Tag Archive | "Chicago"

New International Investing Era


A new international investing era could be created by a destructive scientific fundamental that is now so powerful it could overwhelm all other factors determining our wealth. This danger has such power that it could destroy most investors and much worse… end civilization as we know it.

electromagnetic-pulse

Photo from Wikepedia report on Electromagnetic pulse weapons.

The most frightening part is that this force could unleash its destruction on us… now… at any time!

I want to share what, why and when this disaster could happen.

Then, I want to share how you can be protected rather than ruined.  We’ll even see how this, with luck, could be the creator of untold wealth which you, I, and a handful of cautious, insightful investors could share.

Before I explain how to safeguard your family from this possible upcoming disaster, let me explain that I first began to understand the magnitude of the risk after reading the New York Times best selling novel “One Second After” written by bestselling author, William R. Forstchen.

The story had extra meaning for me because it shows life in a small North Carolina town (similar to where Merri and I live during the summer) after an electro magnetic pulse is detonated by terrorists over the United States.

In the story the electrical grid and anything using a computer stopped working due to an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) created by just three small nuclear devices, launched from container ships and detonated high above the USA.

Without central communication and distribution, mass devastation and chaos ensued immediately.   The agony was terrible and life almost unfathomably complicated.

What made this fiction meaningful is that the book really documents and details the West’s dangerous reliance on technological systems which are so extensive that no one even recognizes them any more.

Adding to the terror of this book is a forward by Newt Gingrich and and afterword by Captain Bil Sanders (USN) one of the foremost experts on EMP. His comment  on how an EMP exploded over the US would create the Compton effect and how it would have “devastating consequences on our country” should be examined and understood.

It was Captain Sanders’ deep understanding of EMPs that made the warning in this book so powerful.

In a moment we’ll share ways to protect against this disaster… that could happen to all of us… suddenly… at any time.

First here are three facts that you should know.

EMP Fact #1: Many countries, including the US have EMP weapons that have nothing to do with a nuclear bomb and are quite small. They essentially put out a high energy very sharp spike of energy – high frequency and very short wavelength, short duration pulse.

However it is the nuclear EMP device that creates the greatest risk.  These are nuclear bombs that DO NOT CREATE DAMAGE FROM THEIR BLAST, HEAT OR NUCLEAR FALLOUT.   Instead the weapons create an electrical wave that fries just about anything with a computer.  A survey of open sources over the past decade finds that knowledge about EMP and EMP attack is evidenced in at least Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Egypt, Taiwan, Sweden, Cuba, India, Pakistan, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran, North Korea, China and Russia.

Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings have shown how to design nuclear weapons that generate an extra powerful EMP effect called Super-EMP that can destroy even the best protected military and civilian electronic facilities.

electromagnetic-pulse

EMP Fact #2:  This risk has grown to such an extent that America’s electrical grid is so vulnerable to terrorist attack that the Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson is pushing a bill to give the energy commission broad authority for “true emergency situations.”

This is explained in a recent USA Today article entitled “Electrical grid vulnerable to terrorist attack”  by Thomas Frank.  Here are excerpts from that article: It sounds like a science-fiction disaster: A nuclear weapon is detonated miles above the Earth’s atmosphere and knocks out power from New York City to Chicago for weeks, maybe months.

electromagnetic-pulse

This graphic is from the USA Today article linked below.

Experts and lawmakers are increasingly warning that terrorists or enemy states could wage that exact type of attack, idling electricity grids and disrupting everything from communications networks to military defenses.

An expert panel that Congress created to study such an attack says it would halt banking, transportation, food, water and emergency services and “might result in defeat of our military forces.”

“The consequences would be catastrophic,” said Joseph McClelland, director of the energy commission’s Office of Electric Reliability. Full recovery could take up to 10 years, he said.

The scenario involves a phenomenon called an “electromagnetic pulse,” or EMP, which is essentially a huge energy wave strong enough to knock out systems that control electricity flow across the country.

The immediate effect would resemble a blackout. Although blackouts can be restored quickly, an EMP could damage or destroy power systems, leaving them inoperable for months or longer.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is pushing a bill to give the energy commission broad authority.

At a committee hearing in July, Steve Naumann of energy giant Exelon said the authority should be limited to “true emergency situations.”

The commission studying the threat says the U.S. is ill-prepared to prevent or recover from an EMP, a vulnerability could invite an attack.

“We are not well-protected at all,” said Michael Frankel, who was executive director of the commission.

EMP Fact #3:  If an EMP event takes place, the Western World could quickly run out of food. Here is an excerpt of a transcript of a speech given by Professor Sir John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the British government, at the GovNet SDUK09 event.  This has become know as “The Perfect Storm” speech.

I spoke here last year at about the same time about the issue of the food crisis and the burgeoning increases in food prices that were being driven by population growth, use of biofuels and so on.

The first problem here is that we really have a major issue. This graph takes a little bit of explanation; it is the ratio of our reserves to our consumption. What it is showing is that last year is the lowest level of reserves that we have had as a proportion of our consumption in years, since 1970 and actually since records were taken of this sort.

electromagnetic-pulse

That means that we’ve got somewhere like reserves of around 14% of our consumption, that implies, give or take, 38 or 39 days of food reserves if we don’t grow any more.

As you can see, it’s the lowest level that we’ve actually had.  Is that a problem?  Well the answer is yes it is going to be a problem.  We saw the food spike last year; prices going up by something in the order of 300%, rice went up by 400%, we saw food riots, we saw major issues for the poorest in the world, in the sense that the organisations like the World Food Programme did not have sufficient money to buy food on the open market and actually use it to feed the poorest of the poor.

But this is England, not North America.  Right?

Beddingdon’s note shows that North America might not be able to rely on Europe for much food assistance and…

America’s food reserves are even worse as explained in this excerpt from last year’s article “The US has no grain reserves” published in the Tri State Observer, Milford, PA. The excerpt says:  Larry Matlack, President of the American Agriculture Movement (AAM), has raised concerns over the issue of U.S. grain reserves after it was announced that the sale of 18.37 million bushels of wheat from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.

“According to the May 1, 2008 CCC inventory report there are only 24.1 million bushels of wheat in inventory, so after this sale there will be only 2.7 million bushels of wheat left the entire CCC inventory,” warned Matlack. “Our concern is not that we are using the remainder of our strategic grain reserves for humanitarian relief. AAM fully supports the action and all humanitarian food relief.

Our concern is that the U.S. has nothing else in our emergency food pantry. There is no cheese, no butter, no dry milk powder, no grains or anything else left in reserve. The only thing left in the entire CCC inventory will be 2.7 million bushels of wheat which is about enough wheat to make 1⁄2 of a loaf of bread for each of the 300 million people in America.” (MY BOLD)

The CCC is a federal government-owned and operated entity that was created to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices. CCC is also supposed to maintain balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural commodities and aids in their orderly distribution.

“This lack of emergency preparedness is the fault of the 1996 farm bill which eliminated the government’s grain reserves as well as the Farmer Owned Reserve (FOR),” explained Matlack.

This is backed up by a Scienceblog article that says: “The US Government Has Zero Grain Reserves.”

In 1996, the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (“Freedom to Farm Act”) called for elimination of government stockpiles of grain.  I’m sure someone thought it made sense, at the time.

Now, the United States government has no reserves of butter, cheese, dry milk, barley, corn, oats, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, rice, sugar, honey, peanuts, canola seed, crambe, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower seed, sunflower seed, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and cotton.  [Source: US Farm Service Agency, Current CCC Inventory (PDF file)]

The book, “One Second After”, clearly and very dramatically (but I am not sure how accurately) drives home the point that unless a person takes a unique financial stance that his finances, and maybe even his or her life, could be wiped out.   Many military and scientific studies support this monumental economic, social and life threatening risk.

Yet you do not have to ruined by EMP.  You may even find that this potential weapon will create extra ordinary wealth that a few investors will share.  Here is how and why.

First, there is no proof that an EMP event as described above would create quite the havoc mentioned above.

Here is how one scientist whom I have known for years and trust completely, explains this.

“I’m not sure how large an effect the nuclear device would have above the atmosphere — the pulse might dissipate somewhat along the earth’s electromagnetic field.  It would probably take out a lot of communications and military satellites.

“Electronic devices that are not attached to any power source and that do not have an antenna when the EMP pulse hits could survive – even better with some shielding material.”

EMPs could be the driving force for the next investing era.

Just like the nuclear threat in the Cold War…  an EMP attack may never happen.   Yet because it could… the perception of risk… has created a huge rush by many governments to develop new weapons and forms of protection… just as during the Cold War.

This site and our multi currency site have repeated many times how stock market bulls and bears are based on cycles of human interaction, war, technology and productivity.

These cycles are intricately connected with the new waves of productivity that grow from the great human platform of combat. The cycle goes like this.

An economic downturn enhances a war or threat of war. Struggles for survival in the war (like the Civil War, WWI, WWII and the Cold War (WWIII), super charge inventiveness that creates new forms of productivity…the steam engine, the internal combustion engine,  production line processes, jet engines, TV, farming techniques, plastics, telephone, computer and lastly during the Cold War, the internet.

Each new invention helped win a war.  Shifting the technology to domestic use… after the war… created a boom.

Each boom leads to excess.

Each excess led to a correction.  The correction creates an economic downturn.

The economic downturn enhances a war or threat of war.

Here we are… in the correction again… at the correct time when we should expect that another war (or threat of war such as the Cold War) should begin to build!   This latest downturn started almost exactly (1998), 16 years after the last boom began (1982)…which began after the last great human struggle called the Cold War.

If the cycle repeats, the struggle should build now due to the poor economy.

The key for spotting the greatest investment opportunities is to spot the next big invention… the technology that will spin out of WWIV.

The key is that a problem must have such severe consequences (such as losing the war and being destroyed) that all stops… all logics of return on investment are ignored.  Technology and research are pushed full steam ahead regardless of cost. The threat must be real and serious… like EMP.

There are seven steps you can take to assure that you are not destroyed by an EMP.

#1:  Move well away from the USA…. to an agriculturally based country.  This is one reason Merri and I have been active in Ecuador for nearly 15 years.

#2: Move to Small Town USA.  Our sites have been looking at the benefits of this for years and why we live on agricultural property.

#3:  Create your own source of food.

#4: Create a local source of hardened energy and communications.  This is one reason our newest real estate purchase is also agricultural property and already has a HAM radio tower installed.

#5: Keep some gold and or silver on hand.

#6: Know how to take care of your own health.

#7:  Hold some assets outside of North America.

Merri and I have already taken six of these seven steps… and are well on our way to completing the seventh step.  From this we learned one really important point.

You should not suffer in the process of  gaining this protection either.

Merri and I did not move to the country… buy our Blue Ridge farm… set up our own food supply… start our garden… buy agricultural land in Florida… get a ham radio tower… buy gold and silver… organize assets out of the US and become involved in taking care of our own health naturally because we were worried about EMPs.  We did so because we wanted to.

Chances are that an EMP attack will NOT take place.  During the Cold War nuclear bomb shelters were not required!

Yet can we take a chance?  Ignoring this risk and with no action is not the answer either.

Instead let’s share ways and lifestyle alterations that protect as they provide joy, satisfaction, better health and enhanced wealth.

You may not be able to (or want) to move your home abroad or to a rural area.   Yet gardening, even in urban areas,  can be healthy and fun.  Holding some precious metals is probably a good investment anyway.  We should be taking care of our health even when their is no threat of war.

When it comes to holding assets abroad… our multi currency course can help.

Since mankind began, every generation has endured some great threat or risk.  Yet here we are… still growing!  Only time will tell whether EMP will create havoc or the greatest new wave of wealth we have seen.  Whichever, Merri and I will be here to share the experience with you.

Gary

The greatest asset of all is the ability to earn wherever you live, which brings everlasting wealth.

This is why we offer our course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business.

A clear mind and healthy body are also a vital assets… plus a second language is a powerful diversification tool.

This is why I am giving everyone who enrolls in our North Carolina or Ecuador International Business & Investing seminar in October or November our “Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course” (offered at $299) free.

Here are comments from a reader about the way we help:  Thank you for your inspiration and information outlining foreign banking and retirement.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome for planning the steps to evaluate the early stages of living abroad.

Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

December 6-8 Blaine Watson’s  Beyond Logic & Shamanic Tour

December 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

December 11-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Join us in 2010.   Attend more than one seminar and tour and save even more plus get the three emailed courses free.

Our multi seminar-tour discounts have grown!

See the 2010 winter schedule below.

To Enroll click below.

1 real estate tour  $499 Couple $749

2 seminar courses & tours $949 Couple  $1,399

3 seminar courses & tours   $1199 Couple  $1,749

4 seminar courses & tours   $1,399 Couple $2,149

5 seminar courses & tours  $1,599 Couple $2,499

(Be sure to show in the comments section which courses and tours you are attending)

International Club attend up to 52 courses and tours in 2010 free.

Jan.   8-11     Ecuador Export Tour ($499) Couple $749
Jan. 13-14     Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Jan. 16-17     Coastal Real Estate Tour
Jan. 19-20    Quito-Mindo Real Estate Tour
Jan. 22-23    Cuenca Real Estate Tour

Feb. 11-14   Quantum Wealth Florida -International Investing & Internet Business, Mt. Dora, Florida ($749) Couple $999
Feb. 15-16   Travel to Quito and Andes
Feb  17-18   Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Feb. 20-21  Coastal Real Estate Tour
Feb. 23-24  Quito-Mindo Real Estate Tour
Feb. 26-27  Cuenca Real Estate Tour

Mar. 11-14     Super Thinking + Spanish Course, Mt. Dora, Florida ($749) Couple $999
Mar. 15-16    Travel to Quito and Andes
Mar. 17-18     Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Mar. 19-20    Cotacachi Shamanic Tour
Mar. 22-23    Coastal Real Estate Tour
Mar. 25-26    Cuenca Real Estate Tour

See our entire 2010 seminar and tour schedule here

Read the entire articles:

Electrical grid vulnerable to terrorist attack

The US has no grain reserves” published in the Tri State Observer, Milford, PA.

Internet Business Haro


New micro internet business opportunities arise all the time… Your own small internet business is a great way to make money… but there is something more.

Cotacachi-Ecuador-Condo-Rent

Morning on Cotacachi Ecuador’s plaza may be foggy but the economy is sunny and bright… and

I was sitting on our balcony at our hotel Inn Land of the Sun (formerly Meson de las Flores) in Cotacachi Ecuador… looking at the sunrise view.

internet-business-view tags;

Mt. Cotacachi was on my left.

internet-business-view tags;

Mt. Imbabura on my right.

internet-business-view tags;

The time was 5:36 am and I began my first round of answering my email.

The first note opened had the subject Om Bir and the email said:  Hello sir,  Nameste. T his is lalit from Nepal. i m working from two yrs. in roses. as a farm supervisor. we are exporting roses to japan.i’ll write you more about company.looking forward your reply.  lalit  kathmandu

What a wonderful way to start the day… I am in a small mountain village getting blessings from someone in mountains half way around the world.  Namaste means “may that which is in God be within you.”

We offer a course to help our readers start their own web business. This freedom not only makes life more enjoyable but also reduces the cost of living.

Technology brings us so many blessings… the things we take for granted… air travel… electricity… computers… cars… the internet… would be considered miracles for 99% of mankind that has existed.

Yet we can with the push of a button gain blessings… and business from around the world.

This is why we are sharing a free course on how to create your own website without a webmaster written by Michelle Toole. Here is the 38th lesson in this course.

What’s HARO?  By Michelle Toole

So you’re interested in starting your own self publishing business on the internet? Or maybe you have a book that you wrote and want to make a name for yourself?    Well, I have a great tip for you…..actually, it’s a great tip for anybody wanting to establish themselves as an expert and this will help you build your own ‘brand of one.’

Editors, as Merri always reminds us, are “always looking for content” and the same goes for reporters, bloggers, radio hosts and pod cast hosts.   So, how do you connect with editors, reporters, bloggers, radio hosts and pod cast hosts that need you?  Good Question….

And I have a great answer…. HARO.  What’s HARO?

HARO stands for ‘Help a Reporter Out’, a web site (helpareporter.com) started by Peter Shankman and it is an excellent resource for those of us trying to build our own ‘brand of one.’

According to Peter, “I built this list because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources. Rather than go through my contact lists each time, I figured I could push the requests out to people who actually have something to say.  These requests only come from reporters directly to me.”

Once you sign up to Peter’s web site you will get 3 emails each day.  Each email will include a list of reporters, bloggers, radio hosts and pod cast hosts looking for sources for their stories.  Of course it’s not likely that you will find someone looking for your expertise on a daily basis, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you find something every other month.  It’s certainly worth your time and the best way to build your ‘brand of one’ is to put yourself out there.

Good Luck and happy Branding!…

You can check out Michelle’s web site at http://healthy-holistic-living.com and http://home-remedies-and-natural-cures.com.  To get more great tips, like the ones above and to see how and what tools she used to create a successful on-line business go to http://sitesell-sbi.comInternat Business Ideas

The sun always shines somewhere. Because many Americans are headed south… business is suffering in the north… but getting better n the sun!

Gary

The greatest asset of all is the ability to labor at what you love wherever you live. This brings everlasting wealth.

This is why we are providing a special three for one offer with our  course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business. This can help you create your own internet business.

How We Can Serve You

ecuador-wine and cheese

We’ll have Ashe county wine tasting here at the New River Vineyard during our Blue Ridge seminars.

Or head south to Ecuador!

international-business-made-ez

Let our friendly staff at our Inn Land of the Sun (formerly Meson de as Flores) serve you.

otavalo-hotel-for-sale

In Cotacachi and surrounds the weather is always spring like.  Here are delegates taking a shirt sleeve, winter break at a hotel for sale on our Imbabura real estate tour.

ecuador-internet-business

Winter is shorts weather on Ecuador’s coast. Here I am working in February at our Ecuador coastal penthouse… shirtsleeves and shorts!

Join us in the mountains and at the sea. Attend more than one seminar and tour and save.

Retire & Earn Abroad


Here is another reason to Retire and & Earn Abroad.

Yesterday’s message on lifestyle and Ecuador diversification was really backed up by Uncle Sam quickly!

Whether you retire in Ecuador or anywhere outside your home.. you want diversification. See why below!

retire-in-ecuador

One benefit of retiring in Ecuador is that it can help the poor there.

Yesterday’s article worried about weather change being called a threat to national security and wondered if this concept could further erode human rights.

I never imagined the very next day we would have even more concern… yet an article by James Risen in the New York Times entitled:  “U.S. to Hunt Down Afghan Drug Lords Tied to Taliban” must give us pause.

Here is an excerpt:  WASHINGTON — Fifty Afghans believed to be drug traffickers with ties to the Taliban have been placed on a Pentagon target list to be captured or killed, reflecting a major shift in American counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional study to be released this week.

United States Marines on a recent raid in Helmand Province. Under a new policy, drug traffickers are subject to being killed.

United States military commanders have told Congress that they are convinced that the policy is legal under the military’s rules of engagement and international law. They also said the move is an essential part of their new plan to disrupt the flow of drug money that is helping finance the Taliban insurgency.

retire-in-ecuador

Part of our work at Meson de las Flores was to continue a policy at our hotel to feed the poor. We always keep a pot of nutritious stew on the stove and our less fortunate are welcome any time of the day.  Above is one of our regular guests.

The problem is that the erosion of rights creeps upon us in small steps… like income tax. When to raise revenue to fund the Civil War, an income tax was introduced in the United States with the Revenue Act of 1861. It was a flat rate tax of 3% on annual income above $800.

When the idea was contested on concerns that the tax, once established, would grow, one Congressman stated that there was no way the population would let the tax ever be higher than 3%.   Yet a year later  flat tax this was replaced with a graduated tax of 3-5% on income above $600 in the Revenue Act of 1862.

This act made tax temporary ending in 1866.  Regretfully, perhaps, in 1866, income tax collections reached their highest point ever, over $310 million.  This made the tax popular and today we can see the effects of the small steps… one freedom eroded at a time.

So where does the legal right to kill drug dealers lead?  If it is legal to kill Afghan drug dealers to disrupt the flow of drug money that finance insurgency, what about drug dealers in Mexico that are financing insurgency in the US?  Can we kill them too?  If so, how about if we catch them in the US, can we kill them there?   If so what if they are US citizens or residents?  Can we still kill them?  Can the army become involved… in the name of national security?  Do they have to check a person’s passport before they shoot the drone at them?

These are tough calls, but somehow making it legal for the army to kill non combatants seems like a small step in the wrong direction.

retire-in-ecuador

Merri and I visiting a village that our foundation supports… helping the old and supporting the young by improving their school.  This is a fulfilling retirement activity.

Yet loss of rights is not the only reason we might want to live or retire in Ecuador or elsewhere, full or part time, for diversification.

The rising cost of living makes it difficult to retire in the West.  Plus though taxes are rising… benefits for those who retire are not.

A recent BBC article “Pension age could rise further” shows how the rot in England has grown. An excerpt says:  The state pension retirement age could be increased further, the UK’s pensions regulator has told the BBC.

David Norgrove said rising life expectancy meant millions of people would “undoubtedly” have to wait longer in future to draw a state pension.

People will not save as much for retirement as in the past, with many people “frightened” to do so, he said.

The state pension age is due to rise to 68, and Pensions Minister Angela Eagle said there were no plans to raise that.

Currently, the state pension age is 60 for women and 65 for men, but four years ago Lord Turner published a report calling for it to rise to 68 for everyone by 2044.

But Mr Norgrove said he thought it would end up higher.

Mr Norgrove said: “People are going to have to work longer, partly because we’re not going, as a nation, to save as much for retirement as we did in the past.” He added: “The government’s recent legislation is increasing the state retirement age progressively to 68. I think it will end up higher than that.”

retire-in-ecuador

Part of our program is to get readers who retire in Ecuador involved helping the poor.  We also offer roses and donate the proceeds to help people like this charming woman.  See more about her, and how the roses help, here.

Another reason to retire in Ecuador is that business opportunity seems to be rising there as it falls in the north.

A recent USA Today article. “Business bankruptcies up 240% since 2006”, by Christine Dugas outlines a US retirement and lifestyle problem.  Here is an excerpt of that article:

Entrepreneurship and new small businesses are supposed to lead us out of the recession, just as they have in prior downturns, right?  Sure.

Your neighbor’s grand idea will persuade a bank to lend her start-up money; she’ll open for business in six weeks; and money will immediately flow from customers to her to her employees. Taxes will be paid, and the national economic engine will hum effortlessly in no time. If only.

Today shows a different reality: Commercial bankruptcies are surging. Fewer people are starting small businesses, and firms already open are struggling under changing consumer habits, a lack of funding options and tougher bankruptcy laws. If a nationwide trend seen since January holds true, more than 300 businesses will file for bankruptcy today alone.

The first five months of this year have shown a 52% increase in the total number of commercial bankruptcy filings (36,106) compared with the same period last year (23,829), according to the Automated Access to Court Electronic Records. On average thus far in 2009, some 350 commercial enterprises file for bankruptcy daily an increase of 240% from 2006, the first year after the bankruptcy law was changed.

Major corporate failures, like GM and Chrysler, flash across front pages and websites. But the vast majority of commercial bankruptcies, which are not separated by size of firm by data keepers, are filed by entrepreneurs and small-business owners, says Robert Lawless, professor of law at University of Illinois.

Troubling for the economy, say Lawless and Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, is the double-whammy of fewer start-ups and increasing bankruptcies.

“In the past, small-business formation increased in a recession because people had self-employment thrust upon them,” he says. “One avenue out of economic hard times self-employment has become less attractive, because the bankruptcy law is less forgiving” and there are fewer options for those entrepreneurs to get bank loans or to find funding elsewhere.

Small business is considered the backbone of the economy. In the past, new businesses led economic recoveries, McCracken says. Small businesses  those with fewer than 500 employees  make up half of the gross domestic product and account for most job growth.

Problems from the devastated housing market, overall recession and suffering major industries all funnel down to small businesses, especially those that supply the troubled corporations.

Household spending cutbacks reach far, too. Dual-income families who are now single-income may no longer need or be able to afford child care, so many of those services are going out of business, says Lester Thompson, a bankruptcy lawyer in Dayton. Sporting goods stores and lawn-mowing services also have struggled.

Small-business bankruptcy filings jumped the most in the Los Angeles and Chicago metro areas, according to Equifax. But even smaller areas of the country are experiencing a big increase.

Many small businesses owe so much money to creditors that there is no future. Such owners often file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shut their businesses for good.

The credit crunch is a major contributor to the rise in filings.

Loan dollar volume from the U.S. Small Business Administration has increased 35% since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed on Feb. 17, according to the SBA. Even so, a National Federation of Independent Business trend report states that in May the percentage of business owners reporting that loans are harder to get rose to 16%, the highest reading since the 1980-82 recession.

With that reality, and loath to dip into their retirement savings, struggling small-business owners have few options other than bankruptcy. When the bankruptcy law changed in 2005 it was mostly aimed at curbing abuse of personal bankruptcy filing. But it also singled out small businesses for harsher treatment, and those changes did not apply to larger corporations, Lawless says.

Bankruptcy is still the only option for many small-business owners who are hanging by a thread.

This is why the idea of living or retiring in Ecuador or elsewhere, at least part time,  for diversification and global earning potential makes sense because opportunity is growing elsewhere.

retire-in-ecuador

Nothing makes our retirement problems diminish faster than helping those who have even greater needs.

An excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal article “Ecuador’s Business Confidence Index Up” by Mercedes Alvaro says: QUITO (Dow Jones)–Ecuador’s Business Confidence Index, measured by Deloitte and Touche, surged 5% in May to 93.2 points, compared with May 2008, the company said in its monthly report.

Deloitte said the index recovered by 31% in May against April, returning to the levels registered during the last quarter of 2008.

The Index’ recovery is largely due to the waning perception among executives of a deterioration of the country’s economic and political conditions, it said.

Deloitte found that 45% of those surveyed are less optimistic about the economy compared with April, while 52% perceive no change.

The slow but steady increase in oil prices and the revival of the global economy are grounds for expecting that the economy in Ecuador could improve by year’s end or in early 2010.

Questioned about the performance of their businesses, 34% said they had lower sales compared to the previous months and 39% reported revenues down on the same period of last year.

The survey found 20% reported a reduction in their workforce compared to the previous month.

Around 57% of the business leaders surveyed said that the country’s socio-economic situation makes it difficult to attract foreign investment.

Blue-ridge-mountains

We should help our neighbors at home as well. This is why we are developing environmentally sensitive, sustainable programs to encourage value-added, employment in the Blue Ridge as well.

I have written many times about the benefits of retiring in Small Town USA for lifestyle diversification as well. See more on lifestyle diversification at Inspired to Retire

We can see below why diversification remains important even if we retire in Ecuador.

Just because we want to live or retire in Ecuador does not mean that Ecuador does not have its own creeping erosion of rights problems as well.  An August 3 news.Yahoo article says: Correa: Ecuador to take over radio, TV stations.  QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says “many” radio and TV frequencies will revert to state control due to what he’s calling irregularities.  The president has been at war with Ecuador’s news media since taking office in January 2007. He has called TV stations and newspapers corrupt and mediocre, and twice fined an opposition broadcaster.  Correa did not specify Monday what sort of abuses or irregularities broadcasters have committed. Nor did he name any alleged offenders.

An August 5th update on this matter in the Wall Street Journal says: Ecuador Govt Braces For Reaction To Radio, TV Takeovers

QUITO (Dow Jones)–Ecuador’s government is expecting “strong reactions” to a report that will determine which television and radio stations will revert to state control.

Antonio Garcia, chairman of Ecuador’s National Radio and Television Board, said Wednesday that a report will be issued next week on which stations the government will take over.

President Rafael Correa’s government has alleged that a number of stations received their broadcasting concessions illegitimately and said that “many” would revert to state hands.

Correa’s announcement came on the heels of the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Ecuadorian president’s close ally, shutting down 34 privately-owned radio stations last weekend.

An initial report by an Ecuadorian government commission last year found that 236 of 1,637 frequencies had obtained their concessions illegally.

Garcia brushed off what he called “alarmist accounts” that all radio and television stations will revert to state control and that the government is looking at them on a case-by-case basis.”

He said that some media outlets, however, are “trying to misinform” viewers and listeners.

We’ll stay tuned to what happens with this takeover  at our Ecuador Living  Service.

The greatest asset for diversification is the ability to earn wherever you live and to keep your investments safe.

This is why we offer our course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business.

A clear mind and healthy body are also a vital assets… plus a second language is a powerful diversification tool.

This is why I am willing to pay you $300 to attend either our Ecuador Super Thinking plus Spanish seminar in September or our North Carolina International Business & Investing seminar in October.  Sign up for either seminar and I will email you our Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course (offered at $299) free plus I’ll knock an extra dollar off your seminar fee…. to round up the $300 savings.

See details of the two seminar below.

Here is Thomas Fischer talking with seminar delegates at a recent international investing course that I co hosted with Jyske Global Asset Management.

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Join Merri, Thomas Fischer of JGAM, our webmaster David Cross and me in North Carolina this October and enroll in our emailed course on how to have a web business free.  Save $300.

Learn more about global investing, how to have an international business and diversification in Ecuador at the seminar.

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

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Seminar delegates visiting Otavalo market looking for Ecuador export ideas.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador Seminar
Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador seminar or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.

Learn more about the power of  Ecuador export ideas

See WSJ article Ecuador’s government braces for reaction

See NYT article U.S. to Hunt Down Afghan Drug Lords Tied to Taliban

Retire in Ecuador – Out of Cities


Retire in Ecuador… our wherever…out of town because isolated places may be out of the box bargains.

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Merri and I have purchased many isolated places.  Here is a shot from our North Carolina farm.

A reader, wanting to know whether to retire in Ecuador or not sent this note last week:

Dear Gary,

I have noticed that you have mentioned (a few times) that you and Merri are not residents of Ecuador —– and you do not want to become residents. Would you be kind enough to explain what brought you to this decisions? Thank you,

My reply was “Mainly grandkids”.

Yet there is much more.

Merri and I live both in Ecuador and North Carolina because we love the people, the way of life, the land and the value.

We did not choose Ecuador because it is outside the US, nor Ashe county because it is in America.

We chose them because they are both in our opinion great places to be… and they are isolated.

Change alters the value of places.

When I grew up living in the suburbs of Portland Oregon, I could walk miles to school when I was eight.  We let our doors unlocked.

When I was a young man, huge cities were great places to be.  I lived in Hong Kong, San Francisco and London as well as portland… at times walking late at night in many parts of the city alone.  Cities were fun!

Now cities are much more dangerous and crowded and inconvenient.

Traffic from my mom’s suburban Oregon house (the same one for 50 years) to downtown Portland is horrid and she has to double lock all her windows.

Great places bring opportunity and joy in our lifestyles… but great places change and now there are double benefits in Isolation

I have steadily increased my investments in three seemingly isolated places; high in the Ecuador Andes, in a remote Pacific fishing village and in Ashe County North Carolina.

I chose each for the same reasons.  They are isolated but have good internet and reasonable access to a good airport

There are several reasons why change has put a premium on isolation.

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Merri and I have purchased many isolated places.  Here is a shot from our Ecuador Hacienda.

One reason is food.  Ecuador is a small agricultural country and as such, huge national distribution systems are not required to feed the population.  The food is fresher.  Preservatives are not as required.

The residents in the Blue Ridge of Ashe county know how to feed themselves as well.  Our farm is dotted with old homesteads where the dwellers lived mostly off the land… not that long ago… so people here know how to create their own food supply if need be.

The second reason is that the cost of living is still low compared to cities in Ecuador or the US.

The third reason is health.  There are no big factories… the air is fresh… water is quite pure… and you are not surrounded by crowds… increased risk of crime and such.

Plus (fourth) lifestyle benefits are great. No traffic jams… not much traffic noise… far less stress.

Fifth, property prices are low compared to alternatives… yet for the reasons stated above… they offer potential of appreciation as more and more people want to get out of the cities and burbs.

At the beginning of this millennium I recommended investing in Ashe County, North Carolina and did so myself.

In the 10 years since, even with the real estate crash, the price of land in the area has risen five to 10 times. Yet these prices remain low compared to other similar areas.

The small towns in the area are safe, the people friendly.   Life is still good.  People still wave when you drive by.

I can now eat a hearty breakfast in Jefferson, North Carolina (our nearest town of any sort) for under five dollars.   Also when we go out to breakfast we can leave the house unlocked and cars, trucks and jeeps parked with the keys in them.

9/11 changed people’s values. Family, friends and quieter, more peaceful life is more important than before.

Having these fine qualities is harder to achieve in downtown Manhattan or Central Chicago or in the heart of L.A.

Life in America is changing due to the difficult economic and social times. There is a return to simplicity and the value of these small towns and their honest core values will grow.

If the economy suddenly recovers and the world’s economy rises, small towns will still not lose their appeal. The world’s population continues to grow.   People always want what they perceive they have lost… freedom from crowds, traffic jams, pollution and the hassle of city life.   I believe these qualities will grow in value.

Today, the portable computer, internet and cell phone have changed all the rules of real estate. The old maxim is still true that the three most important aspects that affect a properties value are location, location, location, but technology alters which locations will have greater value!

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Merri and I have purchased many isolated places.  Here is a shot of the land around the village where we have our Ecuador hotel.

Take for example, my own career in writing about international investing.

When I began, I had to live in London. This was where all the knowledge and information was held. To give timely advice I had to be there. Then as phone rates dropped and the fax came along, I was able to leave the congested city and move to Naples, Florida, then a sleepy fishing village and still have access to the data I would need. Finally as Naples became crowded, because of the Internet, we were able to move to isolated farms both here and in Ecuador and still have access to any international investment information.

I can call up market details, specific shares, global news, regardless of how remote I am.

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Merri and I have purchased many isolated places.  Here is a shot of the empty beah near our Ecuador beach condos.

Here is the key point.

The primary factor of real estate’s value used to be physical accessibility to many people. This factor is shifting to accessibility of information.

Remote places are gaining a new value if they have access to information.

Ashe county which adjoins Virginia and Tennessee was established and named after Samuel Ashe in 1799. It is often known as the Lost Province because until recently hardly anyone knew of the place.

The county seat is Jefferson and the county has a land area of 426.16 miles but only a population of 22,209 people. This population is wide spread as well. The only towns are Jefferson (1,300 population), West Jefferson (1,002) and Lansing (183).

This is a totally rural area with three commercial crops, Christmas trees, timber and tobacco.

There are several small factories in the county but tourist activities such as canoeing on the new river, scenic drives though Southern Appalachian Wilderness, leaf looking and camping.

Ashe county is isolated but sits almost equidistant from the north and south of the east coast of the United States.  We almost the same distance from Florida and  Maine.

Here are the signs I see that suggest to me that this area will boom:

1. The prices here are a fraction of the counties north and south.

2. The first cappuccino machines have arrived in Jefferson. When we arrived there was nothing like this and it was a dry county.  Now there are smart cafes… wine bars and art gallerys.

3. Prices as mentioned have already risen.

4. The major road from I-77 has being widened to four and even six lanes.

5. Wal Mart built a super store.

6. The first golf course community has been a success in Jefferson.

7. Lowes has open a large DIY store.

There are some other great benefits here. The nearest airports for commercial flights is Tri-Cities Tennessee.   This s one of the easiest airports I have ever checked into…a 15 check in allowee. Parking right at the front door and often the policemen will hel yu haul in your bags.  Yet this regional airport is just over a half hour to Atlanta or Cincinnati.

There is a great college town Boone just 45 minutes away, a chic, resort area, Blowing Rock the same distance and real cities, like Charlotte two hours drive.

Yet as isolated as we are we have great DSL broadband so I am as connected as if I lived in Manhattan.

This makes me more effective than some businesses in the center of major cities, as I avoid the delays from traffic jams, crowds, smog, missed parking places and crowds.

You can take advantage of great isolated places to be by creating an internet business and looking for places like Ashe county north Carolina that are short on people but long on data resources.

Retire in Ecuador because Ecuador real estate is inexpensive.

Merri and I have purchased a lot of Ecuador real estate in remote places as well.

See why at Ecuador Real Estate is Inexpensive

Wherever you plan to retire in Ecuador at home or elsewhere, think about leaving the maddening crowd.  Isolated places may be the bargains of the future.

Gary

Our 2009 course and tour schedule.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador
Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.

Bank Privacy Gone


The problem of getting Bank Privacy is gone.  Now the problem is being able to get a good international bank at all.

The problem is that Americans have lost control of their wealth.

An insidious form of of loss has been taking place for decades and now we are in the end game.

The theft has taken place in the same way the Nazis robbed the Germans of control.

A German industrialist once explained how the Nazi’s took over when he explained that very few people were Nazis.  However many enjoyed how the Nazis brought back an external German pride.  Most were just too busy to care.  The majority let it all happen at an early stage.   Too late the realization came that the Nazis were in total control.   See how this has happened to your wealth here.

This is what has happened to American wealth.

Now we are in the end game.  I have been warning about this problem of reduced bank privacy for over 2o years… first in my printed books and newsletters… later at my web site.

Here is what I wrote at this site almost nine years ago to the day, July 13, 2000.

More on the loss of bank privacy

Bank privacy no longer exists. Some years ago I wrote about the insidious tactics that the US and other governments have used to erode financial privacy and personal liberty and pointed out that the problem is that the government does not attack the individual but puts the pressure on the overseas financial institutions. The current additional move by the US government to collect tax is just one more small step.

The message below shows that one of our readers does not understand this yet. After his message I put my comments below.

“Gary  How can a non-US institution, and there must be many thousands of them in hundreds of countries, be “forced” to comply with the IRS and become a tax collector for them? I would think that most of them would tell the IRS to stick it. Or simply ignore it. Sounds more like scare tactics for US “taxpayers.”

The problem began in the 70s when the SEC sued an investment manager in the US who was managing an overseas mutual fund which kept all its money in Switzerland. The SEC demand to the Swiss bank (Credit Suisse) that they return the money (it was many millions) to the US. The Swiss bank pointed out that the fund had not broken any law and that they had no legal way to return the money.

The US simply seized an equivalent amount of Credit Suisse’s money in the US. The was the beginning of the end of bank privacy. The simple fact is for an international bank to operate it must hold accounts in the US, England, Germany, Japan, etc. This makes these institutions vulnerable to the authorities in each country.

Now we can see that this bank privacy problem has grown so serious that more and more international banks will not accept US investors.

Excerpts from USA TODAY article entitled “Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap”  by Kevin McCoy shows how far the loss of bank privacy has grown.

The closely watched Justice Department court fight to get the names of 52,000 suspected American tax evaders from Swiss banking giant UBS has prompted some other foreign banks to drop U.S. clients they once welcomed, tax experts said Monday.

Eager to avoid a similar struggle with federal prosecutors, banks including Credit Suisse and HSBC in recent weeks have notified American clients they must close their offshore accounts or transfer them to the institutions’ U.S.-based operations, where tax reporting requirements are far stricter.

“Overall, the international banking community, and particularly the offshore banking community, has been very friendly to American account holders,” said William Sharp, a tax law specialist at the Sharp Kemm law firm in Tampa. “That changed in the past couple of months as a result of the UBS case.”

The owner of an HSBC account in Jersey, one of the English Channel islands, recently received a 45-day notice to close the account, said Robert McKenzie, a tax law specialist at Arnstein & Lehr in Chicago. A client with an offshore Credit Suisse account got a similar notice, he said.

Some foreign banks elsewhere now avoid offshore business with Americans because they know the Justice Department plans “to extend this effort to other jurisdictions beyond Switzerland,” said Martin Press, a tax expert at Gunster Yoakley Valdes-Fauli & Stewart in Fort Lauderdale.

It was a smart move. Overseas banks do not vote and do not lobby in Congress.   US banks of course do not mind the competition getting kicked.

A few writers, (ourselves included) have been sounding the warning… in our case for decades.

Yet we are small potatoes and this never reached the majority of the public awareness.

The freedom to bank abroad has never been removed. Conditions have just been set so overseas banks cannot serve Americans.

Clever.  This leaves US investors with fewer ways to protect against inflation created by irresponsible spending.

The loss of bank privacy is not as bad as the loss of being able to use competent international banks.

Fortunately some banks like Jyske Bank (the Danish bank I have worked with for decades) has taken the time and considerable expense to qualify to serve US customers and actively accept them.

One way to overcome this problem is move.  Live and/or retire outside the US. Retire in Ecuador or somewhere you enjoy… as many Germans who saw what was coming did before the Nazis took total control.

This is one reason why so many Americans are moving abroad. See more at America Moving Abroad.

Gary

Join us at our North Carolina farm this July or October for our International business & investing seminars below. Learn more about early retirement and Ecuador.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador
Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

See the entire article Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2009-07-12-ubs-secrecy-case_N.htm

International Earning Potential in Business


Ecuador and international earning potential in business offers great freedom.

The 4th of July, America’s day to celebrate freedom, is a good day to remind ourselves of how freedom can bring anyone and everyone opportunity now.

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Internet based export businesses are a way to develop International income potential. 

I am happy to report, that freedom in America is not dead.   America’s independence, in my opinion, has improved and evolved.  Yankee ingenuity has used technology to enhance the business mobility that has often given America a leading business edge.

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Textiles for export

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that we…

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saw on our…

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Ecuador tour.

This spirit of  Americans moving to “where the action is” was epitomized in Horace Greeley’s famous quote, “Go west, young man.”

In fact Greeley himself was a reflection of this mobility-for-better-circumstances ideal.

He was born the son of a New England farmer and day laborer in New Hampshire. The economic struggles of his family meant that Greeley received a spotty education.  When he could not find enough work and seeking to better his circumstances, he set out for New York City and eventually founded the New Yorker and later the New York Tribune.

Willingness to keep moving for progress has always been the American way.  In less mobile times this mobility worked from state to state.  Now it moves from nation to nation.

At a time when US earning potential may seem diminished, it should be no surprise that Americans are on the move finding opportunities all over the world.

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Jewelry for export.

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Leather products for export.

Why should American earning mobility be limited to just the borders of the USA?

The original concept of  many united states was that we lived in the land of the free and could move to whatever state that offered the best opportunity.  With modern technology, why not spread this mobility beyond the oceans and Canadian and Mexican borders?

Big businesses in America have certainly not limited their efforts within American borders.  Almost every major US corporation, manufactures or outsources work globally.  American corporations go where opportunity is best.

Now small businesses can use the internet to be global as well.

I see many Americans finding good earning potential in Ecuador.  I expect this is taking place around the world.

The real factors that make Americans free… willingness to work… try new innovations… cross social and cultural lines… take risk and trying new things works anywhere and are a state of mind and attitude… not a place… or a date.

This is the American way… serve… work harder… be better… do more for others. This works… an attitude that gives anyone, anywhere, who uses it an edge.

This is why one finds American  entrepreneurs thriving in Ecuador and anywhere one travels…  Americans and the American spirit are global… successful… and free.

Today let’s celebrate more than just a day of  declaration of freedom.   Let’s rejoice in a universal truth that freedom is something within us all.  Freedom is not a condition but an energy available to any and everyone with desire and willingness to work and serve wherever the opportunity opens.   That’s the spirit of the American way.

Merri and I send our best wishes that each and every reader will always be free!

Gary

Join us in North Carolina at our July seminar and learn how the internet era can help you increase your freedom with  your own global internet business operated from Ecuador or anywhere.

At the seminar we look at how to get good rankings for your business.

For example our Garyascott.com and Ecuadorliving.com sites have first page Google rankings for many Ecuador search phrases including the phrase “Ecuador Banking” and…

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and “Ecuador Attorney”.

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plus many others like “Ecuador Real Estate”,  “Ecuador Beach Property”, “Ecuador Exports”, and many many more.

At our seminar we’ll study how to get and monetize rankings.

Our rankings do so well, that according to Alexa.com our garyascott.com site’s traffic rank is in the top 20,000 US sites. Out of tens of millions.  Here is a recent Alexa report.

ecuador-rankings

Our webmaster David Cross will join us at the July seminar.  David is chief internet consultant to some of the largest internet marketing companies in the world.

The July seminar will focus on the essence of a successful internet business, plus those who attend this course can have our emailed course “Tangled Webs We Weave, How to Have Your Own Internet Business” FREE.  (or you can choose our email course on multi currency investing instead).  You save $299.

Learn more at Tangled Web

This seminar  is July 24 to 26 here in the green and cool North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.

Half this course is about international investing and Thomas Fischer at Jyske Global Asset Management helps me conduct this portion of the course.  The other half is about how to develop your own business. Merri and David help me with this.

Here is a special offer. If you enroll in the July 24 to July 26 course, I sign you up for one of our two emailed courses free. This is up to a $299 savings.

Join me and Thomas Fischer from Jyske Global Asset Management in North Carolina to learn more about economic trends and David Cross our webmaster to learn how to have a global internet business.

We’ll have lunch at the farm and enjoy the cool summer mountains. Here’s a shot of our front yard.

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Thomas Fisher speaking to our delegates at the farm.

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orange-roses

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Delegates enjoying a private conversation with Thomas Fischer during a coffee break at the farm.

Join Merri and me with Thomas Fischer of Jyske Global Asset Management and our webmaster David Cross in North Carolina July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

Read the entire article Business bankruptcies up 240% since 2006 at www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20090701/smallbiz01_cv.art.htm

Read the entire article Ecuador’s Business Confidence Index Up at online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090630-711211.html

Buying Tickets To Ecuador


Buying Tickets To Ecuador

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… miles of sunny empty beach is one.

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When I took my first flight to Hong Kong 41 years ago, I was 21 years old and few on a cheap ticket that was called a student fare.

While in Hong Kong I met a travel agent. Charlie Kwok was his name and he had an office in the Miramar Hotel, Kowloon, not far from the Star Ferry. Charlie was the master of the low cost air fare and over the next half decade he amazed me with some of his great deals…. Especially for people under age  27.

Next decade in London, John Dragonas, a Greek travel agent continued showing the way to get deals. Back then they had VUSA (Visit USA) where prices were really low.

By then Merri and I had met and she became the maven of amazing air fare deals.

In short I have always enjoy incredibly low costs air fares.  However Merri added another dimension because not all low cost air fares are great.

I recall one flight Honk Kong to Portland Oregon that Charlie Kwok arranged… really cheap, because it was a charter with two empty seats and otherwise full of doctors returning from Thailand. What Charlie forgot to mention was that the actual fare went Hong Kong, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco and then I had a connection back to Portland… adding about 24 hours to the flight!

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… such as the high Andean lakes.

John in London ignored the human part of travel to get the cost down once as well… a special VUSA fare. Merri and I wanted to fly London, Miami, Chicago, Portland, London.

To get the lowest fare, the actual flight turned out to be London -Denver, Miami- Denver, Chicago-Denver, Portland-Denver, London…or something like that… low fare but not a great deal.

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… including wonderful colonial architecture.

It was about then that Merri took over finding our fares and she is good…  Let me be humble and say she may be the best. Recently our son visited us from London, Charlotte, London for $17.  That is correct, seventeen dollars.

ecuador-air tickets

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… big cities and…

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quaint villages like… Cotacachi shown here.

Recently one of our articles Ecuador Air Fare Update mentioned a $316 Miami Quito fare that Merri found and explained that readers should visit www.farecompare.com

So many readers asked for help on how to get this fare that I asked Merri to prepare an article on how she does it.

Here it is:

Buying Air Tickets

Gary often asks me to write about how I buy airline tickets and especially those to Ecuador…so this is the first in a series of hints including safety, price, ease…

Well, first of all…it’s a tricky business for sure. And to top it all off, it rarely is quick and easy.  I start out with that in mind and sometimes days later I’m still at it!  But there is a pattern that I always use that helps me sort from the beginning the good, bad and the ugly.

Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, “The Outliers, The Story of Success” clearly states that most people are really good at something, really successful after about 10,000 hours.  Well, for sure I have my 10,000 hours in on travel and tickets.  For over 4 years, Gary and I crossed the Atlantic commuting from our home in London to our home in Naples, Fl every three weeks.  It was always different, always a surprise and very often extremely challenging to buy tickets for Gary’s mom, our 5 children to all our destinations all over the world ON A REGULAR BASIS.  We had homes in London, Gloustershire, Naples, North Carolina, the north coast of the Dominican Republic and…oh, it makes my head spin just thinking about it!

Needless to say, just by the sheer act of plotting, planning and finally buying, I’ve learned a lot…earned my 10,000 hours over the last 25 + years of international traveling.

However, all the rules have now changed…it’s often hard to know which way to jump…some people book for instance a conference and tell me to confirm quickly so they can buy “that cheap ticket” that is 6 months out!  Whoa, I reply…that’s pretty risky…sometimes you can now buy a ticket at a week out for the same price or better than a month out.

Airlines are constantly shifting and changing and hedging their bets…so let’s look at a few things that we can count on.

#1. The internet makes it a lot easier than we’ve had it before.  There is plenty of data and solid information that we can gather from 100s of sources instantly.

#2.  The internet also makes it a lot harder than we’ve ever had it before BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES!  We have more information so it is essential that we use this information wisely.

Here are a few ground rules that I am currently using that are working now.

1.    Don’t buy months out.

2.    Sit down with those who are traveling and have a general chat on days/possibilities/flexibilities that might be possible.  Right now, for instance, I am buying for Ecuador.  Gary and I will get a month’s calendar, list our IDEAL flight days and then see which ways we COULD be flexible.

3.    For the past year, it is cheaper (yes, cheaper) in most cases to fly from an outlying airport than direct.  I know a lot of people for instance who drive from let’s say Birmingham, Ala to Atlanta and then fly direct from Atlanta to everywhere.  Don’t do this.  CHECK YOUR POSSIBILITIES.

For example, Gary and I fly mainly from NC to Portland, NC to Quito, NC to London and NC to Copenhagen.  Well, we can fly from Charlotte, Greensboro (Triad) or from a nearby TRI Cities TN tiny airport.  I check out each of these easily and quickly to get a handle on the whole picture.  I don’t just assume that one is cheaper or more expensive, etc.

For instance for years, Charlotte has been very expensive to fly into our area than all the others, and suddenly last fall, it all shifted…now it’s the cheapest.  Well, it could be the aggressiveness of USAir after its near collapse that has caused them to price the lowest since it is their hub and therefore Delta, etc. have followed suit.

When flying from Florida, I look at Tampa (our favorite), Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.  Takes only a second and sometimes you can really find an el cheapo winner!

4.    Decide whether you are a frequent flyer who needs to accumulate miles or if you are just an occasional flyer.  We for instance are frequent flyers and use Atlanta as our hub to go to our common destinations…Portland, London, Quito, Copenhagen are our patterns.  Sometimes we fly from NC and sometimes from FL (according to the season)…but ALL of these flights are non-stop from Atlanta via Delta.  So, instead of looking at all airlines/all flights, I really just watch Delta.  We accumulate a lot of miles, use them for free tickets for our children and/or for upgrades.  My advice for frequent flyers is pick an airline and stick with it!  This gets the most bang for your buck…although sometimes I pay more for this, in the long run it works out well and suits us.

If you are lucky enough to be an infrequent flyer, then just look for the best deal!

5.    Frequent flyers can gain a lot from loyalty…although not everything as recently we found out on an emergency trip to Portland!  But usually, we can get what WE determine is important. (not that this might be your choice in the line of fire.)

What is important to us is not just the price but the Duration of the Flight…very, very important you might say!  I’ll pay a bit more to fly a total of 7 hours instead of a lot less to fly the same route with a totally of 11 hours or maybe 23 hours!

Another thing that is important to us is that we can upgrade.  We have logged so many miles and usually have to get off an airplane and go straight to work that over the years we have decided that if we can go first or business class (more or that later) we should.  We feel better if we are not cramped in and let’s face it (although we don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat on planes) there are some good perks.  Very important to us is that there is simply more oxygen up front than there is in the back…so we arrive in better shape than if we were tucked in on the last row.

Other things important to us is that we have a place where we can be quiet and not listen to a dozen cell phone conversations and 7 different TV stations.  We aren’t used to this type of confusion and noise and so we want to have the use of special rooms that airlines provide (Delta’s Crown Rooms) that allow quiet areas.  Often we travel with our service dog, and she too is allowed in these rooms.  We just rest and wait there.  IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

ecuador-air tickets

Merri even makes sure that we have seats so we see the sunset at night and sunrise in the morning.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to pay for this privilege which can cost big change.

How do we achieve this?  Well, each airline has its own gimmicks, but Delta allows a cardholder of AMEX Sky Miles Reserve (which can cost anywhere from $295 up) to have free access with his/her companions to all Sky Mile Crown rooms at no cost.  You can now have a simple Gold AMEX Sky Miles card (sometimes without a fee) that allows more or less the same privileges.  We find excellent light food (that is fresh) and peace and quiet there.  We also find their quiet desk of agents that will do just about anything to make life pleasant (changing flights/redoing tickets/finding lost luggage, etc.). They will even wake you if you fall asleep in your comfy chair.  That same card allows us to have a free Concierge booking service (that means they will REALLY try everything to help you) as well as double miles for most of our travel…and (and this is a big one) the right to Pay with Miles.

And what is Pay with Miles?  Well, let’s discuss that under Award Ticketing later in this series.

Merri

Click here for Part Two on Buying Tickets to Ecuador

Join an upcoming Ecuador seminar or North Carolina Super Spanish course.

ecuador-air tickets

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… like the wonderful people.  This is a dancer entertaining delegates at one of our recent Ecuador tours.

Got Miles?


Ecuador travel costs can really be low if you have got miles!

Merri and I both took our first international flight in 1968. Since then, we have both travelled more than a million miles and have learned a lot about getting the best air deals.

Merri is the grand master at finding low cost..comfortable deals. For example you’ll see below she recently brought our son from London England to Charlotte North Carolina  for $17.85…including tax…round trip!

Merri writes:

Got Miles?

By Merri Scott

ecuador-air-travel

In the past, buying airline tickets and trying to use miles for airline awards has been a tricky,  mind blowing, frustrating experience.

Today, I find it easy and sometimes even fun!

Gary and I crossed the Atlantic every three weeks year in and year out, and hosted seminars all over the US and the globe…so I’ve been at this business for more years than I care to remember!

Back in the 80s in London, we had a way out Greek travel agent…he once sold us a huge packet of tickets for a string of one day conferences all over the US…Gary loved the price!

But, when I looked at the schedule, well, every other day, we had to return to Detroit…it was LA back to Detroit, then San Francisco back to Detroit, Cincinnati back to Detroit, Chicago, back to Detroit…it was cheap, yes but so horrible that on the last segment as we returned one more time to Detroit, we burst out laughing.

From that day forward, I pay attention before I buy.

Each flight is important and I look at the total number of hours for a trip not just the price.

The Internet has revolutionized ticketing.  It is kind of fun on www.kayak.com because they instantly show the number of hours for the duration of each flight.  I look at this before I even look at the price. Very important.

But today, I was searching and researching.  I saw for  a friend a flight to Quito from an airport only 40 minutes away from her usual departure point and saved her $400.  You can do a lot of fiddling with the help of websites.

For instance, the calendar pops up on Kayak and lets you see which is the cheapest fare for which day…sometimes all of us can be flexible and when we can…well today for Atlanta to Quito it varied over $300 from day to day…very interesting, quick and easy to spot.

“But Miles, how about miles?” Gary asked.  “How easy are they to redeem in this market?”

Miles are far, far easier than in the past. It used to be a weary chore with a representative on the phone for hours asking “What about this date, what about that date, how does Thursday look instead of Friday?”  Today, it’s down right easy…and all spelled out on most sites with a calendar….you can spot the best deals quick and easy.

First of all, we don’t ever use miles for ourselves
.  We try to make our trips tax deductible events so we use our miles for our kids.  Also if miles are used for ourselves, it messes up our elite rank.  We’re not much for being elitists, but believe me our travel weary bodies dearly love to be upgraded, spread out, relaxed and able to breathe better in business or first class!

For instance, miles on Delta.  It is wonderfully simple…just hit the key on the search for reservations.  (Always if it is possible on your upcoming trip, check the flexibility box for dates…this can help in lowering the number of miles needed.)

I know an awful lot of people with a great accumulation of Delta miles…us included.  When good ol’ Pan Am went out, Gary and I had over 250,000 miles each.  We gnashed our teeth for a few weeks, only to be surprised that Delta sent a notice that they would gladly honor our miles.  Ah, we swooned and have been loyal for years.

One trouble with all these miles, often there is a black out date or some sort of restriction.

You can beat these problems with one simple step. Just do this, (if it is Delta miles) upgrade yourself (or use the card if you already have it) to a Gold and/or Platinum Delta Miles Amex card.  You’ll get a double bonus, earn a bunch of miles as well as get bonus miles for each segment PLUS (and this is a big one) have an automatic key on your delta.com account site. This key is PAY WITH MILES.

You are allowed to pay with miles, money and/or any combination.

Two weeks ago, I bought our darling grandson and his mother a last minute expensive ticket to a holiday event…$20 for the two of them.  How? Well, I signed on to Gary’s delta.com account.  (He’s a platinum and I’m only a gold!)  Those little precious 3 words “Pay With Miles” popped up.

I didn’t need permission on the phone, I could instantly and easily scroll down,  choose the number of miles and presto…$20 bucks.  “Quick, buy those tickets”, I thought.

Our son came from London for the month in August…and at the last minute…so I perused all the flights/deals and then went to Gary’s account…and those same 3 little words gave me a round trip ticket from London to Charlotte for $17.85…inlcuding tax!

If you use just award tickets, you might be surprised to see an awfully high surcharge as a tax…but these little “pay for miles” don’t have those huge add ons…plus no black outs…just scroll down, click, buy and you got it.

I like this a lot.

For Amercian Airlines, I don’t see any of these options, but I do see a clear cut easy way of judging the amount needed for an award ticket by the days of the month (outbound and return) clearly shown on the calendar.  You can see availability and the number of miles required.

I also like this a lot.

Click on the lowest mile day and just buy.

Got Miles?  Use them.  Head out of the winter weather for the Land of the Sun, Ecuador!

Merri

Got miles?  Use them to join Merri and me for a course or tour in Ecuador this winter.

Join us in Cotacachi.

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Enjoy our chef ad we help at times) for great fresh Ecuador seafood!

Cotacachi-fish

Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Or join us on the coast.

Ecuador beach

See Ecuador’s incredible scenery.

Cotacachi-fish

March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition

March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Here is our Ecuador tour schedule for the balance of 2009.

Date                    Course                      Couples Fee

May 21-26  Ecuador Spanish Course         ($999)
May 27-28  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)

June 12-15  Shamanic Mingo Tour             ($999)
June 16-17  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)
June 18-21  Coastal Real Estate Tour         ($749)

July 2-7       Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)
July 8-9       Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
July 10-13   Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Sept. 17-22  Ecuador Spanish Course        ($999)
Sept. 23-24  Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
Sept. 25-28  Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Oct. 21-26   Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)

Nov. 6-8       International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador ($999)
Nov. 9-10     Imbabura Real Estate Tour          ($749)
Nov. 11-14   Coastal Real Estate Tour            ($749)

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one$1,349 for two

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 27 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009 and how to attend as many of them as you like FREE.

The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the
course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito.
Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual transportation.

Cotacachi Travel Fares


We are very lucky that a current global airfare war has pushed Ecuador airfares down to ridiculous levels.  This makes it very inexpensive getting to our winter 2009 conferences and tours….plus gets all of us out of the winter doldrums!

Cotacachi travel fares can be reduced if you understand how to get to Quito and then how to travel to Cotacachi from Quito.

First airfares to Quito.  We often get requests about how to find the lowest air fares to Ecuador and Cotacachi from Africa, Canada,Europe, and the US.  See some incredible rates from all these destinations

We use www.Kayak.com to check fares and regularly find really low Ecuador air fares as you’ll see below.

For example, the round trip Ecuador airfare, Los Angeles to Quito Ecuador, is $480 including taxes. Lacsa is a Costa Rican airline and that Ecuador air fare is available today.  There are 40 flight Ecuador air fare combinations at that price right now.

Here are other US and Canadian fares form kayak.com.  All are round trip and include all taxes and coordinate with our January classes!

Toronto – Quito Ecuador – $660.  American Airlines

Vancouver BC – Quito Ecuador – $799.  Alaskan Air/Continental

Chicago – Quito Ecuador – $662.  United/Copa

New York – Quito Ecuador – $481. Lacsa

Houston – Quito Ecuador – $774. Lacsa

Dallas – Quito Ecuador – $670. Delta

Miami – Quito Ecuador – $496. LAN

Atlanta – Quito Ecuador – $653. American Airlines

One trick is to look for low fares to gateway airports such as Houston, New York, Atlanta and Miami…then look for a low fare from the gateway.  If you are looking for fares from Europe, Africa or UK, look for the cheap fares in the Sunday newspapers and then double check Kayak.

This does not always work though.  As we saw above, it is less expensive to fly to Quito via Dallas than Houston right now.

Sometimes the Ecuador air fare savings, especially from Africa and Europe can be enormous.

Take Johannesburg, South Africa to Quito as an example.  American Airlines offers the lowest direct fare of about $1800…however, if you take Egypt Air to London then you can save an extra $450 each.

If you know a cheap fare from Johan Airport to Amsterdam, Madrid, or London then go for that…and then continue on direct to Quito.  Fiddling around like this can save thousands!

Or get this one…go non stop on Egypt Air to Madrid…then Madrid AA to Quito. This approach brings the fare down to $925 per person round trip from Africa to Ecuador!  If you can find a cheap flight to Madrid from anywhere in Africa or Europe, then you may be able to save big time!

Keep in mind, there are always more than one way to skin a cat.  Think Creatively!!!

Check local European newpapers for air fare bargains to Madrid, Amsterdam and London from wherever you are.  Then check the fares from these three gateways to Quito.  Compile the fares and as above you can sometimes save in the above cases over  $1,500.

We are not travel agents of course, but we help Ecuador Living subscribers and our course and tour delegates find low cost air fares to Ecuador. We provide subscribers and delegates with an email code so we can sort their request amidst the hundreds of emails that arrive here each day.

As an Ecuador Living subscriber, you can also learn how to travel to Cotacachi from Quito at Cotacachi by Train, Plane and Automobile

And don’t forget we can arrange to meet your flight in Quito!

You can subscribe to Ecuador Living Service here.

Until next message, may every fare in your life be fair!

Gary

Join us at a course in Cotacachi or on Ecuador’s coast this winter.

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

See condos like this in Cotacachi for $46,500.

Ecuador-real-estate-advertising

Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

See Manta condos like this one. Delegates are inspecting the 1,000+ square foot patio.

Manta-Condo

The patio has this view.

manta-condo tags

Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic-Shamanic Mingo

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Here is a long shot of Cotacachi.

Cotacachi-condos

March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition

March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Here is our Ecuador tour schedule for the balance of 2009.

Date                    Course                      Couples Fee

May 21-26  Ecuador Spanish Course         ($999)
May 27-28  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)

June 12-15  Shamanic Mingo Tour             ($999)
June 16-17  Imbabura Real Estate Tour      ($749)
June 18-21  Coastal Real Estate Tour         ($749)

July 2-7       Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)
July 8-9       Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
July 10-13   Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Sept. 17-22  Ecuador Spanish Course        ($999)
Sept. 23-24  Imbabura Real Estate Tour     ($749)
Sept. 25-28  Coastal Real Estate Tour        ($749)

Oct. 21-26   Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)

Nov. 6-8       International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador ($999)
Nov. 9-10     Imbabura Real Estate Tour          ($749)
Nov. 11-14   Coastal Real Estate Tour            ($749)

All Cotacachi Tours and Courses are condcuted at our colonial inn, meson de las Flores were we enjoy Breakfast “al fresco”.

Cotacachi hotel El Meson de las Flores

All Coastal tours are conducted on the beach from our coastal home at Hotel Palmazul.

manta real estate in Ecuador tags

You should normally plan to arrive in Quito two days before the course.  We will pick you up at the airport, help you to your hotel in Quito and bring the group to Cotacachi by coach.

For coastal tours we travel as a group from Quito to Manta by air, then tour the coast for two and a half days returning to Quito on the evening of the third day.

Here I am with Merri and Ma at Palmazul’s beach.

Ecuador real estate for sale

Here I am hiking with Ma above Cotacachi.

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one$1,349 for two

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Cotacachi Cathedral at night.

Cotacachi hotel El Meson de las Flores

Shamanic ceremony on mingo tour.

2008-04-13 Ecuador shamans

Enjoying the surf at Palmazul.

Ecuador real estate for sale

Cotacachi plaza.

Cotacachi hotel El Meson de las Flores

Palmazul beach.

Ecuador real estate for sale

Merri, me and Ma above Cotacachi

Gary Scott

Sunset at Palmazul.

Ecuador real estate for sale

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one$1,349 for two

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one$1,799 for two

Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 26 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009.

The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito. Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual transportation.

Cotacachi Crime Concerns


Numerous readers have sent Cotacachi crime concerns which we share here.

You are a salesman.  A salesman will tell you anything.  You know it is dangerous to live down there. Gayle

I often get notes like this …usually from people who have never been to Ecuador.  Galyle has one point correct for sure.  I have been a salesmen going on 41 years and always considered it a privilege to sell things I truly love and live myself…like Cotacachi Ecuador.

Really the village does not need selling. Cotacachi sells itself. All I have to do is tell the truth…so I sometimes get comments like this.

I visited Cotacachi and your hotel Meson de las Flores. It was exactly as you described it. I felt safe the entire time I was there. Thank you!  Monica

We’ll review more comments on Cotacachi crime in a moment…but one thing that is not a crime in Cotacachi or Ecuador is the great quality and cost of food. I just returned from Oregon and spent some time on the coast. Dungeness crab was $28 a pound…smoked salmon $19 a pound.  That seems like a crime to me!

The wonderful lakes around Cotacachi means we have great fish.  This is Lake San Pablo.

Cotacachi-fish

Here is a high Andean lake above Cotacachi.

Cotacachi-fish

and the trout they catch there.

Cotacachi-fish

Back to crime…let’s read what some people who live in Ecuador say about crime.

Hello Gary, Here’s a New York Times article you may have seen about an Ecuadorian man who was beaten and stabbed to death in New York. He was basically killed for sport…a hate crime.

Personally, I’ve been a crime victim a few times in Ecuador. During my six years there, I lived and traveled among the general population in a large city. I used the public transit system, the local markets, the bus stations… In this situation, you’re bound to be unlucky sooner or later.

But even in the worst of areas, I never worried for my safety. All I lost was money–or replaceable items–and I never carried any more than was necessary. I didn’t (and still don’t) worry that I’ll be killed or beaten for fun, or because I’m the wrong color or nationality.

My personal experience has been that Ecuadorians are basically non-violent people. They steal out of need. What little I lost likely went to feed a family… Best regards,  Lee

I agree with Lee. When you talk to people who have lived in Cotacachi or most parts of Ecuador…they’ll agree…petty theft is a problem from which you must protect…but hate crimes basically do not exist and violent crimes are rare.  Another reader who was a visitor to Ecuador wrote this note.

Hey Gary, first time in Ecuador, flew down from Quito to Guayaquil, heard how dangerous it was everywhere, been walking the streets day and night.  I wear a $15,000 gold watch. Today, I rented car, drove to Montanita.  Tomorrow, I am driving north, along the beach coast, then back to Guayaquil for a few days then over to Peru.   I´m from Mobile.   We have several shootings, stabbings, hit and runs a week, along with other crime. The bottom line is that most crime comes from just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. One of my next trips is Caracas, murder capital of the world…and yes, I am alone and over 60.  I will be in the Dominican Republic for Christmas and New Years, surfing with my kids. Bobby.   The only thing I suggest is it is better to burn out, than rust out.

I urge more caution than Bobby takes but could not agree more with his philosophy of enjoying life and embracing the incredible riches we have in today’s society instead of wasting away worrying about what bad could happen. Life is too short!

Back to fish. Merri and I love to accompany our chef, Santiago, to the Thursday fish market in Ibarra. I can buy about 20 pounds of crab for the same price as one pound in Oregon and it is really fresh!  One of our favorite jobs is helping the chef!

Cotacachi-fish

We also love watching the fishermen at work when we are on Ecuador’s sea.  Here is our last Coastal real estate tour watching the fishing on the Chone Estuary at Bahia.

Bahia-fishermen

There is a big modern town behind these Ecuador fishermen…

Bahia-fishermen

but they are pretty low tech!

Bahia-fishermen

Just canoes and poles…no gas surcharge here.

Bahia-fishermen

The fishermen who fish outside our hotel in San Clemente are even more low tech…no boat!

San Clemente-fishermen

We took our last group for a sea food meal in Manta.

Manta-fish-meal

Where this most expensive dish on the menu…a full lobster meal was $12.

Manta-fish-meal

My grilled fish was $6. That was no crime!

Which brings us back to Cotacachi crime. 

This reader who lives regularly in Cotacachi wrote:

Gary,  As you now I have traveled to Ecuador and the Cotacachi area many times over the last several years; nine times I think. I have always felt safe even during the evening walking about Cotacachi and have never felt threatened there or in Quito or the coastal areas. I always try to be aware of my surroundings and the level of cautions I may consider appropriate as I would anywhere in the world I am traveling, for example, in Quito I usually put my wallet in my front pocket. However, reading the accounts of crime in the area lately, and I appreciate your alert, I felt a little concerned as a North American. In the interest of thoroughness on this topic my alarm is that the message is we are being targeted. This may be obvious. As anywhere the perceived affluent are vulnerable. In this culture we stand out and In this sense we present opportunity and perhaps in the perpetrators mind fair game. I would only say that a common sense realistic awareness of taking precautions in unfamiliar areas in an unfamiliar culture is important. I think that you and Merri provide a real service with up to date information for safe travel and areas to live and lodge in Ecuador. Your tours also provide an excellent environment for safe guided travel.

Since I have had so little trouble with any sort of crime in Ecuador what I tend to recall are the simple unexpected kindnesses which I have encountered.  One time while  shopping at the Otavalo indigenous market unknowingly I dropped a small package only to turn around to see a little indigenous child running up to me tugging at my sleeve with a smile and handing it to me. Another time at the bank in Cotacachi I was  trying to cash a $100 bill – can be difficult as many know due to the fear of counterfeiting from Columbia. There at the bank after waiting in line for an hour only to be refused change due to that I did not have an account or permanent address they said; I left in exasperation. Unknown to me a young woman was observing  and having empathy for my plight had withdrawn an extra 5 twenty dollar bills from her account and rushing down the street to find me offered them to me in exchange for the 100 dollar bill. “De Nada” she said.

These are a few of the experiences of innocent kindness in Ecuador and of the Ecuadorian people that I choose to remember over my fears of crime. Thanks for keeping us aware and informed in our travels and adjustment to new and unfamiliar areas and culture.  Jim

Here is another note from a gringo who is resident in Ecuador.

Gary, I would like to add the following on crime in general in Ecuador. I have spent the past 9 years living in the Mariscal neighborhood of Quito, 6 months each year.  Many consider this a likely neighborhood to encounter crime in Ecuador since there is much tourism, thus many opportunities to rob people who actually have money or valuables on them.  I walk the streets until about 10 PM.

Ecuadorians are gentle peoples: They are not Cali, Caracas or Miami.  The indigenous peoples who inhabit the provinces north of Quito are among the most stable, economically affluent, and culturally integral of any class of people in Ecuador.  Crime is minimal as it is in most small towns in the USA.

Crime in Ecuador tends to be petty thievery, taking a backpack or purse from a cafe, stealing “things” which are left in the open unguarded.  Ecuadorians are not  a “gun culture” as exists in the United States.  It is beyond their imagination that a person would rob and kill another for a pair of tennis shoes.  It is further beyond their imagination that a young person would mass kill his classmates at school, and that the state would continue to allow unlimited access to hand guns and semi automatic weapons.The crime of Ecuador is based more on poverty, although there exists a cultural flaw in many people committing petty theft even when they do not need an item. These events are rarely associated with violence to people.

I’m a street smart kid (63) who grew up in Chicago’s south side and I know that Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, New Orleans, and just about every major and “medium size ” US city is far more dangerous that most any city or neighborhood of the largest cities of Ecuador.  Only 2 cities of Ecuador have any significant crime, Guayaquil and Quito, and then only selective neighborhoods.   Almost all the people I know who have been robbed (6 or 7) in Quito have been men walking home drunk late at night oblivious to using their normal street senses.

Gary, if you do a follow up, feel free to include my comments.

I agree that the Mariscal neighborhood of Quito is one of the riskier areas due to tourism…and that it is not the nature of Ecuadorians to be violent.  We love the people here…the great scenery…the wonderful food…the low prices…the colors like these ice cream vendors in Bahia serving our last coastal real estate tour.

Bahia-Ecuador-workers

Plus we love the warm weather.

This is the final point. I was in a West Jefferson barber shop today and read the local paper.  This is as small town USA as you can get. Nine people were on the front page…all arrested for dealing drugs…cocaine…heroine…meths.  Then Merri saw a real live mountain lion run across our field. Then we visited our neighbor who showed us photos of five bears roaming the neighborhood.  I feel totally safe here and would not hesitate for a moment to invite people to come up (just watch the ice on the road).

So I can live in complete safety here…even though there is crime…in this.

snow

Or go to Cotacachi and San Clemente where the crime may be about the same…more or less…but in this.

Ecuador beach

and this

cotacachi-sun

at about a fourth or fifth the price.

So here is the salesman speaking. “Visit us in Ecuador. You will be glad you did!”

Here is a comment from a delegate at our last course:

Hi Merri:  I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know how much myself and all of our “extended family” enjoyed the course that you, Gary, and all of your competent staff put on earlier this month.  I am really just getting my feet back on the ground and I think that we are finally there.

Gary was awesome as we expected and gave me as really a beginning investor many insights and new ideas to think about.  I am speaking for myself, Charles, Jose as well as Rebecca and Betty who joined us after the Galapagos Islands.  You showed me that you are an expert planner and really went  out of your way to accommodate  us especially when we had people coming in at different times.

Francisco stood out as well.  Of course, “our man” Steve the excellent tour guide and all around helpful person.  Last and not least was Ray who also handled so much on the fly and did it well.
Ray really helped with the leaving process.  Also I will keep in touch with him about the possible medical conference I may put on at La Mirage 2010 in August if it comes together…..lots of work and much to work on to make it happen.  We really enjoyed your hotel and the hospitality.  It was  memorable. Thanks so much and we hope to keep in touch and continue with Gary’s newsletters!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Sincerely, Jim

Merri and I hope to serve you in Ecuador this sunny winter.

Gary

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic-Shamanic Mingo

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition

March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 26 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009.

The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito. Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual transportation.