From Arkansas to Ecuador: We Finally Made It.

At the East entrance to Casa Azul with my new moto and our rented Chevy Spark.

At the East entrance to Casa Azul with my new moto and our rented Chevy Spark.

My last post was one week ago today as Dana and I prepared for a 100-day trip to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, where we traveled to see our new home and launch a coastal marketing and property brokerage business.

Without internet for a week we’ve been out of touch with most of the world, not only in the blogosphere, but with our family and friends. These are the quick highlights of our trip so far, with a few random thoughts thrown in at the end.

Last Friday – A long travel day, but all smooth sailing from Memphis to Quito. We departed Memphis at 2 p.m., arrived in Quito at 11:20 p.m., went through customs with no hassle, and arrived at our hotel around 1:30 a.m. That’s when the fun began.

Friday night and Saturday – We knew we’d only get three hours sleep at best since we’d need to be back at the airport by 6 a.m., in hopes of catching a domestic flight from Quito to Manta. An hour into our sleep, I woke up gasping for air, and immediately knew the culprit.

Steve and Dana Watkins

Steve and Dana Watkins

Altitude sickness. I’d experienced it once before in Denver, but never to the extreme that this would take both Dana and me. There wasn’t a single flight to the coast for three days (Christmas had everything booked solid) so it was off to find a rental car, and we didn’t depart Quito (elevation 9,300 feet) until 10 a.m., and we were already drained.

Getting out of Quito was some of the most difficult driving I’ve done, and the altitude sickness became much worse through the day. An hour into our drive (still in Quito) Dana vomited, I felt as though someone were sticking a toothpick in my eye, and we were both almost violently nauseated. Fourteen kilometers outside Quito, we rented a room in need of a bed. After 3 hours sleep and a bit of food, we drove another 100 km to Santo Domingo where we spent the night still much in need of rest.

Sunday – We departed for Puerto Cayo at 5 a.m., and arrived at 2 in the afternoon. We drove straight to the house where we found the crew working on windows, cabinets and plumbing. The next two days, we’d spend at Sanctuary, one of the nicest and newest hotels in Puerto Cayo

Me with a little pescado (with some added facial personality) on the beach.

Me with a little pescado (with some added facial personality) on the beach.

Monday – Shopping for the essentials. In Jipijapa, we purchased a bed, refrigerator, gas stove, a 150 cc moto scooter for local transportation and a few other essentials. The items were delivered same day … and then we learned we really have no “address.” No such thing here. Our address is “Casa Azul, Puerto Cayo” which only means we have to describe where we live! How do you help a delivery man find your home? You ride with him if you have to! Our young friend, Carson Scarborough, was invaluable to us on this day, translating our business deals and making sure we got the best prices.

Tuesday – Christmas day. We packed up our belongings at Sanctuary and moved in to our home. It was a quiet day, and we enjoyed watching the locals celebrate the holiday in their own many ways. We also traveled to Puerto Lopez to buy a few groceries.

Wednesday – Spent most of the day with workers at the home, finishing touches and such, internet hookup, and I drove probably 50 miles on my new moto scooter which has given me a new level of awesomeness. I totally love my moto scooter!

Today – We’ll head back for Jipijapa for more living room, office and bedroom furniture.


A few random thoughts so far:

Our House: We absolutely love it. Gary and April Scarborough are our marketing clients and good friends who own Las Palmas Properties, and they were our home developers and builders. They’ve gone to great lengths to create the home we wanted on a limited budget, and we have not one disappointment.Their 38-lot development just two miles up the beach, now has only 3 lots remaining. They are leading the way toward an economic uprising in Puerto Cayo, and we are so fortunate to know them.

Business: The opportunities appear (at least to me) to have escalated 10-fold since our visit eight months ago. There is much more land and property for sale, infrastructure is improving and the early days of a strong migration from the north to here are visible everywhere. In addition to my writing, it now appears much of our time in the marketing business will be focused on land and property brokerage. We’ve set up a website for that purpose at

Cost of Living: As we already knew, costs for things such as food, medical services, labor and construction are very good. As we did not know items such as appliances, furniture, vehicles and technology are considerably more expensive in the states. I’m very pleased with my moto scooter (did I mention how awesome I am on it?). With fuel at $1.46 per gallon, I get 75 miles per gallon and can drive for days on just more than a buck.

The People: The local people here are a wonderful culture. Hard working, friendly and willing to overlook all our gringo mistakes. The expat community grows by the day, and it’s so refreshing how everyone works together and looks out for one another.

Wildlife: This place is a birder’s paradise. I’m pretty sure we saw four canaries in our back yard yesterday, and I’m told there are monkeys just a few miles behind our home. The Antarctic whale migration begins in August and we’ll be able to watch from our deck as they jump just a few miles off the coast.

Writing: More about this in tomorrow’s post, but our location is the perfect place to write. There are so many things to write about, and I can hardly wait to get started. I may even write some fiction here, something I thought I’d never do.

The Climate: We’re now entering the warm season here. Temperatures are consistently 80 to 85, and the skies are clearing. When you’ve been gone from this country for eight months, you forget how spectacularly beautiful it really is.

We’ll post our final construction photos, immediately after this post goes live.

(Tomorrow’s post: What’s Next.)


9 thoughts on “From Arkansas to Ecuador: We Finally Made It.

  1. Steve
    Sorry we missed you by one day. We are back in Montgomery Texas, looking forward to returning to Puerto Cayo and finally meet you and Dana! Until then we will live vicariously through your blog site.
    God Bless,
    M.C. & Sherrlyn Horelica

  2. Looks like you flew out of Memphis just in time! Glad you missed the snow and ice.

    Quito and the Andes hit me with altitude problems as well if I don’t remember to take it very sloooooooooooowly for the first few days. I once had to leave Riobamba because stilly me ran up three flights of stairs and paid for it until we retreated to Banos where I immediately felt well again!

    Congratulations on your new homej; welcome to the coast!

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