Stained Glass GYE Shopping Trip

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Thursday, I accompanied a friend to Guayaquil to locate the ABCVirtual Stained Glass shop. http://www.abcdelvitral.com/  I wanted to see what supplies they had available for purchase. We parked and ate at the mall then a driver took us to find the stop. We were delighted to find it in minimal time. We entered the shop, but the employees stated they did not have any supplies, but quickly offered me a brochure with information about the Quito location. We live in Puerto Cayo, so Quito is a

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bit of a drive.  Understanding that I wanted colored glass, the driver insisted that we find a vidrio y aluminio shop that would certainly be able to assist me with my glass needs. As was true, the tienda y taller owners were more than helpful and very eager to show me their glass products. Our driver told me to not talk, because he did not want me to get ‘gringo’ prices. So, I tried as hard as I could to restrain myself from talking (that is always hard, but where glass is concerned it becomes even harder). The shop I ended up buying from is Vidrieria IMperial @ Byoaca 1820-1822-1824 y Colon, GYE or cesar_k57@hotmamil.com tele 2526773 or 2517539. There were large pieces of clear textured glass as well as stained textured glass. But, the people thought I had lost my mind because I did not want the large pieces that were used  for windows and doors, etc., instead, I wanted the scrap glass. Now, do not misunderstand me on this one, the scrap or trash glass pieces are about a foot wide by three feet or more long. That is scrap!!! I scored about 30lbs of garbage glass for $13.00. I felt like I won the lottery!  

Price of Paradise – Naked Truth

This blog entry is meant to be informative in nature about the true price of paradise. Recently, there has been much activity on my blog with questions regarding Las Palmas and other communities in the area. You, as a potential lot or homeowner, should be keenly aware of the risks involved and determine whether those risks are worth taking. You might be someone who can adjust, adapt, and overcome – if that is the type of person you all, none of the things I write would probably cause you much grief. However, some people want the naked truth. I want to give the naked truth from someone who is living the dream in Las Palmas, Puerto Cayo. We are not on vacation – we live here in a Mobusa house with a third party Construction Manager. So, this is not a hearsay tale of what we interpret from others’ stories – this is our true and actual account.

I have never attended a rally or conference, so I cannot speak to the validity of what is spoken there. I will only address Las Palmas, since this is my home. You can visit http://www.laspalmasecuador.com/LasPalmas.html and get the information directly off the site. I took the liberty of copying and pasting information below. The builder of this community is also in charge of two other communities north of Las Palmas. The information for these communities can be found at the following websites: http://palmerabeachecuador.com/

http://grandpalmasecuador.com/our-community/

“And you don’t have to lift a finger other than helping decide which floor plan best suits you. We can help you choose a plan that will suit your needs or you can bring your own. Either way, we custom build your new home to American Standards that is sure to suit even the most discriminating buyer.”

MYTHBUSTER

American standards. In America, certain things are standard: clean and drinkable water, grounded electricity, master cutoff for electricity in the house, water drains away from home foundation, doorknobs on doors, etc. Just some simple things too – like windows have drain holes to allow water to drain –again – away from the interior of the home. Let me explain…

  • The steps to the second story and the terrace were without any type of handrails. I ask, “Is this U.S. Standards”, because even the basic home in the states has railing on steps where three or more steps exists – building safety codes.
  • The windows and sliding doors, while beautiful to look at, leak water into the house. Neither the windows or doors had any type of holes to allow drainage, so the water runs down the windows and doors into the tracks, fills up, and flows into the house. We sealed all the windows with caulk (this was not done) and put foam seal around the doors and windows to keep the wind from howling through (the windows have no type of seals). Several attempts to get responses from the builder useless. Don Atkins, Mobusa, fixed this problem.
  • There was no main breaker for the electricity, so we had that fixed, so we could connect our generator. The answer to our question of why it is not there was, ‘they do not do that here.’ Yet, the promise from the builder was American Standards and not the local building practices.
  • We bought an under mount sink and with all respect to the men doing the construction, this was a new concept. IF the builder had been onsite, they could have guided the workers through the process. Instead, the task was left to an Ecuadorean, who did not understand the process, so the hole cut for the sink is too big, resulting in additional scrubbing around the lip of the metal sink.
  • A home normally has things like drains that drain to the septic or drains that are purposely used for gray water underground irrigation. As it turned out, our master bathroom sink and our washing machine were not hooked into the house drainage system. Not on purpose, as one could imagine, but just because, ‘they forgot’. So, as a last minute remedy, a ‘French drain’ was installed. We had to dig this out and reinstall it, because, as with the rest of the water – it did not drain.
  • Our home came with a very nice and large cistern. During construction, the workers used our cistern for making cement and other construction needs. This meant that the debris from their buckets and other construction tools often fell into the cistern. When we moved into the home, within a month the water lines into the kitchen and master bath were completely stopped up with cement particles and dead bug body parts. Our investigation led us to believe that the cistern was never cleaned prior to us moving into our home and there was not a filter or screen placed on the bottom of the inlet pipe leading from the cistern to the holding tank. Now our holding tank is also full of these particles, which has caused even further problems.
  • Our home came with an American Standard septic system. INSTALLED!

For our community of Las Palmas, the website boast the following:

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We have thought of all of the amenities that you might need or want including…

“Concierge Services, On-Site Management Office, Satellite TV, CNN, HBO and Cinemax, Major U.S. TV Networks, High Speed Internet, and 24 Hour Security” does sound good. I have explained the internet in a previous post and our satellite is DishNet, which, just like in the states we paid for as well. However, the builder of the community did put in the underground lines in the event services come in the future. I would caution against thinking these things are included. Quite the contrary, even the concierge services are not even remotely available and the on-site management office is ME!

“Remember, this is not just a lot and a home but is instead a lifestyle you are buying. Las Palmas is quite unique in that we offer such large lots and they all have the best views you can even imagine.” This statement is true. The lots are very nice and spacious. All of them are beachfront or will have a beach view within perhaps 150 meters to the beach.

For the Las Palmas community, there was a gate and a wall put around three sides. The wall has never been finished. There are two holes about the width of a car and another gapping hole to allow the passage of construction vehicles. The comment from the builder of the community is that until the construction is completed the drive passages in the wall are necessary. However, this also leaves the community open. On a daily basis, random people in cars, trucks, van, etc. drive into the community through the ‘construction entrance’ and park in front of our house. On several occasions people want to tour our home – they are not with a realtor, we do not know them, and they have not made an appointment. And that is what your “Gated Community” and onsite security get you.

The community was never registered as a Urbanization with the city, so you are buying a lot in a community that has no means of enforcing any of the HOA covenants that people are ‘buying into’. I would just warn those buying in other communities in Las Palmas or neighboring communities to do your research and ask questions from people who live in the area.

“One of the things we have learned from doing so many developments over the years is that the homes in a nice development will typically increase in value much quicker than a standalone home. We believe that this disparity in home equity will be even greater in Ecuador because:

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MYTHBUSTERS

The streets in Las Palmas are not professionally landscaped or professionally maintained. Instead they are dirt streets that turn to a slurry mess when it rains. There are palm trees that are planted and nutshell have been placed as a means to keep the weeds from growing. The community paid to have the final lights installed and made functional.

“A care taker is present for those times when you can’t be. This means your home is being looked after and is safe from vandalism.” This statement is an outright LIE. There is no caretaker here to look after your property unless YOU pay for the service.

“We offer the benefit of having a pool, tennis court and other amenities without any maintenance or up-keep on your part.” This statement is an outright LIE. The HOA fees were being used to maintain the pool and an individual who lives in Puerto Cayo was looking after the pool. Today, the pool sits with stale water and serves quite nicely as a mosquito bed. The other amenities must be located somewhere else, because we have a pool, tennis court and the common areas…Nature provided the gorgeous beach and sun!

“You also have the benefit of having us rent your home for you when you are away. This allows you to be able to have positive cash flow without any of the hassles in doing it yourself.” This is an outright LIE. The person who is claiming this service does not even live in Ecuador. This service is not available.

“For those of you who speak English there will be other neighbors who also speak English. This will give you more time to learn Spanish without feeling so isolated.” This is a true statement; we very much indeed speak English and we are the only people living full time in Las Palmas.

All of this to say the true price of paradise is flexibility and acceptance. If you can be flexible with your wants and accept that all of those wants are not needs, then you should be just comfortable in any new Ecuadorian digs! 

Cool, Clear and Safe to Drink Water in our Ecuador Home

We recently had a WAPA water purification system installed in our Puerto Cayo home. We worked with Don Atkins to get the quote on the system including installation. After the price was negotiated and firmed up, Kostia installed the system into our house. Mobusa is an authorized distributor of the WAPA water purification systems.  More information can be found at http://www.imbmobusa.com/english/id87.html  Kostia@agua-wapa.com is the email address of the gentlemen who installed our unit. Water purification and reverse osmosis

 

But what makes the system so great?  I have plenty of reason to love it now!  I have long hair and the hard water before caused my hair to tangle and dried it out to a straw-like mess. With the new system, my hair is back to feeling like hair  and not straw.  The clothes come out of the washer cleaner and softer. But, of all the things that I love best is the fact that we can drink the water in the house. Our plants love the cleaner water – even they have started to grow faster and greener. I can USE the ice I make!!!!!! No more running to the Tienda just for a bag of ice. I can wash my food items in the sink and they come out cleaner than they went in – unlike before. 

 

So what is the big deal? The builder of our home provided a huge cistern, but never installed any type of filter between the cistern and the faucets. To explain, the cistern had a very heavy cement lid, which is the norm for here unless you have a wooden one. But, the crickets and rolly polly bugs LOVED the under side of the damp, warm lid. So, every time we opened the lid, the bugs dropped into our cistern. If one were to have had a filter (at the very least and really quite inexpensive here) between the cistern and the holding tank, hot water heater, etc., this might not be too bad. But, the problem was that the bugs would die, drop to the bottom, where they would be sucked up into the house plugging nearly every faucet in the house. For this reason, we never really came out of the shower feeling clean, you certainly did not want to put your food in such water, and you would never let this water touch your lips. So having the system has given us freedom from the big blue water jugs – unless the power goes out, but we can live with that for the small periods of time that it happens.

More Informational Topics from Puerto Cayo

Internet: CNET (internet company) came through to get signatures of individuals interested in getting cable (TV, Phone, and internet) packages.  Mark and I signed as interested parties. The increase in interested parties may make it lucrative for CNET to install the fiber optic lines necessary for home installations in Las Palmas. If this does not happen, Interdatos, in Puerto Lopez offers decent internet. The POC is Patricia San Lucas M. and the email is administracion@interdatos.net.ec or 082588196.

Electricity: I did some asking and it seems you can get electricity installed in your home with a passport. It does not require you have a cedula. You need to take your land papers and your passport to Jipijapa to the electric company to request a meter. It takes about a month to get the meter installed and about three months to get the first bill. They start the meter and zero and work from there.

Visa & Cedula process: Dana Cameron agua_plata@hotmail.com is an expert at this process. She is a professor at the university in Guayaquil and is the English teacher of many of the employees in the government offices in Guayaquil. This equates to a professional relationship. She can get things done that many of the lawyers charge exuberant rates to accomplish. I recommend at least reaching out to her if you are preparing to move here. Guayaquil is only a 2.5 hour drive and much better than trying to deal with Cuenca or Quito due to proximity.

Container shipment: I am in the process of finding out from many people who have brought containers, which company provides reliable service. Mark and I used Ecuador Movers and would caution against using them – we paid for every mistake they made and it was more than it should have cost.

Taxes: In order to pay your taxes in Jipijapa, you will need to have your Avavos y catastro number off the escritura paperwork. This along with your passport or cedula is the documentation required.

RUC: If you want to work in the country, you must have a RUC. This is accomplished by taking your cedula, your voting identification card,  and a current bill (like electricity) to the SRI building and applying for the number. It takes about an hour to accomplish the process.

Drivers from GYE to Puerto Cayo: I recently traveled to and from the airport in GYE with a professional named Jolynn Sheeshka. She lives in Mirador San Jose and drives a four door sedan. Her number is 0997193312. I had four suitcases, two bags and my usual Duty Free. There was still room in her car for a bit more. I would caution against four people and bags for all – as they would not fit. If you are traveling from GYE to Salinas, there is a lady by the name of Carlotta Infante A who is reasonable. She can be reached at emelec_carlota_mtv@hotmail.com or 0995154365. Jolynn is from Canada and speaks fluent English; Carlotta speaks pretty good English and fluent Spanish. She is from Ecuador and is a really good reference if you have questions regarding anything in Guayaquil.

Mobusa & Customer Service

Since we have started the construction in January of 2013, we heard too often the phrase, “remember, you are in Ecuador”.  We looked over so many of the ‘little’ problems that could be fixed so easy (but never were). Until recently, that is.  Our house, as stated before, is Mobusa construction. Our home was completed in October of 2013 – that is to say, we moved in at the end of October.  As the days passed, we noticed several things that could have been done better to allow the house to be more to the standards that were discussed prior to beginning construction.  Some things are better than we expected – septic is a North American style and our cistern is really large. The design on the house far exceeded our expectations – our builder (individual – not a Mobusa employee or representative) presented some unique design concepts that were outside of our design box. The concepts moved our house from being a tentative rectangle to what we have termed as our ‘castle’.

In Ecuador, though, apparently there is not an official walk-through with a punch list of items that must be completed, so we struggled with little things like toilets not working properly, water drains from the washer and master bathroom sink not being connected to the septic. The builder provided a gray water line that would let the water irrigate some of our yard. The solution was a great one, but the installation of the product resulted in a pool of standing water (mosquito breeding haven) along the west end of the house. But, remember, we are in Ecuador, so less than near quality is to be acceptable – let the builder move on.  On the bright side, we had our fence installed, so the water lines that were incorrectly installed had to be removed to allow room for the backhoes and other equipment needed for the fence.

As the months, progressed, we noticed our windows and doors allowed water to drain into the house. But, remember, we are in Ecuador. So, what is a little standing water on the rooftop terrace and balcony? What is a little water draining into your house?  To some, it seemed acceptable; to one individual, it was completely unacceptable. In the past couple months, we have been blessed to have Don Atkins professionally resolving water leaks (information for him and his company can be found at http://imbmobusa.com/id72.html). His team has fixed the windows so they do not drain into the house, but rather on the balcony where it drains down the house to the yard. His team has successfully installed water and electric to our yard and terrace. Don and his associated Herman have been toiling diligently to apply a sealant to our terrace and fill in the cracks to resolve the water leaks in our upstairs rooms. We had a choice of colors – we picked terra cotta. I think it will look super when they are finished, but best of all – it does not leak anymore!

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We are grateful for the people that have proven that ‘being in Ecuador’ does not mean you have to settle for poor quality. The photo is a capture of the work in progress. There will be more to follow, since it will be completed today. Now won’t this look nice with some hammocks, plants, seating area and who knows what else? I think it will look so wonderful. Thank you Don, Herman, and the entire Mobusa crew.

Nurseries in Puerto Cayo and Manta

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The employees at this nursery were the individuals who completed the landscaping at Mirador San Jose, Manabi.

The link below will take you to Puerto Cayo’s own nursery. Sam is a delightful individual who loves flowers and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the plants that will grow here in our neighborhood.

http://www.jardin-suizo.com/

The Queendom at various angles

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To show how the house sits on the lot, I have attached these photos.  They are as follows:

East side of the front of the house

South side of house

South side of house – ocean path

South side of house side entrance gate

East side of house view of east

East side of house (Front of home)

Fence on north side of house

Fence on south side of house

West side of house from the beach

West side seawall

West side, west side with south entrance gate/fence, west side with north fence