El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Shrimp business EXPOSED in Ecuador

"How could someone with so much damn money be so ignorant of Marketing?" I thought...

...as I watched a wealthy Ecuadorian friend struggle to fill a hotel she had in Ecuador. The hotel was a nice little hotel, great location, and good value for the price compared to other nearby options. But it was empty. Due to lack of marketing.

"She's never had to market anything, she got rich from the Shrimp business in Ecuador, where all you do is produce and the buyers hunt you out!" My friend responded.

He was right.

Man, what a great business when all you have to do is produce and buyers will come knocking at your door. No sales, no marketing, no customer service needed.

Shrimp farming is big business in Ecuador, and one of the top export products of the country.

Many of the wealthy locals are into it, and it's an interesting opportunity most foreigner investors in Ecuador don't even consider.

Shrimp farming is done up and down the coast of Ecuador. All the way from Esmeraldas (where it's big) to the Peruvian border.

The Shrimp are harvested in a series of salt water pools. Shrimp grow best when the salinity of the water matches that of the ocean. And to cut down the harvest cycle its best to use incubator pools and grow the shrimp in steps, so you're "always harvesting", as one colleague of mine who owns a 120 hectare shrimp farm proudly proclaimed.

First off you have to acquire the farm. Shrimp farms in Ecuador go for around $15-20k per hectare. It makes sense to have at least 25-30 hectares, if you have less your fixed costs will still be the same but you'll be making less money.

But as my colleague who owns the shrimp farm admitted, "you can make your money back in 2-3 years in the Shrimp business, sometimes less." That's on the low end a 50% annual return.

The harvest cycle.

The harvest cycle is every 3-4 months. And you'll need about $2000 of operating capital for variable costs per hectare of farm per cycle. But remember, with multiple pools you'll always be harvesting.

You'll also need one employee per 12 hectares of farm to whom in Ecuador owners pay roughly $350 a month.

The most efficient farms produce 3000-5000 pounds of shrimp per hectare per cycle, and depending on the size of the shrimp sell for $2 per pound on the open wholesale market.

So on the more conservative end, you're looking at $4000 of profit (3000 lbs x $2= $6000 - $2000 operating costs) per hectare per cycle. So for a 30 hectare fully producing farm you'd be looking at $120,000 of net profit every 3 months.

And did I mention you don't have to deal with any whiny-little-brat customers?

The sales/export process:

Simple. American shrimp wholesale buyers prefer to buy headless shrimp, while Europeans will buy the whole shrimp from you (and the head makes up 33% of the net weight of the shrimp!).

Most farmers in Ecuador simply sell to an exporter at the prices listed above who then handles the international clients and the whole export process.

Dom Buonamici
Entrepreneur, Traveler, Manager

The World’s Top 4 Safe Havens

NOTE FROM THIS BLOG: We read once a great quote....."Live in one country, bank in another, be a citizen in a third and do business in a fourth". That is the perfect setup for living as an expat and these four if one did not decide to live there........... should bank there.

As a U.S. citizen you are taxed on worldwide income. Doesn’t matter where you live… Paris… the North Pole… or the dark side of the moon – you must file and pay taxes.

But there’s no law against legally minimizing taxes on your hard-earned income – and protecting your nest-egg.

Let’s take a look at the best places to move your money, lighten your tax load and get off Washington’s radar…
The World’s Top Four Safe Havens

Throughout the conference we heard from the world’s foremost experts on heading offshore… including The Sovereign Individual Editor Jeff Opdyke, Former U.S. Congressman Bob Bauman, Mark Nestmann, Marc-Andre Sola, Eric Roseman and Michael Chatzky…

Here’s a list of four of their top recommendations:


The World’s Oldest Tax Haven, it’s perfect for anyone looking to…

• Open a high dollar bank/investment account
• Create a trust or family foundation
• Stash your gold


Switzerland’s had some bad press recently… but our experts say it’s still one of the best places to protect your wealth. This haven may be worth a look if you’d like to…

• Establish a personal residence and are able to afford their annual tax
• Open a bank/investment account
• Purchase annuities or life insurance

Some banks in Switzerland no longer want to do business with American clients… but luckily we had Swiss banking expert Rob Vrijhof on hand to tell us exactly where to go and what to do.


Panama-based attorney Rainelda Mata-Kelly revealed what you’ll find in this “close to home” safe haven…

• Rock solid asset protection laws that date to the 1920s… with recent updates based on Delaware Corporate Law
• A generous Pensionado Program that provides discounts on restaurants, doctor’s visits and even entertainment for qualified retirees
• The ability to acquire immediate residence status (in 90 days) under several programs leading to citizenship


Jeff Opdyke says, “Uruguay is where I’d move with my family if the situation in the U.S. were to ever deteriorate dramatically.” It’s a beautiful safe haven worth visiting…

• It’s the French Riviera of South America – good food, great wines and a booming international property market
• Top notch health care services at an affordable price
• Bank accounts that pay up to 700% more than U.S. banks… and give you access to foreign currency and investments… Plus some of the world’s strictest banking privacy laws

Diana Gordon
The Sovereign Investor

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What do YOU want in a Politician?

Europe is turning against its elite austerity pushers. Sarkozy lost the first round to the socialist candidate. The Dutch government of Mark Rutte handed in its resignation to Queen Beatrix. The “technocrats” in Italy and Greece wonder how long they can hold on.

America, meanwhile, is settling down to a presidential election. On the one hand is a candidate who seems to have no firm convictions and no real ideas about how to move the country out of its post- crisis funk. On the other hand, is...well...the same thing.

As usual, the candidates are disappointing. But politics is a tawdry profession that invites hustlers and hollow men. No matter what kind of system you think you have, it is always the same. It is always dominated by the same fellow — grasping, status-hungry, ambitious... He is a world improver...a bully...a scold...a power-broker... He is a fixer...and a user. He uses the power of the government — that is, the power to force people to do what you want, at the point of a gun if necessary — to fix himself, his friends, and, he often believes, the entire world. At best, the politician is a conniving opportunist. At worst, he’s a madman or a mass-murderer.

In a democracy, the candidate himself is often just an empty shell...ready to be filled up by a clever scalawag or rich donor.

In a monarchy, sometimes the king is real power...often it is a dark figure peering out from behind the dolt in the purple robes.

Even in a dictatorship, the real ruler may not be the dictator himself; it could be a group of powerful men.

The more power at stake...the harder the man-on-the-make works to get it. In extreme cases, he will stop at nothing...neither at assassination nor theft nor fraud.

Yes, occasionally a decent man gets into office, usually by accident. Rarely does he last long. And when he is gone, the historians tell us was a failure he was. “He didn’t do anything,” they say.

Of course, every society has its limits...its norms...its traditions. A man whose ambition is too naked or whose methods seem too ruthless won’t get what he is after; people won’t stand for it.

But, under pressure, the limits stretch. People welcome his clumsy lies. They ignore his crimes and excuse his ham-handed techniques. Later, they get fed up with him...but often not for many, many years.

On the whole, people are not very smart. They’ll believe almost anything. Washington Blog warns:The next six months leading up to the November elections will surely provide a shining example of the degraded society we’ve become. Both parties and their propaganda machines, SuperPacs, and corporate media sponsors will treat the igadget distracted masses to hundreds of hours of lies, spin, and vitriol, designed to divert the public from the fact that both parties act on behalf of the same masters and have no intention of changing course of the U.S. Titanic to avert the iceberg dead ahead. We will be treated to storylines about race, gun control, the war on women, energy independence, global warming, the war on terror, the imminent threat of Iran and North Korea, Obamacare, Romneycare, and of course the economy, stupid.

The New York Times reports that shoppers in oil-rich Venezuela wait in long lines to buy common foodstuffs; it doesn’t seem to occur to them that their inconvenience is a by-product of Hugo Chavez’s price controls. Instead, they blame greedy businesses...and wait.

In America, more than a decade after 9/11, they wait in long lines as crippled 90-year-olds get felt up by TSA agents. “You can’t be too safe,” they say, as if their lives were put at risk by Lutheran grandmothers.

In Spain, Greece, Ireland...and practically all modern countries...they wait for government to figure out how to give them retirement incomes, healthcare, and full employment.

Of course, the politicians can’t solve economic problems for a very simple reason: they are the cause of them.

Who set up the euro? Who set interest rates and lending standards? Who caused the bubbles by lending too low for too long? Who then ‘fixed’ the crisis — by lending more, at even lower rates, to the very institutions who had just proven such bad custodians?

Who spends more than he makes...year in and year out? Who promises even more spending — even as he is facing bankruptcy? Who counterfeits money — printing trillions of dollars with nothing more behind them than the “good faith” and “full credit” of an insolvent government? Who starts ‘wars’ that cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives...and then, standing over the wreckage, announces victory...and slithers away?

That’s right. The feds...the fixers...the world-improvers...do all these things. But how could it be any different?

A decent man is too busy — improving his business, his home, his family — to take much interest in politics. Besides, he knows it is a flim-flam. He’s seen how hard it is to make any real improvement at home, even when you are close to the facts and on the job full time. Imagine trying to improve things far away, where you don’t really know what is going on!

An honest man knows better than to interfere in other peoples’ business. His own business is tough enough. He cares deeply about the things around him...and tries to make his world better in every way he can. But he would be embarrassed to pretend to solve other peoples’ problems. Even if he is only offering advice, he does so reluctantly...carefully...and tentatively.

If he is smart he knows that you can’t really make things better by bullying and threatening people. An economy works best by doing the one thing that the fixers can’t allow — letting people make their own deals, find their own jobs, and solve their own problems.

It’s the one thing the fixers can’t do, and the one thing every candidate regards as political suicide — just getting out of the way. Instead, the successful politician needs a plan, a program, a tax credit, a spending proposal. He needs to be in charge. He needs to be an activist, promising to reward enough voters to get elected. He can’t have no answer. He can’t have no interest. He can’t have a trace of modesty or a realistic assessment of the situation or his ability to understand it, let alone do anything about it. Instead, he must pretend to care about the sick, the lame, the blind, the fat, the shiftless, the one-armed, tongue-tied, sex-addled wonton- turning immigrant from Taiwan...and have a program, right in his back pocket, that will make that poor man’s life better.

The last thing he can be...is the very thing you most want in a politician...

..someone who doesn’t really give a damn.


Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

Monday, April 23, 2012

Poor economy worsens Social Security's finances

Government: Poor economy, high energy prices, shorten life of Social Security fund by 3 years
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press | Associated Press – 4 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- High energy prices and an economy that has been slow to rebound are worsening Social Security's finances, shortening the life of the trust funds that support program by three years, the government said Monday.

Those trust funds will now run dry in 2033, according to a report issued by the trustees that oversee the massive retirement and disability program.

Medicare's hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money in 2024, which is unchanged from last year. The trustees, however, said Medicare spending continues to rise.

Congress enacted a 2 percent cut in Medicare last year, which is the main reason the trust fund exhaustion date did not advance.

If the Social Security and Medicare funds ever become exhausted, the nation's two biggest benefit programs would collect only enough money in payroll taxes to pay partial benefits.

The trustees said in their annual report that Congress should address the programs as soon as possible, but no action is likely before the November election.

"Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare," the trustees wrote. "If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

Social Security's finances worsened in part because high energy prices suppressed wages, a trend the trustees see as continuing. The trustees said they expect workers to work fewer hours than previously projected, even after the economy recovers.

This year's cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, was also higher than expected. That was good news for seniors, who saw their benefits increase by 3.6 percent, but it drained more resources from Social Security.

The trustees project a 1.8 percent COLA for next year, though the actual amount won't be set until October.

Social Security is split into two funds — one for retirement and survivor benefits and one for disability. The retirement fund is projected to run out of money in 2035 while the disability fund is projected to run dry in 2016.

The trustees who oversee Social Security are urging Congress to shore up the disability system by reallocating money from the retirement program, just as lawmakers did in 1994.

Combined, the two funds will last until 2033. If they run dry, payroll taxes would cover about 75 percent of benefits.

"This year's trustees report contains troubling but not unexpected projections about Social Security's finances," said Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue. "It once again emphasizes that Congress needs to act to ensure the long-term solvency of this important program, and needs to act within four years to avoid automatic cuts to people receiving disability benefits."

The trustees also warned that their own Medicare projections could be too rosy. Based on current law, they assume cuts in payments to doctors that Congress routinely waives will actually take place. They also assume President Barack Obama's health care law will squeeze the full amount of its $500 billion cuts from the program.

"Medicare's actual future costs are highly uncertain and are likely to exceed those shown ...in this report," the trustees said.

The trustees who oversee the programs are Astrue, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. There are also two public trustees, Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer.

More than 56 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children receive Social Security. The average retirement benefit is $1,232 a month; the average monthly benefit for disabled workers is $1,111.

About 50 million people are covered by Medicare, the medical insurance program for older Americans.

Calling Social Security and Medicare the "twin pillars of retirement security in this country," Geithner said "it is critical that reforms are slowly phased-in over time so current beneficiaries are not affected and future beneficiaries do not experience precipitous changes."

Obama's health care law is supposed to trim Medicare expenses by $500 billion, extending the life of the program. But many Republicans doubt the savings will materialize.

On Social Security, Obama has not proposed any comprehensive plan to address the system.

Social Security is financed by a 6.2 percent tax on the first $110,100 in wages. It is paid by both employers and workers. Congress temporarily reduced the tax on workers to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012, though the program's finances are being made whole through increased government borrowing.

The Medicare tax rate is 1.45 percent on all wages, paid by both employees and workers.

25 Signs That Middle Class Families Have Been Targeted For Extinction

The following are 25 signs that middle class families have been targeted for extinction….

#1 Over the past several decades, millions upon millions of middle class Americans have been systematically turned into government dependents. Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages. In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages. Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.

#2 Unemployment is at epidemic levels and the vast majority of the new jobs that have been “created” in recent years have been low paying jobs. Of those Americans that do have a job at this point, one out of every four works a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#3 The “working poor” is a group that is rapidly growing in this country. If you can believe it, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#4 Over the past several decades, the percentage of low income jobs has steadily increased. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#5 The way that our economic system is structured today, almost all of the economic rewards go to the very top of the food chain. The following is how income gains in the United States were distributed during 2010….

-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners

-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent

-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent

#6 Several decades ago, there was a much more even distribution of income in this country. Back in the 1970s, the top 1 percent of all income earners brought in about 8 percent of all income. Today, they bring in about 21 percent of all income.

#7 As the middle class shrinks, the number of “low income” and “poor” Americans is rapidly rising. Today, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

#8 Manufacturing jobs once enabled huge numbers of Americans to enjoy a middle class lifestyle. Unfortunately, those jobs are leaving this country at a breathtaking pace. Back in 1940, 23.4% of all American workers had manufacturing jobs. Today, only 10.4% of all American workers have manufacturing jobs.

#9 In the old days, any man that was willing to work hard and wanted a job could get one. Today, there are millions of American men sitting on their couches at home wondering why nobody will hire them. Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percentof all men in the United States have jobs.

#10 The middle class is shrinking at the same time that America is getting poorer as a nation. In the middle of the last century, the United States was #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today, the United States is #13 in GDP per capita.

#11 Every year now, we see millions of Americans fall out of the middle class. In 2010, 2.6 million more Americans descended into poverty. That was thelargest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

#12 The shrinking middle class is having a disproportionate impact on children. At this point, approximately 22 percent of all American children are living in poverty.

#13 In the old days, most Americans grew up in middle class neighborhoods. Sadly, this is no longer true. In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”. By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.

#14 The concentration of wealth at the very top of the food chain is astounding. Right now, over 50 percent of all stocks and bonds are owned by just 1 percentof the U.S. population.

#15 When you concentrate too much power in the hands of the federal government and the big corporations, it is inevitable that massive amounts of wealth will become concentrated in just a few hands. In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#16 There is nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong with a game where individuals and small businesses cannot compete fairly. According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#17 When the number of poor people rapidly expands in a society, that is a recipe for social unrest. At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#18 The hidden tax of inflation is absolutely devastating middle class families all over America. Since 1970, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 83 percent of its value. Any dollars that middle class families try to save are constantly losing a little bit more value every single day.

#19 American workers that try to play by the rules find that they are constantly fighting a losing battle. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 droppedby 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#20 In recent years, many middle class families have seen their paychecks get smaller. Median household income in the United States has fallen 7.8 percentsince December 2007 after adjusting for inflation.

#21 In recent years, many middle class families have seen many of their basic expenses absolutely soar. For example, health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#22 Just turning on the lights and heating their homes has become a major burden for many middle class families. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#23 Just putting gas in the car has become a major financial ordeal for millions of hard working Americans. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has increased by more than 100 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#24 Sadly, government dependence is now at an all-time high, and that is the way that many among the elite like it. When Barack Obama took office, there were 32 million Americans on food stamps. Now, there are more than 46 million Americans on food stamps. In particular, an astounding number of children are on food stamps right now. At this point, approximately one-fourthof all American children are enrolled in the food stamp program.

#25 Many middle class families will not be in the middle class for too much longer. According to a shocking new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, 200,000 U.S. households will use the money from their tax refunds this year “to pay for bankruptcy filing and legal fees“.

Unless major changes are made on a national level, the middle class is going to continue to disappear.

If you are playing the game the way that the system tells you to play it and you expect to live a middle class lifestyle for many years to come there is a good chance that you will be deeply disappointed at some point.

Millions upon millions of Americans have done everything that the system told them to do and the system has still failed them. They got good grades all the way through school, they went to college, they worked really hard, they stayed out of trouble and they gave everything they could to their employers. In spite of all that, millions of hard working families have still lost their jobs and their homes in recent years.

Do not trust that the system will take care of you, and you should not trust that the government will take care of you either.

We don’t need the federal government to hand out more money to everyone. Government handouts are already at record levels and the government is not even coming close to paying for all of this reckless spending.

More government spending is not going to solve any of our problems.

Instead, what we need is an environment where the size and power of the federal government is limited and the size and the power of the big corporations is limited. We need an environment where individuals and small businesses can thrive and compete fairly.

Unfortunately, neither major political party is going to move us in that direction, so there is not much hope for solutions on the national level any time soon.

On an individual level, we can all learn how to prepare for the very difficult years that are coming. It is imperative that we all work to become more independent of the system, because the system could fail at any time.

If you have blind faith that your job will always be there and that the federal government will rescue you if the economy crashes then you are likely to be bitterly disappointed at some point.

The truth is that our economy is slowly dying and the great American middle class is being systematically wiped out.

Many of the things that worked in the past are not going to work any longer.

You can choose to adapt or you can suffer the consequences.

Our world is rapidly changing, and we all need to prepare for what is coming.

Author: Michael Snyder
Views: 5,528 people have read this article (new feature)
Date: April 18th, 2012
Website: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed

Note from this Blog:  Our recommendation to any young person looking for opportunity....study Spanish for three months and then come to Ecuador.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor's degrees.

Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.

While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor's degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

"I don't even know what I'm looking for," says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.

Bledsoe, currently making just above minimum wage, says he got financial help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now mulling whether to go to graduate school, seeing few other options to advance his career. "There is not much out there, it seems," he said.

His situation highlights a widening but little-discussed labor problem. Perhaps more than ever, the choices that young adults make earlier in life — level of schooling, academic field and training, where to attend college, how to pay for it — are having long-lasting financial impact.

"You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it's not true for everybody," says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. "If you're not sure what you're going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college."

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor's degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. "Simply put, we're failing kids coming out of college," he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. "We're going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow."

By region, the Mountain West was most likely to have young college graduates jobless or underemployed — roughly 3 in 5. It was followed by the more rural southeastern U.S., including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The Pacific region, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, also was high on the list.

On the other end of the scale, the southern U.S., anchored by Texas, was most likely to have young college graduates in higher-skill jobs.

The figures are based on an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers and supplemented with material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. They rely on Labor Department assessments of the level of education required to do the job in 900-plus U.S. occupations, which were used to calculate the shares of young adults with bachelor's degrees who were "underemployed."

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.

Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.

In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor's degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants. Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren't easily replaced by computers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level; those with nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were among the most likely.

In Nevada, where unemployment is the highest in the nation, Class of 2012 college seniors recently expressed feelings ranging from anxiety and fear to cautious optimism about what lies ahead.

With the state's economy languishing in an extended housing bust, a lot of young graduates have shown up at job placement centers in tears. Many have been squeezed out of jobs by more experienced workers, job counselors said, and are now having to explain to prospective employers the time gaps in their resumes.

"It's kind of scary," said Cameron Bawden, 22, who is graduating from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in December with a business degree. His family has warned him for years about the job market, so he has been building his resume by working part time on the Las Vegas Strip as a food runner and doing a marketing internship with a local airline.

Bawden said his friends who have graduated are either unemployed or working along the Vegas Strip in service jobs that don't require degrees. "There are so few jobs and it's a small city," he said. "It's all about who you know."

Any job gains are going mostly to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale, at the expense of middle-income jobs commonly held by bachelor's degree holders. By some studies, up to 95 percent of positions lost during the economic recovery occurred in middle-income occupations such as bank tellers, the type of job not expected to return in a more high-tech age.

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California-Irvine, said a bachelor's degree can have benefits that aren't fully reflected in the government's labor data. He said even for lower-skilled jobs such as waitress or cashier, employers tend to value bachelor's degree-holders more highly than high-school graduates, paying them more for the same work and offering promotions.

In addition, U.S. workers increasingly may need to consider their position in a global economy, where they must compete with educated foreign-born residents for jobs. Longer-term government projections also may fail to consider "degree inflation," a growing ubiquity of bachelor's degrees that could make them more commonplace in lower-wage jobs but inadequate for higher-wage ones.

That future may be now for Kelman Edwards Jr., 24, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is waiting to see the returns on his college education.

After earning a biology degree last May, the only job he could find was as a construction worker for five months before he quit to focus on finding a job in his academic field. He applied for positions in laboratories but was told they were looking for people with specialized certifications.

"I thought that me having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history in the field," he said. Edwards, who has about $5,500 in student debt, recently met with a career counselor at Middle Tennessee State University. The counselor's main advice: Pursue further education.

"Everyone is always telling you, 'Go to college,'" Edwards said. "But when you graduate, it's kind of an empty cliff."


Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes in Seattle; Travis Loller in Nashville, Tenn.; Cristina Silva in Las Vegas; and Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev., contributed to this report

Friday, April 20, 2012

From Bill Bonner....for those still living in the USA....The Noose tightens.....

And more thoughts...

In America, the deal is pretty straightforward. The Fed prints. The feds borrow the counterfeit money and spend it.

In Europe, the central bank prints up money too. It lends it to the banks. The banks lend to the marginal governments around the periphery. This puts the banks in a bad situation. They’re holding a lot of subprime government debt. But the central bank keeps lending them money to buy more!

Bloomberg has the story:April 18 (Bloomberg) — Spanish, Italian and Portuguese banks are loading up on bonds issued by their own governments, a move that shifts more of the risk of sovereign default to European taxpayers from private creditors.

Holdings of Spanish government debt by lenders based in the country jumped 26 percent in two months, to 220 billion euros ($289 billion) at the end of January, data from Spain’s treasury show. Italian banks increased ownership of their nation’s sovereign bonds by 31 percent to 267 billion euros in the three months ended in February, according to Bank of Italy data.

German and French banks, meanwhile, have cut holdings of those countries’ bonds, as well as Irish and Greek debt, by as much as 50 percent since 2010 in some cases. That leaves domestic firms on the hook for a restructuring such as Greece’s last month and their main financier, the European Central Bank, facing losses. Like Greece, governments would have to rescue their lenders with funds borrowed from the European Union.

The jump in sovereign-debt holdings by Spanish and Italian banks has been fueled by the ECB’s 1 trillion-euro long-term refinancing operation, or LTRO, initiated in December, to provide liquidity to the region’s lenders. Encouraged by their governments to take the money and buy bonds, banks borrowed 489 billion euros on Dec. 21 and 530 billion euros on Feb. 29.

For lenders in so-called peripheral countries — Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy — profit also was an inducement: They could borrow at 1 percent to buy government bonds yielding between 6 percent and 13 percent.

In Europe as in America, nobody goes broke...until they all go broke.

Meanwhile, in Greece, farmers are organizing special “food relief” programs to help children in the cities who are said to be almost starving. The government, meanwhile, is preparing to head off “food riots.”

In France, the communist party, which was practically dead a few years ago, is coming back to life...like the zombie it is...under the leadership of Jean-Luc Melenchon. Unlike the ‘responsible’ politicians in Europe, Melenchon wants no cutbacks in government spending. Just the contrary. He wants to increase it. For example, the minimum wage would go up from about $1,600 per month to $2,300 per month. And the top marginal income tax on rich people, those who earn more than about $500,000 per year, would go to 100%.

Melenchon’s star is rising. His left coalition could get 12% or more of the vote on Sunday. Which is only natural. Promise the mob that you will give them free money; few will resist it.

*** Alone among the developed nations...America has something the others don’t have...and by the look of things, something they don’t want. The US population is growing!

Yes, dear reader, when it comes to having babies...or importing babies from other countries...America still has what it takes. The UN says that US population will increase by nearly 27 million people by 2020.

Twenty-seven million people is about 40 cities the size of Baltimore. If each one of these people lives in a household of four people, it’s more than 6 million new houses...and, assuming they are all two-car families, about 12 million autos. And, of course, each family needs a dishwasher, a toaster oven, a refrigerator, and so forth. A lot of stuff, in other words.

Compared to the rest of the developed world, America is still enjoying a major population boom. After all, Japan’s population is shrinking. So is Germany’s. Europe as a whole is still growing, but not by much. And after 2020, it begins to shrivel up too.

But American population growth may not be as strong as it is advertised. Why? Because more and more people are sneaking out.

As we reported yesterday, illegal immigrants are going home...as well as the children of legal immigrants. And now comes word that native-born Americans are slipping away too. Yes, according to our sources, 742 US citizens leave the country every hour — and don’t come back.

So many are leaving that Sen. Barbara Boxer has proposed legislation — a law that would make it impossible for Americas to cross the border until they settle up with the IRS.

The noose tightens...


Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

Angelina Jolie Is A Regular Person: She Takes The Bus!

By Alexis Tereszcuk - Radar Entertainment Editor

Angelina Jolie went from a private plane to a regular bus in just a matter of hours!

The newly engaged fiancée of Brad Pitt was spotted boarding a bus with her children just hours after landing in Ecuador on her way to the Galapagos Islands for a vacation with her happy brood.

PHOTOS: Angelina Jolie Debuts Her Huge Engagement Ring

Smiling broadly and wearing sunglasses, Angelina looked like a regular tourist as she waited to board the bus with her family.

With her oldest son Maddox in front of her, the 36-year-old mother of six seemed like she was enjoying the family vacation.

PHOTOS: Battle Of The Bling From Brad! Angelina Jolie Vs. Jennifer Aniston

Brad just gave Angelina, his long-term girlfriend and the mother of his children, a stunning engagement ring and the pair plans to tie the knot shortly, surrounded by their beloved family.

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Quito, Ecuador....of course...Cafe Dios no Muere is on the list!

April 13, 2012|Eduardo Garcia | Reuters

QUITO (Reuters) - Peppered with parks and crafts markets, Quito's status as a UNESCO world heritage site and its sweeping Andean panoramas have made this highland city an up-and-coming tourist destination.

The main attractions of Quito, which caters for all tastes, are its colonial center, magnificent churches, cobblestone streets and quaint squares.

Visitors can enjoy cycling on the growing network of paths, or a stroll in the massive La Carolina park or the Parque Metropolitano, a eucalyptus forest overlooking the city.

Quito is also an ideal destination for craft hunters, art lovers and those eager to discover the distinctive flavors of Andean cuisine.


6 p.m. - Board a cable car to climb to 13,500 feet for a bird's eye view of this bowl-shaped city. Looming above is the summit of the Pichincha volcano, which belched ash as recently as 1999.

7 p.m. - Soak in colonial-era ambience with a drink at Cafe Dios no Muere, just outside Monastery Santa Catalina. We also suggest the Cajun Fried Yuka for an apetizer...the owner if from Louisiana and his wife is from Ecuador.

8 p.m. - Dine at El Ventanal, which offers spectacular views of Quito's colonial center and an international menu that includes grilled octopus and fish carpaccio, as well as some local dishes including quinoa salad.

9:30 p.m. - Head to La Ronda, a cobblestoned, narrow walkway, festooned with red geraniums in vases fastened to wrought-iron balconies where you can party into the night or listen to live Ecuadorean music. After La Ronda.....we reccomend a late night hot Canellaso at Cafe Dios no Muere....made with cinimon, passion fruit and....sugar cane alchohol from the owners farm.


8 a.m. - Head to Otavalo, one of the best known indigenous markets in Latin America, where you can buy hand-woven alpaca blankets and ponchos, or the typical fedora hats that indigenous peoples wear in the Andean highlands.

9:30 a.m. - Stop at the Cafe de la Vaca and order from its wide breakfast menu, which features fresh juices and eggs stewed with vegetables in a clay pot. The restaurant's facilities include a souvenir shop and artificial lake and a playground.

1 p.m. - After you are done shopping in the market enjoy lunch in Hacienda Pinsaqui, a former colonial textile factory built in 1790. The beef steak is delicious and the trout fished in nearby lakes is also a good option. Take a walk in the fairytale gardens, which feature a mix of tropical and Andean plants, ponds, wooden benches and great mountain views. Or stay indoors and enjoy the warmth of the fireplaces.
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2:30 p.m. - Buy some leather crafts in Cotacachi, only 10 minutes by road from Otavalo, where you will find a wide selection of jackets, bags and hats. Try the typical bizcochos, a type of breadsticks, with hot chocolate, or head to Cuicocha, a crater lake nearby, for the crisp air of the Andes and some outstanding views.

4 p.m. - With weekend traffic light and the newly revamped road, you can zip back by road to central Quito within 1.5 hours.

5:30 p.m. - Visit La Compania. Some guidebooks describe it as one of Latin America's most beautiful churches. Walls gleam with gold leafed carvings under a windowed blue pastel dome. A vaulted nave is crisscrossed by countless Arabesque geometric shapes.

7 p.m. - Have a drink at the La Naranjilla Mecanica, an offbeat bistro with an art gallery and a designer shop. Enjoy the music while sipping your choice of drink from the cocktail menu.

9 p.m. - Check out El Pobre Diablo, a concert club which often showcases jazz bands and live Latin American music. The restaurant offers typical Ecuadorean dishes including fish with coconut sauce, the trademark dish of the Esmeraldas coastal region, or a earthy goat stew.


9 a.m. - Start the day with some exercise. Avenues from north to south are closed to traffic on Sunday morning and are taken over by hundreds of cyclists and joggers, offering a perfect opportunity to mingle with health conscious locals and to take in the fresh air of this high-altitude city.

11 a.m. - Make a stop at any of the local craft markets in La Mariscal, the outdoor stalls in El Ejido park, Santa Clara, or the newly built Mercado Artesanal Quitus, where you will find a wide array of handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also some interesting crafts shops in Avenida Amazonas and around the Plaza Foch

12:30 p.m. - The equator runs about 10 milesnorth of Quito. A 100-foot high (30-metre) monument claims to sit on the equator. Topped by a globe, it is the hub of a mini theme park called "Middle of the World."

The 1736-1744 equatorial mission by French scientists is documented in a nearby pavilion. Its finding upheld Sir Isaac Newton's assertion that the globe slightly bulged at its middle.

1 p.m. - Over 100 yards (meters) away, the Inti Nan museum also claims to straddle 0 0' 0'' latitude. On separate sides of the line, it shows whirlpools drain in opposite directions. In nearby Catequilla the equator runs through pre-Inca ruins, according toGoogle Earth and GPS readings. Non-profit research group Quitsato (www.quitsato.org) can arrange a visit.

2:30 p.m. - Abutting the Parque Metropolitano, Quito's largest park is the Chapel of Man, a domed art temple housing monumental work by the late Oswaldo Guyasamin,Ecuador's most famous artist. His paintings deal with hunger, inequality and war and the plight of Latin American people in the second half of the 20th century

4 p.m. - Wrap up your visit with a coffee and a light snack at Guapulo, a bohemian neighborhood in the western part of town. At sunset there are some breathtaking views of the Los Chillos valley, in the outskirts of Quito.

Mignon's Locro, the locro that almost never was

By Lance Brashear

Those who know the story of the conquest and founding of Quito – at least the popular version – know that the Incan general who resisted the Spanish Conquerors reportedly hid a vast treasure that was never discovered.

Mignon Plaza is familiar with the story. As the owner of Hacienda San Agustin de Callo - a hacienda built from the sizeable remains of an Incan Palace from the late 15th or early 16th century in Cotopaxi Province - she jokes that she, too, has never found the long lost treasure, even though Incan royalty most likely visited and temporarily inhabited the site of her hacienda.

In recent years the Hacienda of San Agustin de Callo (www.incahacienda.com) has become one of the region’s premier lodgings. Mignon has set about creating her own treasure, restoring the family farm – complete with a dining room enclosed by original Incan walls - to become a luxury hacienda and has been featured in publications like National Geographic and Food and Wine.

The cuisine at San Agustin is decidedly country with an Ecuadorian flair – breakfast offers 11 different preparations of eggs accompanied with jams made from local and native fruits. Guests also find select international influences to accompany the standard array of national dishes. During Food and Wine’s visit guests tried Timbuscha soup with garlic shrimp and a maracuyá meringue tart.

But Mignon’s most renowned dish, undoubtedly, is cheese locro – a golden potato soup that is not only her signature plate but perhaps a substitute for all the lost treasure never recovered since the conquest.

Chef Henry Richardson of Quito once brought internationally recognized chef, Sumito Estevez, of the Gourmet Channel, to San Agustin just to try Mignon’s locro. And Mignon says the Queen of Spain requested her recipes during a visit last year (such is the prestige of San Agustin).

Locro is one of Ecuador’s national dishes – a potato based soup for which Mignon’s preparation has become well-known. “The potatoes in this region are fantastic,” says Mignon. “You have the natural potatoes all year round here.”

How do you make locro? “Most of Ecuadorian food is made from a basic sauté,” explains Mignon. “Chopped onion, garlic in butter, achiote for coloring, and you cook the potatoes in that. Then you cover them in water. On the side you blend milk and cheese and you pour it in. That is basically a locro.”

Mignon’s variation on this traditional dish happened by way of discovery. “One day something terrible happened,” she says. As the staff was preparing a traditional cheese locro the milk separated. “This was just when we were serving lunch.” But it was fortuitous.

Mignon says that, “Suddenly - sometimes these brilliant things happen - I said lets blend it in the blender. Take the potatoes out, clean the potatoes, and blend the liquid to see if it integrates. And that is exactly what happened.”

Blenders are not generally used to prepare locro but the urgency of the moment necessitated an unconventional solution. “I just heated up the locro blended the whole liquid and this creamy thing came out. We never had to put cream again into the soup. It is blended in such a way - really well blended - that it has that texture though it does not have any cream.”

And now ordinary people and queens from distant lands come to Hacienda San Agustin de Callo try Mignon’s locro and most agree it is a treasure and reason enough for a return visit. And recognizing the serendipitous generosity of fate, Mignon does not keep her recipe a secret. She offers it to the world, often showing visitors how to prepare it at the hacienda.

If you would like try Mignon’s locro at the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, located near Lasso in Cotopaxi Province, about one hour south of Quito, call or write to them in Quito at (02)290-6157/8 or in Lasso at (03) 271-9160, or write to reservations@incahacienda.com.




5 lbs potatoes.

50 gr. long spring onion chopped.

1 stick of parsley

500 gr. Cheese: fresh chees and a port salut or Dambo cheese)

20 mg. butter

20 mg. achiote


Chopped garlic



Cut potatoes into different sizes leaving some whole. Pour hot water and cover the potatos; cook until potatoes are soft. Sautee onion and garlic in butter and oil with achiote and salt. Add potatoes and water to the sautee and stir. Separately blend milk with the two shredded cheeses. Add to the potatoes and and stir until the soup has creamy texture. Serve with shredded cheeses to top and accompany with avocado and ají (hot sauce).

Ají preparation

Hot red peppers

Long white onion

A little bit of olive oil (optional)


Clean the peppers well removing seeds and veins. Blend or process with a little bit of water until you get consistency you like. Add chopped onion, salt, and olive oil. Optionally you can add some freshly cut coriander.

Chulpi preparation (toasted corn with vegetable oil)

Fry corn in an abundance of vegetable oil. Add white onion, garlic, and salt as desired.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Demand for Coffee is Growing, and it Won’t Stay Cheap Forever

Note from this Blog: We have continually on this blog recommended to our foreign friends that want to invest in Ecuador to look at farming as a future source of income. And for us....coffee and Cacao are the best way to get into the business........

By Andy Hecht, Senior Commodities Editor

In a nation of tea drinkers, the joint venture between Indian mega-conglomerate Tata, which already owns the Eight O’Clock Coffee brand in the U.S., and the Seattle-based retail giant Starbucks will open 50 coffee outlets across India by the end of the year.

Another Indian company, Cafe Coffee Day, is taking the battle to the enemy camp – before the enemy arrives. It plans to scale up its premium coffee chain Square to counter the entry of Starbucks in India.

It’s all a sign of the huge boom about to take place in this commodity, and it’s not just happening in India. While the traditional markets in the U.S. and Europe remain central to the industry, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee is spreading fast and far.

The BRICs are Getting the Coffee Bug

The London-based International Coffee Organization estimates that global demand for coffee is growing by an average of 2% annually. But in emerging-market countries, such as China, India, Russia and across Latin America, including the coffee-producing nations themselves, demand is skyrocketing up to 20% a year.

And here is where the real investment opportunity lies. Given what we know about the rising global demand, the price of coffee is now a real bargain – it fell 19.5% to $1.82 per pound during the first quarter of 2012.

And while demand for coffee continues to grow, thanks to a bumper crop in Brazil last year, supply so far in 2012 has outstripped demand. Hence the bargain-basement price.

But that opportunity is not going to last long. Although the Brazil harvest was bountiful, there are long-term problems in other coffee-growing nations.

The Columbian harvest was “suboptimal,” as we say in the commodities world. Indeed, Columbia has suffered coffee production declines in recent years because of weather issues and crop fungus.

In the meantime, Vietnam has overtaken Columbia to become the world’s second-largest coffee producer, but it has struggled to get the necessary financing for farmers to grow the crop and send it to market. Vietnam is also always at the mercy of excessive rains and flood conditions.

Indonesia, another larger producer of coffee in Asia, experiences similar issues.

At the same time, increasing demand has also meant that stocks are sitting at multi-year lows. European stocks of Arabica and Robusta coffee are at their lowest levels since 2006. And stocks of Arabica coffee at New York’s ICE exchange at last glance stood at their lowest level in 11 years.
How to Play Coffee in the Markets

With current levels of low volatility, coffee call options are cheaper than usual and offer a great way to get in on the future action in this commodity.

While the market is witnessing a short-term surplus, demand and low stock levels can flip that surplus into a deficit in the blink of an eye.

And the futures market is telling us to expect higher coffee prices down the road. Futures contracts are currently priced progressively higher - coffee in 2014 is trading over $2 a pound while the active month futures contract is at $1.75.

As a seasoned trader, I believe the coffee market is ready to rebound.

Happy trade hunting from your eyes and ears in the commodity markets….

Andy Hecht

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Best Place to Retire Overseas on a Budget

By Kathleen Peddicord | U.S.News & World Report LP – 8 hours ago

If an affordable cost of living is your priority in choosing where to retire, take a look at Cuenca, Ecuador. This city is one of the world's best places to retire overseas on a budget.

Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city in an interesting and diverse country. The health care is high quality, honest, and inexpensive. The climate is spring-like and pleasant 12 months of the year. And Cuenca's large and growing expat community is one of Latin America's most diverse and well-blended.

There are other colonial cities in Ecuador, but Cuenca is the cultural heart of the country. In this center of art and literature, you can attend the orchestra, a play, a tango show, or an art opening, and these activities are usually free.

Cuenca is also a popular destination for international tourists and language students, offering many super-affordable options to study Spanish. The tourists and students bring vitality to the city and help support Cuenca's developed infrastructure for amenities and services.

However, perhaps the biggest draw to Cuenca is its cost of living, which is extremely low, especially considering the quality of life that you find here. The falling dollar has caused prices to go up sharply for overseas retirees whose retirement incomes are denominated in U.S. dollars, but who are living in places where goods are priced in the local currency. But this exchange-rate concern does not exist in Cuenca, because Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar.

The $1 fixed-price lunch is still alive and well in Cuenca (although $2.50 is more common), and the city is awash with fresh tropical fruits and vegetables for pennies on the dollar. Fresh fish and shrimp arrive daily from the coast, and much of the local poultry is free-range. A bus trip through the city is a quarter, taxis start at about $1.50, and gas is only $1.48 per gallon.

You could rent a furnished apartment for as little as $400 per month, an unfurnished apartment from $300 per month, or buy a small condo outright for less than $40,000. Thanks to the comfortable year-round climate in Cuenca, you won't have to worry about heat or air conditioning, which is another important reason why retirement in this city is as affordable as it is.

Cuenca is very walkable and boasts an excellent public transit system, as does all of Ecuador. You could live easily without a car, which shaves even more costs from your monthly budget.

All that said, Cuenca is not the most affordable place to live in Ecuador. In small towns like Cotacachi or Vilcabamba, you could retire on an even more modest budget of as little as $650 or $700 a month. But the cost of living isn't the only factor you should consider when choosing a retirement spot. You want to balance the cost of your retirement against the quality of retirement life you'll be able to enjoy. Part of the reason the overall cost of living in places like Cotacachi is so low is because there's simply not much to do, meaning there's not much to spend money on. You could live quite frugally in Cotacachi, but also very simply.

Cuenca, on the other hand, is a fully developed city, where you could enjoy a rich and full life. To be able to enjoy all that the city has to offer, plan on a budget of $1,500 a month per couple if you're renting and $1,100 per month if you own your home. You could certainly live here for less, but these estimates will allow you to make the most of your new life in Cuenca.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas--Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Monday, April 2, 2012

FANESCA: In search of the best


Though they surveyed about 5,000 establishments in Quito looking for the best fanesca – Ecuador's traditional Easter dish – researchers from the University of the Americas (UDLA) along with the Quito Tourism office, ultimately admit that the greatest fanesca is generally not for sale. It is grandma's recipe.

Nonetheless, over the past month Carlos Gallardo, National Director of the Tourism and Hospitality Factulty at UDLA and head of the Ecuadorian Chef's Association, led a full-scale effort to try to make the subjective tastes of the people of Quito a bit more objective.

Together with the tourism arm of the city, Gallardo and his team identified approximately 500 restaurants that offer fanesca throughout Quito. Their goal: identify the 12 best recipes available to the public, offered by establishments that also satisfy the needs of tourists and diners.

The winners were presented recently at the Carmen Bajo Monestary in Quito offering tastings as part of a kick-off to an Easter exhibition at the convent, which lasts through the end of the month and segues to a broader celebration throughout the city as Holy Week nears.

Gastronomic Tourism

"If we ask everyone what is the best (fanesca) recipe we will always say our grandmother's, our mother's, our family's, and this is the best recipe we have," says Gallardo. "Now, how a tourist arrives at our grandmother's house is a little difficult." And for Gallardo this is exactly the point – to serve the tourist.

Andres Granja, part of the UDLA evaluation team, says, "The 12 restaurants were selected because our objective is gastronomic tourism…we selected the restaurants that can satisfy this necessity."

Gallardo adds, "Within the conditions that we evaluated, we looked a lot at the capacity of each to receive tourists, the quality of their service, and the sanitary considerations in each of the establishments." He says all of this was considered alongside the respect for the products, respect for the tradition, and respect for the recipes.

UDLA is at the forefront of investigating and promoting Ecuadorian cuisine with the objective of bringing greater attention to Ecuador's rich culinary heritage. For the past five years, with the support of UDLA, Gallardo has led a program called "Rescuing the Traditional Flavors of Ecuador," and traveled to every province in the country investigating, documenting, and promoting the culinary patrimony of Ecuador with the objective of establishing Ecuador on the global gastronomic scene.

"There is a grand evolution from a sustainable, culinary point of view that we have to have in one way or another," explains Gallardo. Using Mexican and Peruvian cuisine as examples, he says Ecuador is ready to join them in recognition at an international level. "We are completely prepared, with a solid investigation."


In Ecuador, food is often inextricably tied to cultural and religious celebrations and one of the best examples is fanesca, which combines traditional Andean ingredients – legumes and grains - with products introduced at the time of the Spanish Conquest, principally dairy products. And the implied symbolism of the dish offers testament to it's Spanish-Catholic roots.

Marcelo Bueno, owner of Mi Cocina Restaurant, one of the restaurants identified as offering the best fanesca explains the significance of the dish: "Fanesca is traditionally consumed from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday. The base of the fanesca are the 12 grains that represent the 12 apostles."

(This is also why UDLA and Quito Tourism selected 12 restaurants.)

Undoubtedly there are slight variations in each of the 500 recipes that can be found throughout the city during Holy Week. Some restaurants insist on using 12 grains, while others use as few as nine and simply claim their fanesca contains 12 "ingredients." And the word grain is used loosely, as it often includes legumes, tubers, and even melons (zapallo, a local pumpkin-like gourd is commonly included).

Hotel Quito Chef, Manuel Ponce, identified his twelve grains: Fava beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, bolon beans ("frijol bolon"), peas, peanuts, melloco (a local tuber), lentil beans, chocho beans, hominy, and red beans.

Fanesca includes other ingredients with religous symbolism. Cod, said to represent Christ, is an essential ingredient in traditional recipes. Cod is often imported, but some restaurants also substitute with a national fish.

And each fanesca has up to half a dozen garnishes, some of which include hard-boiled eggs, fried bananas, and mini-empanadas. They are said to represent the community of non-believers, which gives testament to the evangelization of the indigenous by the Catholic Church.

With fanesca as one of the most celebrated dishes in all of Ecuador it is an obvious choice for promotion. Luz Elena Coloma, General Manager of Quito Tourism, says this year's event is the first pass to create a gastronomic route in the city. She promises additional efforts throughout the year to showcase Quito and Ecuador's food traditions.

"It is our obligation as a city, as the office of tourism of the city, to place a value, to recognize, and to say to the world and the international tourist, and to say to ourselves, that we have a gastronomy of great quality and it is part of our attraction."

And though she sampled some of the twelve greatest fanescas in Quito she makes the same admission as so many others: "I am not a great maker of fanesca. I still have my mother thanks to God and I have my mother-in-law who makes the best fanescas in the world."

Mi Cocina Fanesca Recipe by Mi Cocina (Serving: 18 persons)


1lb beans

1lb fava beans,

1lb peans

1lb chochos

1lb corn

¼ medium-size cabbage

¾ bundle white onion medium-size zapallo

100 grams arrocillo rice



¼ lb butter


10 cloves garlic, chopped

Pepper, crushed (a pinch)

1 liter milk


1lb garbanzo beans

1lb lentil beans

1lb mellocos


Prepare mixture ("refrito") of butter, onion, oil. Stir until semi-boiled. Stir in annatto (achiote), add chopped garlic and crushed pepper, oregano, and stir for five minutes. Next, add the cabbage, previously cooked and crushed, and stir until dissolved. Add the cod water.

Prepration of Grains:

Separately, peel, sift, and cook beans, peas, chochos, and corn.

Cook the arrocillo in a small quantity of water, add grains mentioned above along with milk, peanuts dissolved in milk, and zapallo (previously cooked and liquified in its own juices).

Finally, add salte, cream, and milk as desired.


Accompany fanesca with the following garnishes: 3 pealed maqueños cut into small round disks, empanadas with cheese, "bolitas de harina" (fried flour balls), 2 boiled eggs cut into pieces, chopped cod as desired, 1 aji chili pepper chopped and without seeds, and a sprig of parsley for each plate.

The Churches & Convents of Quito

The central historical district of Quito will be the scene of the city's largest, public religious celebration during the upcoming Holy week (April 1-8th). The events, whether musical, gastronomical, or artistic, will occur in a city that, throughout its history, has been a fundamentally religious one.

Visitors cannot walk through El Centro without passing a church, convent, or chapel every couple of blocks. The structures define both Quito's intangible and it's physical, architectural heritage, offering an iconography that is part of the tourism landscape of Quito.

In the coming weeks, get to know the city's religious structures, the reason for which Quito was named a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Cathedral Church is arguably Quito's oldest. Its grandeur is found in its size as it borders the entire length of the south side of the Plaza Grande. The names of the original 204 Spanish conquerers are posted on the outer wall. Inside is the masuleum of Antonio Jose de Sucre, and burial sites for some of Ecuador's important historical figures.

Adjacent is the Sagrario Church, built on top of a ravine that cut the city in two, it boasts magnificent altars and baroque elements. Across the plaza the Conception Church and Convent was Quito's first feminine monastery and is one of five cloistered convents in the historical center.

Quito's most impressive public space, the San Francisco Plaza is home to the San Francisco Church and Convent is home of the first order to arrive in Quito, the Francisans. The adjoining Cantuña Chapel offers one of Quito's most famous legends (the legend of Cantuña) and sandwiched in between is the beautiful Buenaventura Chapel.

The Compañia Church is perhaps Quito's most ornate. Painted in gold leaf it offers an unforgettable encounter and is attached to the Metropolitan Cultural Centers, a structure with another rich history.

Quito's other principal plaza takes the name of the religious order whose presence dominates the square: Santo Domingo Church & Convent. It is home to the Fray Bedon Museum and multiple chapels including the Chapel of the Rosario and Chapel of the Virgin Escalera.

Other religious orders that have influenced the archititeture of the city are the mercedarios, founders of the Merced Church and Convent, and the Augustinians who have one of the greatest attractions of baroque painting in the collection of works by Miguel de Santiago found in the San Agustin Convent and Church.

The Carmelite Nuns in Quito have two homes: El Carmen Alto is the home of the order originally founded in Quito while El Carmen Bajo is the home of the sisters who relocated following an earthquake in Latacunga 300 years ago.

El Carmen Bajo is known for its rich Nativity display and El Carmen Alto is site of the former home of one of Ecuador's saints, Mariana de Jesus. Across from Carmen Alto is the city museum and site of the former San Juan de Dios hospital and chapel. Two blocks west is the Santa Clara Convent, a four hundred year old order in Quito.

The Santa Catalina Convent and Monastery is another cloistered convent. Around the outskirts of the central core of Quito are the El Tejar, San Roque, Santa Barbara, and San Marcos Churches.

The San Diego Church and Convent is located in the southwest corner of El Centro, next to the magnificent San Diego Cemetary. At the opposite end, the far northeast section of the historical district, the San Blas Church, located in one of the oldest parishes of the city, was originally a church for the indigenous populations of Quito.

Finally, the Gothic structure known as the Basillica dominates the Quito skyline offering magificent views and a quirky national touch: Galapagos animal gargoyles.


1. Cathedral Church

2. El Sagrario Church

3. La Concepcion Church & Monastery

4. San Francisco Church & Convent

5. Buenaventura & Cantuña Chapels

6. La Compañía Church

7. Santo Domingo Church & Convent

8. Chapel of the Rosario & Chapel of the Virgin Escalera

9. La Merced Church & Convent

10. San Agustin Church & Convent

11. El Carmen Bajo Church & Convent

12. Santa Barbara Church

13. San Roque Church

14. Chapel of the Old San Juan de Dios Hospital (city museum)

15. El Carmen Alto Church & Convent

16. Santa Clara Church & Convent

17. Santa Catalina Church & Monastery

18. San Marcos Church

19. San Diego Church & Convent

20. El Tejar Church & Convent

21. San Juan Church & Monastery

22. Basilica Church

23. San Blas Plaza

Holy Week in Quito

For the Roman Catholic Community in Quito Holy Week is undoubtedly the most important event commemorating Christian faith and it competes with the largest public gatherings during the year, possibly outdoing the Independence and "Fiestas de Quito" celebrations.

For visitors Semana Santa is a great opportunity to witness the astonishing zeal Quiteños show towards religion, while admiring lithurgical rituals and traditions, which shed light on the cultural complexities of a mixed heritage.

During Holy Week, visitors can also taste the delectable blend of indigenous and Spanish cuisines in the popular fanesca dish, a unique soup that combines flavors from both the Andes and the coast - an elaborate and hearty treat that will make this week in Quito truly unforgettable.

Holy Week begins April 1, with Palm Sunday, and culminates in the events of Easter Sunday, one week later. Here is how to observe and participate:



Date: April 1

Times: 8:30 AM and 7:30 PM

Place: Squares and churchs of the Historic Center

Palm Sunday, a religious date commemorating the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, where he was received with palms and olive branches, symbols of peace. The historic center becomes the stage of several important religious ceremonies, complemented by cultural events such as the Church Bell Concert.


8:00 a.m. El Sagrario Church: Blessing of palms and procession to the Cathedral.

8:45 a.m. Cathedral Cburch: Pontifical Mass presided by the Archbishop of Quito.

9:00 a.m. Basilica Church: Procession to Plaza San Francisco beginning at the Basilica. Route: Basilica, Venezuela, Manabí, García Moreno, Sucre, Benalcázar, Plaza San Francisco.

11:00 a.m. Plaza San Francisco: Open-air Mass, Singing of Eucharist and Blessing of Palms.

6:00 p.m. Plaza del Teatro: The procession begins here and moves toward San Francisco Plaza, where the Church Bell Concert takes place; special performance by the Jacchigua Folk Ballet.

7:30 p.m. Plaza San Francisco: Church Bell Concert. All church bells throughout the Historic Center are tolled.


Date: April 4

Time: 12:00

Place: The Cathedral of Quito 6

On April 4, at noon, the Municipal Cathedral is stage to the "Arrastre de Caudas," or Dragging of the Cape procession, a unique tradition that only takes place in three cities worldwide: Quito, Lima and Seville. The Dragging of the Cape is a solemn ceremony that celebrates every Holy Wednesday, symbolizing the mournful hours for the death of Jesus Christ. The cape travels the Cathedral so that the virtues of Jesus Christ pass down to the faithful. For those who wish to participate, it is recommended that you reach the Cathedral approximately 2 hours before the event begins, since the Dragging of the Capes is one of the most popular ceremonies of Holy Week.


April 5, 2012


Time: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

On Holy Thursday the Pontifical Chrismal Mass of Oils takes place in The Municipal Cathedral at 8:30 a.m., presided by the Archbishop of Quito. At 5:30 p.m. Pontifical Mass for the Last Supper, washing of the feet and procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Monument, takes place in The Cathedral.

The churches decorate their altars with silver and cloths and, among other things, a tabernacle is positioned with a chalice on top in remembrance of Jesus who has been captured.

After these ceremonies, at 6:00 p.m., a tour of the seven monuments of the Historic Center begins. And more than 10 churches open their doors to exhibit their most sublime altars on the night of Holy Thursday (until 10:00 p.m.).



April 6, 2012

Time: 7:00 -18:30

Place: San Francisco and Historic Centre streets

Good Friday is received with the Jesus Almighty procession, a religious tradition that was reinstated in the country in 1960. It is currently one of the most spectacular expressions of religious faith in the city. It gathers thousands of people throughout the historic center. In the late afternoon, at 6:00 p.m., the ceremony of the Seven Words takes place in the Convent of Santo Domingo, which ends with the Lord of Silence Procession that begins in Santo Domingo Square.

7:00-10:00 a.m.: Confessions at San Francisco Convent

8:00 a.m.: Via Crucis Prayer at San Francisco Church

11:45 a.m.: Reading of Jesus Christ’s Sentence, at the Atrium of San Francisco.

Almighty Jesus Procession (Historic Center)

Begins: Plaza San Francisco

Time: Noon

Route: Plaza San Francisco, Calles Bolívar, Venezuela north to Manabí, Vargas, José Riofrío, Venezuela, Manabí, García Moreno, Sucre and Plaza San Francisco.

Almighty Jesus Procession (South Quito)

Begins: "Virgen del Quinche" Church at Barrio La Unión

Time: Noon

Route: "Virgen del Quinche" Church of Barrio La Unión (calles Natalia Vaca and Unión), Guachapala, Zaruma, Puruha, Mariscal Sucre, Subte. Michelena, Atahualpa Neighborhood Roundabout, Av. Teniente Hugo Ortiz, Cacha, Puruha, Av. Jacinto Collahuazo, Rodrigo de Chavez, Mariscal Sucre, Puruha, Cuachapala, Calle Natalia Vaca, back to "Virgen del Quinche" Church.

5:00 p.m.: Liturgy at San Francisco Church

5:30 p.m.: Liturgic Ceremony for the Passion of Christ. Universal Prayer. Adoration of the Holy Cross and Communion at the Municipal Cathedral.

6:00 p.m.: Santo Domingo Church: Sermon of the Seven Last Words. "Beginning of the Procession of Silence." Route: Santo Domingo Church, Rocafuerte, Leopoldo Salvador, Calle de los Milagros, Montufar, Sucre, Venezuela, Rocafuerte, Santo Domingo Church.


April 7, 2012

Times: 3 PM to 7 PM

Place: San Francisco

The Temple of San Francisco in Quito carries out a ceremony for the Solitude of Mary, Mother of Jesus - a lithurgy that lasts 3 hours and consists of prayers and songs dedicated to the Virgin who has lost her child. Once this ceremony ends, the Paschal Vigil begins, with blessing of fire, paschal candles and the blessing of the Holy Water. This is the night before Resurrection, it is the passage of Jesus from Death to Eternal Life.


April 8, 2012

6:00 p.m.: Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Lord's Resurrection, presided by the Archbishop of Quito at the Municipal Cathedral. Also known as the Easter of Flowers, in reference to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when religious ceremonies go back to their usual schedules.