Posted by: jimndianne | December 19, 2009

Quito – Manta, on the coast and north to San Clemente.

11 – 14 December 2009 Ecuador

As usual, this blog is being done off-line and we’ll be publishing it as and when we have Internet. The 40-minute flight from Quito to Manta on the Ecuador airline, Icaro, was seamless – the crew managed to achieve the administering of packets of potato crisps (with dip packet included) and a polystyrene cup of water, as well as the delivery of drinks, hot and cold to all passengers. And this, all with their renowned genuine warmth and friendliness we’ve come to know and love.

A waiting bus collected all those of us booked on the Coastal Real Estate Tour and along with Bonnie, our Guide, and Alberto, our Ecuadorian Travel Co-ordinator we  drove northwards to San Clemente. The road on both sides for a considerable distance from the airport was littered with trash of all kinds thrown from cars and from uncovered rubbish trucks on their way to the dump. When we spotted the dump it was with some horror that we noticed a large number of black vultures poking through rubbish or lazily sitting on fence posts nearby. Otherwise, the scenery was

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of a very dry landscape with just the occasional bright green Ceibo tree. This tree in general currently has just a large beige-coloured twisted trunk with many extremely weird ‘arm-like’ branches extending out from it at all angles, reminding us of those tree characters in “Lord of the Rings”. Now that the rainy season is in its early stages, these same trees are slowly drinking in the moisture from the air and beginning to turn into an amazing shade of fluorescent green! We were totally fascinated with them and took many photos.

With Ecuador being 95% catholic, there were a few nice touches along the way where

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the locals have taken to the Christmas spirit in a big way. Many of the tiny village houses had an adorned tree out on the balcony and flashing lights around their windows!

Upon arrival at San Clemente, we were allocated our various rooms in the lovely Hotel Palmazul, right on the edge of the beach. Somehow we happened to be given a

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room on the top floor, the 3rd level, which instead of being just one room was in fact a two room apartment owned by friends of one of the International Living people. It had two great balconies opening out onto a wonderful vista of the San Clemente beach, headland and the hotel bar and swimming pool! We felt very honoured as it cost us the same as others in the group were paying. Bonnie, our Guide, had a similar one next door to us.  As we’d missed out on lunch by then, we were all offered a ‘snack’ of a fish ceviche, a type of cool fish soup but with so much lime juice in that we were unable to have more than a few mouthfuls.

The next two days were spent in visiting several other places along the northern coast, including Bahia, an interesting seaside town located on a wide peninsular at a river mouth and also with an ocean beach area. We were shown a rather nice penthouse apartment for $198,000 with stunning views of the entire area and river but with only one bedroom and a very small study. This was owned by a fairly young Danish couple who were about to begin building a new home totally by themselves on a large tract of land on a mountain overlooking the river. There was only one other

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home that was worth looking at and this was right on the water’s edge and with its own jetty. It had 5 huge bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and very high ceilings, which kept it

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nice and cool, as the coast is much more humid than the mountains, understandably. This was $220,000, beautifully landscaped on its large front lawn and you could climb up onto its flat roof. The several other homes we saw in the town itself were mainly apartments (condos), which don’t really appeal to us.

Crucita was another beach area where we saw a mediterranean style home (see the following four photos, three of which are in low light – the house is white!) high  on a

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hill overlooking the beach, in an area with around eight similar styles. Most had domes on their flat roofs giving a distinct Grecian look. The one we liked had not been

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lived in for seven years and was unfurnished but had distinct possibilities for minor renovation until we heard that the owners would not budge from their price of $170,000. A great pity as the house was on four blocks, i.e. around 3,000 sq mtrs., and would have come up looking great with some decent landscaping etc. We also

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looked at a nice beach house just above the beach with 3 brms and 3 bathrms, a terrace on the ground floor and on the 1st floor and with a rooftop terrace as well. At

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$110,000 it was a really good buy although on reflection the small town of Crucita offered very little in the way of either entertainment or basic food shopping and the beach was very pebbly. Ho hum!!

Another day we went by bus to Manta, where we were shown plenty of condos, some of which were quite nice but again not what we want so we simply looked.

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The food at the hotel in San Clemente was excellent with a buffet breakfast and also a buffet dinner included in our room rate. There is almost always some type of seafood served, as well as a potato pancake dish, rice, lots of local vegetables and salads as well as a meat or chicken dish. Equadorian food is not at all spicy but is tasty just the same. In general, we eat very well indeed.

At the conclusion of the real estate tour, we were shown some 2 brm condos across the road from our Hotel Palmazul but these were of poor construction and despite being showered with wine and nibbles during the presentation of the complex we remained unimpressed. The price of $75,000 was a special one for anyone purchasing while they were staying there and this would rise later to $89,000.

Our friends from Oregon, Carol & Jim, left on the Sunday evening as they had to

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return to work on the Tuesday, so we sadly bid them farewell, pledging to keep in touch! We had a load of fun with them and will miss them lots.

The next day we packed up and had our 108group photograph, on to the bus to the airport

Back in Manta the following day, the majority of the group were dropped off at the airport to catch the flight back to Quito and from there to their home towns in the U.S.  However, another couple, Annie and Peter, had a booking at the Howard Johnson Hotel and invited us to take advantage of the two bedroom timeshare apartment for the four nights they had booked in the hotel. We were very happy indeed to oblige as this made our overnight costs in Manta very cheap indeed.


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