Friday, 28 January 2011

Shop Furniture & Logo Contest

Things are moving on rather smoothly :)

Yesterday, we have ordered all of our product displays for the shop as well as the tables and chairs for the restaurant.

The product shelves look really nice. The original is only roughly 30cm deep, so we will have 20 double sets made for us. They will be accessible from both sides and have the nice rounded edges. Our shelves will have a pine finish for a slightly nicer look. We will first use them as they come from the shop and decide later if we want to paint them.

Also, we are currently running a logo design contest on If you are good at that, feel free to take part. It still runs 2 days.

Finally, we are closing in on the products. It's great to see the support we get from some of our suppliers. One actually will build a horse carriage for us to put into our shop. Should we sell it, we pay him and get a commission. If we don't, we shall use it for decoration of the entrance area. Great isn't it? Imagine the carriage decorated with seasonal things during Easter or Christmas. I can so see it! :)
Other suppliers give us 30 days credit or give us free choice of selecting their products, totally on commission. Really cool, when you are starting up and have to be careful with your cash flow...

Monday, 24 January 2011

My first white Car

Hyundai Terracan 2.9L Diesel, Automatic, 68.000km, 3.5 years old and half a year of warranty left. I like it :)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Business Kickoff

There are great news :)
Yesterday, we have signed a preliminary rental agreement to rent a large outlet for the duration of 4 years.
It has a huge sales room, a nicely sized kitchen and restrooms. It is located just 7km south of Cuenca on the Pan-American Highway (Panamericana) towards Loja.

We will use the building for a farm supply shop and a restaurant. The shop will stock those typical items, that the farm owners buy for their farms to operate, to look nice, to feel comfortable as well as special. Although there are many shops to sell the essentials, there is no shop so far that targets this aspect of farm life, which has very much developed into representation and hosting events for family and friends. This market we want to serve with initially about 200 products - if all goes well already from March 2011.

Behind the building, we have enough space for afternoon relaxation or having lunch in the sun (under an umbrella).

All the land (up to the hill peak) belongs to the site and we could use it. We don't have plans yet for the upper areas but may come up with some use for it. The lower grass pitch will host some animal shelters and a lake for the ducks to be jolly in :)

 The kitchen needs proper equipment. All of the stuff in the pictures will be removed by the owner.

 Also the restaurant area will be completely emptied. We will add our own tables, chairs and bar. The restaurant will serve lunch and early dinners with local as well as selected European specialties. The menu will be small but only with fresh products.

 A view into the depths of the sales area. 

 The kitchen will partly remain open. We will only close the left side.

 The owner with one of his sons.

 The bulding from the street. It is brand new and needs some final touches but is exactly what we have been looking for.

Tough business talk with toy in hand... A classic...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Day (and a half) at the Farm

For market studies and also to relax from our busy week, we went to the farm of Sole's parents. 

No, the little one was allowed inside the car today. Jim stayed at the back with the dogs to prevent them jumping off the truck on stops.

The farm is about an hour drive south of Cuenca and is a piece of heaven. The house is very nice, airy and warm. The area in which the farm is located is known for it's slightly warmer and dryer climate as Cuenca. It's really beautiful there. The farm is operated by a local family that keep their own sheep, pigs, chicken, ducks and two dogs. We brought two new ducks to the farm. Unfortunately, one disappeared after just 2 hours. We believe that Fredo killed it and Lulu ate it once it was dead. The second one (it was called Thommy) survived without a shock and tried to integrate itself into the group of ducks. The success is not yet visible :)

 "Inside" the farm house. Flower pots may be a bestseller in this house ;)

Jim ready for a walk with our new manchetes.

Oh, cool, a screw top...

One of the river crossings on the road to the farm. There is also one without a bridge.

When returning from buying gas, the only car that could possibly come the other direction (Edmundo) actually came and I had to make space. I made a bit too much space and the ditch pulled the car to the side. It took us a bit to get back out but finally (once the tractor was in place) it was a matter of seconds. When driving remotely in Ecuador, a winch on the front bumper may make sense. I will keep that in mind, once I have my own car :)

The next day, Sole's sister brought another two ducks for Thommy not to be too lonely. They were called Donald and Sole. They will have a few nice months before we will cook them. Yummy.... :)

 Left to right: Donald, Sole, Thommy

One the way back.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Strolling around

Here are some pictures of the area where I currently live.

Painting a car in the middle of a dusty road. But the result looked really good. I was surprised.

Right opposite the house, there is Cuenca's police riding school - or something like that. Occasional, the site is also used to keep the horses before important events that require mounted police presence.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Business Update

After more informal discussions about business options at the beach, we have started structured sessions. We believe that we will be able to start concrete actions in the next few weeks although I will still not write about those, as time to market is an important factor in our venture. And if I shared those thoughts on a public blog, others could still jump in and spoil our plans.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Just before Christmas I decided that I wanted to have a little more storage room to finally unpack my last 2 suitcases of luggage.
Sole took me and my drawing to a local carpenter and we discussed what I wanted to have, dimensions and the price. Today, I could pick it up and am really happy with it. The finish is perfect and it has enough room for all the stuff that I had planned to put in.
Also, as it comes from the same shop as other furniture in Sole & Jim's house, it has the same look & feel and therefore they would be very happy to buy it off me should I leave again.

The shop looks extremely basic but the furniture they produce is really top notch. And if you can make sure that you don't pay Gringo prices, it's at about the same level as Ikea furniture in Europe. Ikea is not (yet) active in South America as far as I know, so there is only the alternative to have cheap and ugly furniture or something like the above. I think you'd agree that the option I took makes sense ;)

I also had the picture that I took from Germany to here framed this week. It looks really cool and completely out of place which makes it even better :)

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year's Eve & Return to Cuenca

The day started really relaxed with another nice breakfast and some relaxing time just after that. 

After lunch I was presented with a birthday cake. And I think, I don’t have to tell you that it was really nice. Maracuja accompanied by some ice creams – yummy.

Of course, a birthday drink had to find time at some point. To my surprise, you can find Bavarian glasses in most houses of the family as they are all fans of the Bavarian beers. I like :)

After dinner, we went to the beach, together with a huge Manegote. Those figures are filled with fire crackers and then burnt. You can even blame the Manegote for all things that went wrong the previous year. I took that opportunity and got rid of a few thoughts. For those that are from Cologne, this may sound very similar to the Carnival tradition of “Nubbelverbrennung”. It works :)


The 1st of January was another sunny day of relaxation at the house. At the end of it, we had the nicest of many sunsets of our trip.

After 8 days of relaxation (and yes, some business talk as well), we drove the 6 hours back to Cuenca. I took the picture of Jim's truck on one of the very few stretches that are not paved yet. Just because I thought it looked cool ;)

Just before entering Cuenca, I could manage to get a picture of one of the wild llamas living in Las Cajas, the mountain area west of Cuenca.