This post was originally written as an email to family and friends on December 29
We were very fortunate to move down here at the same time that our friends, Jan and Wayne, from California were coming down for a visit to their home on the beach. We met them in Houston and stayed at the same hotel in Quito, toured Quito and drove down the great Andes mountainside to San Clemente with them where they have allowed us to stay in their guest bedroom these last few weeks. They are staying in San Clemente for three months and have friends and family coming to visit some of that time, so it was apparent from the start that we should be looking for a more permanent living situation.
We started putting out the word and casually looking for a furnished home or apartment on or near the beach as we met people and we got a lot of suggestions. One of the places we were quite hopeful about was a four bedroom house built on a piece of land somewhat like a jetty jutting out into the ocean in San Jacinto. We had heard that the home rented for a low amount and the first few times we saw it we thought that it might suit our needs.
When we finally got to go inside we were disappointed with the quality of construction, size of the rooms and rocky access to the beach. Then when we finally got someone to call the owner we found that the rent was considerably higher than we had been told.
Since then we have looked at apartments and homes that range from small concrete cave-like dwellings, corroding wooden and bamboo thatch places (that look “South Pacific” romantic until you get too close), to high quality US type homes that were priced too high for our budget.
One of the problems we also were finding is that virtually all places, no matter the quality, rent out during Christmas and New Year’s weekends and even those that do not rent during those holidays apparently rent out for big money during the pre-Lenten “festival” week that brings lots of Ecuadorians to the beach for a week of revelry before Lent and Easter. The landlords who know they can rent their apartment or home for hundreds of dollars per week (or even per day) during festival are slow to remember that most of the year it sits vacant and therefore are slow to rent to us for a longer term
We have one more possible option to check out today, some condominiums that are a part of the Palmazul Hotel complex, but we suspect those condominiums will be priced too high.
So, barring some great offer from Palmazul we believe we have settled on a very nice “American-style” two bedroom apartment about two blocks off the beach. It is two stories with a full kitchen, dining area, full bath, living room and some closet storage on the first floor and two large bedrooms with full baths on the second floor. Both bedrooms have sliding glass doors and decks and you can see some of the ocean from the deck in both bedrooms. The most unusual thing for an Ecuadorian home is that there is a lot of storage area and closet space in this home. Most Ecuadorian homes have no closets in the bedrooms, small kitchens with limited cabinets and no hall or foyer closet space. This home has built-in drawers and closets in the bedrooms and bathrooms and plenty of storage space throughout.
A couple of other pluses on this home are that the owners speak English. The son, Jose, is an architect with a BS from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Virginia Tech and the father and mother are both professionals who speak English very well. There is a small pool right next to our apartment, an outside shower for rinsing after the beach or pool, and a very pleasant garden and picnic area with a gazebos complete with hammocks for relaxing. All things considered, it seems like the pluses outweighed the negatives of having to walk a bit farther to the beach. There is even an alcove along the stairway where we can stow our bicycles inside. We will firm this up by tomorrow and let you know for sure and, if it goes through we can move in as of the 3rd when the New Year’s rental people move out.
We continue to have daily adventures as we get around town and meet people. One quick observation from last night – we went downtown San Clemente last night for dinner at a seaside restaurant and then walked around a bit after dark. We met many people out on the street and spoke with all of them in passing – “Buenas Noches.” “Como esta usted?” etc. – and all of them spoke back pleasantly. We did not feel threatened or apprehensive even as we approached young men in darker areas of the street! It was thoroughly pleasant and relaxing.
San Clemente is a small town, but it does have some street traffic with buses, cars and motorcycles. As we walked down the main roadway at the intersection of the two main roads in town a little (perhaps two-year old) boy was riding his new electric Mickey Mouse car right down the middle of the road with his father trailing fifteen feet behind! Cars and even buses came by and casually drove around the child as pedestrians encouraged him on. Wayne commented that in the space of one block we had witnessed at least a dozen things that would have been crimes in America (jaywalking, unlicensed driver, child endangerment, etc.), but here in Ecuador life goes on without government regulation as the people simply live in peace!
It is kind of cool! So go ahead and let your two-year old drive his electric car down the Main Street in your town after dark! What could possibly go wrong?