Call of the Wild

The next morning we consulted our lawyers, Pitt and Bull in Quito.  They advised us that unless the seller, Mr. Bear could produce the paperwork for a free and clear title, than we should walk away from The Perfect Property.  Without this necessary document, it may not be so perfect down the road… Imagine: an old man willed the land to his two sons. One sells it without the other’s permission. You have built your dream home, planted a garden and love your life. But the second son of the old man now is claiming to own the land you live on!  What a disaster!

Ensuring the title is free and clear of any loans, leans or taxes is the most important step to buying property here in Ecuador.  The representative, Mr. Lion insisted he had all the correct paperwork, with the exception to the title document. It concerned us that he didn’t have the most important document. Was this deal legitimate? As perfect as the jungle/beach/waterfall property sounded, if the title isn’t clear, the land isn’t The Perfect Property!  Mr. Lion claimed he would have all of this paperwork readily available on the sale day. Were we destined to buy this property? As hard as it would be to walk away, the deal was off if they didn’t have the proper documentation…

We encouraged Bear to fly into Quito to finalize the sale. Being the country’s capital and modernized, the buying/selling process would be much more professional than on the coast.   He was dead set on this happening in Muisne, the province where the land resides. Understandable.  But after doing business in Esmeraldas the week prior, we’d hoped for a little more professional setting.  This was a serious business deal.  Sitting around a large table with lawyers, transcribers and a judge sounded much more appealing than business along the coast!

Despite Bull’s mean growl, Bear refused to come to Quito.  Though Captain and I probably had the upper hand, we had little time to negotiate such details.  We agreed to do business in the Wild Wild West!

Bear was scheduled to fly into Ecuador on Thursday; we hoped to do the deal the next day.  But the title documentation still was not available so the sale date was set for Monday.  We were going to be pressed for time! Captain and I would then have to drive to Quito to make our Tuesday AM flight back to the United States.

If this was our destiny, fate would have it all work out…

Bear wanted to meet with us on Sunday.  Captain had a few more details he wanted to discuss so we obliged. I looked forward to meeting Bear in person prior to the day of sale.  We spent the weekend packing up our few belongings and collecting our final treasures from the beach.

On Sunday morning, Captain and I met with Bear in the village nearby; Mr. Lion by his side.  Should we have brought our representation?!? I quickly realized Bear was not doing business. With an Italian accent, Bear greeted us in broken English and poured us a glass of beer; talking business was of little interest to him. Bear’s task at hand was convincing me and Captain to join him for lunch at his friend’s home.  We were already anxious enough about taking the time to meet Bear for a beer, let alone spend the afternoon wining and dining!

Captain politely declined.  But as I thought about it more, I wondered why not?! This friend of Bear’s, may be our neighbor someday!  It took a little effort to coax Captain to partake as he was anxious about the ticking time.   Once we talked about our priorities and our To Do List, Captain caved.

Moments later we were following Lion and Bear, driving past The Perfect Property and further down the road.  They pulled into a drive where there was a chain link fence secure with a large pad lock.  I recognized the drive.  There was a sign that distinguished it as a reserve but it was not very welcoming, appearing nothing of the tourist sort. I recalled thinking to myself, “I wonder what is back there? Maybe I will have the chance to see it someday…”

***

It always fascinates me when I place thoughts into the Universe and the Universe returns them as experiences.  This is a prime example of manifestation: a week ago I hoped to see what was on the other side of the fence and now I was going to have dinner with the owners! Our thoughts become things…

A voice in my head made me fearful.  “What if I am amidst an international kidnapping and this has been the plan all along!” Where do I come up with these paranoid thoughts??? Not once have I instinctively felt in danger but my anxious mind is so good at devising elaborate and awful schemes!

I think, ‘was my mother right?’ when she told me about new-age pirates, rabid monkeys and all the horrific things that can go wrong in a foreign country!  These thoughts are all anxiety and not reality.

I keep telling my mom she has to stop watching CSI, Dateline and Dr. Phil.   When we only see negative imagines and projections, this is how we view the world.  There are really a lot of wonderful things happening in this world but FOX News would never tell us that…

***

On the other side of the gate a four-wheel drive SUV was parked.  A tall and slender man stepped out of the vehicle; he surely was in his 70s.  He had a thin mustache that accompanied his full head of white hair. He exuded sex appeal.  Bear introduced us to Hugh, the owner of The Reserve.

I was the least bit surprised when they said the Green Spark was not going to make it back the mile-long drive. Captain and I would have to ride with Hugh in his 4WD.  In the back of my mind the kidnapping scheme continued playing.  When I hopped in, I made sure the back doors did not have the child-proof lock engaged.  Surely if we were being kidnapped, these ‘safety’ locks would be on…

The drive was an adventure itself.  Hugh drove quite fast down the drive. As we climbed the steep hills and deep ravines, I knew we would soon find ourselves deep in the jungle. The drive way was lined with old-growth forest.  Vines were intertwined through the tall trees’ branches and nothing but green could be seen.

Years ago, when Hugh purchased the 200+ acres, he was aware of the environmental destruction that occurs with land development. To many of the farmers, monkeys are a nuisance and many have been killed; Hugh has preserved this land and allowed a safe haven for these fellow creatures. He told me stories of the several monkeys that frequent when the fruit trees are producing.  It was very important to Hugh to maintain the ecosystem.  How charismatic…

Though my vocabulary could easily translate incorrectly, I understood there was even a large cat lurking in the jungle! Oh my!

After the long trek, we arrived at our final destination. I recognized the home too! A while back Captain and I were exploring the coastline and noticed this house; it was the only one for miles.  We were captivated by this place’s serenity.  It is located on the corner where the river meets the sea.  When I first saw the home, I hoped to meet the owners to learn what they had done for water and sewage so deep in the jungle. Ask and you shall receive!

Bear explained that many years ago a group of Italian friends came to Ecuador and fell in love with the land. The friends bought much of the beachfront land in this area.  Because preserving land was their main concern, little of the land has been up for sale in the more recent years.  We lucked out finding the one small piece of land for sale along the miles of beachfront that is being cherished.  Knowing that we would be surrounded by environmentally conscience people makes the property even more perfect…

My amazement then turned to Hugh’s bamboo ‘mansion’.  The home was built on stilts and there was a beautiful hard wood staircase that led inside.  Captain and I had a warm welcome from the 2 ladies standing on the upper deck.  They invited us in and The First Lady began giving us the tour; 2 large bedrooms, a full bath, and both a front and back porch.  The living room, dining area and kitchen were all joined and the tall ceilings really opened up the floor plan.   The large windows exposed epic views of the ocean, jungle and river.  This was definitely the most classy  bamboo home I had seen.  The Universe is always listening so I made note, “I would love to like in a home much like this someday.”

There two shelves lined with dozens of artifacts. There were small figurines and mask like sculptures all created out of pottery and stone. The First Lady, I understood, would go out in the rainy season and dig for such things.  Hundreds of years ago, a fishing community lived in this area and left many remnants.  Could this be a sacred grounds of an ancient civilization?

Often times, I become a shy little girl when I am in uncomfortable social settings i.e. dinner party with strangers where everyone speaks only Spanish or Italian! But I joined the ladies in the kitchen as they cooked and enjoyed being part of the party.    These ladies may very well be my closest neighbors!  I saw myself becoming a dear friend of the women; we were sipping wine and giggling together as I tell them silly stories in Spanish!

Fish was broiling in the oven, vegetables had been roasted and rice was hot in the pot. Our wine glasses were filled to the brim with a chardonnay; Captain and I were encouraged to drink.  Once again, a part of me questioned how soon it would be before we would be drugged, raped and mutilated.

I did my best to blend in despite my anxieties of the worst case scenario.  This was a celebration. Bear was selling his land. We were two people who would treasure it.  Everyone was smiling and laughing!  I didn’t comprehend the toasts but I felt the warmth in the words.  Captain and I were being welcomed to the neighborhood.  Lion even had out his camera and was taking photos of the group “saluting” one another.  I had no clue what was going on but enjoying themselves so I just smiled and laughed with the group!

The second lady asked us all to be seated and we gathered around the table.  My anxiety rose again when I noticed the fish served on my plate was not de-boned.  At this moment, I saw myself swallowing a mouth full of fish bones and slicing my esophagus (is that what would happen?!) As scary as this thought was, I was reminded to stay present and eat slowly!

Dinner with ‘strangers’ is always intimidating for me. On top of not knowing the primary or secondary language spoken, I am faced with dinner table etiquette!  What is the proper way of pulling fish bones out of my mouth at the dinner table? I quickly realized it’s best if I don’t put them in there in the first place.  But if I do have a bite with bones, just take my fingers and pick them out!  That is what everyone else does!

I gasped when I heard a loud, “sqqquuuuuaaaaakkkk!!!” from the open window.  Thank goodness my mouth was free of fish bones! A green parrot had swooped in; coming and going as he pleased. He had smelled dinner and rice is his favorite.  Chico was a charming bird but putting your hands too close to his beak and he will bite!

Observing the dynamics of the household, I became very confused.  Hugh claimed the First Lady as his wife.  But Lady #2 seemed like she was in charge and sat at the head of the table across from Hugh.  I understood the women to be cousins.  First Lady teaches all week in Esmeraldas and comes home on the weekend.  Lady #2 “takes care of Hugh” throughout the week.  I was not sure what is taken care of but I speculated he is the Hugh Hefner of Ecuador!

Shortly after dinner, Captain grew restless and Bear noticed.  He kindly excused us from the festivities as we had already spent more time with our new friends than expected.  Captain and I said our goodbyes to Hugh and the ladies.  I had a feeling I would be seeing them in the near future.  Bear drove us back to the Green Spark and stated he would be seeing us at our place in the morning.  The next day we were scheduled to meet Mr. Lion in Muisne at 8AM.  Hugh was going to be driving by, and since Bear had no vehicle, Bear was going to be dropped off at 6:30. 6:30 AM?!

Time seemed to be ticking faster as the minutes passed. The following day was going to be busy: meeting Lion in the morning in Muisne to pay our 1% taxes, driving to Esmeraldas to complete paperwork with the Notary and then back to Muisne for title transfer.  On top of that, we would have a 4+hour drive to Quito that evening so we could make our Tuesday 8AM flight!  Oh my!!!

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