Our second visit to Ecuador last year found us on a short road trip from Quito. We asked our guide where the best place in the country was for ranchers to buy land. His choice was Zuleta Valley. When we got there, we quickly agreed.
Tucked high on the flanks of the mighty Imbabura volcano and known for the intricate embroidery work done by the local women, the valley remains totally devoted to traditional agricultural pursuits.
A faded Se Vende painted on a crumbling cement post lead us on a fascinating journey. The trip was full of curious neighbors, wild rides to see the owner’s “cousins” and countless offers of a better piece of land.
We finally met a local entrepreneur who tirelessly tracked down every lead and eventually found the decision maker who had put the property up for sale. While all these things were in motion, we stayed at a working hacienda, rode and hiked the hills, passed around pictures of our Canadian mule ranch, did some serious “horse trading” for embroidery and wood carvings…and we laughed a lot.
We made contact with an excellent Ecuadorian lawyer and within three months of our return to Canada we had clear title to six hectares (about 15 acres) for a whopping $7,000. We have spectacular views of Mt. Imbaburra, the snowy slopes of Volcan Cayambe and a panoramic vista of “patchwork quilt” fields planted with barley, corn and pine.
We have potable water rights, irrigation rights, excellent road access and opportunities to subdivide if we choose. We are about 90 minutes from where the new international airport will be…20 minutes from Cayambe (flower capital of Ecuador)…and 40 minutes south of the big city of Ibarra.
Up in our valley oxen still do the plowing, our neighbor’s rooster keeps track of the time and fence posts cut from our own little forest are being set in the ground with the help of a local crew.
Four months ago six hectares bordering our property was put on the market…and sold within five days for $50,000. We expect to raise a few good mules off our Zuleta acres so don’t plan on repainting the Se Vende sign any time soon.
But it is always comforting to know that what was a decision of the heart makes sense for the bottom line, too.
Editor’s note: If you’re looking for the same type of experience as Susan, everything you need is here.