Palo Santo in Puerto Lopez

We veered off the beaten path and what did we find? Nothing less than the strong sweet aroma of the Palo Santo tree. It really did not happen that way, but you get the idea. Travel to Puerto Lopez and there you will be able to see a small Palo Santo artisan family hard at work.

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Palo Santo is a mystical tree that grows on the coast of South America and is related to Frankincense, Myrrh and Copal.  In Spanish, the name literally means “Holy Wood”. It has an unforgettable smell and has many medical purposes. It is also a great mosquito repellent.  The Palo Santo shop had two of these vats that were used to extract the oil from the wood. I can not tell you how wonderful this room smelled.

 

 2014-09-29 12.05.02  These are some of their products.

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The Queendom got a master bath makeover

Construction completed in the master bathroom today. The white ceramic tiles are now all gone and the new warm colored rocks are installed.

This is the old: 

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And this is the new and improved:

 

We hired Paul Hill & Angel Ponce to complete some miscellaneous repairs and updates to the Queendom. We needed to run a pipeline from the cistern to the road, so that we do not need to be here when we get the cistern filled. This will allow the water delivery drivers to fill our cistern without the hassle of backing into the driveway or using the water pump. This is much better for both of us.

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We also had the crew fix the top of our garage roof. The roof was flat with what appeared to be rake marks all over the top. When it rained, the rain drained down our house causing dark nasty streaks. The test drive for the newly designed roof top was this week as the rain poured. Now the water drains right into the garage. The drains that Mobusa and Gary installed obviously do not work properly…. AUGH. We are going to get a snake and clean it out. Presumably the snake will come in handy for future uses. ‘’

The crew also installed a bamboo trellis. We intend to plant some fruit vines and see what grows. I believe the shade that it will someday provide will be pleasant. 

The guys also put turrets on the tops of our glass block walls. They will paint them at a later date. We are giving the cement dry.

And Paul drives off after a long week of work.

 

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Air Condition Installation and Repair in Puerto Cayo

2014-09-23 16.47.52 Don Bolivar came to the house at our request to service our air conditioners. Living on the beach is really hard on the air conditioner units. Once these go bad, we will most likely not get new ones, but since we have them – we might as well keep them serviced.  He checked each unit to ensure the electric wires were all still functional and not corroded. He serviced the one that had a corroded circuit board and then he and his partner cleaned all of the units. He comes from Manta, so that is generally inexpensive compared to what others may want to charge for the drive.  He is very professional and has a very pleasant demeanor.

Represa Poza Honda, Santa Ana

I left our house in Puerto Cayo and headed north to pick up my friends Paul and Danni. We were heading to Santa Ana to see the Represa Poza Honda.

Santa Ana is located north of Jipijapa. Santa Ana contains many forest resources and water life. The area is lush with green foliage and flowers.  The reservoir of Poza Honda, is a tourist attraction where one can go for a voyage in pangas (long boats as shown in the picture).

We went on the outskirts of Manta to Montecristi where you can purchase many souvenirs such as Panama hats and replicated artifacts. Artists display their items while they work on new ones in the background. I intend to buy two gargoyles to place on the two corners of our curtain wall. Montecristi is rich in history and tourist attractions.

We then passed through Puerto Viejo and stopped at a nursery. A one  meter tall mango tree was only $1.00. I got $4 in plants and all of them are fruit bearing; two trees and eight climbing vines.

But the highlight of our trip was the Represa Poza Honda. The road dead ends at the reservoir. There are small shops where one can purchase small souvenirs. We sat for lunch at one of the restaurants. I had arroz con pollo and my two friends had arroz con carne. We shared two large pilsners. Out total cost for the meal was $12. It was a bit pricy for the food. There was plenty of food, but the chicken was by far the worst I have had in Ecuador. But the rice and the sauce was delicious. I didn’t go hungry or thirsty.

The day, as you can see from the pictures, was sunny and HOT. We were going to take a panga ride, but we had no sunscreen or hats with us. I think we made a wish choice by getting out of the sun. Was a great day and wonderful place.

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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!