Archive by Author

Watkins House Completion – Final Update

27 Dec
Western facade.

Western facade.

Kitchen.

Kitchen.

From kitchen to living area.

From kitchen to living area.

From living area to kitchen and office area (right corner.)

From living area to kitchen and office area (right corner.)

Master suite to east.

Master suite to east.

Master suite looking west.

Master suite looking west.

Master bath.

Master bath.

Guest bath.

Guest bath.

Master suite balcony south.

Master suite balcony south.

Master suite balcony north.

Master suite balcony north.

Top deck view north.

Top deck view north.

Top deck view, west.

Top deck view, west.

Top deck view, south.

Top deck view, south.

Top deck view, east.

Top deck view, east.

First sunset, Christmas night, 2013. Feliz navidad, and that's a wrap.

First sunset, Christmas night, 2012. Feliz navidad, and that’s a wrap.

The Latest Work at Las Palmas…

10 Nov

Check out the most recent photos at Las Palmas taken November 9, 2012.

For more information about the Las Palmas development, please go to: www.laspalmasecuador.com

Professional Marketing Agency and Full Expat Service Coming to Puerto Cayo

9 Nov

steve and dana watkins in puerto cayo ecuador

PUERTO CAYO, ECUADOR – Two new client-based, professional service businesses are set to establish headquarters in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador on January 1.

Steve Watkins, founder of the agencies, said his corporation, The Legacy Firm, LLC, will launch a commercial marketing company and a full expat guide service beginning on the new year.

“With steadily improving infrastructure on roads and utility services, and the growing number of developments along the Ecuadorian coast, we see a valuable commodity in providing professional services for those who are working to promote their business, and the ever-increasing number of potential expatriates and tourists who are exploring new opportunities,” Watkins said.

Watkins said his agency recognized that many businesses and property development companies are looking to expose their work not only to local and regional population, but to a growing global market being drawn to all that Ecuador has to offer.

“And based on the current trends, we know the demand for these services will grow well into the future. Retirees, entrepreneurs and families who simply desire a new quality of life are researching and finding the Ecuadorian coast. We want to help them, acclimate them, and welcome them to a great way of life.”

OUR MISSION:
We passionately pursue and develop cutting-edge global advertising and communication strategies to partner with business clients and entepreneurs who lead and pioneer Ecuador’s emerging economic initiatives in tourism and related services.
marketing ad agencies in ecuador
OUR VISION:
Connecting Ecuador to the WORLD through mutually beneficial business relationships and alliances that collectively benefit from effective communication initiatives and an ever-increasing awareness of all that Ecuador has to offer.

PRO Ecuador Marketing offers strategic promotional counsel to business looking to grow their market and exposure. Services offered will include:

  • Website development
  • Ad campaign services
  • Social media branding and marketing
  • Professional photography
  • Blog development and coaching
  • Brochure, business card and other print services
  • Special event planning
  •  YouTube video promotions, and more

expat services in ecuador

Ecuador Guided Tours will provide full expat services ranging from:blogging expat services in ecuador

  • Airport transportation to and from
  • Real estate assistance and counsel
  • Coastal tours
  • Blog documentation with photos and text
  • One-on-One counsel and overviews: How to Live and Thrive in Ecuador
  • Golf & Fishing excursions
  • Professional downloadable photos
  • Artisan markets
  • Additional destinations including Quito and the Galapagos
  • Free email subscription to our semi-monthly newsletter: EXPAT ECUADOR

steve and dana watkins marketing business in ecuador“When our family made its first exploratory trip to Ecuador it was just us, a rental car and a map. The services of a professional guide would have saved us an investment of time and money, but those services weren’t available locally,” Watkins said. “Our team will help exploring expats and travelers make the most of their valuable time in a very affordable price structure.”

Services for Ecuador Guided Tours may be viewed at www.ecuadorguidedtours.com

Services for PRO Ecuador Marketing will soon be available at http://www.proecuadormarketing.com

For more information, contact Watkins at stevewatkins71@yahoo.com, or stateside, contact him at 870-926-4055.

www.ecuadorguidedtours.com

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Preparing Your Expat Checklist: Our Take So Far

8 Nov

expat preparation for ecuador

When you do something you’ve never done before, sometimes, you just have to “feel” your way through it.

And it’s one thing to buy a new house, or a car, or change jobs where you are, but when you’re preparing to do all those things in a country 6,000 miles away, the concept takes on a whole new meaning.

Today, Dana and I find ourselves 42 days out from a move that includes all those things and much more.

For the last five months, we’ve worked long-distance with Gary and April Scarborough at www.laspalmasecuador.com  to buy property and build a home from the ground up in Puerto Cayo. It’s a matter of days now, before the home is complete, and for the most part, it’s been easier than building a house where we were on site.

las palmas properties

The latest construction photo of our home in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. It should be complete in a few weeks.

Funny thing is, the house building was the easy part. Now, with 42 days and counting, it seems now that our expat checklist for making the real move to Ecuador is a monster of its own and there’s not enough time in single day to do everything that needs to be done. And we’ve been told by other expats who’ve been in our shoes, to enjoy and savor the moment, because this is the fun part!

With the calendar moving quickly, these are the many tasks and questions we must complete and ask of ourselves.

  • We have property here in the states: a house and two vehicles. How will those things be cared for in our absence? What about insurance on those real properties? What of utilities, cable TV and other services? Do we maintain the same levels of insurance or downgrade?
  • How do we create income in a foreign land? (pretty important) What methods will we use to pay bills both abroad and in the states? What are the tax ramifications? For the marketing and expat service businesses we’ll be launching we find it important to start making contacts on the ground now, rather than later, and with those businesses, how will we promote them? There are websites to be built, blog posts to be made, mission and vision statements to create, cards to be printed, advertising to consider.
  • Packing? Realistically, what will we take, what will we leave behind? There’s only so much you can put in a suitcase and two carry-ons.
  • In Ecuador, what’s our mission for the church? It’s important to us, and we’re moving to a country that’s 95 percent Roman Catholic.
  • What media is best suited to communicate regularly with family and friends back home?
  • On arrival, there’s a brand new, but empty house to furnish. Where will we buy and how much will it cost?
  • How frequently will we return to the states? It’s not cheap. And for our businesses in Ecuador, how do we set them up in such a way that we can manage them in either Ecuador or the U.S.?
  • And oh, yes, we seriously need to brush up on our Latin American spanish.check list for expats moving abroad

Most days we find ourselves wondering when we’ll wake up and realize it’s all only a dream. It all seems surreal to be making preparations for a dream you’ve had since you were a kid with a pen pal.

And while it’s all overwhelming at certain moments, it’s also one of the most exciting times in our life.

We’re looking forward to becoming part of a new culture, learning new ways, making new friends and expanding our horizons. And yet, each day, the reality of the checklist grows, and the clock is running.

Now …. back to that to-do list. Talk about making a list and checking it twice!

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Atlanta-Cuenca-Puerto Cayo: The Scarboroughs on House Hunters International

28 Oct

(Blogger’s Note: For a behind-the-scenes look at the Scarborough’s experience on House Hunters International, check out this post: http://wp.me/p2ywc9-7Z

And for more information about their beachside development in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, go to www.LasPalmasEcuador.com, or you may email me @ steve@ecuadorguidedtours.com)

***

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23 Oct

Published today by our blogging friends at http://www.southofzero.com

House Hunters International: Tonight in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador

23 Oct
www.laspalmasecuador.com

Gary and April Scarborough, developers of http://www.laspalmasecuador.com in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador.

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.

las palmas ecuador

An overview of the Las Palmas community in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. The Scarboroughs moved from Atlanta to Cuenca to Puerto Cayo, ultimately to develop this expatriate beachside community.

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.

puerto cayo ecuador

The spectacular view from the Scarborough’s beachside home balcony in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador.

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.

Check it out tonight at 9:30 CST on HGTV … and if you have further questions about life at Las Palmas please contact gary@laspalmasecuador.com or april@laspalmasecuador.com.

You can find a story I previously wrote about the Scarborough’s HHI behind-the-scenes experience here: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-Lq

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Finding Our Gringo on la Ruta del Sol

17 Oct

la Ruta del Sol – the sun’s route … or, the route of the sun.

Three hours into the drive, a wrong turn took us here. I call it the “middle of nowhere at the middle of the world.” The road literally ended at the Pacific Ocean.

How romantic.

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 ofmap of la ruta del sol 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.

route of the sun in ecuador

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.

what do do when you lock your keys in your car

Coasting carelessly now down la Ruta del Sol. Notice the shattered vent window. The keys never got locked in the car again!

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.

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13 Oct

A nice visual documentary of one of the many fishing villages along the Ecuadorian Pacific coast.

Living It Up in Ecuador

The beaches of Ecuador can be very unique from one to another but all are beautiful in their own way.

The one consistent factor we have seen on the beaches are the small fleets of fishing boats waiting to be launched.

View original post 81 more words

Pioneers at Las Palmas: Cliff and Linda Beltz

12 Oct
expatriates in puerto cayo ecuador

Linda and Cliff Beltz, on the Puerto Cayo beachfront, near their home now under construction in Las Palmas.

By Steve Watkins

steve@ecuadorguidedtours.com

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.

expatriates in puerto cayo ecuador

Fun rehearsal for worship services at church.

“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.

las palmas ecuador

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.

expatriates in puerto cayo ecuador

A favorite pasttime shared between Cliff and Linda – being in the great outdoors.

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 gary@laspalmasecuador.com, or visit www.laspalmasecuador.com. To schedule assistance with an exploratory tour of the coast, contact Steve Watkins at steve@ecuadorguidedtours.com

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