A Journey to the Middle of the World – August 1st, 2021

Rachael and Mark Beneke in the Middle of the World
Rachael and Mark Beneke in the Middle of the World
Rachael Trying to Spin the Ball

The Middle of the World

It’s been a full month since my retirement and what do I have to show for it? Netflix, video games, tons of movies, constant sleep, no showering, putting on 20 pounds. 

I wish I could get constant sleep. Even out here in Ecuador, I’m still waking up early morning and being unable to go back to sleep. Maybe it’s a curse, being unable to stay asleep most nights, but it’s one that I have been able to manage well. 

But yes, I’m in Ecuador! I’ve been here since the 21st. Had a bit of a rocky start, considering that our flight got rerouted at the last minute and our luggage was sent in different planes. We didn’t get to explore one of the initial cities that we came to see (Cuenca) but instead got to see Guayaquil more as we waited for our luggage to get there.

Mark Beneke and Rachael Beneke Statues Ecuador
Amazing Statues in Guayaquil

So much of this country reminds me of growing up in El Salvador. The buildings, roads, lifestyle. Things are more simple here, both in a good and bad way. This country has also made me re-appreciate so many of the little things that I’ve come to take for granted since moving to the U.S. like hot showers and clean tap water. 

In all reality, retirement has been great. It’s given me the opportunity to focus on more of what I want to do instead of being dictated by the daily whirlwind of the company. I’ve created a schedule for myself so I stay focused and don’t get pulled in different directions. It’s worked well, other than when I’ve been out here in Ecuador, but I’m still keeping to it as much as I can.

I’m writing the update, aren’t I?

Property where we stayed in Banos Ecuador Mark Beneke
A Property Where We Stayed in Banos

The Dealership

I decided last month that breaking this into two separate categories would be more efficient and smoother to get through. They each have their set of problems and successes that deserve their own attention.

Since I am no longer wrapped up in the day-to-day of the company, I cannot speak much on the daily occurrences. I can, however, tell you about how the company is doing as a whole. 

As of two weeks ago, we had one of our collectors put in her two weeks notice. It was very heartbreaking to hear this because she’s been with us ever since a little after my mom died. She helped us navigate through a lot of turbulent times and has performed extremely well. We all cared about her deeply and would even say that she felt like part of the family. 

It came at an odd time, but maybe it was the best possible time. It gives the new people an opportunity to practice interviewing, hiring, and training right off the bat. This may also mean that they will be able to earn the respect of a new member of the team faster, as they were the ones that put them in place. 

When I left to Ecuador, we were on track to finish the month at our goal. Since I cannot access our system from out here, I can only go based off the updates that were sent to me by email and it seems we got to it. I’ll have to check this when we get back. 

My brother, Eric, and I are going to the auctions every Monday together to check through the cars. It’s fun and gives me an opportunity to discuss things with him that we didn’t get to before since we were on opposite schedules. 

My personal replacement is doing really well, but there are a few things that we will have to finetune. It’s nothing major, just small oversights that are understandable for him to lose track of. I can see that he is trying to make sure that the big items are taken care of. He feels he is prioritizing the most important over the least. It’s just a matter of making him realize that if he structures things better, he doesn’t need to pick.

The Real Estate

The third property we were trying to close on fell through. It seems there were a few different liens on the property and the purchase price was unable to cover the amount owed to clear them all. If the amount had been small enough, I may have considered moving forward with it. However, it was enough to make the numbers no longer work.

The plumbing and electrical contractor is slowing down my main contractor and so neither house has been able to finish. I’ve spoken with my main contractor and him and I have decided to help him finish the work and in the process teach the main contractor what he’s doing. It’s a way of keeping him on task while also pushing him out of the picture since he’s unreliable. 

In the future, if I don’t have to hire anyone outside of the main contractor, it’s a win for both him and I. It may cost me a little more right now, but it’s going to cost me more if I have to keep dealing with the slowdowns that this other guy is causing.

I’m trying to hone in on another property to purchase. I’ve put in offers on a few more but nothing has stuck. I’m continuing to analyze properties from out here as they get sent to me and sending back offers. I’ve also found some other wholesalers and let them know what I’m looking for so I can get an even bigger stream of them through. It’s just a matter of trusting the process. 

The Leisure

Mark Beneke in Mompiche Ecuador
The Outskirts of Mompiche Ecuador

There’s two biggies that I’ve done. 

One, I took a trip out to the beach with my wife’s family. They do this every year around the same time and stay for roughly a week. This year they only stayed for about 4 days or so but I think it was better for them since their mind wasn’t in it.

Two, I came to Ecuador with my brother, his wife, and my old man. Rachael is with me here as well. I’m not leaving my woman behind. Not yet…ha!

Other than that, it’s been my regular leisure. I’ve added an hour of playing video games to my daily schedule, you know, to make sure I don’t get carried away. Yes, it’s mostly Apex Legends, and yes, I still suck.

We did make it through a couple of shows this month. One that we loved, another that we kept watching because it was kind of fun pointing out how bad it was.

If you haven’t watched the Marvel movie series phase 1-3, I highly recommend you do. Rachael and I watched them in their release format and it was great to see how tightly knit all of the films were made. It makes Loki, on Disney+, a blast to watch. The entire season feels like the main character. A funny yet dramatically troubled (not in a bad way) story with a series of characters that teeter the line of not being truly evil nor good.

The I-Land on Netflix, was a fucking mess. The writing was extremely bad, to the point that it makes you wonder how anyone agreed to fund this project. Every character’s decisions were extremely jarring. Everyone seemed to be bent on making sure they were as rude as possible to people they had never met before. It’ll definitely make you laugh, though, and not because they are trying.

As far as books, I finished Sold by David Greene. It’s a book about helping new real estate agents ensure success in the field and offers advice on different ideas you can implement so you don’t just give up. Since I’m just waiting to hear back on when I can take my test, I figured it would be a good time.  

Rachael and I are working on The Troop by Nick Cutter. We’re about 20% in so far and the book has started out pretty strong. 

I’ve personally been working on 2 books myself. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini, and The Stand by Stephen King.

Both of these books are fucking huge, but I’ve managed to put a pretty decent dent on both. So far, they are fascinating. I’m hoping to get them both read by this month. 

A show I recommend this month: Loki on Disney+

A book I recommend this month: Sold by David Greene

The Puppies

Rach and I have decided that if we’re going to be taking more trips, we will need to find places where our puppies can come with us. As beautiful as it may be to come out to another country, having our girls and BD-1 here would make it a million times better.

Clem has been growing a ton, she’s almost the same size as Nova. By the time we get back, she may actually be bigger than her. She’s still the annoying little sister that doesn’t stop bothering her big. 

They’ve definitely created a pack together and it’s adorable to see. When we go to the dog park, they start off doing their own thing for a few minutes. Once that phase is over, they come back and chase after each other as if they were in our backyard. BD-1 just roams around sniffing shit and growling at other dogs that get too close.

Clemmy has a human that she adores at the park. Every time he comes in, she charges toward him and throws herself all over him. He calls her “pretty girl” and she eats it up.

Boxer Puppy Clementine Missing her Humans
Clemmy Wants Her Parents Back

The Writing

Finally! How has my retirement affected my writing?

I’d say pretty well. I finished The Assassin, which is currently being released right now. I also have begun a new novel that I’m titling The First of Us. It will be a sci-fi horror and you can read all about the premise on the update I did for it. 

I’m about 20 pages in and should have even more time to focus on it once we come back from the trip. 

Rachael and I got featured on an article for Yahoo! Finance about how couples manage their finances.

I’ve also hired someone to begin editing Galapagos. She’s made me realize how much work it actually needs and I’m very glad I decided to do it. Being the narcissist that I am, I would never have caught it. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the next one. 

Ok, byeeeee!

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