Tag Archive | "Ray Manna;"

Ecuador Charity


See a link about Ecuador charity, giving and an Ecuador Living excerpt below.

Our Ecuador charity does not just give.   Just giving builds dependence which is not our goal. Our aim is to help the great people of Ecuador help themselves.

This is why our Ecuador charity, Land of the Sun Foundation  has had its greatest focus in the past few years on helping the hotel Meson de las Flores learn how to stand on its own.  We have helped the Meson staff take Meson from a crumbling empty shell and transform it into renewed facility and profitable operation.  All profits go back to improving the hotel or to the Ecuador Land of the Sun charity that aims to help expand business in Ecuador.  Merri and I do not make a penny from the hotel….our pay check  goes to the heart instead of  the pocketbook

For Meson’s success, we thank all of you who have visited us here.

The staff at Meson de las Flores asked me to send all of you their best wishes for UN MUY FELIZ ANO.  Here is Meson’s staff.

Meson-Cotacachi-Hotel

From left to right Meson’s staff.  Ecuardo – maître d,  Alberto – sous-chef, Consuelo – hostess, Ray – global liasion, Rosita Elena – maid, Mauricio, – night assistant and tour guide, Santiago – chef,  Franklin – manager.  Not present Rosita De la Torres – maid.

The staff of Meson de las Flores are to be congratulated. They are remarkable people who have been willing to work hard for and to deserve their success.  Here is the type of comment I continually receive about service at Meson de las Flores.

Dear Gary and Merri,  From Mesón de las Flores I am sending you my very best wishes for this coming year!!!  I am at your hotel since Monday afternoon together with two good friends and we have really enjoyed the place, the warmth of your staff and the natural food.  I have particularly enjoyed the chance to relax, to do some sightseeing in Cotacachi and Otavalo.  2008 was a very busy year for me, but also a very blessed time for which I am very grateful to God.  I thank Him for the opportunity of having met during this year people like you who has a passion  for what they do and their work benefit many  people´s live. Have a wonderful 2009!!

The warmth of the staff at Meson is a continual refrain I read like this:

Hi Gary and Merri!  I  miss Ecuador so much!  It is amazing to me that, after only 90 days there I feel such a strong connection and love for Cotacachi and all the local people and the others I met there.  I am counting the days until my return.  You promised me that I would be pampered — and El Mason and the people
there really took care of me.  I think it is good to leave Ecuador and experience “home” — it really confirms that Ecuador is a beautiful place and the people there are so warm and welcoming.  Best thing I ever did!  Can’t wait to return!  Blessings to you both,

Having Ray as our global liasion at the hotel has been a hug addition that really helps guests.  We receive continual raves about Ray:

I LOVED the market in Otavalo and came home with another extra-large Ecuadorian bag loaded with rugs and wall-hangings. A very tempting place that I visited 4-times just to give you an indication of how much FUN I had there.
We’ll have to see how our retail season goes and if I can break away for a couple of weeks, I’ll travel back to Ecuador for two weeks in April.  Ray is a splendid character and makes one feel that “our casa is your casa” during your stay. He has that manner that invites and excites and I feel he is a huge plus to your organization. Everyone really likes Ray and I miss him already and his lighthearted banter and genuine care.

Next trip I’ll bring lots of ones and fives. Even twenties were a drag. Imagine! At home a $100.00 bill goes direct to pay one bill alone or one “small” grocery shopping without blinking an eye.

This guest is not alone in praising Ray. Meson has also become a  central meetng place for the gringo community in Cotacachi. Ray organized a Christmas party and this Cotacachi resident who emigrated from Michigan wrote:

Hi, Gary and Merri.  Just a quick note to say thank you for the great Christmas Party for Gringos at El Meson!  It was a lot of fun and we were amazed at how few of the people we actually had met.  Of course we solved that by making sure we met everyone there and invited them to visit us when out our way.  We wish you a very blessed Christmas and a fabulous 2009!  Looking forward to seeing you soon, Love.

Ray seems to help guests in so many ways:

Hi Merri  Returned from Cotacachi last Thurs after a great trip.  The woman that traveled with me wants to return this summer – she could not believe how nice the area is and the friendliness of the people.  I saw my apartment and am very happy with the bed and bedding that you added.  Thank you.  Ray Manna is a super nice person and very friendly and accomodating with the guests – a real plus.  Brought over 200lbs of clothing, school supplies, medical supplies and gifts for the children and nursing home.  Everything was donated – a very warm experience and shared joy.  I wish you and Gary a Merry Christmas – hope to see you in Ecuador in the Spring.  Hugs and love

From shopping to checking out and arranging tours. Another guest wrote:

Hi Merri, We are back from Ecuador and in a serious cold spell in Alberta. It is minus 30 C this morning but is beautifully sunny. We have a little snow so at least it feels like Christmas.  I just wanted to say thanks for your guidance in planning our trip. I also wanted to let you know what a terrific job Ray did despite the fact that he was a sick as a dog. His upbeat positive attitude and willingness to help was second to none. He is a real asset to your organization.  We enjoyed our stay at El Meson and found Cotacachi and the surrounding area to be both beautiful and peaceful.  We are already planning our next trip to Ecuador and are dreaming about its warmer days. Best wishes for the holiday season.

Ray and the staff make everyone feel like part of our family…and you are…when you stay with us at Mesons, as this guest noted.

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know how much myself and all of our “extended family” enjoyed the course that you, Gary, and all of your competent staff put on earlier this month.  I am really just getting my feet back on the ground and I think that we are finally there.  Gary was awesome as we expected and gave me as really a beginning investor many insights and new ideas to think about.  I am speaking for myself and several others.  You showed me that you are an expert planner and really went  out of your way to accommodate  us especially when we had people coming in at different times.   Last and not least was Ray who also handled so much on the fly and did it well.    Ray really helped with the leaving process.  We really enjoyed your hotel and the hospitality.  It was  memorable. Thanks so much and we hope to keep in touch and continue with Gary’s newsletters! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Ray helps in Cotacachi and elsewhere as this guest noted:

Merri, We have arrived at Palmazul and it is very nice.  I would like to tell you that Tina and I had a wonderful time at Cotacachi.  The staff and service at El Meson could not have been better.  I must tell you that Ray was an excellent host and was attentive to every detail of our stay.  All of the other guests love Ray. I will report back to you after our trip in Palmazul. Best wishes.

Guest also report feeling healthier and often lose weight..even though they eat more as this guest reported:

Hi Merri:  Back home after that long flight and am already ready to return to Cotacachi.  Gary’s e mail this morning about the essential oils and other things to reduce stress.  He left out the most important thing…..Going to Cotacachi, El Meson, meeting new friends, seeing old friends, and seeing all the wonderful smiles of your staff, and  the people of Ecuador.

When I go to Ecuador, after the first day, I take no medicine, eat healthy food, get lots of exercise, and just feel wonderful.  Since I have been home..ort on my travels home, I have had a who knows what hamburger, bag of fritos, diet cokes, processed cheese and other just total crap, and I bet I have gained back those four pounds I lost in Cotacachi…in just two days.

Guest really feel healthier and enjoy our philosophy of health at the hotel.

Dear Merri and Gary, How wonderful an experience we had with you…and how much respect we have for you both.   Thank you for the extraordinary services you are offering in these times to so many.   It is rare that we feel as aligned with people as we do with you on so many fronts at once – investments, political opinions, commitment to the indigenous, ‘being healthy,’ commitment to organics/biodynamics and a religion of being kind.   Wow.  With Appreciation.

A stay at Meson seems to be food for the body and the soul as this reader reports:

My Dearest Merri and Gary,  I cannot thank you both enough for your wonderful hospitality.  I just want you to know that everything I read about Ecuador from your news letters and emails was exactly the way you described it and better…………..

The day we were all returning to Quito to go our different ways at the end of the tour, I was overwhelmed with tears because you both had been so wonderful and I didn’t want it to end.  I was already missing you and the wonderful experience I had had during your Ecuador Tour Adventure……..You both are very special and I am honored to be a part of your Group.

I also want you to know that………

I fell in Love while I was there……………..I  fell  in  Love.

I fell in love with the Country, the People, the Mountains, the Sky’s, the Thousands of stars at night, the Flowers,the Rivers, the Ocean, the Villages, the Towns, The Taxi drivers who were so helpful and wanted to speak English and practiced on me……….The Ecuadorian people who seemed to have this overall feeling of Happiness and well being that was contagious where ever we went.  From the Bus driver who stood at the door of our bus and helped each and every member of our group, everyday, get in and out of the bus. He was always smiling and happy to help.  To the Indian women, who were washing the Family’s clothes on flat stones in the River.  They looked up from their work, as our bus passed by, waving to some of us staring in disbelief………….I waved back, with tears in my eyes. They smiled at me as if to say… all is well and you are welcome……

Everywhere we went I felt as though I was surrounded by smiling faces.  Just walking out of the Hotel in Cotacache, the Native Indians of the area were dressed in their Native costume, except it wasn’t a costume, it was their way of life……….Immaculate, clean clothes, beautifully embroidered blouses with wonderful long wool skirts, colorful sashes around their waists, carrying small children wrapped in beautiful fabric on their backs.  I was in awe………. I was feeling as though I was in a time machine that was set for the mid 1850’s.  I had indeed traveled back in time and landed in Ecuador…………….The air was clean, the water was fresh, the food was healthy and delicious…………..I kept thinking, Where am I?  Is it possible?  Am I dreaming?  Is it real?

After being there for a couple of days, and easing into the relaxed, tranquil, lifestyle.  I began to notice the little nuisances of the Indigenous people I was surrounded by.

Every morning, wherever I went, I was always greeted with Buenos Dias ( good morning).  It was so peasant and  so comfortable so nice.  I  forgot about where I had come from, and my only concern was finding out everything I could about this beautiful Gentle Country of Beautiful gentle people.

Everyday was a unique Visual Experience for me.
I remember waking up to the Church bell ringing at 6am and looking out the window and seeing the mothers walking their children to the school.  All cleaned up with fresh clothes, their native costumes, and smiles.  Walking along the  hand made stone sidewalks, skirts swaying as they walked, lightly brushing the sidewalk as they made their way to the school.  Just watching them gave me a feeling of well being, and a knowing sense that all is well.   No plastic, no tensil, no cartoon characters acting like humans.  It was real,
real people, real feelings, real emotions experiencing their version of life on Planet Earth…

There were many times I was overwhelmed with emotions of humility and feelings of being honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this unique Gift in those present moments.   A Gift that you, Gary and Marri, have made available to a select few. You and Ecuador have changed my life and my thinking.  Thank you, I am so grateful.

See more about Ecuador charity in an excerpt from Ecuador Living

We invite you to join us in Ecuador this year.

Gary

Our January courses are almost full but we have plenty space in February and beyond.

Join us at a course in Cotacachi or on Ecuador’s coast this winter.

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

See condos like this in Cotacachi for $46,500.

Ecuador-real-estate-advertising

Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

See Manta condos like this one. Delegates are inspecting the 1,000+ square foot patio.

Manta-Condo

The patio has this view.

Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic-Shamanic Mingo

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

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 them 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.

Quito Shopping


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

Few events excite me like watching the Quito dawn.

quito-shopping

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

quito-shopping

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

quito-shopping

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

quito-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.

Gary

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.

quito-shopping

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!

Cotacachi-fish

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.

Cotacachi-fish

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.