Archive for January, 2014

Tips for Taking Your Company to Latin America

Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Sometimes people forget that there’s a rather large market down below the United States; of course there’s Europe, Asia and others that make for good markets too, but you’d be doing yourself a huge disadvantage to overlook such a big hunk of mass as Latin America.


I’m not saying you should forget about the other markets, but there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t go giving them a higher importance, I’m going to give you some tips for breaking into the giant market and how to take advantage of all it has to offer.

For starters, Latin America is made up of 21 countries, nearly 600 trillion people, and a GDP of 5.16 trillion US dollars. I’ve convinced you already haven’t I? Well hold on there tiger, it’s important to remember that these are all different countries, and as such they each have unique features that you need to watch out for — Different languages, different styles of business and many contrasting economies. Despite this, they do share some common themes:

They like to be personable, you shouldn’t go with the idea that all you’ll be talking about is business. You’re going to need to talk about yourself, most people like to get to know each other on a personal basis, to become friends and build an element of trust before going into business together. This could be anything from going out to lunch, a party, or simply talking for an hour or so before hand.

It’s important to get that first meeting off on a good note; we all know how influential first appearance are, and you’ll be under the microscope due to being an ‘outsider.’ They’ll be sensitive to your approach so make sure to take your manners with you and make that first impression resonate.


Take your time, life in Latin America will probably be a lot slower than you’re used to, they don’t live life in the fast lane. That means deadlines are not as often met, projects take longer to close et cetera; on a positive note this means you can take advantage of some extra downtime, to relax and take in the cultural aspects around you, meet people and have fun.

It’s important to research the ins and outs of the individual countries, they’re all a little different and depending on the particular industry you’re involved in, there will be slightly differing ways to conduct your business in regards to legal requirements and laws — The last thing you want to do is to get yourself in trouble here.

Another important factor in your business conducting will be the language, hopefully you can speak some Spanish, it’ll go a long way here. You can’t go there with the expectation that everybody will speak English, it’s not going to happen, so if your Spanish isn’t up to scratch, take some classes, or send an inquiry to learn more, then all that’ll be left to do is go!

It’s Time to Invest in Spain

Posted on January 28th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Spain has been in some economic turmoil for the last decade, during this time property prices have dropped by almost 50 percent. Through a badly timed building boom and banks repossessing homes there is now an abundance of empty, price-slashed properties for sale.



Does that mean you should invest in one?

The short answer is yes, but with a side of caution.

There are indications that Spain, whose market has taken one of the biggest nosedives during the economic downturn, is bottoming out, meaning now is the cheapest opportunity you’ll find. Sales turnover in Barcelona is up 250 percent on a year ago, the government’s attracting overseas buyers with stylish apartments in the heart of old-town for much cheaper than one might expect.

All the major banks in Spain have opened real estate websites and translated them into English to attract buyers from overseas, specifically the British; promising discounts as much as 60 percent. The problem is that debt is very hard to attain and that it’s a risky market to invest in before there are signs of any growth. This is going on the assumption that you’ll be wanting to rent this property to others; if you have the money and are looking to buy a home for yourself, those risks are not of the same importance.


The real estate market in Spain has effectively been broken into two markets, the sub-prime property market and the prime property market; the sub prime consists of the badly located, unwanted apartments that have been dumped on the banks to be sold at heavily discounted rates; the prime property market consists of the most desirable apartments and villas that are being sold by banks to rebalance their depleted coffers. Unfortunately this means the good properties go rather quickly while the bad ones remain, people would prefer a home that’s of a high quality and largely discounted than a property that’s next to nothing cheap but that doesn’t have all the necessary paperwork and is of a low quality.

Of course, there are other reasons you might like a place in Spain, such as long white beaches, stunning architecture, culture, climate, food, parties and music; tantalizing I know, if you’re as keen on that idea as I am, then it’s time to get into gear.

Spain might have your dream home waiting there for you, but with the good houses going quickly leaving only the more risky opportunities, the time to act is very soon. If you find that perfect property and want to dive in, you might want to get your Spanish in order so that you can effectively communicate with the agents — if you need a little help in this regard, consider taking some Spanish classes, or inquire about anything you’re not sure of.

Why You Should Invest in Mexico

Posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Often overlooked by it’s big brother to the North, Mexico might have one of the most underrated and misunderstood roles in the global economy. It’s this proximity with the U.S that makes it such an attractive proposition, Mexico’s Pacific Coast port of Lazaro Cardenas is actually closer to New York than Los Angeles and Vancouver. Couple this geographical advantage with a labor pool of 78 million people and you have a pretty good option for your investment.


1157866_86004329There’s more though, the World Trade Organization ranks Mexican workers among the hardest-working in the world, in terms of the amount of hours worked each year. The young population is also growing rapidly, the average age is 27, this compares rather favorably with developed countries such as the UK, which has an average age of 40; this means Mexico should benefit from a rapid rise in domestic consumption. Of this population, more than 740 thousand are university students in engineering and technology programs, each year Mexico produce over 100 thousand engineering graduates, that’s more than the rest of Latin America combined, and the US.

Economists are excited about the long term growth potential of Mexico, predominantly due to it’s location. Mexico has close links to the US and Brazil, which is another fast growing economy in Latin America. Over the past five years Mexico has significantly increased its exports into the US, which has significantly boosted growth. In fact, Mexico is the 15th largest exporter in the world, exporting more than the rest of Latin America combined; it has the lowest total manufacturing costs among emerging economies and is about 25% lower than the US.



Mexico has been pushing itself recently to attract investors, in the last 20 years the government has made improvements to it’s infrastructure and fostered competition in sectors such as transportation, energy and telecommunications. As a result of this effort Mexico has come to be the 13th largest economy in the world, worth $2.4 trillion; and the 11th largest in purchasing power. The Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, the Mexican stock exchange, is valued at some $451 billion, second to only Brazil in Latin America and fifth in all of the Americas.

Mexico is also a very safe place to invest, while it’s often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Mexico has signed 28 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, and Double Taxation Treaties with more than 40 countries. Mexico also has a network of 12 Free Trade Agreements and an Economic Partnership Agreement that grants it preferential access to 44 countries and over one billion consumers.

Surely there are a few points that stand out there, but for you to know if investing in Mexico is truly for you you’ll need to research the particular industry you’re interested in. I also recommend learning a little Spanish to help with your communication efforts, there are plenty of classes available or you can inquire about anything you’re not sure of.

Tips for Doing Business in Colombia

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Free from it’s past turmoils, Colombia is now quite the paradise, full of friendly people, beautiful scenery, and economic viability. Full of almost 50 million people, Colombia has started to raise the bar as the country to see in Latin America; the economy is rising steadily after a rough recession in 2009, tourism is flourishing and due to the abundance of natural resources and renewable energy sources so are businesses.



So you’re thinking of jumping on board the Colombia bandwagon and getting your business up and running in South America, good on you! I feel it’s my duty to make you aware of some customs and tips for your venture, to help you better prepare yourself, here we go:

First it’s a good idea to make sure there’s a market for what you’d like to do, while an obvious step, one that you don’t want to forget. Colombia has a lot of potential but like everywhere else, there are good opportunities and not so good ones.

Make contacts, meet people and get your name out there. People are friendly and you shouldn’t have trouble with this. When you meet people it’s common to shake hands and maintain eye-contact, then engage in small talk for a while longer than you might expect — It’s a good idea not to jump straight to business related matters. When you’ve gotten to know these people a little better the handshake will become an ‘abrazo,’ a hug.

Take your business cards, they’ll prove invaluable when you first start out. Have one side in English and the other in Spanish.


Colombians take notice of body language, so try to avoid yawning or tapping your fingers on the table; avoid the ‘OK’ gesture, it has a different meaning there. Keep a smile on your face, back straight and be confident and friendly.

When you’re booking meetings, try to book at least one week in advance, and call to confirm not long before. Be punctual, on time and dressed nicely, a suit and tie is by no means over the top and often expected; but if you’re going more for casual then keep it tidy, appropriate closed footwear is essential, and clean well-fitting clothes — you get the picture.

During these meetings the same rules apply as when you first greet someone — Eye contact is important, and Colombians will want to know you on a personal level, so small talk will be the first subject tackled, then business — It’s best to wait for them to bring it up.

These tips are only a scratch on the surface of all the things you’re going to experience, but should give you enough of a leg up to get yourself going. As one last note, Spanish will be essential, it’s the official language and there’s no getting around the fact you will need it, so consider taking some classes, in the mean time, send an inquire for any information.

The Taste of Cuban Cuisine

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Understandably the food in Cuba takes influences from other cultures, noticeably the Spanish, but also African, Caribbean, and Taino. What results is a delicious blend of unique flavors and spices that make the Cuban cuisine a unique blend of its own.



Typically, meals in Cuba will base themselves around a staple of rice and beans, “arroz y frijol,” such as the popular arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice. Despite the apparent limitations of this, Cuban cuisine provides a wide array of tastes and palettes that you might be surprised by.

Moros y Cristianos, which oddly translates to “Moors and Christians,” due to the early settlers in Cuba, is a meal of black beans and rice, and arguably the most popular meal served at almost all Cuban restaurants.

Lechón Asado, A beautiful roast pork. The whole pig is cooked until good and crispy, but the secret is marinating the pig in mojo…

Mojo — Not the English “mojo,” although it does work some magic; this is a popular sauce in Cuba, consisting of garlic, olive oil and citrus juice; it’s most often used to marinate roast pork or added to potatoes.

Boliche is a meal featuring roast beef stuffed with chorizo sausages, cooked in a wine broth until tender and often served with white rice and a mixture of potatoes, carrots and olives.

The Mixto is a sandwich and popular lunch item. What sets this sandwich apart from your usual breaded friend is that the bread is made with the inclusion of lard or vegetable shortening, then placed around a mixture of roast pork, serrano ham, swiss cheese, dill pickles and mustard.



Most Cuban desserts have a creamy consistency to offset the hot and spicy meals. To that end, the most popular after dinner delicacies are Flan, Tres Leches Cake (made by soaking the cake in a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream), and Arroz con Leche (rice pudding).

While we’re on the subject of things to order while in Cuba, we should should mention the drinks, as Cuba is well known to provide some good ones. The Cuba Libre is a mixture of white rum, cola and lime — the name is “free Cuba.” The Daiquiri is a family of cocktails based on the ingredients of rum, citrus and sugar. Lastly, the Mojito, this Cuban highball revolves itself around white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint.

So there you have it — the best and most tasteful Cuban selections that are well worth taking a bite out of. If you’re on your way over there and looking forward to this incredible array of flavor, bear in mind you might want to brush up on your Spanish, so as you can read the menu and order your food — Even after a few to many mojitos! If you need a little help getting your Spanish up to standard, consider taking some classes, or inquire about anything you’re not sure of.

What to Pack on Your Trip to Mexico

Posted on January 14th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

One of the most popular destinations in the world, in particular for those from the US, Mexico is a big country filled with adventures for people from all walks and ways of life. Especially popular during the spring break period, when the beach towns become packed full of partying students, the time to visit depends on whether you want to relax or to party along with the others — That being said, there really is no bad time to visit, there’s great weather all year round and you can always find some secluded spots away from the noise with a little effort.



When it come time to pack your things, there’s a few things to remember.

  1. Pack casual, for warm weather. Beach towel, swimming gear, sunscreen, and if you’ve got them, snorkels are a great addition. There’s no doubt that Mexico packs in some of the best beaches in the world in some of the most beautiful tourist resort cities, so pack accordingly.
  2. When you’re not at the beach, it still pays to be light and casual. Loose-fitting and lightweight clothes, comfortable shoes, a light jacket or sweater (just in case!), some stylish sunglasses, a hat; you get the idea.
  3. Bring your camera. There’s many amazing places and scenes you’ll want to snap — If only to brag about when you get home. Better yet, see if you can get an underwater camera, even a disposable, you’ll find you can put it to good use.
  4. Don’t take too much cash or duty free purchases with you. Mexico has limits on each, it will depend on a few aspects of your travel but if you’re arriving by land you’re only allowed to take $300 US, by air it’s $500. So pack light.
  5. Take any prescriptions or health products with you. A first aid kit might not be necessary but I always say you’re better safe than sorry. While most of the items I’m listing here are available in Mexico, you don’t want to get caught out having to pay twice as much for something as you would have back home.
  6. Copies of your passport and I.D. Problems will inevitably ensue if you loose your passport, so take every precaution you can. On that note, a money pouch or belt that conceals itself conveniently underneath your clothes are a great investment.
  7. A couple of good books. Assuming this is a relaxing vacation, reading on the beach with the sunset is unforgettable. If you’re not the reading type, take your MP3 player and listen to some music.
  8. A few extras you should consider include: insect repellant, a sturdy water bottle, hand sanitizer, a pen, and a small carry pack for the short day walks.

216946_1350 A trip to Mexico is a perfect excuse to brush up on your Spanish; while English will be common in most of the big tourist spots, if you’re anything like me and want to wander off the beaten trail, you find Spanish to be the preferred language. If you need a little help getting your Spanish up to standard, consider taking some classes, or inquire about anything you’re not sure of.

Why You Should Study in Spain

Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Most people stick to their native country when they decide to further their education, maybe jump a few kilometers away to get a good university. Other people take a year off, maybe two, to work or to travel a little before coming back to study. Why not be little different? Why not do both, at the same time?


stockvault-school-students-testing142018It’s very possible today to fly across to the other side of world and study, through school exchanges, scholarships or by your own accord. There are many reasons why you should go, and probably some reasons not to, and if you do decide it’s an option, where should you go?

Spain is a great option, why? For starters, the location. Due to the ease of traveling around Europe, you have the very accessible neighbors or Portugal, France, and Morocco, while a little further out there’s France, Italy, Germany and the UK. That’s not to say you wont find yourself stuck inside the country with all they have to offer — Ibiza, Barcelona, Madrid and more.

I need not mention the culture — I’m sure you’re already aware of their crazed football fanatics, world famous and often replicated cuisine, bulls running through streets and exotic music played to the beat of a beautiful dancer — I guess I did just mention it, but it should be noted that Spain has a so much history that it pours through the streets and the people, it’ll be hard to miss.

Now to the actual schooling, which is Spain, is good. When ranked by CSIC, Spain claimed fifth place in the world; the New York Times gave the University of Navarra the 34th place of 50 best universities in the world. In total there are 74 universities in Spain, many of which are considered some of the world’s best — so when you’re looking for the best one for you, you’ll have plenty of choices.



It will pay to do your research before jumping head first into the idea, there’s no centralized application system for Spanish universities, so each one will require something a little different from you — Maybe you have to past a test, maybe the cost changes, find the class you want and look into it further.

Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations out there, many people go there to study and immerse themselves in all the culture and beauty there is to offer — but if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to know your way around a conversation, it’s not going to be as enjoyable if you can’t speak with people and socialize with the locals. Consider taking a few classes before your big move, get that Español level up to where it should be, or make an inquiry if you’ve got any questions.

Famous Movie Quotes in Spanish

Posted on January 7th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

We’ve all got a few stored away, those famous movie-based quotes that pop up in convenient moments. Today “I want to play a game,” while we all know these popular quotes and can probably state the movies they’re pulled from, what would happen if I were to put them in Spanish? Will your current level of Español be good enough to help you translate them all? Let’s find out:



  1. Hasta la vista, baby. OK so this one is obvious, and is more of an example than anything else as it’s used in it’s Spanish form. For those that don’t already know, the translation is “Until the next sighting” and is from the Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  2. ¡Enséñame la pasta! So we get a little more difficult this time, note that the original phrase is in English. Some clues? It stars Tom Cruise and was released in 1996…Answers at the bottom of the article.
  3. Francamente, querida, me importa un bledo. For this one we’ve jumped right back to 1939, before most of our times; but it’s a classic, and the quote is definitely one we all should have heard before.
  4. Houston, tenemos un problema. It shouldn’t be too difficult to guess this one, the film’s from 1995 and stars Tom Hanks; also, it’s set in space…
  5. ¡Dile hola a mi pequeño amigo! This is a classic starring Tony…Oops, I mean Al Pacino, from 1983 — All you gangster flick fans should get this.
  6. Tócala otra vez, Sam. Another one jumping back a few decades, to 1942, and staring Humphrey Bogart. Another hint? The films title is the name of the largest city of Morocco.
  7. Qué la fuerza te acompañe. This one belongs to a franchise of films, Sci-fi films to be exact, ones that were directed by George Lucas, that’s all I’m giving you.
  8. Le voy a hacer una una oferta que no podrá rechazar. Another movie for the gangster flick fans. This one rests on the shoulders of a brilliant performance by Marlon Brando but also features Al Pacino.
  9. Tengo el presentimiento de que ya no estamos. Back again to 1939, but not the same film. No, this one’s more musical, should I give it away? It features a tin man, a cowardly lion and a scarecrow…
  10. Mamá siempre desía que la vida era como una caja de chocolates. Nunca sabes que te va a tocar. That was a long one, but it’s the famed quote from a movie that has no shortage of them, just pay attention to the important words…Need more? It stars Tom Hanks, and he runs…


How many did you get? I guess a lot will depend on your level of Spanish, if you couldn’t understand anything then you might want to consider taking some classes, they’ll help immensely, or you can inquire about ways to improve your Español. For now, the answers are:

  1. “Until the next sighting” — Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  2. “Show me the money!” — Jerry Maguire
  3. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” — Gone With The Wind
  4. “Houston, we have a problem” — Apollo 13
  5. “Say hello to my little friend!” — Scarface
  6. “Play it again, Sam” — Casablanca
  7. “May the force be with you” — Star Wars
  8. “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse” — The Godfather
  9. “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” — The Wizard of Oz
  10. “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.” — Forrest Gump

Top 8 Places to Visit in Colombia

Posted on January 2nd, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Free from the often dwelled on subject of drug smugglers and gun-wielding kidnappers, Colombia is now a sought out destination for many adventurous experience seekers.



Now the country thrives off of tourism, as many more people are aware of the rich and diverse landscape that the country offers; so here is a list of 8 good places and reasons you should too consider this lush destination for your next holiday.


  1. Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia, and within Bogotá is the Gold Museum, which houses the world’s largest pre-Hispanic gold work collection, with over 34 thousand pieces of pottery, stone, shell, wood and textiles.
  2. For those caffeine addicts out there you might be aware that Colombia is a top producer of coffee, and as such they have the National Coffee Park. It’s a theme park located in the area of Quindío, with an area dedicated to the history — A Museum and exhibitions; and an area for the amusement park with rides and shows.
  3. Cartagena is an old colonial city on the coast of the Caribbean. It’s commonly associated with the Caribbean pirates, and the walled city and fortress are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; you can party or chill out on the beaches, island hop or walk the streets of the old city.
  4. Not far from Bogotá is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground. Walking though the tunnel system is something quite remarkable, with lights and marble sculptures, on Sundays the church fills with up to 3,000 visitors.
  5. Tayrona National park is located on the northern edge of the country and contains an incredible array of biodiversity. The park is the leaving point for a five day trek through the jungle to the Lost City — Ciudad Perdida, a place that has been difficult to reach with kidnappings happening in the area; now it’s considered the new Machu Pic1146880_82257674chu.
  6. For those more into big cities and night life, there’s the popular Medellin. ‘The city of eternal spring’ has a mild climate and many popular tourist attractions, including the Medellin Flower Fair, the biggest outdoor flower parade in the world, taking place during August.
  7. San Gil is one of the most seen destinations for those adrenaline junkies, it offers rafting, kayaking, hiking, caving, paragliding, abseiling, bungee jumping and more. There’s also many beautiful colonial towns nearby so you’re never short on things to do.
  8. Hacienda Nápoles is the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar’s former home. He died in 1993 and the property became the governments; while for many years the place degraded and underutilized, in 2007 it was opened as a zoo (Pablo Escobar had a zoo), now you can visit not only for the animals but for the history.


Shrouded in an infamous history, Colombia is well on it’s way to establishing itself as a must see tourist destination. Make it that little bit better by learning some of the language, some knowledge of Spanish will help you get around and meet people, your trip will be that much more enjoyable. Take some classes or inquire for more info!