Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Owner of Above the Clouds
Since the first time I stepped foot in Ecuador in 1997, this wonderful country became a part of my heart. Volunteering for two weeks with disabled children in Quito, I was humbled by the poverty, awed by the beauty and warmed by the hearts of the welcoming people.
Ecuador made such an impact on me that I moved there six months later to teach English to school children. Two years into this new life, Ecuador's economy became very unstable and I returned to the States with every intention of going back some day. In 2002, I did return and I bought the most beautiful piece of property I had ever seen. It was 24 acres on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains, a subtropical paradise which I named Sobre las Nubes (Above the Clouds)
During the first nine years, I tried many different farming projects only to learn how hard it is to be a farmer. I found out first-hand I did not have the heart for Dairy or Pig farming so I went the agricultural route. I planted 6,000 tree tomato plants and I finally had a profitable venture until we were hit with a plague. There was no cure for an insidious mold called Ojo de Pollo and we watched every single tree die.
I was searching for the next project when Ecuador’s Coffee Association began encouraging farmers to grow coffee. They provided the seeds, technical support and equipment at discounted prices. Hmm, being Cheryl Valdez seemed like a great idea. Nine years later we still have a thriving coffee plantation of 3,000 trees.
Because the farm never produced a livable wage, I have always worked six months out of the year in the States as a Physical Therapist leaving the farm in the hands of my wonderful farm hand, Samuel. I was grateful to have a flexible job, but it was hard to be away. My goal has always been to stay on the farm full-time with my pets in my own home and in the place I loved so much.
Since it was quite obvious I wasn't meant to be a farmer, I began hosting groups of people in Ecuador, leading nine retreats at various venues around the country. I was passionate about sharing Ecuador with others and I had always had the dream of building a guest house on the farm, but I did not have the resources to do that. Then a good friend presented an idea to me that combined with working three jobs in the States, I was able to begin construction on my dream house. Above the Clouds Guest House is now open to share with everyone.
I hope you will take a time out from the hustle and bustle of life to spend time in this magical guest house surrounded by landscapes that are works of art. I want you to feel the peace and tranquility, view the thousand stars in the sky, watch the clouds decide each day which views to reveal and experience the unique way of life in my little part of the world.