Tag Archive | "Michigan"

Ecuador & International Banking Update


Here is an important Ecuador & international banking update created by the wonderful world of mobility in which we live.

Our global mobility provides huge benefits… broadens our horizons and enriches mankind through global trade.   Yet being global also creates some problems… one of them is banking.

This site recently posted a message about Ecuador banks that began with, “I do not trust Ecuador Banks.”

This is not a slight on Ecuador.  This statement is a comment on the realities of trying to maintain control of one’s own wealth in an era where almost all governments are increasing control over money.

The banking article was followed by  another article stressing  the importance of diversification in Ecuador Diversified.

Here is a reminder of the importance of this information.  A couple of years ago I purchased a block of buildings in Ecuador planning to resell them.  I am according to plan selling them now and recently received a payment.

My attorney wrote this to me:

They deposited funds in my account last Wednesday to pay for the condo and asked me to send to you.  There is a 2% tax on money going out of Ecuador which was recently established, plus bank commissions.  I will wait for your instructions  to wire these funds to you.

There previously was a 1% tax but it has now been increased to two percent. This increase is not a big deal but a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that we should never trust any one country, currency or banking system.

I just sent our Ecuador Living subscribers an alert about one more Ecuador banking problem.  Ecuador Living subscribers click here.

Learn how to subscribe to Ecuador Living here.

Hence my mantra to have what I call a “Six Point Command Posture” which is to:

Live in one country
Bank in a second country
Invest in many countries
Earn in two or more countries
Use a company incorporated in a fifth country
Take a second residence

Where to Bank

Knowing where to bank is a growing problem… especially for Americans.  Non Americans should read this article any as you’ll see that you are not exempt from this problem either.

Americans are being crushed between a rock and a hard spot.

The Rock. Many US banks will no longer accept Americans residing overseas because they have a foreign address. This has been caused by the US Patriot Act.  Banks have to know their clients so they refuse to accept (or keep) clients with overseas addresses, even Americans who have banked with them for decades, but change their address.  The following banks have been sited as closing accounts with just 30 days notice of long term customers just because they took on a US address: Ameriprise, Bank of America; Bank of New Hampshire; Citibank; Citizens Bank; Edward Jones, St. Louis; E- Trade; Fidelity Investments; INGDirect; JPMorganChase; Morgan Stanley; National City Bank in Riverview, Michigan; Provident Bank, Maryland; Smith Barney; T. Rowe Price; USAA Federal Saving Bank; Vanguard mutual fund; Wachovia; Washington Mutual; Washington Mutual Investment, Spokane; WellsFargo; Zions Direct.

The Hard Spot. At the same time the IRS has created a set of regulations that discourage non US banks from accepting Americans.

Many Swiss and British based banks will no longer accept Americans.

Here’s an excerpt from a 13, June 2009 Telegraph article entitled “Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge” by By Louise Armitstead:   Banking group drops American customers in UK ahead of costly proposals to stamp out tax evasion  Lloyds Banking Group is ditching American customers based in Britain pending a crackdown on international tax evasion planned by President Barack Obama.

This week American private client account-holders at Lloyds’s received letters informing them of an “important change in policy regarding clients who are resident, domiciled or linked to the United States by property or asset holdings”. They were told the bank had “no choice” but to “cease acting as your investment manager.”

One letter sent to Bank of Scotland’s portfolio management division, which is now part of Lloyds, said: “The USA has a mature regulatory environment governed by its Securities and Exchange Commission. These regulations mean that we are not licensed to manage portfolios for US clients.”

The letter added: “Unfortunately we cannot offer an equivalent service from within Lloyds Banking Group.” Clients have been advised to transfer their assets.

One recipient, who has lived in the UK for over 25 years, said: “After all this time, I’ve suddenly been told I must take my money elsewhere and I don’t understand why. Now I’m scared that other banks won’t take me on either.”

The Brits are no the only group shedding US account holders.

A July 12, 2009 USA Today article entitled “Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap”  by Kevin McCoy explains how other banks have booted Americans as well.  An excerpt says: 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 Dutch were early in dropping American clients.

ABN AMRO, a huge, Dutch based, international bank gave all clients  with U.S. passports within 30 days notice in 2008 and then closed their accounts because of the  high costs to comply with U.S. regulations.

Expect this problem to get worse! Beginning in 2010 stronger US reporting rules will force even more overseas banks to stop accepting Americans.  They simply cannot afford to fill all the obligations.

Americans should not feel totally alone…nor should non US investors feel totally safe from being shut out of a banking center.

According to the British Times Newspaper, Barclays Bank used the US anti-terror laws to shut down the personal bank accounts of British citizens who were working for Iranian owned businesses.

The bank enforced anti-Iran sanctions under the US Patriot Act.  Accounts of Iranian owned companies that operated completely legally in Britain were shut.  But Barclays went much further. They amazingly shut down accounts of directors of these companies and even more amazing they shut the personal accounts of ordinary staff members, including clerical officers, computer engineers and bank tellers, just because they worked for an Iranian owned company.

Here is an excerpt from a June June 6, 2008 Times of London article entitled, “Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law:”  Barclays began the account closures in February, shortly after reports from industry sources that US Treasury agents had been touring the City of London putting pressure on financial institutions to withdraw from any form of business that might have Iranian links.

One source told The Times that City banks had been warned that they would lose access to the US market if they continued to deal with Iranian businesses. Barclays has extensive business interests in the United States.

Case study: Cast out in the supermarket

Chris was doing the shopping in Tesco when Barclays rang to tell him that his bank account was being closed. Later that evening his wife was told that her Barclays account, which she had held for 25 years, was also being closed.

Chris, 46, works in IT for Bank Saderat, and his wife is in the accounts department of Melli Bank. Both institutions are Iranian-owned. “They said it was because of sanctions but I knew there were no British sanctions on the banks. I asked them if they were responding to US laws and they said they didn’t have to give me a reason,” he said.

The couple opened new accounts with one of Barclays’ rivals but they had difficulty transferring standing orders, especially Chris’s child-support payments. He said: “I know that UK banks are being pressured by America to stop all dealings with Iran but what impact will it have to shut an English bloke’s account with an English bank? The Iranians won’t give a monkey’s. What upsets me is the lack of respect Barclays have for their customers.”

This last comment hit me strongly… the lack of respect many of the big banks have for their clients.

This is one reason I have enjoyed banking with Jyske Bank in Denmark for more than 20 years.  Jyske is big and well managed enough to be very safe, but small enough to provide genuine care and attention to the individual.

This is why I was not surprised that a number of years ago, Jyske made the decision to spend a lot of time, energy and money to comply with US law so they could continue to serve US as well as non US investors around the world.

This shift though has created some confusion. For example a Reader from the Netherlands sent me this note:  Hello Gary, Since beginning of this year we are subscribed to your newsletter. In your articles we read that it is possible to go to Jyske Bank and start doing multi-currency for about 30,000 dollars. We were very enthusiastic about this philosophy and asked the Jyske Bank for information. However we were very surprised when we got information back including the message that we have to start with $150,000 euro. Can you help us and maybe clarify the misunderstanding about this starting amount?  Thank you very much in advance!

The services and minimums required by Jyske Bank Private Bank (JBPB) for non US investors differs from those offered by Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) who serves US investors.

Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) offers Americans managed accounts, advisory accounts and IRA services to US clients.

JGAM’s managed accounts provide Americans with access to international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

There are two levels of managed accounts for US investors:

Mutual Fund Managed Accounts, $50,000 to $200,000.  Accounts from $50-200,000 are mainly  invested in mutual funds and ETF`s in order to get the appropriate diversification.

Individual Investment Managed Accounts from $200,000 up are mainly invested in individual securities as trading costs are not prohibitive for this size of account.

There are two forms of advisory accounts for US investors.

Advisory Accounts for US Residents.  Accounts for US residents are available and provide access to investments in currencies, commodities and US listed securities.

Advisory Accounts for Americans who are resident outside the US.   US citizens who are resident outside the US (proof of residence is required) have access to investments in currencies, commodities and all international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

The minimum required to start an advisory account is $25,000.

Because the minimum annual fee is  $1,000 JGAM recommends an initial deposit of minimum $50,000.

IRA accounts are managed accounts with more conservative investments than those in a normal  managed account.  IRA accounts require a minimum investment of $50,000.

Jyske Bank Private Bank offers the following services to non US investors.

Non US Clients can open accounts with minimum deposit of Euro 150,000 (approximately 220,000 USD), or equivalent in another currency.

JBPB works with six profiles:

Income profile. A low-risk profile, invested in currency accounts (cash) and/or traditional bonds.

Stable profile. A low-risk profile, invested in bonds (incl. high- yielding bonds), a small equity part.

Balanced profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on bonds).

Dynamic profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on equities).

Growth profile. A high-risk profile, invested mainly in equities and a lesser share in bonds.

Aggressive profile. A high-risk profile, invested almost exclusively in equities.

There are six managed strategy funds (available only in Euro) for investors who want managed services with minimum deposits of US$ 220,000. These six funds are based on the principles of asset allocation and match the investment profiles above so all investors can attain risk diversification, risk management with even a limited investment.

There is a full Discretionary Portfolio Management service for investors who want managed services with US$ 350,000 and above. This service is also based on the six strategies above. Jyske Bank will invest and manage the clients portfolio in close cooperation with the Bank´s experts and their network of international partners. These strategies are offered in EUR, USD, GBP, DKK and SEK.

Investors, who do not want managed services, and have accounts of US$ 220,000 or more, can wish to engage in an active dialogue with their advisers and be very involved in the decision-making process. based on the client’s investment profile. They can invest in currency accounts in a large number of currencies, all tradeable equities and bonds, mutual funds and commodities.

Here is one huge feature I like very much about both JBPB and JGAM…  No Jyske employees in  management, advisory services or any employee receives any kind of bonus pay. This eliminates any temptation for hidden agendas to exist.  Employees have no incentive give any advice or take any action that is not in the client’s best interest.

Technology has given great mobility to our wealth. This mobility is good for the individual and the global economy… but governments do not like this as they wish to control our finances.  The tension created by this struggle between the individual and the collective has created a never ending thrust and counter thrust of regulations and adaptions to these rules.  It is harder to maintain a diversified global portfolio than it used to be… but the effort is still worthwhile.

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.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

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

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina with our webmaster  David Cross & Thomas Fischer of JGAM

October 16-18 Ecuador Southern coastal tour (early sign up before Sept. 1, $499 per person).

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Oct. 25-26 Imbabura Real Estate 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

Read the full articles:

Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge

Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap

Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law

Cotacachi Spa & Ecuador Web Business


Cotacachi’s (perhaps Ecuador’s)  most famous spa is La Mirage and seeing it could help you own your own Ecuador business.

cotacachi-spa

In a moment, there is a link to some great shots of La Mirage by Todd Smith.

However it is Todd’s success with his web business after attending our course that I want to share.

The global economy is going though a much needed cleanse.    A recent USA Today article reports that census numbers show that a record one in nine U.S. housing units are vacant, including about 3% of owned homes. The Mortgage Bankers Association says more than 2 million homeowners faced foreclosure last year. The median sales price dropped 12%, according to the National Association of Realtors — far more in parts of Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan.

This inventory is delaying any kind of housing recovery and will dampen the job market for some time.  This is especially true because of the lack of demand.

One in nine means that 14 million housing units are vacant. USA Today says: That number does not include an estimated 4.8 million seasonal or vacation homes, most of which are occupied part of the year. The combined vacancy rate of almost 15% is higher than during previous recessions: 11% in 1991 and 9.4% in 1984.

• About 3% of owned homes are vacant. In normal times, “maybe 1% should be vacant.”

This means we should not expect to see any economic recovery soon.

A recent New York Times article entitled “U.S. Is Pressed to Add Billions to Bailouts”  by Edmund L. Andrews, Andrew Ross Sorkin  and Mary Williams Walsh says:  The government faced mounting pressure on Monday to put billions more in some of the nation’s biggest banks, two of the biggest automakers and the biggest insurance company, despite the billions it has already committed to rescuing them.

The government’s boldest rescue to date, its $150 billion commitment for the insurance giant American International Group, is foundering. A.I.G. indicated on Monday it was now negotiating for tens of billions of dollars in additional assistance as losses have mounted.

Separately, the Obama administration confirmed it was in discussions to aid Citigroup, the recipient of $45 billion so far, that could raise the government’s stake in the banking company to as much as 40 percent.

The Treasury Department named a special adviser to work with General Motors and Chrysler, two of Detroit’s biggest automakers, which are seeking $22 billion on top of the $17 billion already granted to them.

All these companies’ mushrooming needs reflect just how hard it is to stanch the flow of losses as the economy deteriorates. Even though the government’s finances are being stretched — and still more aid might be needed in the future — it is being forced to fill the growing holes in the finances of these companies out of fear that the demise of an important company could set off a chain reaction.

This means the government is creatng more money then it has and we are likely to see inflation.

So what can we do?

One is buy real estate in California, Florida and some of the other hard hit states. There will be real bargains.  Merri are headed to Florida as fast as soon as we wrap up our March tours in Ecuador.

Start our own business. No other time offers such great opportunity. The old boys network is slashed. Big business cannot compete and labor has not been so abundant in decades.

This is why Todd Smith sets such a great example.

Todd attended one of our courses on how to self publish and has developed a growing, thriving internet business.

See Todd’s latest emailed message about La Mirage here.

Here are two important points about Todd’ success.

First he already had a successful wedding photography business. However hat type of business did not have the upside potential nor offer the freedom he desired.

Second he was not enjoying the business. The hours and the types of photography did not fit Todd’s desires.  He had a passion to earn in a different type of  photography.

So he turned his passion into profit!

Due to numerous successes like Todd’s and because of  the ideal business conditions created by the economic correction, I have developed a new course... The Tangled Webs We Weave…A Web Based  Business Course

Enroll here $299

You own web business provides enormous freedom.  You can like anywhere you desire…  a Cotacachi business is great. This is a quiet peaceful place without much crime, noise or pollution.    Merri and I  have have a web business that works in Cotacachi, the Blue Ridge of North Carolina or anywhere we choose in the world?

The reason we can have this freedom in business is passion.

I am one of the luckiest guys in the world because my children are continually doing things that I learn from.  This allows me to be a bragging dad and actually share a worthwhile point in the process.

For example Merri and I recently were reminded of the most important secret of business success from our youngest daughter, Eleanor.   Here is a shot of Merri and me riding the Virgina Creeper Trail last summer with Ele.

Cotacachi-business

Eleanor is just 27 but has already built a very successful London based business that not only provides her a six figure income, but gives her the freedom to travel the world.  This last year, she visited us twice in the US plus spent time in China  enjoying the Olympics and made numerous other trips.  She has over four months of each year to travel wherever she desires…and earn as she goes.

While she was last with us, we had a great deal of time to talk and she surprised me by sharing a valuable lessons about business.

The first lesson came when she was telling me about her latest efforts at getting some of her students auditions and roles in London West End shows.  Ele started as an entrepreneur early. She owns a performing arts school in London that teaches dancing,  drama and singing.  Here are some of her students in the production of Aladdin they are currently performing.

New-year-economic-lesson

Ele’s school is a franchised operation…one of about 600.  She is one of the youngest owners yet has one of the top ten busiest schools.

One reason for her success is the enormous energy and passion she puts into her business.  Another reason for  her success is she has a growing reputation for getting her students professional roles in the London theater.

She currently has eight of her students working in London’s West End.

Two are in the Sound of Music at the London Palladium on Argyll Street.

Two are in Rodger and Hammerstein’s Carousel at the Savoy on the Strand.

One is  in Disney’s  Lion King, at the Lyceum Theatre on Wellington Street.

One is in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

I was a bit surprised at this success and asked her “what is your trick”.  She replied:

“This is very simple.  I give the children who have extra talent free lessons. I bring them to my home and work with them there.”

When I questioned the wisdom of giving away her services as being part of a good business model, she replied:

“This is not about the money, Dad. The thrill of hearing those kids when they call me and tell  they were selected is worth every minute I put into this. I love those calls so much,  I am happy to devote my time and effort.”

This is the secret. Do what you love and figure out how to make money in the process.

In Ele’s case, she has profited indirectly…but the profit is not the purpose.  This is a matter of fulfillment and of the heart.

This has always been an important idea, but grows in importance now.  Our message about the upcoming 2011 disaster showed an economic distortion that is so grave it will force many of us to continue working… or  to work more then expected or… to start working for oneself when an existing job is eliminated.

This problem is so acute and the importance of having more people do what they love is so vital that we have decided to write a new course…on how to develop your own international internet business.

I have now started this course and before I launch it to the public want to make a special offer…that gives you this course free…or more.

Years ago, Merri and I  had 23,000 print readers…micro sized in publishing terms….but very, very profitable for us.  We made millions from this business.  We believe that in this rapidly changing world…small is beautiful.

When money stopped mattering as much, our children were grown, finished with university, we sold our print business and took a year off…lived with a shaman high in the Andes.

Then we morphed into an internet only business.  Our readership began small, with  about 1,600 email readers.  We expected to slow down and smell the roses more.  We even bought an isolated hacienda high in the Andes called Rosaspamba (Place of roses).

As crazy as it seems, we could actually run a business with this small readership and make a profit because our readers are so wonderfully responsive.

Why?  How?

This is what the new course I am creating will teach you….how to have a small, safe, profitable global internet business by creating wonderfully response, fun to be with, like-minded customers.

How small?

Today, our business remains micro sized but we have grown from 1,600 readers to four  main subscription lists consisting of 16,782 subscribers.

How safe?

The downturn of 2008 has not slowed us a bit.   In fact we  are growing faster, in number of subscribers and income, than ever.   December 2008 was our busiest month on the internet ever…by about 50%! January and February 2009 were up 226% over January and February of 2008.  This March we have almost surpassed March 2008 sales in the first ten days.

This is all at  a time when many say the world is economically depressed. Yet our sales are way up and growing almost every month.

How profitable?

Our list and sales are still tiny compared to many of our competitors and associates who make millions a month.   We make tens of thousands…sometimes hundreds.

Yet we have been able to add this extra income with a surprisingly small amount of added overheads.  This number works perfectly for Merri and me…a fun sized readership. In our opinion, this should be the key in business… satisfaction… fulfillment and fun…through service along with the profit.

Yet, profits do matter. Almost every month our internet sales have been rising. In 2008 they rose nearly every month and created a new record for web based sales for us.

These internet sales alone have given us the freedom to live in an isolated Blue Ridge farm during summers and in Ecuador the rest of the year…yet still earn many tens of thousands of extra dollars a month.

Now you can learn everything I do to create this extra income and have fun and fulfillment in a micro publishing business.

The syllabus of this course will help you learn how to find something that is fun, fulfilling and profitable for you to do.

Our growing income is one reason I have decided to create this course.

Second, the economic downturn of 2008 means that more of my readers will need a new way to earn in the years ahead.

Yet the third reason was the straw that made me decide to do this….my webmaster who helped me start this site agreed to co-write the course with me. Merri and I explain what we do in the business.  The writing…the marketing…the product planning and such.   Our webmaster outlines the technical part. How to chose a server…set up a shopping cart…create pay per click systems…send thousands of emails a day.

Though we like to remain small, this does not mean all of our students will.  Our webmaster started with us first but since has grown to be the chief internet consultant for several much larger internet marketing companies that send over a billion emails a year!

We are explaining in the course in detail as we develop it over this year…what I will share and what my webmaster will share as well…how the course will help you.  We are at chapter eight now and I honestly do not know everything what will be in the course.

Previous courses have always evolved as they are written because of the questions that are asked as the lessons are sent.

This is why I want to offer this emailed course (which has not yet be written) now so you can grow with the course as it evolves.

Here is a  special offer.

This new course entitled “Tangled Webs We Weave – How to Have Your Own Internet Business” is available at $299.

This is a bargain. Merri and I have been traveling and doing international business for 41 years. We have had a web based business for over ten years. You can share everything we have learned for just $299.

Plus we provide our standard full guarantee. Enroll.  Try the course for 30 days. If not satisfied we’ll give you an immediate, full… no fuss refund.

However if you sign up for any three of our in person courses below, you can have The Tangled Web course free.

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.

Future 2009 courses

May 29-31  JGAM Multi Currency investment Seminar Naples Florida

June 12-14 Shamanic Mingo Tour
June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
June 18-21 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 3-6 Ecuador Import Export Expedition
July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
July 10-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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 Expedition

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

Enroll in Tangled Web here $299

To enroll in three courses click here.   I will automatically send you the free Tangled Web course when you enroll. You save $299 more.

Ecuador Charity


See a link about Ecuador charity, giving and an Ecuador Living excerpt below.

Our Ecuador charity does not just give.   Just giving builds dependence which is not our goal. Our aim is to help the great people of Ecuador help themselves.

This is why our Ecuador charity, Land of the Sun Foundation  has had its greatest focus in the past few years on helping the hotel Meson de las Flores learn how to stand on its own.  We have helped the Meson staff take Meson from a crumbling empty shell and transform it into renewed facility and profitable operation.  All profits go back to improving the hotel or to the Ecuador Land of the Sun charity that aims to help expand business in Ecuador.  Merri and I do not make a penny from the hotel….our pay check  goes to the heart instead of  the pocketbook

For Meson’s success, we thank all of you who have visited us here.

The staff at Meson de las Flores asked me to send all of you their best wishes for UN MUY FELIZ ANO.  Here is Meson’s staff.

Meson-Cotacachi-Hotel

From left to right Meson’s staff.  Ecuardo – maître d,  Alberto – sous-chef, Consuelo – hostess, Ray – global liasion, Rosita Elena – maid, Mauricio, – night assistant and tour guide, Santiago – chef,  Franklin – manager.  Not present Rosita De la Torres – maid.

The staff of Meson de las Flores are to be congratulated. They are remarkable people who have been willing to work hard for and to deserve their success.  Here is the type of comment I continually receive about service at Meson de las Flores.

Dear Gary and Merri,  From Mesón de las Flores I am sending you my very best wishes for this coming year!!!  I am at your hotel since Monday afternoon together with two good friends and we have really enjoyed the place, the warmth of your staff and the natural food.  I have particularly enjoyed the chance to relax, to do some sightseeing in Cotacachi and Otavalo.  2008 was a very busy year for me, but also a very blessed time for which I am very grateful to God.  I thank Him for the opportunity of having met during this year people like you who has a passion  for what they do and their work benefit many  people´s live. Have a wonderful 2009!!

The warmth of the staff at Meson is a continual refrain I read like this:

Hi Gary and Merri!  I  miss Ecuador so much!  It is amazing to me that, after only 90 days there I feel such a strong connection and love for Cotacachi and all the local people and the others I met there.  I am counting the days until my return.  You promised me that I would be pampered — and El Mason and the people
there really took care of me.  I think it is good to leave Ecuador and experience “home” — it really confirms that Ecuador is a beautiful place and the people there are so warm and welcoming.  Best thing I ever did!  Can’t wait to return!  Blessings to you both,

Having Ray as our global liasion at the hotel has been a hug addition that really helps guests.  We receive continual raves about Ray:

I LOVED the market in Otavalo and came home with another extra-large Ecuadorian bag loaded with rugs and wall-hangings. A very tempting place that I visited 4-times just to give you an indication of how much FUN I had there.
We’ll have to see how our retail season goes and if I can break away for a couple of weeks, I’ll travel back to Ecuador for two weeks in April.  Ray is a splendid character and makes one feel that “our casa is your casa” during your stay. He has that manner that invites and excites and I feel he is a huge plus to your organization. Everyone really likes Ray and I miss him already and his lighthearted banter and genuine care.

Next trip I’ll bring lots of ones and fives. Even twenties were a drag. Imagine! At home a $100.00 bill goes direct to pay one bill alone or one “small” grocery shopping without blinking an eye.

This guest is not alone in praising Ray. Meson has also become a  central meetng place for the gringo community in Cotacachi. Ray organized a Christmas party and this Cotacachi resident who emigrated from Michigan wrote:

Hi, Gary and Merri.  Just a quick note to say thank you for the great Christmas Party for Gringos at El Meson!  It was a lot of fun and we were amazed at how few of the people we actually had met.  Of course we solved that by making sure we met everyone there and invited them to visit us when out our way.  We wish you a very blessed Christmas and a fabulous 2009!  Looking forward to seeing you soon, Love.

Ray seems to help guests in so many ways:

Hi Merri  Returned from Cotacachi last Thurs after a great trip.  The woman that traveled with me wants to return this summer – she could not believe how nice the area is and the friendliness of the people.  I saw my apartment and am very happy with the bed and bedding that you added.  Thank you.  Ray Manna is a super nice person and very friendly and accomodating with the guests – a real plus.  Brought over 200lbs of clothing, school supplies, medical supplies and gifts for the children and nursing home.  Everything was donated – a very warm experience and shared joy.  I wish you and Gary a Merry Christmas – hope to see you in Ecuador in the Spring.  Hugs and love

From shopping to checking out and arranging tours. Another guest wrote:

Hi Merri, We are back from Ecuador and in a serious cold spell in Alberta. It is minus 30 C this morning but is beautifully sunny. We have a little snow so at least it feels like Christmas.  I just wanted to say thanks for your guidance in planning our trip. I also wanted to let you know what a terrific job Ray did despite the fact that he was a sick as a dog. His upbeat positive attitude and willingness to help was second to none. He is a real asset to your organization.  We enjoyed our stay at El Meson and found Cotacachi and the surrounding area to be both beautiful and peaceful.  We are already planning our next trip to Ecuador and are dreaming about its warmer days. Best wishes for the holiday season.

Ray and the staff make everyone feel like part of our family…and you are…when you stay with us at Mesons, as this guest noted.

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 and several others.  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.   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.  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.

Ray helps in Cotacachi and elsewhere as this guest noted:

Merri, We have arrived at Palmazul and it is very nice.  I would like to tell you that Tina and I had a wonderful time at Cotacachi.  The staff and service at El Meson could not have been better.  I must tell you that Ray was an excellent host and was attentive to every detail of our stay.  All of the other guests love Ray. I will report back to you after our trip in Palmazul. Best wishes.

Guest also report feeling healthier and often lose weight..even though they eat more as this guest reported:

Hi Merri:  Back home after that long flight and am already ready to return to Cotacachi.  Gary’s e mail this morning about the essential oils and other things to reduce stress.  He left out the most important thing…..Going to Cotacachi, El Meson, meeting new friends, seeing old friends, and seeing all the wonderful smiles of your staff, and  the people of Ecuador.

When I go to Ecuador, after the first day, I take no medicine, eat healthy food, get lots of exercise, and just feel wonderful.  Since I have been home..ort on my travels home, I have had a who knows what hamburger, bag of fritos, diet cokes, processed cheese and other just total crap, and I bet I have gained back those four pounds I lost in Cotacachi…in just two days.

Guest really feel healthier and enjoy our philosophy of health at the hotel.

Dear Merri and Gary, How wonderful an experience we had with you…and how much respect we have for you both.   Thank you for the extraordinary services you are offering in these times to so many.   It is rare that we feel as aligned with people as we do with you on so many fronts at once – investments, political opinions, commitment to the indigenous, ‘being healthy,’ commitment to organics/biodynamics and a religion of being kind.   Wow.  With Appreciation.

A stay at Meson seems to be food for the body and the soul as this reader reports:

My Dearest Merri and Gary,  I cannot thank you both enough for your wonderful hospitality.  I just want you to know that everything I read about Ecuador from your news letters and emails was exactly the way you described it and better…………..

The day we were all returning to Quito to go our different ways at the end of the tour, I was overwhelmed with tears because you both had been so wonderful and I didn’t want it to end.  I was already missing you and the wonderful experience I had had during your Ecuador Tour Adventure……..You both are very special and I am honored to be a part of your Group.

I also want you to know that………

I fell in Love while I was there……………..I  fell  in  Love.

I fell in love with the Country, the People, the Mountains, the Sky’s, the Thousands of stars at night, the Flowers,the Rivers, the Ocean, the Villages, the Towns, The Taxi drivers who were so helpful and wanted to speak English and practiced on me……….The Ecuadorian people who seemed to have this overall feeling of Happiness and well being that was contagious where ever we went.  From the Bus driver who stood at the door of our bus and helped each and every member of our group, everyday, get in and out of the bus. He was always smiling and happy to help.  To the Indian women, who were washing the Family’s clothes on flat stones in the River.  They looked up from their work, as our bus passed by, waving to some of us staring in disbelief………….I waved back, with tears in my eyes. They smiled at me as if to say… all is well and you are welcome……

Everywhere we went I felt as though I was surrounded by smiling faces.  Just walking out of the Hotel in Cotacache, the Native Indians of the area were dressed in their Native costume, except it wasn’t a costume, it was their way of life……….Immaculate, clean clothes, beautifully embroidered blouses with wonderful long wool skirts, colorful sashes around their waists, carrying small children wrapped in beautiful fabric on their backs.  I was in awe………. I was feeling as though I was in a time machine that was set for the mid 1850’s.  I had indeed traveled back in time and landed in Ecuador…………….The air was clean, the water was fresh, the food was healthy and delicious…………..I kept thinking, Where am I?  Is it possible?  Am I dreaming?  Is it real?

After being there for a couple of days, and easing into the relaxed, tranquil, lifestyle.  I began to notice the little nuisances of the Indigenous people I was surrounded by.

Every morning, wherever I went, I was always greeted with Buenos Dias ( good morning).  It was so peasant and  so comfortable so nice.  I  forgot about where I had come from, and my only concern was finding out everything I could about this beautiful Gentle Country of Beautiful gentle people.

Everyday was a unique Visual Experience for me.
I remember waking up to the Church bell ringing at 6am and looking out the window and seeing the mothers walking their children to the school.  All cleaned up with fresh clothes, their native costumes, and smiles.  Walking along the  hand made stone sidewalks, skirts swaying as they walked, lightly brushing the sidewalk as they made their way to the school.  Just watching them gave me a feeling of well being, and a knowing sense that all is well.   No plastic, no tensil, no cartoon characters acting like humans.  It was real,
real people, real feelings, real emotions experiencing their version of life on Planet Earth…

There were many times I was overwhelmed with emotions of humility and feelings of being honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this unique Gift in those present moments.   A Gift that you, Gary and Marri, have made available to a select few. You and Ecuador have changed my life and my thinking.  Thank you, I am so grateful.

See more about Ecuador charity in an excerpt from Ecuador Living

We invite you to join us in Ecuador this year.

Gary

Our January courses are almost full but we have plenty space in February and beyond.

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.

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

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 them 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.

Demographic Income Opportunity


Demographics, inflation and crime are creating a multi currency opportunity.

Yesterday’s message looked at crime in Ecuador and I concluded: “I would let my grandchildren go more places in Cotacachi Ecuador than in the suburbia of Rockwood Oregon where I grew up.”

This is not just because Ecuador is good. US Suburban neighborhoods are becoming places of crime.

Growing crime creates a huge problem. Big problems create huge opportuity.

A recent message also pointed out that in times of inflation a growing income is increasingly valuable.

A recent USA Today article outlines the suburban problem and says:

Devastated by the subprime mortgage crisis, hundreds of homes have been foreclosed and thousands of residents have been forced to move, leaving in their wake a not-so-pleasant path of empty houses, unkempt lawns, vacant strip malls, graffiti-sprayed desolate sidewalks and even increased crime.

Many homeowners not only cut their own grass but also trim the yards of vacant homes on their streets, hoping to deter gangs and criminals from moving in.

Other residents discovered that with some of the empty houses, it wasn’t what was growing outside that was the problem. busted several pot homes with vast crops of marijuana growing from floor to ceiling.

This trend, according to Christopher Leinberger, an urban planning professor at the University of Michigan and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, stems not only from changing demographics but also from a major shift in the way an increasing number of Americans — especially younger generations — want to live and work.

“The American dream is absolutely changing,” he told CNN.

Instead, they are looking for what Leinberger calls “walkable urbanism” — both small communities and big cities characterized by efficient mass transit systems and high density developments enabling residents to walk virtually everywhere for everything — from home to work to restaurants to movie theaters.

And aging baby boomers are looking for a more urban lifestyle as they downsize from large homes in the suburbs to more compact town houses in more densely built locations.

The result is an oversupply of depreciating suburban housing and a pent-up demand for walkable urban space, which is unlikely to be met for a number of years. That’s mainly, according to Leinberger, because the built environment changes very slowly; and also because governmental policies and zoning laws are largely prohibitive to the construction of complicated high-density developments.

Yet Nelson also estimates that in 2025 there will be a surplus of 22 million large-lot homes that will not be left vacant in a suburban wasteland but instead occupied by lower classes who have been driven out of their once affordable inner-city apartments and houses.

The so-called McMansion, he said, will become the new multi-family home for the poor.

“What is going to happen is lower and lower-middle income families squeezed out of downtown and glamorous suburban locations are going to be pushed economically into these McMansions at the suburban fringe,” said Nelson. “There will probably be 10 people living in one house.”

The opportunity is in this shift of utility. As single family homes become multiple occupant units, their income producing value will intensify.

We will examine this and three other income producing potentials in my upcoming International Investing and Business Course, October 3-5, 2008.

Gary

Join Thomas Fischer of Jyske Bank, Merri and me Friday to Sunday, October 3-5 to learn more about International investing and business. We selected this weekend as the most likely to be beautiful with the autumnal leaf change. The colors are glorious.

autumn-gold

Here delegates at a previous course chat during a coffee break.

blue-ridge-leaf-change

You can enroll in the October course here.