Tag Archive | "Julio"

Quito Shopping

Quito shopping is excellent. In fact Quito is one of my favorite cities.

Few events excite me like watching the Quito dawn.


The city reveals herself in a purple haze…waking slowly…


but with great energy.  Honored by the world as a Heritage City, Quito is ancient, rich…powerful city with every amenity.


Home to more than a million people, Quito has abounding wealth…and great shopping.


This makes our new column at this site and its author, Ray Manna, a special pleasure to introduce.  Ray Manna writes in his column “Travels with Ray, Beyond Cotacachi” about Quito shopping and as you will see…much more.

Quito Shopping – Travels with Ray, Beyond Cotacachi

As lovely as our tranquil little mountain home in Cotacachi is, it helps to know that in an hour and a half one can find oneself in the midst of a metropolitan shopping experience that rivals some of the best. Today I arranged a shopping tour for friends and clients of our country inn, Meson de las Flores.

After a wonderful breakfast we piled into our van and headed off to Quito. We drove over the beautifully cobbled and landscaped roads leading out of the canton.

Our driver, Julio, was his usual gracious self as he politely described the wonders unfolding before us as we wound our way through the majesty of the Andes. The volcanoes and mountains and tended slopes are breathtaking. Lago del San Pablo and its village are remarkable in their beauty. The lake is huge and blue and surrounded with a perfect balance of agriculture and buildings. It evokes a
feeling for me of the Italian Alps. The lake backs onto a gentle which ten becomes
the steep volcanic slope of Mt. Imbabura.

After this comes the village of Tabacundo. This is the heart of Ecuador’s industry in the cultivation and shipping of Roses worldwide. Ecuador is a country of many contrasts, and this is but one of the many happy surprises that await in our region of Cotacachi.

After Tabacundo, we traverse an interesting and beautiful treed area,  Guayallabamba. This area is filled with Caccia trees. It is very similar to Kenya in its feel…a bit dryer and with a more rugged feeling. They grow Cherimoya
here, and you can buy a basketful for five bucks. If you have not had
Cherimoya, let me tell you simply, that I consider it to be one of the
premium fruits on this planet!

Winding our way through the villages and eucalyptus groves that line the highway we found ourselves traversing the outermost suburbs of Quito in an area called Carapungo. Before us lay a beautiful community gracing the slopes that lead finally into Quito. This area is newer and is quite breathtaking to see.

Just a bit after this we arrived at our first destination, El Condado.

This is Quito’s newest shopping mall, and it’s truly a wonder to behold. The food courts alone will blow you away. I’ve never seen such a variety of food offerings in my life. The mall has an entire wall of glass on the fourth floor providing a full sweeping view of the stunning Pichincha beyond. The architecture is tiled and beautiful and everywhere you look it has the feel of a state of the art endeavor with art and lighting and video screens with imagery. Quito is as serious about expressing themselves in this modern format as well as they are through their traditions.

Well, what can I say? The girls couldn’t pass without stopping at the many shoe stores. My opinion was relied upon heavily and I’m pretty sure those boots and flats are going to turn some heads. Jo, a recent transplant from Dallas scored the foxiest half boots that are elegant but not over done. The leather is butter soft, with a jaunty strap around the ankle and shaft that is relaxed and feminine. Barbara, a
recent transplant from Miami, found a pair of flats in a subtle metallic and print that had a Chanel feel to them.

Next came the fabric store. Oh my god!! Talk about a collective freak out. I found a white sheer tone on tone fabric with a combination of bold shimmering bands and subtle accent banding that would look great with the gentle Andean breezes wafting through open windows on one of our typical Spring-like days. The velvets and jacquards were amazing and many for only $13 a yard. Finally, we found
an incredible midnight blue crepe with a gold metallic motif of Moorish design. We all just stood there, jaws practically open in amazement. These mountains, this weather, this beautiful architecture, and window treatments!! Get my drift?? I can’t wait!!

We continued on, Julio and I dutifully toting the growing number of prized purchases. We hit the Todo Hogar (Everything for the Home) store, a place where you can totally outfit your apartment or home. Barbara is going to be hosting the holiday for a bunch of us in her new Diana Carrasco designed home that she has rented for $600 a month. This is going to be one fun adventure. Barbara is a great cook, and I am looking forward to sampling her special version of holiday turkey.

Oh, the turkey will be fresh of course. And locally grown. That’s the way things work here.

There is so much more things I can tell you about the day, but these are some of the highlights. We finished up the day a bit tired, but with a van full of kitchen furnishings, new shoes, art supplies, fine French cosmetics, books, and a couple of cases of red and white wine from Super Maxi. Barbara opened up a couple of bottles of wine and we all had wine and cheese and crackers together in the courtyard at Meson after our long “hard” day. We found ourselves gathering in friendship and laughter here in our special home in Cotacatchi.

Come down and see what it’s about.

We’d like to share it with you!

Till next time, Ray Manna, Meson de las Flores, Land of the Sun Foundation, over and out.

Thanks Ray.


We invite you to join us in Cotacachi where the shopping is great (but entirely different) as well.  Come a day early or stay a day late and do some Quito shopping!

Here is Cotacachi’s main shopping street.


Otavalo, the largest indigenous market in the Americas is just minutes away as well.

Join us in Cotacachi.

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Enjoy our chef ad we help at times) for great fresh Ecuador seafood!


Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Or join us on the coast.

Ecuador beach

See Ecuador’s incredible scenery.


March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition

March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Here is our Ecuador tour schedule for the balance of 2009.

Date                    Course                      Couples Fee

May 21-26  Ecuador Spanish Course         ($999)
May 27-28  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)

June 12-15  Shamanic Mingo Tour             ($999)
June 16-17  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)
June 18-21  Coastal Real Estate Tour         ($749)

July 2-7       Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)
July 8-9       Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
July 10-13   Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Sept. 17-22  Ecuador Spanish Course        ($999)
Sept. 23-24  Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
Sept. 25-28  Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Oct. 21-26   Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)

Nov. 6-8       International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador ($999)
Nov. 9-10     Imbabura Real Estate Tour          ($749)
Nov. 11-14   Coastal Real Estate Tour            ($749)

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one$1,349 for two

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 27 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009 and how to attend as many of them as you like FREE.

The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the
course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito.
Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual transportation.

Ecuador Beach Condo Savings

Ecuador beach condos in San Clemente offer special value now for seven reasons shown below.

Bahia, is in my opinion, one of the nicest towns on Ecuador coast. Pacific Coastal condos in San Clemente, only thirty minutes, away offer some of the best value that Merri and I have found.

These San Clemente coastal condos are called Vistazul and they offer an even more special opportunity now. Here are delegates on our last Ecuador coastal real estate tour going over to look at the Vistazul model which is 75% complete.


Merri and I are back from a quick trip south…to Cotacachi and to visit our Ecuador coastal condos in San Clemente. These Ecuador coastal condos are special, value wise, for seven reasons.

First, over ten years ago, Merri and I drove almost the entire length of Ecuador’s coast with our Norwegian friend, Kjetil Haugan. This trip included a visit to San Clemente which is a tiny fishing village on the Ecuadorian Pacific.

We saw that San Clemente Ecuador offered special value for Ecuadorian beach real estate. This was one of Ecuador’s best beaches, but just 45 minutes north of Manta and only a half hour to Bahia Ecuador.

Here is the San Clemente beach.


Kjetil bought 12 acres of land on this beach in San Clemente…then…ten years ago. This is the first reason why the Vistazul Ecuador Coastal condos offer special value now. A recent message outlined how we conducted real estate tours and urged readers to buy Ecuador beach property around Manta over ten years ago because land on Ecuador’s coast now is still a terrific value. Yet especially around Manta, land has appreciated as much as 800% in the last decade. Many of our readers and real estate tour delegates of a decade ago purchased ocean view house lots at $2,500. These same lots as resales are now selling at $17,500.

Kjetil can offer really great Ecuador beach condo prices because he bought the land at rock bottom prices years ago.

Many Ecuador coastal properties are popping up now but most developers are buying land to develop…at current, much higher prices.

San Clemente is catching on. Already we are told that one of our readers purchased a large beach front property (to develop I assume) just a few hundred yards from the Vistazul project. This reader cannot compete with Vistazul price wise because the current price paid for the land is so much higher.

The second reason there is special value there is that Kjetil has more than a decade of business and Ecuadorian experience. His wife’s family have long been involved in construction. His father in law is an engineer who has great experience at building on the coast.

Here is Jessica Haugan, Kejtil’s wife, who operates the Palmazul Spa welcoming our delegates to inspect the model.


Here is Kjetil and his father-in-law, Julio, showing delegates the roof garden on unit #207 (the lowest view and price).


Third, the Vistazul beach condos offer special value because Merri and I do not charge commissions. We do not make a penny when people buy Ecuador real estate.

Our readers have purchased many millions of dollars of Ecuador real estate in Galapagos, Mindo, Cotacachi, Quito, Vilcabamba, Cuenca, on the Pacific Coast, and elsewhere around Ecuador. Merri and I may have helped more gringos buy Ecuador real estate than anyone else. Yet we are not real estate brokers and do not take commissions for this.

The fact that Merri and I liked, felt confident in and invested ourselves in Vistazul, means that Kjetil has been able to sell two thirds of these coastal condos without paying a penny of the normal sales commission. This has saved him as much as $500,000. This does not mean Kjetil has pocketed this extra cash. I asked (and he agreed) to pass this savings onto buyers of Vistazul who are Ecuador Living subscribers.

Here is the Palmazul Spa and the clubhouse for Vistazul. This is where our coastal real estate delegates stay.


Fourth, Kjetil built the beach condo club house first…last year…when cement and concrete prices were about half they are now. Plus he made a very intelligent decision to run the clubhouse as a hotel…Palmazul.

Three buildings with 19 units are under construction. We were pleased last week to view th progress.

Here they are. You can see each level of construction. The 63 units are set out on the 12 acres so no building blocks the view of another.


Fifth, we center our Ecuador coastal real estate tours around the Palmazul club house which means we send hundreds of guests there. This provides substantial income so condo owners do not have to bear as large an expense to maintain the club house.

Front door of a Vistazul unit.


Sixth, Because Merri and I understood the project, we were willing to invest up front. Our many years of work with Kjetil have created a bond of trust. Because of this Merri and I, plus one of our friends and two of our daughters bought the first twelve units. In other words, nearly 20% of the Vistazul project was sold before Kjetil even began to break ground.

Here is a Vistazul ground floor interior…looking back.


And front with our friend from Telluride, Bob Humphrey.


Seventh, Kjetil also has one of the largest Spanish schools and travel agencies in Ecuador. This provides marketing clout and gives Kjetil the ability to help bring condo renters to San Clemente.



In summary Vistazul has many excellent value features:

* Low land costs.

* Infrastructure competed before inflation.

* Two thirds of the units sold.

* Construction experience.

* Low cost marketing for sales and renter.

* Perfect on the beach location.

* Master Bedroom looks over the sea.


This is why I have been encouraging readers to look at Vistazul. There are 63 units to be built. 42 of these Ecuador condos have sold since I first wrote about these condos just nine months ago. Now Kjetil is also offering ten year mortgages at 8.5%,. I expect the remaining 21 units to sell quickly.

Ecuador coastal delegates inspect roof garden and lowest view.


Due to inflation, Kjetil has raised his prices, but due to our original agreement with him he has still been offering a discount to our Ecuador Living subscribers.

That offer expired after our last Ecuador Coastal real estate tour but I asked him to continue the special until October 1, 2008.

This is significant because I always advise readers to never buy Ecuador real estate sight unseen. Kjetil, in his agreement with us, allows those who make a deposit 60 days to come down and visit the condos on the beach. This means that those who make a deposit before October 1 can hold their unit until our November 12 – 15 Coastal tour when they can inspect the property.

Here are the remarkable values on these Ecuador beach condos.

There are three levels of condo.

All units are identical…except for a few options available in tile, cabinets, doors, counter tops etc. Price differences relate to view. The higher on the hill, the higher the price.

Coastal tour delegates on roof garden of lower unit.


For details on the units below contact Thor Anderson at thor@sanclementeecuador.com

Lower level units available are #: 104 – 205 – 207 – 302 – 305 – 503 – 506.

Price is $89,000 or $22,250 down and $828 a month.

Ecuador Living subscriber price available until October 1, 2008 is $79,000 or
$19,750 down and $735 a month.

Medium level view.


Medium level units available are #: 602 – 603 – 604 – 605 – 801 – 805 – 806.

Price is $115,000 or $28,750 down and $1,068 a month.

Ecuador Living subscriber price available until October 1, 2008 $99,000 or $24,750 down and $921 a month.

Upper level view at sunset.


Upper level units available are #: 901- 902 – 904 – 1101 – 1102.

Price is $139,00 or $34,750 down and $1,293 a month.

Ecuador Living subscriber price available until October 1, 2008 $125,000 or $31,250 down and $1,163 a month.

To obtain the discount you must be an Ecuador Living subscriber.

For details on the units below contact Thor Anderson at thor@sanclementeecuador.com

Vistazul kitchens have marble cabinet tops. The cabinets are not yet installed in this shot and there are breakfast bar height options.

Vistazul-Ecuador-beach-condos-breakfast bar

For details on the units below contact Thor Anderson at thor@sanclementeecuador.com

Until next message, may all your values be good.


Join us in November to inspect Ecuador property for sale.


Our September 17-20 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour; Quito Real Estate Tour was sold out as was our September 28-29 Imbabura Real Estate Tour was sold out.

Our Oct 14-18 Ecuador Import Export Course only has a couple of spaces open.

We still have space in November.

Join us in Cotacachi at El Meson de las Flores.


Nov 7-9 International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador

See these condos at $46,000 in Cotacachi.

Nov 10-11 Imbabura Real Estate tour

Dine with delegates at the Vistazul clubhouse.


November 12-15, 2008 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour; Quito Real Estate Tour

Ecuador Spanish Fluency Made EZ

Ecuador Spanish fluency can be made EZ course as our Spanish course teacher Steve writes:

Being in England for 4 weeks I’m aware that my Spanish has tailed off a little. If you don’t use it then you lose it as they say.

I knew this would happen before I came; it did last year too. But I have made a couple of phone calls in Spanish, swapped some emails in Spanish so that all helps.

Now that I am fluent in Spanish (which doesn’t mean perfect by the way) I intend to keep hold of this language for life. That shouldn’t be difficult as long as I live in Ecuador, which I intend to, and even if, at some point in the future, I move away from Ecuador I still think I have the techniques to stay on top of the language; the same techniques we now use to teach Spanish in our Ecuador Spanish course.

I remember wanting to speak a foreign language at a young age, perhaps after watching an early evening movie at the legs of my parents. I also remember lying in bed at night as I ‘practiced’ an imagined fluency in another tongue. As I lulled myself to sleep, a torrent of rhyming nonsensical words burbled softly (less anyone hear my silliness) and rapidly from my lips as I pretended I was speaking foreign languages in far-off lands.

And then I dreamt of nonsense in nonsense lands.

Yet there were two large stumbling blocks.  I had no natural ability in languages andthe education techniques used in English grammar schools were not fun.


I have not forgotten the painful experiences I had learning Spanish so now I look for fun ways to teach. It’s an on-going process but you can see how our Spanish Course delegates below have fun as they string out sentences after just 4 days in class. My role was to step back and let them enjoy the process as I take photos as my native-speaking assistants, Carmen and Julio, gently prompt from the sidelines.


Spanish is probably one of the easiest or maybe even the easiest language to learn. I didn’t really appreciate this until I learned from Merri some of the techniques that she had unveiled as she learned Spanish many years ago in Mexico.

The fact is there are roughly 4,000 words which are very similar and some are exactly the same in English. Knowing this is an encouraging start. Knowing just 17 simple rules gives us these 4,000 words and allows us to add those rules to our ‘tool bag’. We learn how to learn the rules.

We have to know how to pronounce the words but again Spanish is simplicity itself once you learn the rules of pronunciation. Spanish pronunciation is simple because there is a profound lack of exceptions to the rules. Every word is pronounced according to the rules and apart from the occasional strange place names there are no funny exceptions.

Consider the English words ‘rough’, ‘bough’, bought’, ‘through’ and ‘though’ – the ‘ough’ part is pronounced 5 different ways … pity the English language learner as they have to decide how to pronounce any new word they come across with ‘ough’ in it.

My aim when teaching Spanish, and even when speaking, is primarily communication. When I taught English for nearly 4 years in Quito, to students ranging from children to diplomats, the most common complaint was that though they could read and write the language they were to embarrassed or afraid to speak the language. I nearly always found this was because they were confused after having ‘swallowed’ too many grammar pills.


Granted, some grammar is necessary but I keep it to the absolute minimum. We do this by using about 15 starter phrases and learning how to say ‘I’ or ‘you’ in these phrases and then working with verbs in their base form such as ‘to eat’. We also learn ‘finishing phrases’ which are normally expressions of time and places. So we learn quickly how to say “I want to eat lunch now”, or “Do you want to visit the doctor later?”

This is communication at it’s most basic, but what I’ve found is that as in most endeavors in life, success breeds enthusiasm and confidence, which in turn breed more success. There’s nothing more dispiriting than not being even able to spit out a sentence after 2 or 3 months at an evening school apart from “My name is Steve”, “I live in Ecuador” and “I am ?? years old”.

On the other hand, we learn how to ask questions, express our desires, needs and preferences by the third day of a 5 day course.

Then of course, we have to remember what we learn. Advanced Learning techniques were first brought to the world’s attention by Lozanov, the Bulgarian master, who the SuperLearning books were famously written about.

As far as I’m aware we are the only people who offer a beginner’s course in a Spanish speaking country that incorporates Lozanov’s methodology to relax and aid speedy learning. We also emphasize getting out into the community to practicing what we learn AND incorporate a simplified content to get you communicating many times quicker than the normal.

I’ve taught all age groups from teenagers to eighty year olds. One of my aims is to build confidence and enthusiasm so that when you leave you are motivated to continue studying.

This is what S and K said after our course in June. They are a couple 78 and 64 years old and tour in Spain virtually every year but had always had difficulty mastering the language.

“We loved the property tours and found that the Spanish course was just right for us. Indeed, we have both been motivated to learn more. We have bought little mp3 players and we each have all 6 of your Super Thinking Spanish CDs already downloaded and in use …. I’m also going to get hold of a Michel Thomas course and put that on as well. So thanks again for providing such an inspirational starter course. (Of course, major thanks to Merri and Gary for having the knowledge to make it possible – but your delivery of it all was just right)”

Even as I contemplate the mystery of how I learned a language and then the even more amazing transformation (for me) to teaching a language, I just give thanks that through a series of synergies I’ve been able to find support, techniques and methods, not to forget a wonderful location in Cotacachi, where it’s all come together and I’m able to help others to communicate in Spanish.


We have one more Spanish course this year next month in September.

Sept 23-27 Ecuador Spanish Course

September 17-20 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour; Quito Real Estate Tour

Sept 28-29 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

See discounts for attending more than one Sept. course

Oct 14-18 Ecuador Import Export Course

Nov 7-9 International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador

Nov 10-11 Imbabura Real Estate tour

November 12-15, 2008 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour; Quito Real Estate Tour