Sunday, June 17, 2012


Planning. Whats that about? We can try to plan but when your destiny appears to lay in the hands of others it is not so easy, you have to do what feels right, be courageous, follow your spirit guide.

In summary, our plan for the rest of 2012:

Boys (all 3)
10 July 
Beirut  - London 
(in Wales and England with Auntie Margaret, family, friends)
18 July 
London - Switzerland
(with friends from KL!)
22 July Switzerland - St. Pryve
(kids stay with les grandparents)
25 July  - 13 August
on Elemental Yoga Therapy Course in Portugal*
04 August - 20 August
On leave to France

20 August
Paris - Guayaquil
(inVilcabamba to Jan/13)
19 August
Paris Beirut
(visit to Ecuador Oct/Nov)

Early 2013 we'll likely move to the next post destination which is for now an unknown. Read on if you have an interest in the why's and wherefores, otherwise, if your plans and ours coincide in dates and locations, let us know. All are welcome to the sunny south of Ecuador!

This year we knew we had to move on from Beirut with the expiry of Cecile's time here with UNHCR. The process requires her to apply for a new post and so she looks for family duty stations, where she can work as a Protection officer and at the appropriate P4 middle-management level and...there are other considerations, like good schooling, work opportunities for spouses (me), availability of skiing for spouses (haha, but a good bonus!), clean air, etc. Think of these as filters which in effect reduce the number of possible jobs to apply for. Add to this that UNHCR's staffing pyramid shrank by 30% in the past 5 years of reform and budget strife (even though the number of refugees and internally displaced has grown globally), and so the higher your grade level and filters the fewer jobs there are.
Finding a suitable post is much more challenging than for a young singleton and the competition fierce...permanent staff have to do this every 2-5yrs depending on the post duration (which depends on the country). Suffice it to say UNHCR staff fight the battle to find work against the demographic odds and economics of the times like everyone else. We are lucky in a way, Cecile has a 'permanent contract' so there is a certain job security in that and although the built-in uncertainty doesn't go away.

We knew from the get-go, the year of the dragon was was going to be an interesting year. Without being appointed to a post yet, Cecile will be on a temporary assignment (TA) until the next round of posts comes up for January. It was only earlier this month that the office in Beirut got around to offering Cecile a suitable 6 month TA, she will work on the crisis of Syrian's displaced in Lebanon until December, before that she could have been going anywhere.  
Add caption
My own career path isn't so easily defined, it is more like that tangled spider's web from the spider on bennys experiment (watch the vid to the end)(at least I quit coffee!) so I can deal with another convolution, twist or turn. Good that one of us stays on track.

Now they say everything happens for reason; in this uncertainty I saw the chance to give the boys a break from formal schooling, to my mind an option while they are young and something I have been wanting to do for a while. The best place for this.....Ecuador of course! The house and land in Vilcabamba is really what makes such a possibility real. It also gives the chance to finally live in the house we built in Vilcabamba in 2003....a chance that has also been elusive so in a sense things start to come together. On the schooling question we consider that Mark Twain said 'don't let your schooling get in the way of your education' and Thoreau who said 'travel is the best education', I am working on the modality we will use for an informal home school.

Even not to planning to return to Lebanon may be wise the way things are going; the hard analysis says that unless the Syrian situation starts evolving differently, Lebanon stability appears like a small boat on the outer swirl of a spinning vortex going round round round and down down down. The pessimists view? I hope so and we pray that the power-brokers remember the damage of the long civil war here, and recognize the potential that awaits Lebanon that can only come with a sustained peace and proper governance.

Apologies friends in Lebanon for the visual metaphor but if things keep going the way they are, it could get quite shitty.
So by 20 August us boys will wing out over the Pacific to southern Ecuador until the end of the year. Work progresses on the construction of a casita adjacent to the casa roja in Vilcabamba to serve as a guest house. Construction is being supervised by our most excellent tenants and they will be the first 'guests' to live there. Rather than having to move away when we come, they'll just move next door!  They will manage the rental of the casita once we leave....a good option for all!
The footprint and foundation. Rebecca surveying.
So thats the plan, by remote I am working on this casita project, getting things ready to move to storage and closing the apartment, studying for my yoga course and looking at the education programme for the boys while we are in South America, I'll blog on that anon, stay tuned. busy is as busy does.

*The course is in Elemental Yoga as I build further on a different modality bringing therapy back to yoga practice and hope to work with people open to the notion that yoga as a life science can help them better manage their spiritual, mental and physical wellness. The more I practice, the more I realise how important this is in today's fractured and confusing world. This idea fits into a longer term vision to open a yoga/meditation site in Vilcabamba on the land, a project which has started and will grow organically as interest, time and commitment will allow, being there this year will help catalyze things significantly.


  1. I love the retirement plan and I for sure will book in for a yoga retreat!! Are there any swimming options near your villa? I can't wait to read the sabbatical blog!

  2. Sophie you cannot swim but in the river which is more suited to a dip or two, very refreshing on a hot summers day for sure but nothing like your Dublin dips.