebrate with us!);
Monica Rivendiera, of Eagle Condor Farm;
and most of all, Diego, in Guayaquil, who has taken 3 weeks off work to be of service to Terra Nova - serving as translator, driver, host, moral support & dear friend.

To those of you following this blog down in Ecuador, please drop me a line. If you're ever on the coast, I'd love to meet you all. To those in the US (I imagine I know most of you personally), COME VISIT! Best ways to reach me (in descending order): WhatsApp, Skype, text my 612#, email, PM on FB, phoning my 612# (a little spendy).

Gotta get back to packing, weighing luggage, cuddling my kitty goodbye, etc. It's cold here in LA this week (lows in the 30s and damp), so I'm looking quite forward to more pleasant climes...

“Yes, it was too late, and Sabina knew she would leave Paris, move on, and on again, because were she to die here they would cover her up with a stone, and in the mind of a woman for whom no place is home the thought of an end to all flight is unbearable.” 
― Milan KunderaThe Unbearable Lightness of Being

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This time I made it back here in four months instead of five! Is triannually often enough?

Not much to report down at Terra Nova. No one has been living there since last fall. The family who was planning to stay longterm decided Ecuador was not for them. I'm out several thousand dollars on that endeavor, including an unnecessary (yet enjoyable) trip to Ecuador, and a new refrigerator that already needs to be replaced. But, we are living and learning as we go, aren't we all?

Since then, some international (U.S., U.K. & Canadian) neighbors in the area have been able to make use of the beautiful property for some healing ceremonies - some geared especially towards women. Our neighbor/gardener, Geovanny, has been watering enough to keep (most of) the trees alive. We did lose one big, beautiful coconut palm (our only one) already, due to lack of watering. Not sure how that happened, but it's difficult to monitor these things from thousands of miles away. Still open to finding someone to oversee the land for the rest of 2015, until those of us planning to do so (me, RaRa, Turtle, ??) can move ourselves down there.

When I tell people I'm moving to Ecuador (as I shared repeatedly last night, at our local InterNations gathering), people generally ask, "Why Ecuador?" Buena pregunta. The best answers I have come up with are:
Spiritual (/crazy?): I am responding to an inner vision, a calling, a compulsion to go there.
Pragmatic: Cost of living is low, while standard of living is high.
Psychological: I'm kinda over the whole living the urban life at the peak of empire thing.
Altruistic: I would like to be of service to the people & country of Ecuador, as they have safeguarded our Amazon all these years.
Emphatic: Because I can.
Honest: Um, I don't really know...yet.

What I am surprised by is the almost universal enthusiasm and support I receive, no matter what response I give. "Wow, what an adventure! That sounds like fun." "I'm so impressed." "I think you're onto something/ahead of the curve." Although, I did get a bit riled last night when a man said he assumed I was moving there because I had met an Ecuadorian man and needed to be by his side. Ugh.  Would he have assumed this of a man? He assured me he would have. I'm gonna call BS on that one.

The next question is always, "What do you intend to do down there?" Normally I respond with, "Prepare meals, do some yoga & meditation, ride my bike, read books, play some music...much like my life here in Hollywood." (Not really the answer they are looking for.) Other responses:
I'm going to grow food, raise chickens, go fishing and generally live off the land, to the best of my abilities.
I'll learn Spanish & be an actress, just as I have been my whole life.
I will be a Death Midwife* and assist transitions.
Um, I don't really know...yet.

Wait a minute - a Death What?! That's right, I spent 2014 getting my ministerial ordination and my midwifery certification, through *Sacred Crossings.

I call myself The Irreverent Reverend, Celibate Celebrant & Sacred Crossing Guard.
Good evening. How may I be of service?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It has been nearly 5 months since my last post (Bless me Father, for I have sinned?), so I am long overdue. Thank you for pushing me to update when I run into you around town, my loyal/local followers.

The crowd-funding campaign wrapped up in July. We raised $2300, with which we were able to hire a small crew for a week (gotta love a developing economy!), to do some much needed repairs & painting at Terra Nova. Thanks to all of you who purchased private aerial lessons from her, RaRa also raised funds towards building a small treehouse from which to launch her Circus Arts school on the grounds. Who wants to learn how to swing from the tropical trees?!

From the campaign updates:
To give you an idea of how far your money goes down in Ecuador, with the funds we have raised so far we have been able to: repair our plumbing, install a simple hot water heater in the shower (no more cold showers!), screen in the windows & patch up the yoga loft (let's keep our neighborhood critters outside), and paint the roof white (reducing heat absorption in the loft). It took a crew of three men nearly a week, but they got it all done, for under $1000! Some pictures on the Facebook page: (Please "like" us, if you haven't already.) 
Some of the things we plan to be up to at Terra Nova: yoga, meditation, spiritual growth, personal development, hospice, death midwifery, home funerals, green burial, aerial lessons, circus arts, clowning, organic gardening, raising chickens and goats, building bicycles, custom-made clothing, voice over, natural home & body products, etc.! Your support is so greatly appreciated.

I spent July touring the upper midwest, visiting friends and family in Minneapolis, Duluth, and the north woods of Wisconsin - enjoying the moisture and the green.*

Work-wise, August was great for me. I did 5 spots for CVS, after which, the client made a comment about wanting to use me, "for everything." Oh, do not tease about such things. I did a series of spots for SuperCuts where, in addition to talking, I got to voice a bunch of sound effects. What fun! Also, I believe my United Health, Subaru & Yellow Pages ads are still running, as the residuals are still coming in. (Y'all let me know if you hear my voice. I never watch TV nor listen to commercial radio, so I rarely hear my own work!)

September, I had plans to tour Eastern Europe by bike & train with a girlfriend, but she landed a full-time gig just before our tour was to begin. Instead, I spent the weekends with her, in Warsaw, and spent weekdays using BlaBlaCar to get around the country (Gdansk, Płock, Plonsk, Grudziadz). I'm not much of a picture-taker when I travel, but here is a snap of my ($10/night, barely post-communist) hotel lobby:
I also passed a week on Patrycja's family's farm with her (non-English-speaking) folks, fishing and mushroom hunting. Smacznego!

I had the good fortune to miss three of the four heat waves we experienced in SoCal this year: in May (I was in Ecuador); July (MN/WI); Sept (Poland); Oct (I suffered a few 100-degree days in my A/C-free Hollywood cottage). *Did you know we are in a bit of a drought here?

Before you get too smug in your moist little easy chair you know where the majority of food is produced in the US? You got it. We have used up over 80% of our groundwater, and aquifers take thousands of years to replenish. In other words, Cali isn't going to be friendly to large mammals much longer. I wonder where I should move...

Speaking of Ecuador, the Rastafari family has left Terra Nova and returned to The States. I guess things didn't work out the way they imagined. Life in a new (less developed) land, with a different language, and three children to mind has got to be quite a challenge. If anyone is interested in living on the land and being some of the first members of our intentional community, please drop me a line. I would especially love to find community-minded folks with gardening/building/repairing/maintaining skills, as well as some Spanish fluency.

I was planning to spend this winter down there, overseeing construction on a simple cottage I would like to build for myself on the land. However, since this is likely my final year in LA, I realized it is much more prudent of me to stay here and drum up as much work as possible. Once I am living in the Southern Hemisphere, my income will drop substantially. I intend to live a much simpler life (I know - I'm already such a bad American Consumer!), requiring much less funding. But, the more I can invest in Terra Nova before then, the better life will be for all of our guests, and the more charity/donation-based work I'll be able to do.

I'll try to be better about updating at least monthly, to keep you abreast of our goings-on at Terra Nova. Thank you all, for your continued support.