Patrice Was Interviewed

Cutting Their Teeth in Ecuador Left Them Wanting More
By Wendy DeChambeau

It was the low cost of dental work that initially brought Patrice Baron Parent and her husband Dave to Cotacachi, Ecuador. "We first came here for a dental vacation in 2009," says Patrice. "But while we were here we just fell in love with the place. We liked the people, the culture, and the landscape—including the two dormant volcanos."

Patrice hails from Canada while Dave is originally from Alaska, but at that time the couple were living and working in Seattle. However, despite returning to their regular lives, the memory of their vacation lingered, and in 2012 they decided to go back to Ecuador for good.

At that point Dave had retired and Patrice had given up her business built on web development, website construction, and search engine optimization. But one thing led to another and Patrice again found her skills in demand. Today, she is able to work from home or wherever she happens to find herself, as long as she has access to a good internet connection.

Having a mobile career makes it easy for Patrice and Dave to pursue their passion for traveling. "We've traveled a lot," says Patrice. "In the last 15 years we've seen about 65% of the world. We've been through Asia, Russia, Europe, South America, and even Antarctica."

In fact, Patrice found that because of her travel experience she was often booking travel plans for friends. So she recently decided to work as a travel agent too and earn some income from her expertise, which now gives her two portable sources of income.

While Dave and Patrice are frequently on the go, Cotacachi is their home base. A mellow little town, with a distinctly Andean feel, Cotacachi is everything Patrice fell in love with and more. There are community seed exchanges, harvest and planting festivals, and a market brimming with quinoa, potatoes, and other mountain staples.

But above all, Patrice loves the weather. "It's like spring every day." In fact, the average daytime temperatures hover in the mid-60s F all year long, making it an ideal climate for many folks.

And the pair found that they can continue their hobbies and interests in Cotacachi without any problem. As foodies who enjoy eating healthy, this was important. "We make everything—all our own food," says Patrice. "We make our own bread, cheese, sauces...everything. We spend a lot of time cooking and entertaining. You can't go to a store here and find 19 different bottles of hot sauce, so it's not always easy to source ingredients, but you can do it."

Patrice also spends her time sewing clothes for children, knitting, and making jewelry. She's also found satisfaction in volunteering in the local community. "Last month we hosted police officers who were in town for an event and we made them breakfast each morning," she says. She's also been actively involved with a scholarship program for indigenous high school students in the local area. "There are 75 kids in school because of these scholarships and they're all doing amazing things. Because of this program, they're going on to get a higher education which will allow them to be of greater help to their communities."

Not only does Patrice get to live the good life in her dream destination, she gets to give back to the local community while she does so. What's not to love?

To learn more about the Scholarship Program and how you can help

Patrice's Travel Agent Website

Packing 101 ….

So what can you do to pack lighter? Its always a question - how can I take less but have enough? We have an upcoming adventure 140 days, 57 on a ship the rest on the ground. 

We always seem have too much luggage and we bring things home that we never put on! So I am working hard on how to pack smarter and lighter!  This way we can travel easier by train and on flights in country (all have weight restrictions).  Ok I accept the challenge, here we go!

  • Step 1 - we need a carry on that will accommodate a laptop and double as luggage for maybe 10 days. Started to do research on backpacks (no we are not planning to travel with ONLY a backpack) but if it can do multiple things - awesome.  I started to do research and there is what we opted to start with.  eBags Motherlode TLS Weekender Convertible
  • Step 2 - more cubes and envelopes (its how we pack)

  • Step 3 - what about more than 5 days - bought a portable washing machine - Scrubba

  • Step 4 - sleep sacks (never had one before BUT what can be wrong with sleeping in silk?)

     Stay tuned for more updates  (in other words part 2)

Clio – Clearview Audio

Clio1 31215

They call this the “Invisible Speaker”, and although it is not totally invisible, it is very unobtrusive for sure. Besides that, it has great sound! I have one of these and among the many uses I use it for, we use it for a sound bar on our living room TV. I thought we had great sound from the TV until we added this. It is amazing how much better it is and, it is in front of the TV, not centered mind you but you don’t even notice it while watching TV.

This is a Bluetooth speaker so you can pair your devices with it, and it also has audio jack so you can do things like connect a non-Bluetooth device to it also. The controls are on the side as shown in the following picture;

Clio2 31215

It might be hard to see in the picture, but on the left are the volume up and down buttons and on the right top is the mute and below it is the Bluetooth button.

We got one of these as soon as they came out and it has been the most versatile speaker we have. I have mentioned how we have used it as a sound bar before in this post. We have used it in various rooms and even outside on the patio. Although you can crank it pretty loud with no real noticeable distortion, we tend to use it as background sound when it isn’t connected to the TV.

Pros –  Size and quality of sound. Also the fact that you really don’t notice it unless you look for it.

Cons – Wish it had  a remote so that we could control the variations in sound between shows and the like without getting up and adjusting it.

Athalon 22″ 15-Pocket Duffel

As you know, we do tend to travel a lot and because we do, packing and luggage takes on a new meaning when you are going to travel for an extended time. The carry-on bags we have been using for a number of years is the subject of this post so we can pass on our thoughts and experiences. This is a picture of our bag;


Notice the outside pockets, they are on both sides and the straps on the top to cinch things down tight. It has a ton of pockets, well ok just 15, but that really works for us as a carry-on, and let me tell you why. It makes everything have a specific place and readily available. Imagine, if you will, waiting for a plane in the Airport and every outlet is taken by passengers charging all the electronic devices, and you set down with them and open an outside zip pocket and pull this little device out;

Yes has room for several to plug into. Now you have a bargaining chip to be able to charge your electronics. Another example could be you notice your battery is about to run out on your phone and you need to grab your spare charging battery to give it more power, just open the outside pocket and get it.

It doesn’t show in the above picture but there is a zipped pocket by the handle and you could use it for any number of things. What I use it for is zip ties, as that is what we use on all our luggage. We used to use TSA approved locks but TSA would constantly lose them, but that is a topic for another story. What we do is just before the luggage is tagged at the Airport I zip tie them from that pocket on our carry-on. Since we started using zip ties we no longer have lost locks and actually, TSA doesn’t seem to want to get into our bags as often. On a side note about TSA approved locks…TSA is the only ones that can open them, so if you are outside the USA, if they want to look in your bags, expect them to cut the locks off or call you to come open them for them, and that isn’t too much fun as they usually do it right when you board. Back to the bag…

This is the bag open so you can see the inside;


Some of the things you can see inside are, from top to bottom, a plastic quart bag for the airport that comes out; straps to hold things in place on the bottom, say a change of clothes; a mesh envelope; and 4 pockets on the inside of the top. Notice too that the bag opens completely up.

All in all for a wheeled carry-on bag this is great and we have gotten a ton of use out of it. Want your own?

Shaving – Thoughts and Opinions

You might be wondering how this fits in with anything on this blog. Well, glad you asked. Guys need to shave no matter where they are. One thing that really gets me is the cost of shaving, especially cost and quality of razor blades.

There are lots of forms of shaving available and for many, seemly especially women, electric shavers work great. When you really look at the cost electric shavers aren’t really that expensive. But for me, I like the close shave of a razor and through the years they have really improved the blades especially when it comes to getting nicked while shaving. I can remember getting into my suit for work and having little pieces of Kleenex on my face to help stop bleeding from a nick and sometimes even forgetting about them when I got to work – very embarrassing. But let’s get back to the point so I can share the results of my quest for a good shave at a reasonably fair cost.

For purposes of discussion I am going to use the Gillette Mach III Turbo and focus on the blades. Here are pictures of the products;

I have no complaints regarding the razor. It is engineered very well and been greatly improved through the various products Gillette has offered through the years. However, the blades are where the real money is for the company. The packaging for the blades is nice and functional. Look you can even see they put Aloe and Vitamin E on the area to glide over your face. Isn’t the special. Do you really think that makes a difference? It has got to be from the Marketing department for those with “sensitive skin”. But it is a whole different question if it really help in reality or not. Yet they do make blades for “sensitive skin” as well, so there you go. On that note…I never have figured out the “Turbo” part of the name. This is a manual Razor, I mean it does not automatically shave you. You manually move it as you shave, so where does the “Turbo” come from and what does it mean? But back to the blades.

You can see that this has three blade edges, there are other blades with as many as five edges. All this is for eliminating the nicks etc. when shaving, and they seem to do a great job of it too. If you look into it you will realize that these blades are manufactured by the zillions, and in doing so the quality is not that great. Sometimes you can have a blade that just lasts for two or three days and for the most part they will only last for about a week. If you’re lucky that it is. It might be worth mentioning that a couple years ago in the Fortune Magazine Gillette says you can get five weeks on a blade, check it out, . There is a lot of good information in the article but give me a break…5 weeks on a Gillette factory blade – who are they kidding. That never happens for me and I think I have an average beard.

The cost, actually value, for me is the issue. If you buy a “Costco” size package it is something like 16 blades for around $30. So in theory you have enough blades for 4 months, ok that isn’t too bad. But it is $1.88 for each blade or 28 cents a day to shave for the average beard. That is unless your wife uses your Razor to shave her legs and doesn’t tell you that she did. When that happens and you start to shave…well you throw the blade away and get a new one. Did I mention she is and Ex Wife? But let’s get back to the point of costs…

If you don’t have a Costco or some other big box store around and can only get a 4 pack at the drug store, it will be about $10.80 or $2.70 per week and that would be about 39 cents per shave. If you are outside the USA and run out of blades, I have paid as much as $20 for a 4 pack so that is $5 per week or 71 cents a shave.

So let’s look at these numbers from the Costco volume costs to the out of the country costs…

Costco Drug Store Out of USA
Day .28 .39 .71
Week 1.88 2.70 5.00
Month 9.50 10.80 20.00
Year 114.00 129.60 240.00

That is a pretty dramatic difference in costs, and although it might not seem like much to some, personally, I think it is too high even for the low end costs. So what can you do about cutting the costs? That is what we will focus on next. One option is to buy specially treated blades like cryogenically tempered (frozen) razor blades is a company online that sells them. They say you go from 7 days to 28 days with their blades. So that could cut the cost to about 25% of the above costs. I haven’t personally tried these blades but have a friend that thinks they are great. A brief look online tells me that it the results are mixed as to the effectiveness. But it is an option.

Another option is to go to the old style single blade. The costs are great per blade. On  you can find single razor blades in a 100 pack for $13.32. So that would be about 13 cents a week to shave. That cuts the cost by a factor of 20 – now that is a savings. But the down side is you get back to the cuts and nicks when you shave unless you are very careful. But it is a huge savings so might be worth considering.

Yet another option would be to switch to another razor and blade like Harry’s . I have experience with this one. The blade has 5 edges and if you look around the site you will find out that they are a quality manufacture, according to them, and that their blades last about 3 weeks. The costs are pretty reasonable too. My experience with them is they are really great and a great shave too. Yes I get 3 weeks per blade too. I have switched to this razor and have been shaving with it for about 5 months so far. I very much recommend this over say Gillette’s razors or for that matter any other mass manufactured razor.

Something else you can try is the Razor Saver from Sustainable Village;


What you do with this is slide your Razor back and forth in the plastic tray after you shave. It has a glass mirror inside so what you are doing is sharpening the blade. They say you will use 75% less blades if you use it. But does it work? Well I have been using it for at least 2 years and can say that on Gillette Mach 3 Turbo blades I now get about 6 weeks on average. My feeling is it is not the same from each blade as they are not of equal quality when they are made. On the high quality Harry’s blades I can get at least 6 weeks out of a blade. So my experience is I get about 6 times more use from a blade using this product. I makes sense too if you relate it to sharpening a knife. To keep a knife sharp you hone it with every use and it will be a very long time before you have to give it a serious sharpening.

If you look at my experience with the Razor Saver and use the Costco pack of Gillette blades your use for 16 blades goes from 16 weeks to 96 weeks, or 4 months to almost 2 years. Instead of that costing me around $114 per year using this product my costs are down to about $15 per year. Obviously for me, this is an excellent product and well worth the $10 price tag at

In summary, there are many options to save money shaving. Just buying from a Big Box Story from the Drug Store saves a bit. But if you add the use of the Razor Savor the savings can really add up. The solution that I am using is Harry’s Razor and Blades and the Razor Saver. I like the shaves better from Harry’s and they are a better quality for the price. With the Razor Savor I still extend the life of the blade so for me this is a great solution. Hope the information helps and let me know your experiences.



Cinco de Mayo – bet you didn’t know this…

Some people think Cinco de Mayo is to celebrate Mexico’s Independence day. But that isn’t correct. Mexico’s Independence day is September 16th.

Cinco de Mayo is the date also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, national holiday in Mexico in honor of the military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III. On May 5, 1862, a poorly equipped Mexican Army defeated the French troops, about 1,000 French troops were killed. Although the fighting continued and the french were not driven out for another five years, the victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The city, which was later renamed to Puebla de Zaragoza, and the battlefield itself is maintained as a park.

Now for the part I bet you didn’t know…

Cinco de Mayo is an important date in Ecuador also. In a small city in the province of Manabi named Chone marked the start of Ecuador’s “Liberal Revolution of 1895”. There was the Battle of the Yellows on May 1, 1895, that led to the Chone Liberal Proclamation which was conducted May 5, 1895.

So now you know…the rest of the story…don’t you feel enlighten 🙂