(Blogger‘s Note: Our friends, Gary and April Scarborough were recently featured on House Hunters International. The show chronicled their move from Atlanta to Cuenca to an ultimate destination of Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, where the Scarboroughs are now developing a beachfront home community called www.laspalmasecuador.com. For more information about this project email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
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Published today by friends at http://www.southofzero.com
WHAT!!! I apologize to SOZ readers, the House Hunters International episode that aired tonight was not about Ecuador. I’m just as disappointed as you are. We’ll put out an alert when it eventually airs.
TV ALERT – The latest episode of House Hunters International featuring Ecuador premieres tonight on HGTV! This time the crew travels to Puerto Cayo, a quaint fishing village and popular surfing spot located next to Parque Nacional Machalilla. Like many expats that come to Ecuador, Gary and April Scarborough first settled in Cuenca, but after a couple of years decided they wanted to be a little closer to the lifestyle of the local culture. The kids just wanted to live on the beach. Gary, who once owned a construction company in Atlanta, saw an opportunity to contribute to the developing community of Las Palmas. They spent several days filming background in Cuenca and their search…
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A story about new friends and neighbors from Washington.
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…
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(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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 community 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.
A spectacular view of the coastal Ecuadorian cliffs from the bedroom balcony of the Scarborough’s home.
“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.”
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.
“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
“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 the process 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 their beach-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.”
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.)
- Great Days Ahead! (laspalmasecuador.wordpress.com)
- This Little House Was Made of Cement (stevenwwatkins.com)
- International Living in the Making (stevenwwatkins.com)
- Looking thru to see Pacific Blue (latitudeone.wordpress.com)
- Cuenca – Cuenca, Ecuador (travelpod.com)
The work is coming along rapidly now on our South American home in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. Dana and I are getting more eager each day to take make the trip exactly four months from today.
Ours is not the only home under construction in the Manabi Province. To view photos of the beautiful coastal Las Palmas development, please see www.laspalmasecuador.com and read about our friends, Gary and April Scarborough who are developing this land we call the New West.
Front of the house with the second floor balcony (right) and patio (left) taking shape.
Back door entrance and cement has made it all around the first level.
Northwesterly view facing the Pacific, and the forms on the third-floor rooftop patio are in place. Going to be a great elevated view from there.
Stairway up to master suite has been mudded.
This guy is doing a really neat job. As you can see, electrical and water lines are actually buried in the cement walls. The cement helps regulate the house temperature. It can get hot on the coast one degree south of the equator.
Mudding another electrical line.
Smoothing the exterior south wall.
South wall ground level complete.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m gradually learning to embrace the fact that life’s greatest questions really have no conclusions.
Bradley Harris of Memphis, TN, is my editor, and, moreover, my greatest teacher. Once again, his editor’s notes have given me more than sound writing advice. They’ve given me a lesson in life.
Two weeks ago I sent Brad the
final never-ending draft of my first non-fiction book. In the final chapter, I’d unknowingly drawn a conclusion I suppose my subconscious believed would give encouragement to the reader and set up a call to action for living a better life.
Brad’s notes challenged the conclusion, and the very notion the book required a tidy, happily-ever-after ending. And I knew immediately he was right.
And thank goodness for his profound advice; for without it, I might never have survived the last 24 hours – one of the most confounding days of my life.
“The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man.” ~ A.W. Tozier
My days are painfully predictable. I get out of bed around 3 a.m., write, drink coffee, research, go to work and come home exhausted to hit the bed around 7 p.m. Yesterday’s schedule was typical. It was just greyer than most.
After a 4 a.m. blog post, I scanned my WordPress reader, something I almost never do. When I randomly stopped by Holly Michael’s blog I found she’d nominated me for an undeserved award, and said some very kind things about my work. You may view Holly’s inspirational site here: http://wp.me/1Gxnc
Anyone else would have been thrilled, but it set into motion an entire day of questioning the priorities in my life. And that really doesn’t take much for a 46-year-old guy who’s well into mid-life crisis…
So the day begins at 3 a.m. wondering about the possibility of “life’s calling” as a writer.
Next up, around 4:30 a.m. I get a blog post notification from www.laspalmasecuador.com – a pictorial update of a home we’re building in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. The progress is amazing. Dana and I love everything about Puerto Cayo – particularly the business potential, and the opportunities to build a meaningful missional community there. Something very grey from 5,000 miles away is screaming to me, but with a grey, clouded clarity. You may view yesterday’s post about that news here: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-yA
By 4:30 a.m., it’s already an emotional morning. My wife says she’ll pray for me throughout the day. My best friend, knowing my confounding situation, sends me a note that says “go with your gut.” What he doesn’t know is that my gut’s the very thing that scares the daylight out of me.
I finish the routine and make the 10-minute drive to work, and think of my dad who passed away in February. I wish I could speak to him, but he’s not here. And I cry most of the way to work.
Tuesday 8-5 is spent preparing for the next day’s business trip to Thayer, MO. I’ll embark on that trip about 4 hours from now. The thinking time on the road will be precious, and for that I’m grateful.
Five o’clock and I’m waiting in line at Domino’s Pizza. My mind races through the events of the day, and all the writing projects on the schedule. There’s a manuscript to complete, then two more books to finish the trilogy. Then, I predictably wonder what comes after that?
Brad’s notes immediately come to mind: Why draw a conclusion? The most important things don’t require a black and white answer.
This side of heaven, the most important questions in life are inconclusive.
So now, another project stands on the sideline. I’ve purchased the domain: www.theimpossibleconclusion.com
What I’ll do with it stands in the shadow of greyness for now.
You may view posts on my secondary blog at: http://wp.me/2tJ80
It took a few weeks to realistically conceive how construction of a home could be managed from another continent 5,000 miles from the building site. But with the aid of electronic media … email, interconnected blogs, skype, and international bank wire transfers, it’s doable.
We’re having fun watching the weekly photos come in that detail the construction of our la pequena casa azul en la colina in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. Our next visit to see the finished product will be December 21 to January 1 and we can hardly wait.
These are the most recent construction photos sent our way on Monday. This home, which sits on an elevated hill overlooking miles of South Pacific coast, will have marble floors, the finest wood finishes and beautiful Latin American craftsmanship for between $45 and $50 per square foot.
Currently, we’re in discussions with International Living magazine to have this home and our blogging adventures featured in the upcoming September issue.
If you have questions about expatriate living in Ecuador, please contact me, via this site, or contact our friends Gary and April Scarborough @ http://www.laspalmasecuador.com
The facade of the home, living area on left, kitchen on right and our bedroom, office areas and covered patio on the second floor.
Facing the southwest, putting the finishing touches on the master bath area.
Finished second floor construction. When the flat roof is constructed, we’ll have a third-floor elevation for even more spectacular views, cookouts and fun with friends.
The northeast corner of the master suite.
Back side of the master suite facing the mountains. The road, barely visible through the back window is known as La Ruta del Sol (The Sun’s Route) that connects many beachside villages along the western coast.
Stairway leading up to the master suite and our two office areas.
Already our favorite “room” in the house, the second floor covered patio facing the South Pacific where we can watch the handiwork of God‘s sunsets every single night.
For more details and photos of our Ecuadorian adventure, visit http://www.latitudeone.wordpress.com