Tag Archives: ecuador

House Hunters International: Tonight in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador

23 Oct

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



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.


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.

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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


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


Our First Blue-footed Booby

4 Oct

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!

Finding our Paradise in South America

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.

He looked pretty content – maybe Manabi will be his new home!

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Beach Front House Hunt – The Scarboroughs Go International

3 Oct
expatriate living in ecuador

After 14 hours of travel, this was my very first view of Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. Dana and I immediately knew it was a very special place.

(Blogger’s Note: Dana and I met Gary and April Scarborough during a whimsical trip to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador earlier this year. We took on both a friendly and business relationship when Gary agreed to manage the construction of a home we’re building there now. In less than three weeks, the Scarboroughs will make headlines as their own expatriate adventure is featured on House Hunters International, Tuesday, October 23 at 10:30 p.m. EST. This is a behind-the-scenes look at their HHI experience, and the official link to the upcoming episode can be previewed here.)

Expatriate living in puerto cayo ecuador


When an outfit like House Hunters International rolls into a small Ecuadorian fishing village, well, it’s safe enough to say it causes heads to turn.


Over the last five years, the Scarborough family has made some critical life decisions, that in retrospect, couldn’t have been timed any better.

Las Palmas Ecuador

Gary and April Scarborough will be featured on House Hunters International, October 23 at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Natives of suburban Atlanta, the Scarboroughs ran a thriving construction business that allowed Gary to pursue a special talent for home construction and design. But some time around 2008 the warning signs of a failing U.S. economy caused them to think through the potential ramifications on their business and how to make the most of their present and future circumstances.

“The possibilities and adventures of pursuing an expatriate lifestyle were something we’d always thought about,” Gary told me back in April. “We were fortunate to cash out everything we had just ahead of the recession. Just like anyone who seriously considers a move outside the states, we were anxious about the future, but excited about the possibilities of moving to a beautiful country that we thought had so much potential.”

Just a few months later, the Scarboroughs made the bold move to Cuenca, Ecuador and began exploring opportunities where Gary could practice his craft on foreign soil.

“As excited as we were, I remember the reality of packing our things up just before the move. We’re really going to do this, I thought, and it was a bag of mixed emotions.”

The Scarboroughs spent two years in the cosmopolitan city of Cuenca, located in the southern inland highlands of Ecuador. Cuenca had all the amenities allowing for a comfortable life – modern shops and malls, movie theaters, a solid communication and transportation infrastructure, not to mention, a delightful climate.

But Gary and April eventually found they made little use of the same comforts they were afforded back in Atlanta, and had a desire to become even more immersed in the lifestyle of the local culture.

“We almost never took advantage of the movie theaters, and there were just so many things we didn’t do,” April said. And so they began a new exploration that would lead them to the Ecuadorian Pacific coast and its miles of quaint fishing villages and uninhabited beach.

las palmas ecuador

The facade of the Scarborough’s home in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador soon to be featured on House Hunters International.

After weeks of exploring the southern and northern coast, they came upon Puerto Cayo, a village of about 3,000, where new roads, utilities and other improvements were just under way, and Gary immediately recognized a unique opportunity to use his gifts to create something special.

Fast Forward Two Years

The Scarboroughs have now become Puerto Cayo’s most prominent expatriate pioneers. For all practical purposes, they’ve discovered the New West – a beautiful and tranquil coastal locale that others are also now beginning to find.

puerto cayo ecuador las palmas

After two years of work to modernize and refurbish Los Suenos Del Mar, Puerto Cayo’s most beautiful resort hotel, the Scarboroughs have now moved on to the development of a new coastal community called Las Palmas – a 38-lot beachside Puerto Cayo Ecuadorcommunity on one of the most pristine sites of the South Pacific. Las Palmas is just a short trip from the famed Galapagos Islands.

On an almost-daily basis, Gary and April now work with clients from around the globe who are pursuing the very same dreams they envisioned five years ago.

House Hunters Comes Knocking

In January of this year, with a new project that consumed nearly every minute of every day, Gary got a surprise email from the producers of one of HGTV’s most popular feature shows.

The Scarborough’s work somehow popped on the radar screen of House Hunters International, and producers inquired as to the Scarborough’s interest in sharing their expatriate adventure with a world audience.

“At first we were excited and ready for the adventure of making a TV show.  But then we became a little anxious. It was just stage fright, I guess. We always enjoy being around other people and getting to know new friends, and that’s a very big part of our business, but this was taking things to a whole new level,” Gary said.

“We actually thought about not accepting the offer. After a few days of watching as many HHI episodes as we could get our hands on we finally decided it would be a fun experience and that we would have something to talk about for years to come. After completing all of the forms and paperwork, we went through about three different interviews and evaluations. By the end of April , we knew June 1st would be our beginning film date.”

las palmas ecuador

Above, a view of the coastal Ecuadorian cliffs from the Scarborough’s bedroom balcony in Puerto Cayo Ecuador.

Back and forth from Puerto Cayo to Cuenca, the HHI filming totaled three days, each day packed with dozens of tapings and location setups. It didn’t come without its challenges.

“As anyone who’s been there knows, coastal Ecuador is a unique place with a unique culture. Our director was a little overwhelmed by the difficulties that Ecuador can throw at you.ecuador on equator

“We were all mic-ed up by 8:30 each morning, and we filmed four hours straight. Each entrance into a new room was shot multiple times to ensure the editors had plenty to work with.  After a one-hour lunch we were back filming until 6:30 each day.

“Living in a small town like Puerto Cayo, we stood out quite a bit. Being followed around by a camera crew, being filmed eating lunch and dinner, we felt like celebrities – tired celebrities to say the least.”

Gary,  April, and their children, Peyton and Carson, said they were fascinated by theprocess of being involved in a hit television show, and learned a lot about acting and taking directions from producers and camera crews.After filming the details of theirbeach-side home purchase in Puerto Cayo, family and crew headed south to “back shoot” the beginning of the story in Cuenca.”In Cuenca, we shot a one-day reel of our ” back-story” where we lived before moving to Puerto Cayo, and some of the things we enjoyed doing when we lived there.  We went to the central park, visited the flower market and did some shopping. The final shoot was an evening at the home of a wonderful family we befriended in Cuenca. We are so blessed to have the Salazar family as dear friends. We enjoyed  coffee and desserts while laughing and playing games. This truly was one of the highlights of the entire filming.”

Carson, (left) and Peyton Scarborough

The Scarboroughs said they don’t regret one minute of the time they took out of their schedules to work with HHI. It’s a memory they’ll treasure always, they said.

“We hope this shows the beauty of Puerto Cayo to as many people as possible,” Gary said. “It truly is one of the most beautiful, undiscovered places in the world. We also hope everyone who watches this episode, and has ever had the most remote of thoughts to explore an expatriate lifestyle in the natural beauty of Latin America will consider the Ecuadorian coast. It’s a wonderful community that keeps getting better and better with time.”

(For more information about Puerto Cayo, Ecuador and the Las Palmas community, or to be in touch with the Scarborough family, visit this link for contact information.)


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Good News for Ecuadorian Tourism

14 Sep

Good news for Ecuadorian tourism.