" " " "

Welcome To Vilcabamba
"The Sacred Valley of Longevity"

This Is A Privately Circulated Blog, scribbled exclusively for Friends & Familiars, that peers into and pontificates about Expat life in the hinterlands of South America. If your eyesight is less than optimal (like mine), then just click the type size up a notch on your browser..

Here you will find a series of curmudgeonly commentaries that I've posted from atop my rickety old soapbox for the past few years. And yes, there are indeed political rantings, so place your seats in the upright position and fasten your seat belts .... it may be a bumpy ride.


Another Reason To Love Ecuador

Last year Ecuador became the first country in the world to declare constitutional rights to nature, thus codifying a new system of environmental protection.

Reflecting the beliefs and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, the constitution declares that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” This right, the constitution states, “is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people that depend on the natural systems.”

The new constitution redefines people’s relationship with nature by asserting that nature is not just an object to be appropriated and exploited by people, but is rather a rights-bearing entity that should be treated with parity under the law.

Just think about that for a moment. Do you actually think that something like this could happen in North America? And if not, why not?


The Art of Giving

Most every morning there's an email in my inbox from Gary and Merri Scott, distant neighbors here in Ecuador. The emails are a combination of information about Ecuador, global investing tips and offers of various seminars they conduct. But today's was different.

On this day after Christmas, Gary reminded his mailees about the English practice of observing Boxing Day. The purpose of Boxing Day in Great Britain and Commonwealth countries is to give gifts to the poor. In days gone by, discarded gift wrappings and boxes were reused to wrap gifts to be given to the poor people who served or worked for the "Gentry". Here in Ecuador, we do that sort of thing, but with a twist.

The day
before Christmas a box filled with food and "drink" is given to those who work for us, along with an appropriate amount of cash. The rest of the year our Ecuadorian workers toil to serve us, the day before Christmas is their day to receive. Yeah, I know, one day out of 365 and a box of goodies in return for all those hours of work (at only an average of $2.00 an hour wages) doesn't sound like a fair exchange. But it's called "tradition".... whether in London or Vilcabamba. But here in Vilcabamba, some of my friends and neighbors took this yet another step. They spent two days giving out hundreds of bags of food and other essentials to poor families throughout the Valley of Longevity. Many of the children they were able to reach had never received Christmas gifts in their entire lives!

It made me think about my own abundance, the "gifts" that I continually receive from others. There are so many people who have helped me to succeed in my life, and I have continually tried to keep the scale balanced by my giving in some kind of proportion to what I have received. What about you?

Actually, every day can be Boxing Day if you let it. What a marvelous "tradition" that could be. Feliz Navidad!


A Mystery Hidden Within A Mystery

I'll bet you have forgotten this, if you ever knew it to begin with:

In the Constitutional Hall, when the delegates were busy wrangling over the Declaration of Independence, and no one wanted to step forward and place their signature on the document, there appeared in the balcony overlooking the hall a man from out of nowhere. For twenty minutes he spoke, an oration in which he told the assembled delegates how important the declaration would be, not only for the country, but for the world at large. He urged the members to cease their arguing and to do what was right for their country and the people of the entire planet who yearned for freedom from oppressive rulers.

When he finished speaking, the delegates immediately stepped forward and began signing that sacred document. It was such an astonishing event that Benjamin Franklin, accompanied by the Sergeant of Arms, made their way up to the visitor's balcony to meet the man who had spoken so eloquently. But there was no one there!

The militia guards who were stationed at each entrance to the balcony all swore that no one had been there; no one had gone in, no one had gone out, that the balcony had remained empty for the whole time, since they had been instructed that no one be allowed up there during the deliberations.

So who had spoken? Where had he come from? Where did he go? Who was it that brought order out of chaos? Some would say it was Divine Providence … some even wondered if it had been an "Extraterrestrial"?

Any thoughts on the matter? Any at all?


Galt's Gultch South Is Looking Better All The Time

I try to keep from being "political" in this Blog, so as not to offend anyone. However, being at a distance and being quite restricted in my media sources, I'm perhaps not being fed the same cookie-cutter, slanted "news" as the majority of you are. For example, the local newspapers do not refer to El Presidente Corerra, as the "Leftist President", which the US media consistently does. Wow! Talk about the pot calling the kettle …..

But what I do see and hear about the country of my birth greatly disturbs me, especially since my sources are MUCH more "fair and balanced" than your outlets usually are.

One the thing that I'm hearing is that American (North American, that is) society is becoming less civil; meaner, ruder, just plain nastier. It's almost impossible to have a reasoned, polite conversation about politics any more. And even in the usually circumspect (although artificially so) congress, a politician yelled out in the middle of a joint session and called President Obamba a liar! Guess what? Yep, a substantial part of the US population says that the guy is a hero …. sort of like the Iraqi who threw a show at Bush. What is happening seems to be a breakdown in the social order.

From what I can see, this is a direct result of the financial downturn …. or meltdown, depending on your retirement account's status these days! The nation is in decline, the Treasury is being trashed , States are going broke, cities are bankrupt. And the citizens are now looking for someone to blame. Conservatives blame Liberals, Liberals blame the Neocons, and all of them blame the Banksters and Wall Streeters.

But more importantly, the public's faith in their government, the political elite, has been terminally damaged. Polls now say that only 30 percent of citizen feel that their "leaders" are doing a good job. What is believed by almost 100% of people is that taxes are going up and jobs going down the tubes, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to become poorer.

So what's it all mean? AMERICAN REVOLUTION II …...?

Since that sounds pretty scary, maybe it's time to consider joining me here in Galt's Gultch South, my hidden away sanctuary. You'd be a welcome addition. Check out:


Somewhere Over The Rainbow(s)

And you thought only Hawaii had these kinds of double rainbows? These two were over what is called "The Sacred Mandango", the large outcropping to the left side on the mountain top between the two rainbows. Odd, huh?

This is the magic mountain of almost pure iron ore that keeps the airplanes from flying over the Vilcabamba Valley ... supposedly screws up their compasses. It helps to make this one of the most peaceful and off the beaten track places on earth. Mandango is also called the hanger for parked UFO's. Come, visit and see it for yourself. Margaritas served chilled after 5PM, and you bring the dip.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

I'm often asked what kind of produce I grow in the "Jardin de Patricio".

Here is a photo of several different kinds of lettuce, all nestled together. I challenge anyone to find such a variety and quality in their local U.S. grocery store.

And yes, I do indeed murmur sweet nothings to them in the dark of the moon, a'la Anastasia.

When it comes time for my salad, three or four different kinds of lettuce are harvested, trimmed, washed off and given a light, home-made dressing. Yummy yummy! Good for my tummy.

And remember, this is only the "lechuga" (lettuce). Can you imagine what the rest of the garden looks like? Even better, why not put a "Jardin" in yourself. You'll love the lettuce!


On The Beach ... again.

An allegorical tale:

“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful Hawaiian beach full of tourists, enjoying themselves so much that they could not ever imagine life without such a wonderful place in which to relax.

One day, an incredible thing happened. The water started to pull away from the beach out into the ocean. The beach became even more beautiful, and everyone was thankful that even more people could now enjoy the larger expanse of sand.

But, one old man had been studying what many experts had observed when the same thing happened on other beaches in years past. He tried to warn all the people that they were in danger; that the incredible thing happening was not what it appeared to be, that soon everyone could be in danger.

Everyone laughed at him, saying he was just a foolish old man and did not know what he was talking about. There had never been great danger at this beach before in their lifetimes. How could he be so negative? After all, how could he know more than all the people on the beach? Also, if they were in danger, the news media would have already warned them.

The old timer tried to tell them he had learned that throughout history there was a cause and effect pattern on every beach when this happened, and that all the people were in grave danger. But, the people insisted that this beach was different. This beach was special. This beach was only for having fun and not worrying about anything else. After all, this beach was full of people with such incredible talents, that they would most certainly be able to find a way to stop any danger of the ocean, should such exist. And in any case, wouldn't the government be there to save them, should anything really be amiss.

The old man eventually walked away with a heavy heart, having been able to convince only a handful of people that they were in danger. He hurried to the local airport, boarded an airplane that would take him far away, safe from the danger unfolding back on the beautiful Hawaiian beach where he had long made his home.

Just as he climbed his way to safety, he turned to look out the airplane's window and see the ocean let loose the full fury of its tsunami, swallowing all the people who would not listen to him. If only they had listened, he cried .

But alas ........

What about you? Are you wiling to listen to the old man? The same tsunami is threatening you and your loved ones even now Come to safety, before it is too late. Please!

And, friends, if you would like to learn more about exactly how to get to safety, click HERE .

That link will take you to my colleague David MacGregor's FREE report titled The Great Escape. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.


The Reading Of Joe Bageant's Screeds

OK, I'm about to get myself in a heap of trouble here. I am going to recommend that you leave this Blog of mine long enough to check out a guy who word-paints the reality of Notre Americano working class folks in essay form. It's Joe Bageant I'm talking about. You'll find him here:

http://www.joebageant.com ...... just click on the link.

And don't be put off by his populist monologues, he's worth the read just to become aware of what the other 250,000,000 of your fellow citizens are thinking about these days. So hide the women and children, pull down the shades and get REALLY risque in your reading habits. Check out Joe. Just don't blame me when you start nodding your head in agreement with Joe's dangerous outlook on life in the good ole' US of A.


A Different View Of Living One's Life

One of my neighbors, a wealthy retired gringo from the US, was talking to Jorge, his gardener. He asked Jorge what he did with his day, when not working for him.

The gardener said … "Well, I get up in the morning, take my boat out into the ocean and catch some fish for my breakfast. Then I go home and take a
siesta. When I wake up I come and work for you. At the end of the day, I go into the village and play some music and drink beer with my friends. Finally, I go home and make love to my wife and take my sleep."

So my neighbor said: " Wait a minute, Jorge. If you give up your nap and spend that time in your boat, you can catch even more fish. Then if you get another boat you can catch twice the haul. And with the extra income that means you can get another couple of boats, and before long you will have a whole fleet. Then you can go to the US and incorporate. If you then do an IPO, you'll have enough money to retire and come back and live here a wealthy man, like me. So how would you then live out your retirement?"

The gardener thought for a moment and replied: "Well,
, I would wake up and take my boat out into the ocean to fish, then take my siesta. Afterwards, since I no longer need to work for you, I would go into the village earlier and make music, drink some beer, then go home and make love to my wife and then take my sleep."

The neighbor said: "Wait a minute, Jorge, that's what you do now!"

Jorge smiled and replied: "
"Si, senor. So why do I need more fish?"


Honduras Coup ...right next door?

A few of my readers have asked if I was OK, "what with the Honduras coup taking place right next door". First, a little history lesson. Honduras is a Central American country, not South American. And the governmental structure of that very poor country is vastly different than in peaceful Ecuador. Here, the people bang pots to show their displeasure with the government, not shoot guns or set off bombs!

Another big difference is the part played, historically, by the military establishment in Honduras AND the symbiotic relationship between the military hierarchy and the United States military, which has trained most of their senior officer corps and equipped the army - supposedly as a needed bulwark against the "communist" Sandinista-led country of Nicaragua right next door. Remember the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration?

Anyway, what's currently being reported in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times is simply NOT a correct analysis of the situation. Rather than me trying to explain it, let me suggest that you go directly to original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/06/ and read the political/historical ruminations of one Justin Raimondo who will wrap this up for you in a hurry. Justin is always, despite his "antiwar" connections (or perhaps because of it) an excellent and articulate reporter of facts.

So, I'm fine, the poor beleaguered people of Honduras are not!


So-ooo, what's up there besides stars?

This, my dear friends and readers, is the night sky over Vilcabamba. Do you notice anything strange? How about the utter clarity of the atmosphere, the lack of smog or air pollutants, the brightness of the mega-gazillion stars blinking their collective light down upon us?

There are said to be UFOs flitting around in those skies, but I have not seen any. It's not that I don't believe they exist …. after all, I was actually living in Roswell New Mexico that fateful day in July of 1947, when the crashed UFO and recovery of its alien crew was first announced and then denied the very next morning, which retraction by the military none of us believed!

I happened to be attending the New Mexico Military Institute as a cadet, and since my parents were off dilly-dallying in Europe, I was stuck in summer school. So you had 750 fairly bright junior college-aged guys hearing first-hand from some of the folks who had been to the scene of the crash, then reading the retraction and all of us saying … "Oh sure. A weather balloon? And the little aliens they recovered were really over-sized gophers?"

A lot of those cadets who entered the military after graduation were members of the US Air Force and reportedly saw UFOs on their own, only to be told by their superior officers that they hadn't really seen what they saw. Well, these guys, and I, remembered that day in Roswell when the military also said that what had been seen had not occurred.

So, I will admit that on these crystal-clear nights my eyes stray upward to search the skies, hoping that I, too, will become one of the "kooks" who think they saw little green men whizzing around in their space ships. Hmm-mm. Now that I think of it, there's a doormat outside the entrance to the famed Madre Tierra Hotel here in Vilcabamba that boldly proclaims "Welcome, UFO Crews!"

"They" say it's the magical water in the Andes Mountains high above Vilcabamba that these alien spaceships like to use for power. Hey, why not. The Japanese are now producing the first water-power automobile, so why not a water-propulsion spaceship? Stay tuned!


Memories Are Made Of This ....

Ah-hhh, yet another end of an era. The announcment that GM would discontinue their Pontiac line brought a tear to my eye. My father and mother's first automobile, purchased two months after my birth, was a 1929 Pontiac Roadster. It had a marvelous rumble seat, which I can actually remember riding in at around the age of five, just before he sold it. Yellow in color and bright with chrome … what a car!

One just like it recently fetched $115,000 on the auction block. GM couldn't even give away A 2009 Pontiac today, there's such a glut of unsold this year's models stashed in vacant lots all over the country. Just thought it would be of interest to you automobile buffs and history freaks …. and a nice memory hit for me.


Deja Vu All Over Again.

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned and highly recommended Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged to you. Well, here's an update.

CNN just reported that the 2009 sales of Atlas Shrugged, Rand's most famous novel, have already topped sales for the entire 2008 year. I can only wonder if perhaps people all over the world watching this unseemly dance between the Wall Streeters, the political sleezeballs and the increasingly fed up public aren't scrambling to see what eventually becomes of the socialist/fascist scoundrels and libertarian heros in Rand's classic.

If you haven't yet read Atlas Shrugged - you should. Rand does a masterful job of painting a vivid picture of why the RIGHT kind of capitalism works, why regulation weights it down, and what happens when the regulators begin to outweigh the productive folks. And in today's environment, where you can't turn on the news without seeing some political schmuck who could pass for one of Rand's antiheroes, this type of perspective is invaluable. Hey, forewarned is forearmed.

Let's see now .... who is John Gault?


The Great Watering Down

On a planet where weird weather has become the norm, there hasn't been much reporting about Ecuador's recent unseasonably heavy rains …. which were reportedly the worst in the past 30 or 40 years. Some Ecuadorians say the worst in 100 years.

Here in Vilcabamba, it might rain about seven days a month during what's called the "rainy season", and that usually at night. However, during the season just past, we had torrential rains that often fell day after day and night after night, sometimes dumping as much as 5 to 10 inches of water on already heavily saturated ground.

The result was huge landslides, especially on the road between Loja and Vilcabamba. That road is the one and only means of accessing the large provincial city of Loja, where we do our major shopping. But Ecuadorians are innovative, and got around the mudslide issue by stationing taxis on either side of the mudslide to carry passengers who walked across the blocked areas, and were then "ferried" on by the other taxi.

The famed waters of Vilcabamba's rivers were at flood stage much of the time, taking out bridges and washing out roads. Here at the Hacienda, we almost lost a portion of the road, as the retaining earth embankment went tumbling down into the river below. Quick response and hard work by the Hacienda staff kept damage at a minimum.

The skies appear to be clear now, and we are experiencing unusually windy weather. The windy season doesn't usually begin until August, but no one around here is griping. At least we are getting dried out. My garden is no worse for the wear, and the extra "watering" seems to have done the plants no harm.

So our unusual local catastrophic weather went unnoticed by the rest of the world. However, I for one could do without a repeat next year.


My Visa Has Been Granted!

While my visa application (my third) was wandering slowly through the bureaucratic maze, our newly re-elected president ended up firing all of the cabinet ministers just prior to the election, then reappointing another slate that he felt would be more popular to the voters. Once having won the election he then promptly fired the old (new) bunch and appointed yet another group of ministers .... these, obviously, his cronies and those he needed to pay off politically. So just the usual vanilla brand of South American banana boat republic goings-on. However, each time a new minister is appointed, he or she tosses out the predecessor's regulations and substitutes their own. And that means the way in which the old application and required documentation was done is no longer acceptable by the new guy (or gal). Small wonder that it's been nine (9) months and counting .... but. finally, I received good news!.

My Ecuadorian attorney has just called to inform me that my application for a permanent residency visa has been approved. FINALLY!

Just in time, too. In another week and a half, my current twice-extended tourist visa will expire, and I would have had to leave the country for six months .... bag and baggage. Then start all over again.

I'll have no comment about the costs involved or the HUGE amount of bureaucratic red tape that had to be cut through. The long process is finally at an end. I can continue living here in this beautiful Andean Mountain valley, enjoying a life of tranquility and healthiness .... for the years remaining to me.

Just thought everyone would like to know. Had you been here, you could have shared a glass of "bubbly" with me on the great occasion.

Oh, and if you are wondering how I'm spending "those remaining years", then let me direct you to a web site that I have been developing. It is a health-oriented site, which you might find of interest. Just go to:


You will probably be VERY glad you did, if you are at all interested in improving your health.

How This Financial Deflation Effects You!

For those of you who are still feeding your 401K "savings" accounts and "investing" in mutual funds, you are probably doing so because you feel there's no alternative. If not your 401k or money market funds, what?

Well, let's look at that for a moment. What if you had NOT invested in stocks for the past whole decade, from 1999 to 2009? In other words, just stayed out of the stock market. Interestingly, if you had just held on to the cash, earning no interest at all, you would be 26% better off. Had you put those 401K yearly infusions into gold, your holdings would have appreciated from US$285.00 to US$923.00. That's an increase of 220 percent! Here is the scorecard, as presented this week by "The Privateer", the much heralded financial newsletter.

They used $1000.00 as a constant:

* In Stocks: $10,000 on March 30, 1999 becomes $7400 on March 31, 2009
* In cash: $10,000 on March 30, 1999 remains $10,000 on March 31, 2009
* In gold: $10,000 on March 31, 1999 becomes $32,060 on March 31, 2009

Most of you who are dutifully keeping up with your contributions to a mutual fund or a 401K, which STILL allocates 80-90 percent to the stock market, will simply not believe these figures. It seems that most of my friends and familiars remain in denial.

Fortunately for me, during this past decade I was too old to continue contributing to a 401K. And thanks to "The Privateer's" early warnings, I got out of my mutual fund. I stayed in cash and bought a little gold. Take a peek above and tell me if I made the right decision.

So, if this is what happened in the past ten years, during a mostly booming market, what do think will happen to your 401K's and mutual fund accounts during this financial disaster we are currently facing …. and which is only going to get worse! Go on, look up at that scorecard again.


Shades Of The Past

In late 1957, just as I was moving from the place of my birth in the Mid-West to seek my fortune (or whatever life would have in store for me), a book titled "Atlas Shrugged" was published. Written by a Russian émigré, Ayn Rand, that novel was a seminal influence on my personal philosophy of life, and it still is.

I was not alone. According to an oft-quoted 1994 US Library of Congress poll, more people were influenced by "Atlas Shrugged" than any other book apart from the Bible. And even today, it sits at number 1 on Amazon.com's fiction list. On January 13th of this year, the book's ranking was at 33 overall, briefly besting President Barack Obama's popular tome "The Audacity of Hope". This, mind you, for a philosophical work in excess of 1200 pages!

With a grim prescience, Rand's novel eerily foretold of the statism-induced financial crises that is unfolding in the US economy today. Life, it seems, is imitating art. The book's chilling similarity to what is happening in Washington, DC, and on Wall Street today is making its sales leap once again.

The title "Atlas Shrugged" is, of course, an allusion to the mythical hero who carried the world on his shoulders. It portrays real-life Atlases— inventors, thinkers, scientists, entrepreneurs, laborers, artists, —shrugging off their burdens and going on strike.

Their "burdens" were the looters, moochers, office-holders and those consumers who expect their "needs" to be met through the efforts of the entrepreneurial producers, the Atlases. The statists and those who had their hands out are left to their own devices as one by one the strikers flee to a safe haven, a hidden libertarian valley called "Galt's Gulch," where they await the inevitable collapse of the collectivist cannibalism they have left behind. Small wonder Atlas is resonating so loudly in the era of Bailout Bolshevism at the hands of rapacious elected officials and the Wall Street cronies who own them!

If you have not yet read it, I urge you to do so. And if you did read it many years ago, as I did, then read it again. Then you, too, might feel compelled to join me here in Vilcabamba … my own "Gult's Gultch".

"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone else."- Frederic Bastiat


Ecuadorian Visa Blues

Unlike "some" countries I know, about the only time a gringo becomes involved with Ecuador's local government is when applying for a visa. But unlike other unmentionable countries (ahem) the folks one has to do government business with here in Ecuador are generally pleasant and reasonably efficient.

However, even the Ecuadorian bureaucrats are every bit as endeared to red tape as any other governmental employee. And therein lies my tale of woe. Let me explain, and provide some caution.

After several visits to Ecuador and making the right inquiries, I pretty much knew what documents would be required for a residential visa application. I had obtained my police report that stated I was a "solid citizen", my health report stating that I didn't have any communicable diseases and a Social Security Income Statement that proved I had sufficient funds (at least $1,500) coming in each month to sustain me ... even if the current financial disaster on Wall Street wiped out any other assets that I might have had.

I then presented this documentation (translated into Spanish in triplicate with each being duly notarized and stamped) to an attorney who was said to be an "expert" on immigration matters. That was in June, 2008. I returned to Ecuador in September, fully expecting to have had all my application papers approved and been awarded a Retiree Resident Visa.

But in the three months that I'd been away, the rules and regulations had changed, as had the Minister of Immigration. It was the first time that I heard the dreaded phrase …. "Senor, your papers are not in the proper order!" My application had been refused.

Now, a preliminary visa application had to be filed BEFORE the actual residential visa request could be made. And because I was a "retiree", I now had to find an Ecuadorian citizen who would take responsibility for me if I (or the US) went broke or I got sick. Hm-mmm, would YOU want to assume that kind of responsibility for someone who was not even a relative? Didn't think so. Miraculously, I found someone, but that's another story.

So more forms were prepared, in triplicate and duly notarized. When I checked with the attorney to see how things were progressing, I then discovered that he had not even filed the second set of papers. Why? He had decided that he wanted more money from me, but couldn't find my email or telephone number to tell me so. Oh, almost forgot; that attorney couldn't speak a word of English, nor could I as yet speak much Spanish. Guaranteed miscommunication. I fired that attorney and hired another, this one able to read, write and speak English. BIG difference.

The new lawyer spent three weeks trying to get the application papers away from the first attorney …. who was demanding more money to release them to me. A very big, very insistent Ecuadorian friend "persuaded" that attorney that the right thing to do would be to give back the papers. He did.

(Joke: What do you call a million lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!)

Then, finally, the papers were filed. However, my visa application was refused. "Sorry, Senor, your papers are not properly in order."

It was now January, 2009, and of course by that time all of the dates of the original documents had expired! This meant that I would have to fly back to Hawaii for a new police report and health certificate, over to San Francisco, California to obtain a new Social Security Statement, have it certified by the Ecaudorian Consulate in Los Angeles, then fly back to Quito to submit it to the immigration people. And there wasn't enough time …. my 90 day extension on my tourist visa as due to expire in only four days! Time for Plan B.

So my new attorney and I made a fifteen hour dash from Ecuador into Peru, where we had to talk the Consulate there into giving me yet another visa extension. It so happens that the very day before our arrival the regulations had once again been changed. So instead of being able to secure a six-month visa, it was only for ninety days. But at least I was able to reenter Ecuador with newly stamped papers. The clock was again ticking.

It was now time for Plan C. My only chance now was to qualify as an "Investor", which meant depositing a big wad of money ($25,000 minimum in case you're wondering) into a local Ecuadorian bank for the entire time I was living in the country (NOT a very good idea in this shaky global financial era) …. or, purchasing property.

So, dear reader, I'm about to "invest" in Ecuador. There's a small, beautiful, view lot for sale just behind where I'm presently living at the Hacienda San Joaquin. That just might be a far better place to put my US dollars into, as they quickly depreciate in value, than a bank. I begin the "bargaining" process tomorrow. Will keep everyone informed whether or not this works. There is NO Plan D.

Beware changing regulations and pleasant yet firm bureaucrats. Or you, too, will hear the dreaded words …. "Sorry, Senor, your papers are not in order!"

Stay tuned!