Sunny skies produce this jaw-dropping effect along Ecuador’s Manabi coastline. (Punta Ballena near El Matal)
El Matal/Jama Ecuador – You have witnessed (via photos and posts) the Pacific Ocean slowly devouring the front line at El Matal. We have watched the ocean crack the swimming pool – and then take more bites with each high tide at Pat Godkin’s home. I am pleased to introduce you to Pat via a story she wrote in September. Here’s Pat:
Is it too risky to invest in Ecuador?
One retiree’s cautionary tale
As a single woman with no pension, I was understandably nervous about retiring early and building my beachfront dream home in a foreign country.
Over the years, I had casually researched several countries, mostly in South America because of the affordable beachfront, great weather (below the hurricane belt!), breathtaking scenery and wonderful people.
As I neared retirement age, I decided to attend a seminar hosted by International Living in Quito, Ecuador. I fell in love with Ecuador, its natural beauty and its people.
The seminar was great. I met a lot of likeminded people. I was pumped! In addition, I was completely bowled over by a couple of American Developers who were selling beachfront property at the seminar. They were experienced builders and as their website promised – they would take me from start to finish. Eureka! My prayers had been answered! I immediately put a down payment on a lot.
Look how pretty it is (was, but more about that later!)
Pat Godkin with a vast beach between her lot and the ocean.
I was still working in Canada but couldn’t wait to start construction.
Fast forward, two and a half years – shell of a house, empty Ecuadorian bank account, unfinished development, two Ecuadorian lawyers and countless visits to the Fiscale (similar to our district attorney) – I was feeling more than a little naive and more than a little disillusioned.
Not willing (or smart enough) to give up on my dream, I cut my losses, found a new builder and (sort of) finished my house (lesson number 327 – don’t build a house when you live in another country or you might be very, very surprised and not in the good way).
I moved into my house February 2013. I was “all in”. I easily obtained residency and paid approximately 10,000 to ship my furniture/effects from Canada. I was here for the long haul!
Pat and others from El Matal joined locals in the White for Peace March several years ago in Jama.
Amidst all these adventures, there was some chattering about beach erosion – no worries – normal erosion is 1-2 meters a decade my research told me! “The ocean takes and it gives” everyone said. Relax, breath – so what if you are losing approximately 15 meters a year – it will come back!
Fast forward September 2015 – without a miracle (government intervention) there is a very strong likelihood that our houses will be in the ocean in the next several months. It’s not giving back. And it’s no longer pretty.
Pat’s neighbor’s home, three lots beyond her property.
There is little sympathy for *rich gringos* (especially from the much smarter gringos who didn’t build on the coast) and I get that, I truly do. There are a lot of people with much bigger problems in Ecuador.
However, this area has so much potential and there are people and companies poised and ready to invest millions of dollars. The economic spin off and employment it would create is enormous.
During this week’s crisis, Pat hitched a ride up the street via the truck delivering the new supply of sand bags.
An eminent Ecuadorian Coastal specialist has said Geotubes would not only protect this stretch of the coast, they would also bring back the beach. And although it is prohibitively expensive for the handful of us living here, it is a small investment for the municipality to make with huge returns.
The municipality is *protecting* the little fishing village next door by putting massive rocks, which seem to be sinking as fast as they can bring them in (exactly as the Coastal specialist said would happen) – it is not a good solution. In addition, the rocks have caused the direction and energy of the waves to change and we are being hammered with unprecedented ferocity.
The rocks continue to sink into the sand, and the lastre is pulled into the sea. The Coast Guard Boat (at the former Coco Beach Gate entrance) seems to be stranded…
We have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours trying to protect our properties. We have written countless letters, visited countless ministries and they all seem to agree that it is up to the municipality to protect us. It’s not happening. We are slowly running out of steam. Morale is at an all-time low. We are out of options.
Sadly, we are invested in Ecuador, but Ecuador, in particular the Canton of Jama, is not invested in us.
Pat walks to her neighbor’s home as crews work with what little beach is left.
Pat walks past her home.
Update Friday, 24 October 2015
Things always seem worse in the dark. High tide was around midnight last night but the waves pounded the pool and my deck for at least two hour prior to high tide. My neighbour and I stood on the deck and marvelled at the amount of water coming at us. And then we turned, bumped into each other and starting running – what was that noise? Ah, and so it begins…
At this rate, it could be days before the house suffers the same fate.
Pat’s pool and home
Above story shared by Pat Godkin, El Matal-Jama-Ecuador
Postscript from Lisa: It’s very serious here; the ocean took big bites from other properties last night. The mayor has been here, and hopefully as the Sudden-Death Hour approaches, he will find the resources to save this area.
Pat Godkin, who evacuated her home, has not lost heart or spirit. Hang in there Pat and all of you on the front line!