Cotacachi / Ecuador Lifestyle / Ecuador Real Estate / Living in Ecuador / Retirement in Ecuador / View from the Roof

A View From the Roof: It’s Time!

-By Gary Phillips-a-view-from-the-roof-photo-

My last few columns have been pretty intense, talking about what I see as the likely collapse of the U.S. economy, perhaps even of  the way of life in the U.S. It boils down to the simple fact that the road the U.S. government, and hence the U.S. population, has been following is not sustainable in the long term.

I admit that one of the major reasons I moved to Ecuador nearly 4 years ago was because even at that time, I felt that time was short.

About two years ago Linda and I, along with four partners, purchased 25 acres of land in two parcels just outside Cotacachi. Our purpose was to create a self-sustaining community.

As frequently happens in these types of ventures, things moved slowly and one set of partners changed their minds about being involved in the project. The remaining two couples decided to dissolve the partnership as well. In the end, we two remaining couples each own their own individual parcel and each couple will create their individual dream.

Finally, almost two years since the partnership was formed and a good four years since the inception of our dream, it is time. Time for what, I bet you’re asking?

We are finally ready to move ahead with the creation of a very small community of sorts. Linda and I now have 10 acres of land that very shortly will be in our names and work will soon commence.

We are in the process of doing engineering studies, laying out the plots, the green spaces, dreaming of magical gardens and drawing up our house plans. Within two months, perhaps sooner, we should be ready to have people join us.

What is it that we are doing? As I have said fairly frequently, my deepest sense tells me that it is time, perhaps even somewhat past time, for all of us to cultivate our gardens. For us, that has profound meaning on a number of levels.

It means to create a space that sustains itself in food and water. To gather to one spot like-minded people who love and honor Madre Tierra and intend to dig in, literally! It also means much more.

The something more is of major importance to Linda and me. It has been the central focus of our lives together for the last 15 years. We don’t want to just nourish ourselves with food for the body. We want to continue to create fertile ground to feed our souls!

A small group of Cotacachi residents met today at the home of Thom and Caroline for a group meditation. It was a wonderful meditation in celebration of Guru Poornima, which is a day of honoring one’s representative of the Divine as it presents itself in the Teacher/Guru.

From what I could tell, it was a delicious experience for all who attended. Many of us recognized that something special is happening here in Cotacachi, which is a place of rare energies, a beautiful valley tucked in between two powerful volcanoes, Papa Imbabura and Mama Cotacachi.

We tacitly acknowledged that Cotacachi needs a place where open-minded people who have a strong spiritual foundation and an awareness of Source can come together to laugh, love, grow, play and commune in harmony.

Linda commented that she could sense an air of expectancy in the room, as if we are mid-wives to the birth of something brand new and precious. There was a feeling that more people of the spirit are on their way here.

As we have mentioned several times in blogs and in our profiles, Linda and I taught meditation for nearly 10 years. The vision that was put forth at the meeting today melds perfectly with our desire to create a small community of like-minded people–people who want to live close to the earth, co-create in harmony with Mother Nature, explore the inner realms of spirit, and manifest that exploration on the outside by creating a living space of magnificent beauty.

Linda has been reading a most incredible book by Wendy Johnson of Green Gulch Farm entitled, “Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate.” It has been fun watching her because virtually every time she picks it up, she starts crying at the beauty revealed in its pages.

We discussed a quotation this morning that opens the book:

“This book is dedicated to the garden, a field far beyond form and emptiness.”

This is the very same garden that Linda and I desire. We enthusiastically and prayerfully intend to cultivate both an inner and an outer Garden in our little community. We are seeking people who want to garden at the depths of the soul, healers and/or artists who understand that the question is not, “What is Art, but rather, who is the Artist!” We want to attract people whose deep desire in life is to explore that question.

The number of living units we will be sharing with others is not yet totally determined. In this moment it appears we will have two duplex live/work units with smaller lots for artists and healers who are less inclined to work the soil. They may prefer only a small garden or to establish a communal garden with other duplex owners.

The five or six houses with lots sized between one-half to three-quarters of an acre are for those who are more serious about gardening and working with Art in nature. They may want to raise the community’s food, join with others to create gardens of beauty or participate in a possible agricultural/permacultural/teaching venture.

Linda and I are reserving a piece of the property for our home and gardens and for our children. At this time, of our four children only our son Scott and his girlfriend Holly are planning to participate fully. They should be arriving this November to help with the gardens and possibly construct a house.

Scott has experience in permaculture, organic gardens, water gardens, pools and waterfalls and is eager to assist us in the creation of a large sacred water garden for contemplation.

One lot is set aside for a community facility, to be constructed by residents jointly after all the lots are sold, if that is the wish of the residents.

If this column resonates with you and you feel motivated to begin a dialog to see if this community is for you, please contact us. But please understand that this is not a development in the sense that we are simply selling home sites on a first-come, first-served basis.

We are intentional in the sense that a solid grounding in things of the spirit is sought, as well as a deep connection with Mother Earth, and a desire to create beauty in your surroundings. We are looking for people who want to share that spirit with their neighbors within our small community as well as with the greater local indigenous, mestizo and expat communities.

Few rules and restrictions are envisioned, other than those common sense concepts necessary so that neighbors can live together in peace. We also envision a group process to be implemented when the peace is disrupted.

In spite of what I have written in the past and what I see coming, I am very optimistic about the future of humanity and the planet. My sense is that small communities such as I have briefly described above are the key to manifesting a new world of higher consciousness and a key to surviving the tribulations coming our way.

Really, what I am seeing is not much different than my experience growing up on a little subsistence farm in Northern Minnesota in the ’50’s. A small group of farmers helped each other out, socialized and generally lived as one big, supportive family. While life entailed lots of hard physical work, it was a satisfying, safe and enjoyable life.

What destroyed that way of life was a concerted effort by the government, through low crop prices, soil banks and other programs, to drive families off the land and into the cities to make way for the large agribusiness/chemical fertilizer farms.

What my parents didn’t have was access to information to help them understand what was happening to them. Times have changed.

Today, those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, a desire to know and a humble heart can see what’s coming and by turning inward to their hearts, can intuit how to rise above it.  Joyful expectation of the new and enthusiasm for positive action plays a major role. Blessings to us all as we face the times to come.

And that’s today’s View from the Roof.



  1. sandy bowman says:

    Hola, Euni and all!

    Good luck to Gary and Linda with their new endevour. I believe each of us only has to ‘remember’ what we already know (everything there is to know). See Ernest Holmes.
    As an aside, Phil and I “looked” at Argentina and Uruguay for 2 years, online and from the bookstore, before deciding our spiritual base is going to be Ecuador. Ecuador offers everything we are looking for in a retirement haven. Indeed, we have found our “paradise” in Ecuador and are working towards the purchase, I am very impatient!

    There are many. many options out there in S.A. for retirees. Each of us would do well to investigate options that ‘fit ‘ us! Traveling to another country in S.A. is always a fabulous option for things like, well wine!

    Buenos Dias, sandy

  2. Eunice Howe says:

    Hola Fred:
    I concur…..
    When do people start to understand, that it isn’t about money….
    although a necessary “evil”… this sadly money driven society!
    We come with nothing…and we go with nothing!
    We each, have everything “within”….and, once, one is able to
    access, there is no price on joy, love of this wonderful Earth…
    love of our fellow human beings!
    I look towards the day, we all can rejoice and receive the abundance that is there, everywhere!
    Those that can enable another…enable!
    I. too, like you….see the downfalls happening, all around me….
    sad….let’s hope we don’t create another country, spoiled by greed and exploitation… heart, right now, beats loud for
    beautiful Ecuador!

  3. I know some people living in Quito, some russians, some from Europe who sold everything when Correa became a president, leaved Ecuador and moved to Uruguay. What do you know – they are already back in Quito!
    Urug, Chili and Arg are more expensive than Ecuador and climate is more harsh.

  4. Fred Reinhardt says:

    Hi Eunice,
    This exactly what happened before the drug war now happening in Mexico big apartment buildings villas that one does not even see in the US.
    It is sad that gringos want to change the world with money. I have been following the costs over the last 2 years and yes prices have risen ie. A maid working a 4 hour day now gets $200-00.

    Homes and rentals are on the rise. There are other places in S America that are as nice and cheap $ 2-00 a bottle of wine in Mendoza- Equador now $5-00 ie Uraguay- Mendoza , Argentina are also in my radar.
    So it is time to look at the pluses and minuses of Equador.

  5. Douglass Adamson says:

    Howdy Gary, My Great Aunt Hilda, by the T Street
    Bridge in St. Cloud, when Uncle Pete died in the Depression [no rock selling from his quarry], turned
    their @12 room house into a Student Boarding Home for girls from St. Cloud State. Three, all teachers,
    spinsters, stood behind almost every picture of Aunt Hilda until she was 101. She grew up on Malmult, Manor Farm, Stromsnasbruk, Sverige. My mother grew
    up next door. : : Maybe you can find, among books about what you are doing / others have done, a checklist . . . of hurdles, “things that come up.” Who was that once Columbia Prof and wife who built a stone house, and community, in VT, and then Maine?
    : : Will hope to “stop in” once on my way to Chile. I enjoy your offerings immensely, good art, thought. : : Douglas Adamson, Charles Bear and the Mystery of the Forest, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977 ~ there, the incoming and alter leaving Hippies from MidWest ruined it. Drugs, nevergrewup “Takers.”

  6. Dear Gary and Linda – a noble and inspired vision indeed. I too am with the first reply as I read above one persons remarks regarding pricing. I suppose another way to ask is this, “how elitist is this project?” in other words what is the barrier to entry by way of costs?

    I concur with Eunice that pretty much every inspired intentional community – and there are many – is , under the flowery talk a development. Clearly someone has to shoulder the front end costs and implementation and this is yourselves but I wonder what you would do if your 8 dream couples showed up with everything to offer but cash.

    I am aware of the obvious responses to this query, you know, the whole bit on prosperity consciousness and money representing energy flow but there still remains a valid dilemma here and I thank Eunice for raising it.
    Even now in writing I wonder what it would be like for yourselves if after filling the spaces you found out that you were the only ones left with any money. Would you share it freely then?

    There are so many of us who have the same intentions and conversations going on with a wide variety of incredibly talented artists, healers, farmers, entrepreneurs, parents and astute and talented individuals and families but are continually held at the gate of entry for lack of sufficient funding. Indeed, I believe there is an enormous wealth of human capital just waiting to be included in a project of your making, the sort of capital that in so many cases is only realized later just how valuable it is.

    Having said that I understand entirely the limitations we all have, including yourselves and clearly you must make a living too. But what happened to the spirit of the 60’s when an individual with the funds bought a farm and invited one and all to come and live together in a shared vision and shared bid for something new and fresh and exciting. Yeah I know, the communes failed in most cases, its just too bad that a return to fee simple, mine and yours, legal protection from each other and the investment mentality appears the only way. The entry gate.

    By the way, how much is the price of entry?

    many blessings, Ross and Tracey

  7. Hi Gary,
    sorry I got off topic
    I being trying to contact you via email, cellphones,
    landline number, I even send you text message, which I rarely do, since Friday – we have two tickets
    for the movie (where we are extras, playing tourists) premiere for you and Linda. Premiere are August 3, tuesday at 7:30 p.m at El Condado Multicines, it is invitation only event.
    We need your response – you are coming or not, by Monday 6 p.m.

  8. Well said, Eunice! I don’t even need to ask as to whether or not this is right for me! What I do want to ask is that any one dedicated to the love of garden considers one showcase of the smallest life that is truly at the heart of all living systems, the microcorganisms.

    Winogradsky columns are easy to make and it is the one way that you can gain a window into a life normally happening at too small of a scale to be seen by the naked eye. No life we see with our eye can exist without those we can’t see, a profound message in my mind… The Power of the Small…. I would build my garden walls as a giant Winogradsky column and live inside.


  9. Eunice Howe says:

    My experience, living almost one year here in Cotacachi, is that most properties are non-affordable, to many ex-pats moving here!
    I left my country, Canada, a wonderful country…due to high living costs and came to Ecuador for an opportunity to live on way less.
    I am also on a Spiritual journey, which has led me to
    Cotacachi, where, I could write a book myself, on the
    adaptation to the cultures here…..indeed, it has been
    a journey todate!
    I cherish working with the earth,,,being a part of a community, whose values are similar……however, what sort of pricing structure are we looking at?
    Affordable……for me, eliminates much of what you offer in your Real Estate listings!

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