It was an interesting weekend, to say the least, and what I am about to tell you is a true story.
I ‘intended’ to drive down to Gibraltar this weekend, hop a ferry for Morocco, and spend a few days in Africa. As it happened though, once the famous Rock of Gibraltar emerged in the horizon, I inadvertently turned my car north into the Sierra Bermeja mountains.
Down on the coast where I am living, and on the highway where I took the wrong turn, the weather is a sunny 20 Celsius (68 F). Within 30 minutes, at an altitude of 5,000 feet, I found myself driving through the worst blizzard I had ever seen. I was only about 60 kilometers from where I started and yet I might as well have been on another planet.
Moreover, I was totally unprepared. The port in Gibraltar is an hour’s drive from my home, so my quarter-tank of gas seemed sufficient for the journey… and as I had planned on sunny North Africa, I was wearing very light clothes. My companion, a young brunette, was wearing a skirt with heels.
With just one wrong turn, though, we were leisurely winding up the mountain… at first, the breathtaking scenery was so enjoyable that we didn’t mind being lost, so I decided against turning back… of course, I had no idea what powerful storm awaited me.
At one point I looked on the side of the road and remarked incredulously, “is that SNOW?” You should understand that, by nature, I am a warm-weather person… so unless I’m on skis or roasting marshmallows, the very sight of snow and ice is a net negative in my book.
Soon the warning signs became even more apparent… signs for black ice, emergency vehicles, and entire convoys of travelers pulled over on the side of the road. Conditions became worse and worse as we ascended the mountain, and before I knew it, we were in essentially zero-visibility with high wind shears and flurries of snow and ice.
I was angry at myself for being so stupid– I had completely ignored the warning signs back when conditions were still safe. I had seen with my own eyes the snow on the shoulder, patches of ice on the road… did I honestly think that things would get better the further up the mountain I drove?
No. I ignored the warning signs and I hadn’t made a single preparation for the hazards; my gas light was buzzing, and I had no means of food, water, or warmth.
I consider myself to be a tough hombre, but I’m back on my terrace right now penning this letter out of pure, dumb luck, and nothing else. I was fortunate enough to find an open service station that provided food, fuel, and useful directions.
I realized later that my experiences this weekend serve as an allegory to what is happening in the world right now… there is a fantastic storm awaiting the unprepared, and it is just a few more kilometers ahead up the mountain.
While some travelers have turned around and headed back towards the coast, and others are stocking up on provisions, too many people remain completely oblivious to the very clear warning signs of the danger ahead.
My goal is not to induce any unnecessary excitement… but rather to simply promote some basic sensibility. It seems to be a part of human nature to ignore warning signs and wait until it is too late to take action– whether it be with our health, romantic relationships, finances, or even our livelihood.
I hope I can serve as that little voice in your ear, reminding you to do the things you know that you should do.
For example, if you have savings, it’s time to move them, either to a foreign bank or private vault facility. If you own a business, think about restructuring overseas and exploring new markets. If you have the means, consider foreign property and second citizenship. If you don’t, it’s time to seek new opportunities to generate wealth.
Tomorrow I will start a series on overseas business structures, including the real truth about tax implications and benefits for entrepreneurs. If you own a business, you won’t want to miss it.
In the meantime, I really recommend that everyone check out this month’s Casey Report, which was a special edition on expatriation.
Doug Casey, who is my friend and mentor, wrote what I consider to be among the finest pieces of his 30+ year career. As a veteran permanent traveler and longtime international speculator, Doug’s words are based on hard experience:
“A crisis (and this will be a very real one) always draws exhortations from the authorities to ‘unite’ and ‘pull together’ - which usually boils down to following orders and turning in those who don’t. People will want, and will get, ‘strong leadership.’ This does not bode well for libertarians, classical liberals, and free thinkers, in general. . . I suggest you at least consider the possibility of transplanting yourself, or at least start by transplanting some assets. Don’t look at it as a negative thing. The world is your oyster. Make the most of it.”
Doug goes on to make a lot of specific recommendations about regions of the world that he likes / doesn’t like, and following his article is a great overview on financial expatriation options like foreign annuities and mutual funds.
If you’re not currently a subscriber to the Casey Report, you can find out more here.