Puerto Cayo, Ecuador

Welcome to Gina & Doug's Journey - Join Us on Our Adventure!

June 23, 2018

On Saturday, June 23rd, we were able to get started on the construction of the drive up the hill. Arturo, who owns the local grading company in Puerto Cayo, told us he was sending his "best man" to handle our job - and Byron certainly lived up to that billing. In 6 hours time, he was able to cut the road about halfway up the hill....

6/23/18: Saturday morning - Byron moves carefully up the hill, carving out a level roadway. It felt like watching an artist at work! There was not a wasted move - every "scoop" or "push" or "tap" put the dirt exactly where he wanted it!
Byron working up the hill

Halfway point of drive
6/23/18: By early afternoon, he had reached approximately the "halfway" point of the hill. Here, we planned to make a large circle which could accomodate large trucks (construction) turning around, etc. From the circle, the roadway would extend towards the north side of the hill, closer to where we plan to construct our casita, palapa, and eventually a house. (see Doug's layout below.)

Click on the image for a larger view Doug's Layout of Property

Click here for larger view
6/23/18: By the end of the day, we had a "roundabout" constructed halfway up our hill....
Working on Roundabout

Mechanics at work
6/25/18: Lunes (Monday) - Today Byron was working with an older machine, and it had a problem while working on the roundabout - luckily, with Doug's help, (he happened to have some tie-wraps in his bag), they "McGuyver'ed" it into finishing the job!

The final section of roadway, turns back to the south, farther up the hill. This will be large enough an area for moto-taxi to deliver us (along with groceries/cerveza) fairly close to our house!
Top parking area

Finishing cutting out the roundabout. Trucks should be able to drive around the circle to approach the road to the next level.

6/18/18: The Belgian/French volunteers at Casa Anna are leaving tomorrow - so a few cervezas or vino on our patio were the order of the evening. Here we are with Matil (sorry if I spelled that wrong!), and Maite and Val.
Good friends

Anna, Val, Maite & Steve
6/19/18: Maite & Val are loading up for the trip to Jipijapa to catch the bus to Guayaquil - pictured here with Anna & Steve, the owners of Casa Anna.

Here we are in front of the Terminal Terrestre (Bus Terminal) in Jipijapa. From here, Maite and Val will catch a first class bus for the approximate 3 hour trip to Guayaquil. We're really going to miss you guys! Come back to Ecuador soon...
Jipijapa Terminal Terrestre

Puerto Lopez Malecon
6/21/18: Decided to spend the day today in Puerto Lopez, about half an hour to the south of Cayo. This is a popular tourist town, as there are many whale watching tours and tours to Isla de la Plata (they call it the poor man's Galapagos) that go out of port here. Here we are in the center of the tourist area, the malecon (which just means a street along the ocean) - this one is quite beautiful however.

Unlike Puerto Cayo which is an "artesenal" fishing village, there is a commercial fish market here in Puerto Lopez. One of the reasons for our visit today was to check out the fish market (for a future visit with cooler in hand, to return with fresh fish inside). We found out that the best variety of all types of seafood is available in the mornings - by afternoon, we are told, it is mostly white fish that is available.
Fish Market

Big table of Calamari
Although it was early afternoon when we were here, we did spot this one stall in the fish market that was full of calamari (squid) - and she was also cutting up some pulpo (octopus). On another table, we saw what I think was some kind of eel being prepared for sale.

The calamari is pretty good here - it's really fresh! - but personally, I'll pass on the octopus and eel!

Puerto Lopez is also located in a "cove", very similar to Puerto Cayo. It seems that many of the pescadores (fishermen) do not have to go very far out to find their catch. However, not sure if these boats are actually fishing, or are just anchored.
Fishing Fleet

While in Puerto Lopez, we had lunch at one of our favorite spots - Rico's Bar & Grill. Pizza, Sushi, Chicken Wings - quite a variety of food - all totally delicious!
Gina at Rico's

Rico's herb garden
What we enjoy most is dining in their outdoor area under a canopy of bamboo, and surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants! We are also going to copy their idea of planting an herb garden in a built-up planter of bamboo.

The pizza is handmade and baked in a wood fired brick oven.... fantastic!
Doug and Pizza!

Cyclists on the Highway
6/23/18: Saturday - while at our property watching the work being done on the driveway.... I decided to walk to the top of the hill for another look at the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. Surprise! At that moment, a line of cyclists was being escorted by police up the hill on the highway in front of our property!

We had not heard about any race taking place along the coast, but you never know what might be taking place in Ecuador! They certainly appeared to be professional or high caliber cyclists - that hill they are ascending is a killer... and depending on how far they were going, there are LOTS of hills ahead going through Machalilla National Park.

June 5, 2018
June 10, 2018
The work continues on our hills - the project of getting the electrical power to the property has been initiated (quite a drawn out affair here!), and plans are being discussed with a contractor on proceeding with septic system, grading/drive construction, etc....

6/5/18: Val & Maite, two of the "volunteers" here at Casa Anna, accompanied us out to the property on Tuesday. They are from Belgium & France, and have been traveling Central & South America, with Ecuador being their last stop (I believe!) before heading back to Europe. It has been such a pleasure getting to know them!
Val & Maite

6/5/18: We have hundreds of "caracoles" (land snails) all over the property. Maite was especially fascinated when she found them in the trees.... I see some more shell artwork being done with the snail shells - just need to get a bucket and start picking them up!

Val, did you say "escargot"??

6/8/18: On Friday, Monica (our local manicurist) came to Casa Anna to give us our pedicures... I must admit, I've never had "nail art" done before - but look at the beautiful calla lilies she did freehand on my toes!

I have paid as much as $50 for a pedicure (or more, on a cruise ship!) - so, get ready for this ladies - the cost here for Monica's service? $4.00, plus a dollar tip!
Spa Day Pedicures

passion flower
For those who have never seen a "passion flower" - they are absolutely beautiful! We have a large Maracuya vine (passion fruit) growing beside our patio. This gorgeous flower will become one of my new favorite fruits, maracuya! Doug juices them, and we drink the juice every morning.

Doug's patio garden continues to flourish.... hopefully soon, we can begin planting them on our property. We have an Ecuadorian "algorrobo" tree, some bougainvillea, and papaya trees all ready to go!
assorted trees

avocado trees
The avocado trees are doing well... (planted from seed only a few months ago!)

Doug was able to score some bamboo from a neighbor down the road this week.... it has already been transplanted to the ravine between the two hills at our property.

Pancake - the guard cat!
Here is the Casa Anna "guard cat" - Pancake... as you can see, he's hard at work!!

The jalapeno pepper plants are also growing like crazy.... it's good to have peppers to cook with again.
Jalapeno Peppers

Coconut Palm
And while at the neighbor's garden, we also got a coconut palm tree.... however, we're going to need a lot more of them!

6/10/18: What's for dinner tonight??

"Bonito Sierra"... a member of the tuna family. Our gardener Paulo, came by last evening with a freshly caught fish for us.... amazing! It's probably 2 to 3 lbs., and cost us $3.00!

Yum, yum!
Bonito Sierra

May 3, 2018
May 22, 2018

We have continued "cleaning" our hillside! Starting at the top of the hill nearest the ocean, and going down the backside. The mountains to the east become more visible every day. And the chicos have cut us a trail from the front hill along the ridge to the "back" hill - we can now look up at the front hill to the west and see where our home will be!....

5/4/18: So here is the sad tale of Doug and his "Ace Hardware" lopers purchased in Ecuador. He bought one pair, and upon first use, the cutters parted ways with the handles. When he took them back to the store, he had brought the wrong receipt....so he just bought another pair. Same story - one use only!
Made in China for Ace Hardware, Ecuador

Doug's Lopers
5/4/18: In the photo above, you can see the new "metal" handles that Johnny, the local mechanic, welded onto the first pair for him. Here you can see why they fell apart - rotten wood inside.

5/9/18: The labor intensive job of cleaning off the hillside, while maintaining the beautiful trees and cactus that already exist, continues. This photo is looking south just below the summit of the front hill (where we plan to build our home).
Looking South

South, southeast
5/9/18: Looking south/southeast on our hill.

5/11/18: Looking toward the east where the guys have cut us a path to the back hill. There is actually a ridge that runs along the south side of the property, which makes for an almost level path to the second hill. Work continues

5/11/18: Gina walks the new path to the east hill.

5/11/18: Taken from the back hill, looking west toward the ocean and the top of the front hill where we will build. Looking west to front hill

5/11/18: Standing on the back hill, looking west/northwest. Someday, we hope to build a couple of little casitas for tourist rentals...

Back on the new trail to the east - continuing toward the down-slope of the back hill.... when you can actually start walking the whole piece of property, you start to get a better feel for exactly how large 2 hectares of land is!

5/11/18: The quiet tranquility in the middle of a "forest" is amazing.... I must say that hiking through this beautiful property is amazing!

5/15/18: So, "for the rest of the story", started above... here is Doug with Johnny proudly showing off their handiwork. Doug had him make handles for the second pair longer than the first - now he can trim much higher in his trees while standing on the ground!
Johnny and Doug in front of his shop

Johnny's Ferreteria and Auto Repair
5/15/18: Doug painted the metal handles bright green (so he could easily find them when he lays them among the trees!). Johnny is the guy in town that you go to if you want "anything" fixed.... he's popular with the moto-taxi drivers, as you can see!

5/15/18: Today we also met with a local carpenter who showed us some of the work he is doing on a nearby beach home. This beautiful gate leading to the ocean is handmade of "moyuyo", a beautiful plant that grows here. When small they look like a bush, but pruned they grow into trees - if you see pretty yellow flowers, it's probably a moyuyo!
Moyuyo Gate

Outdoor oceanside kitchen
Here in Ecuador, an outdoor kitchen is a MUST! And with the ocean nearby, rust can be a real problem for metal. So this carpenter has crafted all the fasteners, etc. for this outdoor unit from wood - brilliant, wood doesn't rust! Absolutely beautiful craftsmanship.

May 22, 2018 - We absolutely adore our new country and village! We have made so many great friends here - both Ecuadorian and "Gringos". We find the Ecuadorian people to be some of the most helpful, friendly, wonderful people we've ever met. We are so happy we chose Puerto Cayo for our new home!

We are hopefully almost ready to finalize the application for our residency visas... thought we would accomplish this when we went to Manta last Thursday and Friday. However, turns out there was yet another document regarding our land investment that we needed. We have the document now, and are awaiting the visa application appointment to be set up by our lawyer - then, it's back to Manta for that. Once we get the visa matter behind us, we can concentrate our full attention on our building project. Update: We have now have a visa appointment set for Wednesday the 30th, so we'll go up to Manta on Tuesday. Hopefully we'll soon be legal residents of Ecuador!

We are both so totally ready for that!! Love and miss you all.... start thinking about a trip to Ecuador - you'll love it here!

Puerto Cayo, Ecuador

See photos from April, 2018