(Blogger’s Note: Dana and I met Gary and April Scarborough during a whimsical trip to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador earlier this year. We took on both a friendly and business relationship when Gary agreed to manage the construction of a home we’re building there now. In less than three weeks, the Scarboroughs will make headlines as their own expatriate adventure is featured on House Hunters International, Tuesday, October 23 at 10:30 p.m. EST. This is a behind-the-scenes look at their HHI experience, and the official link to the upcoming episode can be previewed here.)
When an outfit like House Hunters International rolls into a small Ecuadorian fishing village, well, it’s safe enough to say it causes heads to turn.
Over the last five years, the Scarborough family has made some critical life decisions, that in retrospect, couldn’t have been timed any better.
Natives of suburban Atlanta, the Scarboroughs ran a thriving construction business that allowed Gary to pursue a special talent for home construction and design. But some time around 2008 the warning signs of a failing U.S. economy caused them to think through the potential ramifications on their business and how to make the most of their present and future circumstances.
“The possibilities and adventures of pursuing an expatriate lifestyle were something we’d always thought about,” Gary told me back in April. “We were fortunate to cash out everything we had just ahead of the recession. Just like anyone who seriously considers a move outside the states, we were anxious about the future, but excited about the possibilities of moving to a beautiful country that we thought had so much potential.”
Just a few months later, the Scarboroughs made the bold move to Cuenca, Ecuador and began exploring opportunities where Gary could practice his craft on foreign soil.
“As excited as we were, I remember the reality of packing our things up just before the move. We’re really going to do this, I thought, and it was a bag of mixed emotions.”
The Scarboroughs spent two years in the cosmopolitan city of Cuenca, located in the southern inland highlands of Ecuador. Cuenca had all the amenities allowing for a comfortable life – modern shops and malls, movie theaters, a solid communication and transportation infrastructure, not to mention, a delightful climate.
But Gary and April eventually found they made little use of the same comforts they were afforded back in Atlanta, and had a desire to become even more immersed in the lifestyle of the local culture.
“We almost never took advantage of the movie theaters, and there were just so many things we didn’t do,” April said. And so they began a new exploration that would lead them to the Ecuadorian Pacific coast and its miles of quaint fishing villages and uninhabited beach.
After weeks of exploring the southern and northern coast, they came upon Puerto Cayo, a village of about 3,000, where new roads, utilities and other improvements were just under way, and Gary immediately recognized a unique opportunity to use his gifts to create something special.
Fast Forward Two Years
The Scarboroughs have now become Puerto Cayo’s most prominent expatriate pioneers. For all practical purposes, they’ve discovered the New West – a beautiful and tranquil coastal locale that others are also now beginning to find.
After two years of work to modernize and refurbish Los Suenos Del Mar, Puerto Cayo’s most beautiful resort hotel, the Scarboroughs have now moved on to the development of a new coastal community called Las Palmas – a 38-lot beachside community on one of the most pristine sites of the South Pacific. Las Palmas is just a short trip from the famed Galapagos Islands.
On an almost-daily basis, Gary and April now work with clients from around the globe who are pursuing the very same dreams they envisioned five years ago.
House Hunters Comes Knocking
In January of this year, with a new project that consumed nearly every minute of every day, Gary got a surprise email from the producers of one of HGTV’s most popular feature shows.
The Scarborough’s work somehow popped on the radar screen of House Hunters International, and producers inquired as to the Scarborough’s interest in sharing their expatriate adventure with a world audience.
A spectacular view of the coastal Ecuadorian cliffs from the bedroom balcony of the Scarborough’s home.
“At first we were excited and ready for the adventure of making a TV show. But
then we became a little anxious. It was just stage fright, I guess. We always enjoy being around other people and getting to know new friends, and that’s a very big part of our business, but this was taking things to a whole new level,” Gary said.
“We actually thought about not accepting the offer. After a few days of watching as many HHI episodes as we could get our hands on we finally decided it would be a fun experience and that we would have something to talk about for years to come. After completing all of the forms and paperwork, we went through about three different interviews and evaluations. By the end of April , we knew June 1st would be our beginning film date.”
Back and forth from Puerto Cayo to Cuenca, the HHI filming totaled three days, each day packed with dozens of tapings and location setups. It didn’t come without its challenges.
“We were all mic-ed up by 8:30 each morning, and we filmed four hours straight. Each entrance into a new room was shot multiple times to ensure the editors
had plenty to work with. After a one-hour lunch we were back filming until 6:30
“Living in a small town like Puerto Cayo, we stood out quite a bit. Being followed around by a camera crew, being filmed eating lunch and dinner, we felt like celebrities – tired celebrities to say the least.”
Gary, April, and their children, Peyton and Carson, said they were fascinated by the process of being involved in a hit television show, and learned a lot about acting and taking directions from producers and camera crews.After filming the details of their beach-side home purchase in Puerto Cayo, family and crew headed south to “back shoot” the beginning of the story in Cuenca.
“In Cuenca, we shot a one-day reel of our ” back-story” where we lived before moving to Puerto Cayo, and some of the things we enjoyed doing when we lived there. We went to the central park, visited the flower market and did some shopping. The final shoot was an evening at the home of a wonderful family we befriended in Cuenca. We are so blessed to have the Salazar family as dear friends. We enjoyed coffee and desserts while laughing and playing games. This truly was one of the highlights of the entire filming.”
The Scarboroughs said they don’t regret one minute of the time they took out of their schedules to work with HHI. It’s a memory they’ll treasure always, they said.
“We hope this shows the beauty of Puerto Cayo to as many people as possible,” Gary said. “It truly is one of the most beautiful, undiscovered places in the world. We also hope everyone who watches this episode, and has ever had the most remote of thoughts to explore an expatriate lifestyle in the natural beauty of Latin America will consider the Ecuadorian coast. It’s a wonderful community that keeps getting better and better with time.”
(For more information about Puerto Cayo, Ecuador and the Las Palmas community, or to be in touch with the Scarborough family, visit this link for contact information.)