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Skype-structing a Home – a Hemisphere Away

June 20, 2012

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ Unknown

…from 3,000 miles away.

How do you do it?

I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll let you know in six months.

I guess it’s time to tell the rest of the story, and continue the dreaming for where it all may go. It appears as though everything’s falling into place now.

Left foot, North. Right foot, South. Bucket List, check.

Some previous posts on this young blog chronicled a good part of the vacation adventure we had in Ecuador during late April and early May. For sure, we intended to check off one of my bucket list items – standing on the equator with one foot in each hemisphere – and we checked it off well – but there was another item on the agenda Dana didn’t know quite so much about.

In the months leading up to the trip, I’d read a lot about the Ecuadorian culture, the economy, the weather, agriculture – just about everything you can imagine. As a journalist, I stopped believing everything I read a long time ago, and so I wanted to go for myself and see if this place was the possible “New West” that I’d read so much about – a place so full of potential for the adventurer/entrepreneur at heart that the coming explosion was inevitable.

And if it was the world’s last New West, would we do anything about it and put some things in motion to get in on the ground level?

It is, and we did.

From our lot, the view West overlooking miles of Pacific beach in both directions. I plan to enjoy watching sunsets every night from our second-floor covered patio, and from the third-floor rooftop.

And it came together in dramatic fashion, almost too much for me to bear, but it made a great story.

As we first drove in to Puerto Cayo, it took about 10 seconds to see what could, and will likely happen in this wonderful village. It’s a quaint town with wonderful people and miles of uninhabited, pristine beach as far as the eye can see.

I’d made the choice to stay in Cayo strictly for its central location on the Pacific coast to allow us to explore both north and south with a few hours’ drive. We knew immediately we’d found something special.

More than half our 10 days in the Manabi province was dedicated to exploring real estate. We spent days looking (on our own for there is really no such thing as a realtor) at land, existing homes that appeared to have no owner, and we saw huge potential for renovations of some of those homes in the heart of the town just yards from the beach.

It was to our great dismay eight days into the exploration we discovered surprisingly that none of those homes were for sale. The once well-to-do families from the central higher elevations of the country were victims of the 2000 failed Ecuadorian economy, and though the homes appeared to be abandoned they were still in the family and not for sale, now used as an occasional retreat when money and time allowed.

Learning this, I was disheartened. As fun as it had been we were going to miss this opportunity … and that’s a bad feeling for a guy with my perfect occasionally correct instincts.

The night before our departure, a kind restaurant manager listened to our story and drove us to a couple of nearby locations (small, sandy lots) that he believed were for sale. It raised our hopes a bit, but it still wasn’t the thing for which we had hoped.

As much as I’d like to think we managed our excursion all on our own, truth is we didn’t do it entirely solo.

Gary and April Scarborough are American expatriates (gringos the locals would call them) and the owners of and the co-developers of If Ecuador is, in fact, the New West, Gary and April may be the Lewis & Clark of their day.

By another random choice, our 10-day stay was at Los Suenos, and, it too, turned out to be fortuitous.

The Scarboroughs, along with a number of other expats, advised us along the way on where to go, what to see, how to do it, and more importantly, what to expect and what not to expect.

Puerto Cayo is not Cancun and it is not Puerta Vallarta. It’s not Oahu – not even Gulf Shores. No, not even close. It’s a tranquil, peaceful place, rich in heritage and culture.

And everyone surely wants it to stay that way.

In our very last hour preparing to return to the states, we were settling up the hotel bill with with Gary, and I couldn’t help but lament over our predicament. It had been a blast but I felt as though I was leaving with mission unaccomplished.

And then, just before it was all over, fate turned.

The view to the East, overlooking the mountains. I’ll watch the sun rise from here on lots of early mornings.

For a while, Gary had his eye on a piece of property just south of Los Suenos, an acre and a half high atop a hill overlooking miles of beautiful Pacific coastline. But the pricetag wasn’t cheap, and so he’d continued to watch.

As we were leaving, Gary escorted us to the property right on our way to the Guayaquil airport. He was right. The view was spectacular. And the land was build ready. Flat. Utilities in place. A good road. Perfect.

What if we subdivided this property into three parcels, he thought out loud. He knew of another prospect who might be interested, and he, himself was interested in one piece of the land for investments sake. Divide it into three, cut the costs and everybody wins, we imagined together.

As we drove away, I said basically: “Make it happen and we’re in.” None of us had any idea whether it would work, but I left with hope, and hope is a good thing, you know.

Two days ago, we signed the papers to close on that small slice of paradise, and Gary has drawn up the rough plans for our home. Construction begins on our around August one.

This is a home we are replicating with a few variations. Slightly more square footage and a flat roof for watching sunsets on Latitude One. We like to call it “la pequena casa azul.”

So how do you Skype-struct a home on Latitude One from 3,000 miles away?

Check back soon, and I’ll let you know how it’s going.

It’s fun not knowing the outcome sometimes.

Check out today’s  other posts on my primary blog at and


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