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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.

ecuador-air tickets

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!

ecuador-air tickets

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.

ecuador-air tickets

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…

ecuador-air tickets

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.

Learn About Ecuador & Speak Spanish in Three Days

Learn Spanish in Three Days ONLINE

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

Learn Spanish in a day, or a week, month or any time frame that works for you.

I’m Gary Scott.  Over fifty years ago I started a business that has helped hundreds of thousands of subscribers learn about investing in Hong Kong (1960s and 1970s), Switzerland, London, Isle of Man (1970s and 1980s) and across Europe.  In the 1990s we took investors to Panama, Mexico and Ecuador.  That’s when we realized an incredible need for an easy way to learn Spanish.

See below how my wife Merri was able to create a program that allowed students to be speaking and understanding Spanish in just three days.

Thousands of subscribers have learned Spanish at our three day Super Spanish course.  These courses have been taught across the US, in Canada, Panama, Mexico, Ecuador, Uruguay and Spain.

spanish

A Super Spanish course in Florida.

Read below to see how and why we are now offering our Super Spanish course ONLINE for the first time.

Speaking Spanish as a second language has huge benefits.

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 English at all.

You become one of a leading few 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 (bolds are mine): “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.

You may choose to take more time using the ONLINE course to learn Spanish, but thousands of our readers have learned to speak Spanish in only three days 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!

A special method of learning (called Super Learning) was created and refined by the Bulgarian educational master, Georgi Lozanov.   Lozanov transformed the entire Soviet educational system to such a degree that this third world country beat the USA into space.

My wife 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 1970s.  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 students 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 (www.sundaybaroque.org).  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 to create Relaxed Concentration 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 was among just a few who learned directly from Lozanov.

gary scott super thinking session

Super Spanish relaxed concentration session.

You gain six valuable ONLINE Relaxed Concentration sessions in the online course that is delivered via the internet.

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.   This eliminates the need to memorize 99% of Spanish words.

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.   The normal three day course fee is $499 ($749 for a couple).

The ONLINE course is available at the highly reduced price of $79.

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

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

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 Young or Old

Most Super Spanish students are all ages ,

Gary-scott-spanish-course

Super Spanish students at this course ranged from nine to over eighty years old.

Become a Spanish translator!

The wife of one couple who attended explained how after just three days her husband ended up as an accidental translator.

She wrote:  Gary,  I have sent Merri a couple of messages, and  a story of Mike being able to translate yesterday for a Spanish person  who couldn’t understand what a man was trying to tell him!

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.

The video below shows a super fast way to gain the basics so you can communicate in Spanish in just three days.

Gary-scott-super-spanish

Click here for FREE Super Spanish video.

Still can’t believe you can learn Spanish in a short time?

You have nothing to lose but to try.

The ONLINE Super Spanish 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

(1) www.telegraph.co.uk Benefits-of-bilingualism.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecuador Risk


Ecuador has risks.

As does everywhere.  In fact our world has more risk then ever before.

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Are quiet Ecuador streets like this Cotacachi avenue at risk?

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The young Ecuadorian children who go to school early, alone don’t seem to feel much risk.  Yet?

Change creates risk and we live in an era of increasingly rapid change.

Those who welcome this fact are those who have the best chance of success. ahead.

This is the era of rapid change… the era of  extra risk.  The current time period within this era is of accelerated change and risk.

This is an important message about how to manage risk in Ecuador or anywhere.

ecuador-risk

Even young children play alone in the Cotacachi Ecuador streets without much risk

Yet we must always take care.

Take for example the US travel advisory for Ecuador… read  without perspective. Ecuador risk would seem high.

Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Ecuador:

SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Quito advises caution when traveling to the northern border region of Ecuador, to include areas in the provinces of Sucumbios, Orellana and Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and southern Esmeraldas, south of Atacames.  U.S. government personnel are under limitations with respect to traveling alone and over-nighting in these areas due to the spread of organized crime, drug trafficking, small arms trafficking, and incursions by various Colombian terrorist organizations.

CRIME:  Crime is a serious problem in Ecuador, and visitors should be alert and cautious.  Non-violent crime is common: hundreds of Americans are robbed every year in Ecuador.   Incidents of rape have increased, even in well-traveled tourists areas and when the victims traveled in groups for safety. Shootings, kidnappings, and carjackings are still relatively rare, but American citizens have been victimized by those crimes.  The Ecuadorian government has increased police patrols in tourist areas, but travelers should remain alert to their surroundings and maintain constant control of personal belongings.

Criminals sometimes use incapacitating drugs such as scopolamine on unsuspecting tourists in order to rob them.  These so-called date rape drugs are put into drinks in order to drug the unsuspecting victim.  This drug can render the victim disoriented and can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems.  Never allow a stranger to “buy” you a drink and never leave your drink unattended.  Several American citizens have reported thefts of property following ingestion of such substances.

Does Ecuador sound risky?

Ecuador sounds risky until you read the travel advisory for Italy.  Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Italy:

Some travelers are victims of rape and beatings.  There are incidents of drinks laced with drugs being used by criminals to rob, and in some cases, assault tourists.  Many of these incidents occur in the vicinity of Rome’s Termini train station and at major tourist centers such as Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona, as well as in Florence and Naples.  Criminals using this tactic “befriend” a traveler at a train station, bus stop, restaurant, café or bar in tourist areas, then eventually offer a drink laced with a sleeping drug.  When the tourist falls asleep, criminals steal the traveler’s valuables.  There are also instances where the victim is assaulted, either physically or sexually.

Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing, theft from parked cars, and purse snatching are serious problems, especially in large cities.  Clients of Internet cafes in major cities are also targeted.  Tourists who have tried to resist petty thieves on motor scooters have suffered broken arms and collarbones.

The U.S. Secret Service in Rome is assisting Italian Law Enforcement authorities in investigating an increase in the appearance of ATM skimming devices.

Organized criminal groups operate throughout Italy, but are more prevalent in the south.  They occasionally resort to violence to intimidate or to settle disputes.

Italy could seem risky as well until you read the travel advisory for Spain .  Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Spain.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:     Spain and Andorra share with the rest of the world an increased threat of international terrorist incidents.  Like other countries in the Schengen area, Spain’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering and exiting the country with anonymity.  Spain’s proximity to North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from Al Qaeda terrorists in the Maghreb region.  Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.

In the deadliest terrorist attack in recent European history, in March 2004, Islamist extremists bombed four commuter trains entering Madrid, causing 191 deaths and over 1,400 injuries.  Spanish authorities tried the suspected terrorists and their co-conspirators in February 2007 and convicted in October 2007.

The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization remains active in Spain.  ETA has historically avoided targeting foreigners, directing their attacks against the police, military, local politicians, and Spanish government targets as well as attempts to disrupt transportation and daily life. However, foreigners have been killed or injured collaterally in ETA attacks.  Two examples of this are the Barajas Airport bombing in December 2006, in which two Ecuadorian nationals were killed and the bombing at the University of Navarre in October 2008, in which 17 students were injured including one American student.  In addition, bombs have been used as part of criminal extortion of businesses, particularly in the Basque region. The risk of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” in event of an ETA action is a concern for foreign visitors and tourists.  U.S. tourists traveling to Spain should remain vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local developments, and avoid demonstrations and other potentially violent situations.

Street crimes against tourists occur in the principal tourist areas.  Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, report incidents of pick-pocketing, mugging and occasional violent attacks, some of which require the victim to seek medical attention.  Although crimes occur at all times of day and night and to people of all ages, older tourists and Asian Americans seem to be particularly at risk.  Criminals frequent tourist areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, outdoor cafes, Internet cafes, hotel lobbies, beach resorts, city buses, subways, trains, train stations, airports, and ATMs.

Thieves often work in teams of two or more people.  In many cases, one person distracts a victim while the accomplices perform the robbery.   Spanish authorities warn of the availability of so-called “date-rape” drugs and other drugs, including “GBH” and liquid ecstasy.  Americans should not lower their personal security awareness because they are on vacation.

We could go on… in Europe…  in Asia… or anywhere.

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Parents in Cotacachi Ecuador do not feel much risk when they let their children play in the parks.

Mostly, places are not the cause of risk.  The causes of risk  are within,  our awareness, our actions, our  patterns and habits.

If one becomes aware of change and adapts accordingly… there is no risk.  There is opportunity instead.

Early adapters are called risk takers.   They are not.

Real risk takers are those who do not  adapt because…  we know…  there is change.

The real risk is living by OLD rules in a NEW world.

The real risk is believing in General Motors for example… because it is the biggest… oldest… so it must be safest.

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Young lovers in Ecuador can meet safely in out of the way places.

The world is new every day and each day, some old rule no longer works.

The old rules used to say that the Western world was safe… and the emerging world riskier.   The old rules said that the Western world had low crime…  the emerging world had high crime.

Yet look at excerpts of a recent New York Times article entitled “Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid” by Solomon Moore (See a link to the entire article below) says:

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study.

Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report Monday by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

This suggests that the US has quite a lot of risk… both in crime and health.

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Ecuador people are by nature, caring, friendly and warm.

Sometimes I get letters like the one below from readers who have been victims of crime in Ecuador.  This reader lost her computer and camera when she forgot them in the business lounge at the Radisson hotel in Quito.

Dear Gary,  Can you believe, the Quito police, working with the Radisson hotel, found my  briefcase with the computer and other small items and had them sent by Federal Express to me.  I had provided them with the receipts of all the items stolen, for the items they were not able to send me  (camera and cellular phone) I was reimbursed via bank transfer. I still can’t believe it.  This was a good ending and so unexpected.  send you all love, and good thoughts. Laura

New rules about risk are being written every day and our daughter Francesca shared some thoughts on this when she recently visited us here.

Fran is quite a traveler.  Here early studies were in England… Gloucestershire and Birmingham.  Then she spent more for more than a year in Spain and Costa Rica, and moved to Naples and Delray, Florida which were bases for her to  manage real estate tours in Argentina, Belize, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay.

She worked for several years doing human rights training in Geneva, Switzerland before returning to get her Masters degree at London School of Economics.

Then  she worked in London for the Crown Agents where she was assigned
as a project manager and consultant to governments in Nigeria,  Peru, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

She has worked the last several years  as a development planning, monitoring & evaluation consultant in Swaziland and is returning there now on a contract with the United Nations.

As a young, single woman (now married) she has had to be aware of risks traveling everywhere from Florida to London to Lagos.

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Here I am with Francesca on her wedding day.

Fran & Sam rode to their reception in Richmond Park on a bicycle built for tow.

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Riding a bike through London traffic… now that is risky!

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Here are some common sense thoughts that Francesca shares about living with risk.

Living with Risk by Francesca Scott

We’re living in risky times; from the economic collapse, to swine flu, to erratic weather conditions.  It sometimes surprises me when people ask me if I’m not worried about living in Swaziland (my current home), because, they say, Africa is such a dangerous place.  I figure that when I return to London, my risk of being attacked in a terrorist attack skyrockets.  And I am still dumbfounded by the fact that children are screened for guns at schools in the United States.  By the way in England for the first time screening for knives has begun in some inner-city London schools.

The issue of risk came to mind recently, when I was visiting my Grandma. One evening over dinner, the discussion turned to the security situation in Swaziland, and I mused that in certain ways I feel safer in Swaziland than I do in parts of London. My Grandma commented that gangs were increasingly becoming a problem in Portland, her home city, and that she didn’t feel that safe these days.  The next day, as we stopped at the local bank, I was surprised by the thick wall of bullet proof glass completely separating the staff from the general public. They don’t have that in banks in London, or in Mbabane, Swaziland’s capital city.

I began thinking about how easily we adapt to different risks within our local environments. In many countries, one would be crazy not to have bars on lower windows. In central London, I hold my bag very close to my chest – I value my purse and cell phone too much. My mother-in-law, who lives in Australia, actually leaves her keys in her car when she stops at a store to pick up groceries (gasp!).  Sadly, I doubt that will last for much longer.   So does my Dad in NC.  They have a policy on the farm that all keys remain in all vehicles…just in case someone needs to jump in one!

Each country has a different risk profile, from pick-pockets, to pollution, to drug barons.  I am not saying that Swaziland does not have its dangers – my house has been broken into several times, and I drive much more defensively than I would in the US or the UK (mostly to avoid wayward cows that have drifted onto the road).  The important thing is to be fully informed about the risks.  This might sound obvious, but sometimes people are scared off by unfamiliar risks or misinformation.

It’s also worth remembering that there are often a variety of ways to mitigate those risks through effective prevention methods, so long as you know the rules. Most of us are guilty of exposing ourselves to unnecessary risk as a result of ignorance at one time or other, and are lucky that we’ve lived to tell the tell. I was threatened at knife point by a drug addict in a park in Spain, when I lived there as a student.  When I recounted my story to my Spanish roommate, she told me that I was a fool to be in that park in the first place, ‘…didn’t you know that it’s the favorite haunt for heroine addicts in the city?’  Well, no, obviously I didn’t know at that time, but it was a valuable lesson for me about the importance of knowing the rules.

I must admit to being a little scared before I went to Swaziland.  After all, it’s in one of the poorest parts of the world, and only three hours drive from Johannesburg, a gang-ridden, violent city. I also couldn’t shake off all those awful images of Africa I’ve seen on the evening news. I told myself that I would try it out for six months (I figured I could survive for that length of time in an underground bunker living off tinned corned beef and bottled water if it was that bad), and make a decision from there about whether or not it was for me. Two-and-a-half years later, I still thoroughly enjoy living here and am very glad that I resisted my initial anxieties.

For those considering buying property, or even moving to Ecuador, or any other country – developed, developing or downright poverty stricken for that matter – I would recommend to take the time to become fully informed about the types of risks you might face.  You can find out a lot from the internet and books, but it would be a shame to be scared off by some of what you read or by the well intentioned comments of a neighbor who hasn’t ever lived away from their home town.

Everyone comes from a different starting point, and everyone has a different risk threshold.

Also, the dramatic stories tend to be more interesting to tell.  While reading around can certainly offer you a variety of different and valuable viewpoints, it’s also important to talk to people who have lived in the country. Locals can be an invaluable source of information, while ex-pats may be more appreciative of the kinds of risks unanticipated by a foreigner, risks that may seem glaringly obvious to a local. Also, find out what you can do to mitigate those risks. Often you can reduce your exposure significantly using the appropriate precautions. If you think that the benefits outweigh those risks, then go down and check out the country for yourself.  That’s the only way you can really know if the level of risk is one that you could tolerate.

It might be that the risks are in some countries and in some places, in fact, just too high, pushing you beyond your comfort zone, or that the restrictions necessary to reduce your risks would make you feel stressed and claustrophobic. It’s no fun lying restless at night at night because you’re worried over a break-in, even though you have an alarm, or resent the lack of privacy from having a guard permanently outside your house. If you’re looking for the exact replica of your own community, with the same level of risk, and a Starbucks around the corner thank you very much, then somewhere like an emerging country really may not be for you. There will inevitably be new and different risks in poorer countries, some to which you, as a foreigner, could be at much higher risk than a local.

But take a moment to reflect on the risks that you face in your daily environment back home, and you might find that such risks are relative. While some risks will be new when you move abroad, you will also leave some behind. Therefore, before making any decision of moving to a country other than your own, I recommend making sure that you are informed by the reality on the ground, not some misconception fed by the media or well-intentioned homebodies. Only with that information can you gauge whether you’ll be comfortable with the type and level of risk you might face. For an adventurous soul, you may well find that the benefits of living in a new culture, the fun of exploring a foreign terrain, make everything worthwhile.

Risk assessment is a vital part of survival and success in today’s world.

This has always been true so always consider risk… but when you evaluate danger… don’t  just look at the places where you will be.   Review your thinking, your habits and patterns to see how you can turn risk into opportunity.

Gary

Join us here at our hotel Meson de las Flores.  Learn more turning risk into opportunity at our courses and tours.

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June 12-14 Shamanic Mingo Tour

June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

June 18-21 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 4-8  Ecuador Export Tour

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

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.

See the entire article Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/us/03prison.html