My friend Travis works for Remote Year – the company that first facilitated my escape from office life two years ago; he invited me to a weekend retreat in Quito, Ecuador with the purpose of getting “One Layer Deeper” with other creative, curious and inspired people currently travelling with Remote Year. The theme of the weekend was to gather people together and go beyond standard operating norms to cut through that top level boundary which we all usually put up around strangers. Each of us hosted knowledge sessions where we shared experiences, expertise and perspectives to this end. Topics included “Is there free will?”, separate one-on-one, hard-ball interrogations of one another, yoga, goal and action calibrations, a series of improvisational social games and a high-intensity breathing exercise course (which was way more challenging than I thought it would be). While I spent a couple of weeks in Quito last year, this time around it was a completely different experience centered around creating social connections, knowledge and experience sharing.
We stayed in a giant mansion built by a former professional Ecuadorian basketball player (also our Airbnb host) replete with a basketball court, a fire pit to host late-night theoretical discussions and a giant parilla we used to grill a family-style feast. We had a juicer and used it to make fresh-squeezed orange juice and mimosas each morning. We drank a lot of wine and laughed a lot. We visited the equator twice — both the real location of it and the mistakenly-placed-incorrectly monument erected by the Ecuadorian government. We walked around old town Quito a bit, had beers in a local micro brewery and drove around the formidable traffic laughing and navigating-by-committee via high-latency google maps.
As an experiment I utilized a hand-held audio recorder to capture the espirit de corps of the group — playfully interviewing my new friends, recording group conversations and capturing pieces of sessions, exercises and conversations. After some editing I’ve distilled that into an audio an album of audio files that you can access here.
I’m so glad that I was fortunate enough to attend and meet these amazing people who became new friends in such a short period of time. Besides the other things they taught me, I realize that these sort of deeper relationships are what I am really craving; a take away from the weekend is how to better facilitate their creation and persistence.