You probably remember a time when the U.S. wasn’t heaving with coffee shops. Back in the early 1980s, Starbucks was just another place to get a coffee in Seattle. Then they tapped into the trend of European-style cafes. Within 10 years Starbucks had more than 400 stores in the U.S. Today they have almost 18,000 stores worldwide.
About three years ago my husband, Scott, and I started talking about leaving Indiana and moving abroad, possibly to Central or South America. We had both traveled there and loved what it had to offer in the way of lifestyle.
They have a thriving and long-standing business in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, but Rob and Kelly Thomas, owners of El Gato Negro Coffee Shop and Bookstore have the most relaxed workdays of their lives.
Ecuador, Costa Rica and Belize are three of the Latin American countries in the “cocoa belt”—the 10 degrees either side of the equator where the cacao tree grows. Here you'll find a burgeoning cottage industry devoted to this type of chocolate making.
Panama is a great place to start a business. It’s easy, everyone uses the dollar, and you can tap into a well-educated English-speaking workforce. That last point is crucial if you want to start a tourism-based business—and you should.
When Elizabeth Ballard Slagle and her husband swapped Florida for rustic Panama five years ago, they wanted to extend their youngest son’s childhood and give him a different perspective on the world. She and Larry—an ex-bartender—run a restaurant called Big Daddy’s Grill in “downtown” Boquete.
“If I’d known just how capable I was, it would have saved me a lot of doubt and angst,” says Californian Vicki Johnson, a tireless self-starter who’s been mixing business with pleasure at the southern tip of Chile’s beautiful Lake District for the past 35 years.
You wake up early for work. But you’re not slapping at the alarm clock in disgust, then rushing out the door for a long commute. You want to get up…you’re looking forward to the day. You get to enjoy that first cup of coffee as the rising sun makes the Pacific glitter…watch wildlife—toucans, parrots, even monkeys—make their morning rounds in the trees...