Just a reminder to anyone who enjoys House Hunter’s International, or who’s dreamed about a beautiful home on the beach – check out tonight’s show featuring Gary and April Scarborough, two friends we made during a visit to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador last May.
The storyline: Natives of Atlanta, the Scarboroughs owned two thriving businesses in 2008 – a home construction company, and an electrical company. When the economy crashed, they did extensive research on “cheap places to live,” and were consistently pointed in the direction of Cuenca, Ecuador.
Gary, April, and their children, Peyton and Carson, packed up their two dogs and 22 suitcases and headed for a new life in Cuenca. When Gary received the opportunity to build a beachside community in Puerto Cayo, on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, they moved once again to the quaint fishing village of Puerto Cayo.
They live there today, and the development of www.laspalmasecuador is experiencing great success as a first-class expatriate community.
Dana and I know the Scarboroughs and count them as friends and partners, as they are now overseeing the construction of a home we’re building in Puerto Cayo. We were sold from Day One.
You can find a story I previously wrote about the Scarborough’s HHI behind-the-scenes experience here: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-Lq
la Ruta del Sol – the sun’s route … or, the route of the sun.
It was the two of us and a Chevy Spark against the world.
That’s what it felt like for a good nine hours, at least. We casually assumed the map would match the roads. And that the roads would have signage corresponding to said map.
What were we thinking, and who says roads should have signs anyway? They all go somewhere, right?
Yes, it was la Ruta del Sol that baptized us head first into an Ecuadorian adventure and ultimately leading to the pristine gates of Las Palmas. It just took a while ( 7 hours too many). The road apparently had some things it wanted to teach the southern hemisphere’s newest gringos.
Dana and I have traveled all our lives. She as far as Morocco and Greece. Me, mostly in just about every major city in the continental U.S. I’ve driven the toughest roadways in Boston, Dallas, New York, Washington, DC, all without fear. So how could a two-lane highway along the mostly uninhabited Ecuadorian Pacific coast challenge a guy like me behind the wheel?
I took about two seconds.
We departed Jose Joaquin de Elmedo International Airport in Guayaquil eager to make good time on a leisurely drive we’d been told would take less than three hours. Three minutes after I’d pulled onto the freeway, a few things became quickly apparent.
- Taxi drivers take their work personally. It’s a competition out there.
- Horns are for both offensive and defensive driving.
- Left-hand turns from the right-hand lanes are perfectly acceptable.
- Red lights mean “Stop.” (unless nobody’s coming).
- Another name for “roundabout” is “death vortex.”
- I’d made a big mistake thinking this would be no worse than driving back home.
Three hours later, we were out of Guayaquil and on the path to the Ruta del Sol.
There was a wrong turn or two. One that ultimately led to the scenario above, just a few moments before we hit a dirt road that literally dead-ended into the Pacific Ocean. That’s right. The road ended at the sea.
Five hours in, we hit the Sol, a beautiful stretch hugging the coast. The Spark was approaching empty, and the first good news I’d seen all day was pulling in for $1.48 per gallon gas.
It’s been years since I locked my keys in my car in the U.S. The newer cars just won’t allow it to happen. In South America, leave your keys in the vehicle, and the car locks tight. We had no cell phones, very basic Spanish skills, we were tired and our keys were locked in the car at a gas pump. Two hours later, a local with a wire and a shoe string set us free.
Four days later, I did it again, and the 95 degree searing heat at Latitude 1° South helped me come to a quicker, less strategic solution. A hard blow with a crescent wrench will break a vent window almost every time, and you’ll never worry about locking your keys in the car again.
Just a few other things we learned in Ecuador while driving along the Ruta del Sol.
- Hitting a speedbump at 55 mph won’t kill a Chevy Spark, but it’ll hurt it.
- Herds of cattle and goats don’t care that you’d like to get somewhere soon.
- When a driver indicates with a honk, he’s coming around you, he’s not going to change his mind.
- There’s one particularly famous driving move in Ecuador. I call it the “triple bypass.” Imagine this: Three cars are headed in the same direction in the same lane, one after the other. Car 2 decides to pass Car 1, and Car 3 follows Car 2. Car 3 decides Car 2 isn’t passing fast enough, so Car 3 creates a “third lane” on a two-lane road and flies around both Car 2 and Car 1. I actually saw this happen once.
We’re better prepared for driving the Ecuadorian roadways next time out. Better prepared. Just not fully prepared.
A nice visual documentary of one of the many fishing villages along the Ecuadorian Pacific coast.
By Steve Watkins
It was pure happenstance nearly a year ago when Linda Beltz walked into a co-worker’s office to hear him telling a small group of colleagues about his recent adventures in Ecuador.
The enthusiasm he shared for what he’d experienced captivated the small group and they hung on every word as he shared as he shared his findings in a tale of adventure and exploration.
An abundance of beautiful and reasonably priced properties, low cost of living, a perfect climate and an emerging transportation and communication infrastructure were just a few of the things he’d found as facts about life along the Pacific coast.
As a result of it all, Linda’s colleague was now seriously contemplating the previously unthought dream of an expatriate life in Ecuador, and he encouraged his friends to check it out for themselves.
As much as she wanted to dismiss the contagious enthusiasm of her co-worker’s story, Linda somehow couldn’t get it off her mind.
“Cliff and I love travel and adventure, and honestly we’d never even discussed the possibility of living abroad. I tried not to think about it so much because I knew the last thing we needed was another home,” Linda said.
Still yet, she couldn’t get the story off her mind and a few short months later, she and Cliff booked plane tickets to Guayaquil and set out on their own exploration of Ecuador’s pristine Pacific coast.
It was the typical experience shared by many exploratory expatriates. Transportation challenges, finding available properties in a foreign culture and making reliable contacts were among the tests they encountered.
“There was literally a point several days into the trip when we just decided Ecuador wasn’t for us,” Linda said. “We drove the coast for days and never really found anything that appealing, and that met all the criteria we had.”
Toward the end of their trip while traveling along the southern route of the Ruta del Sol, Cliff and Linda met another American expatriate couple who told them about Puerto Cayo, and an American family that was developing a new beach-side community in the peaceful fishing village.
Gary and April Scarborough had, in fact, just begun the preliminary planning of a 38-lot beach-side community called Las Palmas.
So they traveled north in hopes of meeting the Scarboroughs and set out on one last mission to see if Las Palmas might be a “fit.”
“As many miles as we had traveled along the coast, when we approached Puerto Cayo, it was literally the first time we stopped the car, got out and took pictures.”
“We were on an elevated hill that overlooked the village, and it was the most beautiful thing we’d seen so far.”
Their meeting with the Scarboroughs and initial tour at the Las Palmas property resulted in a quick and unexpected turnabout.
“We were really impressed with Gary’s vision for the community and his knowledge and creativity in building and development,” Linda said. “It was very early into the development when we met, and the next morning Gary went out and roped off the lots so we could see the possibilities.
“We loved the beach location, the town was exactly what we were looking for, and it was a place where we knew we’d feel secure and literally be able to walk out the front door onto the beach.
“After that, truth is, we really didn’t even talk about it. We knew it was right, and just had a peace about it,” she said.
The next morning the two families spent time looking at house plans and available sites in the community.
“Gary did some creative work in his design, we got the beach-front lot we wanted, and from that point we really never looked back,” Linda said.
Theirs was the second lot purchased in the Las Palmas community, but the Beltzs’ were the first to move forward on construction.
Now, well into the project, the Tacoma, Washington natives will return to Puerto Cayo on November 14 to check the construction progress, finalize details and begin making plans for a future transition.
Since their investment, the Las Palmas momentum has continued. Eighteen Las Palmas lots have been purchased by future expatriates from around the world.
Cliff and Linda are no strangers to travel and adventure. Their professional careers have taken them across the U.S., from New York to Ohio to Alabama and North Carolina. Today, Cliff works as an orthoepedic physical therapist at a local outpatient clinic in Tacoma. Linda is a bio-chemical engineer specializing in converting forestry resources to sustainable power.
One of their new home’s features is a 400 square-foot office that will allow Cliff to practice right from Las Palmas.
Cliff and Linda love the outdoors taking advantage of skiing in the higher elevations during the winter. During the summer season, they enjoy surfing and surf-kayaking.
They’re active in two community churches leading worship services on a regular basis.
“It’s been an adventure for us both and our plans aren’t completely defined just yet, but we know the Lord has a plan and we’re waiting on His time,” they said.
(For more information about the Las Palmas community in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, contact Gary Scarborough at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.laspalmasecuador.com. To schedule assistance with an exploratory tour of the coast, contact Steve Watkins at email@example.com
LAS PALMAS ADDS STRATEGIC MARKETING STAFFER
FOR RELEASE: October 8, 2012
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Gary Scarborough – firstname.lastname@example.org
PUERTO CAYO, MANABI, ECUADOR – Las Palmas developers Gary and April Scarborough formalized their targeted efforts to grow and expand Monday with the announcement of Steve Watkins as their new director of Marketing and Brand Development.
Watkins, 46, is a long-time communication and marketing veteran who specializes in brand development and new-media initiatives.
As a part of the Las Palmas team, Watkins will be responsible for brand development and consistency, social media and web management and all advertising initiatives in a campaign promoting the 38-lot Puerto Cayan community.
Gary said the decision to create a formalized structure for Las Palmas promotions is a strategic effort he expects to pay immediate returns. The timing is right to put the development before a global audience of interested expatriates, he said.
“April and I have had long discussions about the need for our team to be focused on what everyone does best,” Scarborough said. “As April takes full responsibility for business management and client relations and I dedicate my days to quality construction and development, we knew it would also be important to engage interested families with professional marketing at every level across the media spectrum.
“We have every confidence in Steve’s ability to share the Las Palmas vision from a global perspective. He’s a seasoned marketing professional who knows the art and science of his craft, and his abilities are the perfect fit for what we need moving forward. And because of his investment in the local community we also know he shares in the enthusiasm for all the opportunity we’ve seen during our time here.”
To date, nearly half the Las Palmas residential sites have been sold during the project’s first seven months.
“We’re right on schedule to build a beautiful beachside community, but we know our responsibilities to clients will increase moving forward,” Scarborough said. “Steve’s presence helps us continue that momentum in an organized and efficient manner.”
Watkins, who now has a home of his own under construction in Puerto Cayo, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communication from Arkansas State University.
During his career, he’s worked as a daily newspaper reporter, congressional press secretary to U.S. Rep. Marion Berry and as executive director for the Arkansas State University Foundation raising more than $45 million in charitable gifts. He’s a professional blogger, author and contributor to International Living Magazine, and is married to Dana Watkins.
“Just like so many others, Dana and I have found the Ecuadorian Pacific coast to be a place of tranquility, beauty and adventure. It’s an honor for us to work with the clients who are already invested in Las Palmas, and those we know are yet to come,” Watkins said. “What better opportunity can you have to do what you love, and help others live their dreams?”
From a fellow blogger just a few miles up the coast. Maybe one of these days we’ll all spot a booby on Las Palmas Beach!
While walking to the beach on Monday morning we saw this bird just hanging out on the rocks at the end of our street. I did not think much of it until I uploaded my pictures this morning and looked at those blue feet.
He was a bit far from home as I have been told that the Blue-footed Booby only can be found in the Galapagos and that is approximately 1090 kilometres (680 miles) from here.