Cost of Living Deceit

Some statistics say we do not have inflation in the cost of living.  This is statistical deceit because most of us find increases in the cost of living where the pinch hurts most… food and energy.

Many people say we do not have inflation in the US cost of living.  Yet most of us find increases in the cost of living where the pinch hurts most… food and energy.

First, those who say we do not have inflation are probably not looking at the 2011 data.    Inflation was very low in 2009 (-.035%) and 2010 (+ 1.65%),  but according to  the average inflation rate for 2011 was up 3.16%. That 2011 rate is the 4th highest inflation since 2000.

Yet look at this report from the Department of Labor regarding the cost of energy and food.



Food prices have increased a whopping 5.3% and the energy costs that count (gas and fuel oil) are up in the unsustainable 10% range!

There are several ways to beat inflation.

#1: Earn more. This is a great solution… if you can… and if it does not cause a deterioration of lifestyle.

#2: Spend less.  Not such a good solution but this works if you had more than “just enough” to spend before.

#3: Shop Better.  This is really a sub category to #2.  Most of us CAN shop better.

#4: Suffer.  Let’s not go there.

#5: Move to a less expensive places to live.

This is why we are investigating Cuba now.   This is also why we have been so active in Ecuador for 15 years. Ecuador is a really great country with a really low cost of living.

There is inflation in Ecuador also so each year or two we double check the cost of living in Ecuador.

First the cost of gas is subsidized so a gallon remains at around $1.50.  Propane in the home is subsidized as well so the cost of travel, heating and cooking at home are very low.

Let’s have a food price review.


Cotacachi organic farm.

Ecuador prices have risen but food costs are still low and food quality really high.  For example one American who lives in Cotacachi asked about the Saturday night get together pasta meal.

We are wondering if the pasta this Sat. night will be made of quinoa (as it was the last time) ? It was soooo delicious that we want to come back with a group if it’s going to be quinoa pasta.  Please put me on your email list.  Thank you.

That meal offered on Saturday nights at Inn Land of the Sun offers a great quinoa (gluten free and high protein) pasta, with meat or vegetarian sauce, plus fresh vegetables and dessert (pineapple pie last week) plus service and tax is just $6.

The Friday night  Pizza meal (meat or vegetarian) is just $5 including dessert (Coconut Pudding last week), service and tax.

The menu for Friday March 2, 2012: Hamburgers or Pollo Sandwiches, & Dessert  $5.00 including tax.
Saturday March 3, 2012: Quinoa Pasta w/Shrimp & Dessert  $6.00 including tax.

Ecuador prices have risen. Ecuador has a tendency toward inflation because the government has been pumping a lot of money into the economy. In recent years it gained extra revenue by defaulting on bond obligations plus through oil revenues and through selling future oil to China.  This money has been spent in many cases without increasing productivity.  Such spending creates inflation.

In addition the government has welcomed expats.  A recent Jan 28th 2012 Economist article entitled  “Ecuador’s retirement capital – Going gently” says:

An “anti-imperialist” country welcomes American pensioners.

American diplomats say some 5,000 expatriates from the United States, mostly over 55, now live in Cuenca, which has enough colonial and 19th-century architecture to qualify as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city offers a packed schedule of events, including an international art biennale and the national hockey tournament. Its private health clinics are well-regarded and cheap: a doctor’s visit runs to $30 and insurance costs $100 a month.

Its public spaces, like the El Vado walk on a bluff overlooking the Tomebamba river, are being renovated, and many stately homes have been converted into smart restaurants and boutique hotels. People still feel safe walking Cuenca’s cobblestone streets at night—as they seldom do in Quito, the capital.

The inequality between foreigners and locals can be jarring, and may lead to social tensions. Elderly native women still carry loads to market on their bent backs, and ageing cobblers toil in dark adobe workshops. Although most Cuencans ignore the anti-American rhetoric of Rafael Correa, the president, they resent being priced out of the property market.

Cuenca owes some of its growth to liberal immigration policies. Ecuador grants residency to any retiree over 65 whose pension exceeds $800 a month, just $255 above the poverty line. Since older people pay a mere $50 a month for health care from the social-security system, a new influx of retired people could strain budgets to breaking point. Mr Correa will have to be careful not to let one of Ecuador’s biggest draws become a victim of its own success.

Years ago we wrote one could live well for $600 a month. Now $1,500 is more appropriate.

Housing prices have risen.  Houses in parts of Florida now cost less than in cities like Ecuador… though Ecuador’s coast still remains an enormous bargain.

Taxes are still really low… almost unimaginable to the average Westerner compared with taxes in the USA… especially for property.

Food costs remain low and quality really high.


Cotacachi market…


at night.

The last time we checked food prices was in 2009 so we asked Jeff and Lin Neal who head up Ateam Ecuador in the Imbabura Province to check current food prices in the Cotacachi market.

They updated our 2009 pricing (Bold)  on February 19, 2012:

In 2009 Lomo fino, the best beef for one kilo was $5.28 ($2.40 a pound).  The beef is now $2.50 per lb.

Chicken was $2.64 a kilo ($1.20 a pound).  The price now is lower at $2.50 per kilo.

One kilo of apples is $1.25 (8 apples) for a kilo. This was 56 cents a pound.  The price is now $1.40 per kilo.

One kilo of pears was $1.25 (8 pears – 56 cents a pound).  Now the price is $2.50 per kilo (these pears are from Chile).

A liter of fresh milk (appx. quart) was 40 cents.  Now it is $.63.

A pineapple ranged, based upon size, from 80 cents  to $1.25. Now the price is $1.00 reg. size

A batch of 20 bananas was between 25 and 50 cents. The price remains at .50.

Lin also priced the following:

Large Tomatoes are 4 for $1.00.

Strawberries $1.00 per kilo

Avocados…depending on ripeness 3 for $1.00 or 4 for $1.00

Lin also wrote:  I hope this helps…we can check on other items if you like. We have  noticed that some of the produce comes from other countries. Examples: Oranges from California (4 for a $1.00), Grapes from Peru, Pears from Chili. You have to really check to see the origin of the produce.


Lin and Jeff

Inflation has not hit food prices much at all.


Cotacachi bean field.

Because agriculture is everywhere in Ecuador. Because transport costs are low (gas prices are subsidized and labor is low) there is not the need of early picking found in the North American national food distribution system.


Ecuador food market.

This means food can actually be vine ripened before it is picked and brought to the market.


Fresh food of every type plus


dried beans  and pastas.

One can also find organic growers and get to know the source.


Organic section at Cotacachi market.

This is one reason Ecuador living and having an Ecuador agricultural business makes sense.


Delegates viewing an organic Ecuador farm.

See details of the March Ecuador agricultural expedition here.

Inflation is everywhere especially for food and water.  Yet the cost of living in Ecuador remains low and as the numbers above show inflation has not affected the price nor quality of fresh food in Ecuador.


Learn Spanish in four days before going to Spanish speaking countries.

Learn Spanish in Three Days


Learn Spanish in Three Days ONLINE

Instant $110 discount on the course!

The “Learn Spanish in Three Day Course” is now available online.

Read below to see why we are offering our Super Spanish course online for the first time.

Speaking Spanish is a huge benefit on its own.  You can become one of the rare North Americans who can get along in Spanish speaking countries.  You can be one of the special people who can communicate with 10 million non-English speakers in the USA.  Spanish is the second most used language in the USA.  There are more Spanish speakers than speakers of Chinese, French, German, Italian, Hawaiian, and the Native American languages combined.  According to the Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language of nearly 50 million people in the US.  This is the largest Spanish-speaking community outside of Mexico. Only half of these speakers also speak English “very well,” and 19% do not speak Spanish at all.

You can tap into all this potential when you speak Spanish.  Yet there are more benefits.

An article in England’s leading newspaper, the Telegraph, entitled “Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism” (1) sum up the biggest benefit of learning a second language and increased intelligence.  The article says: “Learning a foreign language is more than just a boost to your CV or handy for traveling.  It will make you smarter, more decisive and even better at English.  Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process.  The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits.”

The article then explains studies that show seven cognitive advantages gained from learning a foreign language.

#1:  You become smarter
#2:  You build multitasking skills
#3:  You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia
#4:  Your memory improves
#5:  You become more perceptive
#6:  Your decision-making skills improve
#7:  You improve your English

Does it sound impossible to learn Spanish in three days?  Yes, it is impossible when you try to learn Spanish in the old, traditional way.

Though you may choose to take more time using this course to learn Spanish, thousands of our readers have learned at our Spanish courses.

There is a scientific method of learning… proven and described in numerous best selling books that create educational jumps by making education natural, easy and fun.   This course works because it is education without stress!

This method was created and refined by the Bulgarian educational master, Georgi Lozanov, who transformed the entire Soviet educational system to such a degree that this third world country beat the USA into space.

Merri was lucky to be one of a handful of students outside of Bulgaria who were allowed to be taught this system in the early 70s.  She practiced this unique and remarkable form of education for  four decades. It was a delight!

Merri and I began integrating these techniques with other shamanic and educational tactics we had gained in our global travels and then applied them to teach Spanish in three days.

The course has been proven again and again by the thousands who have used this system.  You can read a few of the many raves we have received from delegates who have learned from the Super Thinking Spanish course we created.

Here are a few quotes from delegates of the course.

One delegate from St. Louis wrote:  Hi Gary,  Just ended forty-five years in dentistry last week, and I’m on to a new career.  What is my new career?  Still formulating, but the eye -opening,mind expanding Super-Spanish course last weekend in St. Louis surely shows me the opportunity exists to expand my horizons.

Besides having a lot of nice people to learn our new language; the methods Merri and you developed proved to be just what you said they would be.  We all and I in particular relaxed our way to new learning.  I feel so very comfortable with the basis of my new language skills that I know I will be spitting out great Spanish sentences by the time I reach Ecuador in October.  Last year I spent six weeks in Ecuador and now I plan on conversing with the people.

Today’s excerpt of your newsletter really hit home. You do what you say you will. There are no surprises or hidden sales tricks. The only tricks are beneficial to our learning.  Thank you for a wonderful experience that I was quite unable to grasp how you would pull it off.  You did, however, and I look forward to other courses that you offer, and I have absolutely no doubt they also will work beneficially.  Best regards, Denis Molloy.

Another wrote about the Super Spanish course:   Buenos Dias, here is a testimonial for Super Thinking-Super Spanish.  Please feel free to use all or part in promotions for the course.  In addition, you may give my email address to any prospect “on the fence” about enrolling.  Yesterday, in Cotacachi, Ecuador, I finished Super Spanish.  I had high expectations for the course and they were exceeded.

After three days, I can speak Spanish in complete sentences. In simple conversations, such as buying groceries or ordering a meal, I can make myself understood. I think that’s incredible!

Although I am far from the competence level of a native speaker, I feel I’ve taken a giant step forward in learning Spanish so that I can experience the people and culture of Ecuador.  The foregoing benefits would have more than justified the time and money I invested in Super Spanish.  And learning some Spanish was not the most important benefit I got from the course.

Prior to leaving the USA, I had felt for some time that the pace of life there was unhealthy for me (and for most people) and I did nothing about it.

I’ve thought about the pace issue during the course.  One of the key elements Merri Scott designed into Super Spanish is placing the student in the optimal state for learning.  In class, the past three days, I’ve been re-introduced to guided journeys and introduced to the calming effects of Baroque music (  What a blessing! I’m inclined to make one or both a daily part of my life.   Rob Christi.  Cotacachi, Ecuador

Another attendee from a course wrote:   “I took this incredible class a few weeks ago, and I would like to tell anyone that is interested, that it is an amazing three days of learning with lots of laughs included. You leave everyday wanting to learn more and are so excited to do so.

“Other Spanish classes and tutoring made us feel like it would take forever to get to the point where we could put it into practice, but this method gave us a more fluent use for everyday life almost immediately AND the confidence to use it.  It is a fantastic way to show people how much they know and give confidence to learn and use Spanish creating a momentum.

“They made learning Spanish easy and fun in a very relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.  I would definitely recommend this course.  Even if you know some Spanish, this helps make it easier because of the less stress that no verb conjugations gives you.  This gives you more confidence in yourself to try and speak it more.

 “The stress free atmosphere and tons of interaction and participation were very conducive to learning.  The relaxation techniques alone are worth the price.  The fact that I can now feel more comfortable conversing in Spanish with my new friends and neighbors is priceless.  Muchas, muchas gracias.”

“I loved the relaxed environment.  I picked up quite a lot of new vocabulary.  I found this course very informative about how the language works, how I can make sentences and understand others better!  Muchas Gracias!  I had a call from Telcel (the local phone company) after our second class and I was able to speak and understand them for the first time. Despacio (meaning slowly) … a great word!  Everyone should take this course before they pick up bad habits.”

“I liked how simply the course was organized and the positive attitude about learning.  Thank you so much for helping me to learn Spanish!”

“I liked the laid back yet professional approach.  I highly recommend this new, relaxing method of learning Spanish,  I feel a lot more confident in the delivery of my words and sentences. It was taught in an excellent and very professional way.

“It was a very enjoyable class.”

How The Course Works

The first tactic is to use Baroque music in the learning process.  At least three best selling books, “Superlearning”, the “Mozart Effect” and “Superlearning 2000” have revealed insights about how to learn and think more powerfully based on systems drawn from the Bulgarian educational master, Dr. Georgi Lozanov.  Merri Scott was among just a few who learned directly from Lozanov.

The second tactic uses 17 unique lessons to provide Spanish fluency in a short time.   Let me prove to you how this tactic works by teaching you hundreds of Spanish words in less than 30 seconds.

Here is the proof.

“Most words in English that end in ION are almost identical, just pronounced differently.  For example action is accion, education-educacion, manipulation- manipulacion, etc.”

There you have it.  How long did it take you to read the sentence?  You now know hundreds of Spanish words that you will never forget.

See examples of the words you already know below.

How long would have taken you to memorize all those words?  How soon would you have forgotten them?

This is just one of seventeen Spanish lessons in the course.

The next lesson teaches how to pronounce each of the nouns.

Then, the third lesson teaches almost as many verbs, almost as quickly.

The fourth lesson shows how to avoid conjugating verbs by sticking with the infinitive (far easier than it sounds).  This simple lesson leaves a person sounding like a Spanish professor without ever conjugating a verb.

Lesson five shows how to sound infinitely polite and yet get almost anything desired in Spanish.

Lesson six gives valuable connectors and the seventh lesson triples the Spanish capacity with three words for “yesterday,” “now” and “tomorrow”.

By the end of three days you feel comfortable speaking Spanish.

Plus the system is Impro-Dynamic.  This means your Spanish keeps getting better even though you do not seem to be studying… practicing… or speaking Spanish.

I was amazed by this as I traveled back and forth from the USA to Ecuador.  The longer I was away from Ecuador… the better my Spanish became.  My second language was automatically improving The self improving feature comes because you learn to create Spanish sentences rather than remember them.  The portion of the brain that creates is more powerful than the portion that recalls.  When your mind creates something… it owns it!  You do not have to remember .

During the course you learn 4005 Spanish words that you already know .  

You then learn how to create Spanish sentences from these words.

Throughout the course you learn how to pronounce the sentences you create.

When the course ends… the mind keeps working… and creating… so next time you begin to speak Spanish you’ll be surprised .  You improve even though you have not actively worked on your lingual skill.

Due to the difficulty of getting groups together to learn this valuable technique, we created an online program for subscribers to use the Super Spanish course at home.  Normally $149, this is available at the highly reduced price of $79. Simply use coupon code SPANISH110 at checkout.

I’ll be in touch personally via email with each person who signs up for this course to see how it works or what is required to make it better.  Once this test is complete, we plan to offer the program on a larger scale and at a much higher price.

The ONLINE course has our, full satisfaction or money back, guarantee.  Try Super Spanish for 60 days.  If not fully satisfied, simply let us know for a full refund.

Learn Spanish online $79 – using coupon code SPANISH110 at checkout to immediately save $110 off the regular price of $149

Here are more testimonials from previous Super Spanish Courses.

Maggie wrote: It didn’t really seem possible that we would be speaking and understanding Spanish in only 3 days but the course made it happen in a very supportive learning environment.  I would highly recommend this course for anyone wishing to learn “practical Spanish”.  The teaching methods, use of relaxation, the use of native Spanish speakers for pronunciation and the teachers themselves who were approachable and helpful and always positive made this a very valuable class.

This course improved my self confidence in my ability to learn and retain a language.  It was presented with genuine enthusiasm, great energy and the style of learning is very effective. Gracias!  It was a great experience.

Nadine wrote: “Just spent the last 3 days in the most wonderful learning environment learning Spanish.  What an amazing learning experience!!  First day out of class and I could not stop thinking in Spanish WOW!!  I am amazed by how much I learned, retained and how much more is showing up now that I am out of class.  And the best part is THERE WAS NO STUDYING!! Indeed this is Super Thinking!!!  I would highly recommend this to anyone that has ever had a desire to learn another language or learn anything in record time.

And a few days after that ….  As I went through my day, just hanging out with my son, I could see myself starting to think in Spanish.  At first I thought it was amusing but as it continued and increased I thought “My goodness this is really remarkable amazing” It was really an effortless unfolding.  I wasn’t at any point “trying” to think in Spanish, just words I knew would fly across the screen in my mind.  And then this afternoon, my son cuddled up on the couch to watch some cartoons on his ipad and was watching Peppa Pig in Spanish…hmm coincidence?  I think not, I’m radiating Spanish so much that my son is being influenced!  Thanks a million again.  This weekend the best learning experience of my life!!

If you have ever had a desire to learn Spanish this is the way to do it!  By the end of the first day I had more confidence and more practical ability than I had from any previous courses I had taken.  It was fun and relaxed and full of laughter.  You will leave this class excited to use what you have learned.  Rather than leaving overwhelmed with how much you have yet to learn and master, you are equipped with the knowledge and know how to go out and communicate as well as the excitement to do it!”

Gary noted:  “The whole approach is positive and conducive to learning at a level that benefits ALL participants.  It is not intimidating and does not set up a pass/fail atmosphere.  The presenters are terrific and the results unbelievable.  It was relaxed, informal, friendly and effective.”

Twila said:  “This class provided a very refreshing and relaxed way of learning.  The atmosphere felt very safe to say the words you were practicing.  I learned a lot in a way that will make it easy to apply.  Starting with conversation is way more fun.  How quickly you can learn!  It was a great group, great instructors and great stories.

The atmosphere in the classroom was so relaxed that learning Spanish felt like a breeze and not like a painful task.  The relaxation exercises are really conducive to language learning.  We learned A LOT in a short time and it was fun and the environment was non-threatening.”

Brigitte sent this:  “Buenos Dias, Suzanne. su clase de espanol es excelente! Muchas Gracias!  
I have already done what you suggested and went into the program listening to the music and going over the lessons.  I know: Repetition……reinforcement…..thinking in the new language….it’s all part of it.  I loved your course and will certainly recommend it to friends.  Who knows….I might feel the urge and have the opportunity to repeat it at your beautiful place in Puerto Aventuras…..Quien sabe? Hasta otro dia y saludos a su familia.”

Marie wrote:  “I would highly recommend this course.  The amount covered in 3 days is amazing!  All with no stress.  The correlation lessons and pronunciation practice has greatly reduced my anxiety to go out and use my Spanish.  I really enjoyed the whole process and thank you for the take away tools.”

Learn Spanish online $79 – using coupon code SPANISH110 at checkout to immediately save $110 off the regular price of $149


Here is the English translation of a few of the many Spanish words you now know and will never forget.  How long would it have taken you to memorize them?  How soon would you forget?

“Most words in English that end in ION are almost identical, just pronounced differently.  For example, action is accion, education-educacion, manipulation- manipulacion, etc.”

Some more of these words:  Combination, Attrition, Education, Vacation, Petition, Lotion, Motion, Construction, Abduction, Pronunciation, Concentration and a ton of others!

Learn Spanish online $79 – using coupon code SPANISH110 at checkout to immediately save $110 off the regular price of $149

(1) Benefits-of-bilingualism.html

Read the Economist  article Ecuador’s retirement capital

See USA Inflation rates since 2000