Kindness of Strangers

There are times during travel that the place itself does not make much of an impression, but rather it is the people you are surrounded by that define your experience. This was the case for us in Cuenca, Ecuador in which we spent four nights with the Scherr family. Through one of those ¨random¨ chance meetings, Jessica had met a Canadian lady in Canoa who was happy to put up five traveling gringos in her home in Cuenca. By the time we had arrived, she had family in town but gave us the contact information for another family that she was friends with.
Matt and Diana Scherr are originally from Minturn, Colorado, a small town outside of Vail. They have two beautiful kids, Piper (6 5/6 years old, her birthday is in April) and Duncan (5 years old). Arriving in Cuenca two months ago, they have uprooted from their home in the States and plan to stay in Ecuador for 21 months. As their blog tag line explains, they are, ¨An American family either running away from it all, or trying to find it.¨

All we knew of the Scherr´s was their address, so arriving to a gated house on the outskirts of Cuenca was quite the pleasant surprise. We explored further to be in awe by a house with a full kitchen, garden, living area with couches (big plus during traveling) and four bathrooms! We immediately felt comfortable and welcomed and were even more excited when we realized that a past Canadian acquaintance, Glenden, was also staying with them. I don´t think any of us could believe that a family we had just met would be so willing to give us free range of their home, but after being on the road for so long, it was wonderful to be sitting around a table eating a pasta dinner, family style.

Although we only spent one morning and afternoon in Cuenca, we were all more than content spending our days at the house weaving jewelery (a new addiction introduced to us by Yohan after his time in Puerto Lopez), doing yoga, going for runs (i.e. surviving runs despite a dog attack), reading and spending whole afternoons cooking and baking in their kitchen. Looking back, they really must have thought we were something else, doing arts and crafts everywhere and cooking three course meals, pizzas, pies and multiple batches of cookies. Or rather, maybe we set the bar pretty high for other backpackers to follow.

Still, the most pleasurable part of our experience was just spending time with such an amazing family. The kids, Piper and Duncan were vibrant and animated and joined in on our baking and weaving. All the kids (small and big) had a great time playing together, and they took a special liking to Ehren who they called the Cookie Monster, rightfully so. It was enjoyable chatting with Diana and Matt as they reflected on their travels in years past. It was truly an inspiration to discover that we can mimic the same lifestyle with our families one day.  There is no need to loose the fervor for traveling once kids have come into the picture, if anything it is a great experience to expose children to other cultures while they are young. And although we might never return to Cuenca, we all certainly would love to meet up again with the Scherr family for a camping trip in the mountains of Colorado. In the end, it was a wonderful experience where nothing was expected and what was exchanged was genuine and authentic. So to the Scherr´s, thank you for you kindness and warm hearts. It was a breath of fresh air after the heat of Canoa and made our time in Cuenca unforgettable. And for the record Matt, I had only finished reading The Celestine Prophecy the day before arriving in Cuenca. So here is to believing in coincidences and the many more to come...

Also, just so everyone knows...we are ALL doing REALLY well! New stories and photos to share shortly. Tomorrow we are headed into a four day tour/trek starting in Chachapoyas (Northern Peru) to check out the array of ruins in the area. As we are non-committal travelers, we can´t make any concrete promises but Gringo updates are on the way....

The Scherrs also have an awesome blog about their life and experiences as new Ecuadorian residents...

Love and hugs to all,

Steph, Jessica, Abbey, Ehren y Yohan (the Righteous)