The Expat Files: Living in Latin America A guide to moving to Latin America, finding work, and settling in.

April 19, 2014  

-Ten good reasons why you should never eat tortillas… even if they smell, look and taste terrific.

-The Spanish words “rica” and “encanta” are two of the most commonly repeated words you’ll hear Latins use when expounding on the good or excellent qualities of this or that. Now of course you know that Costa Rica has the word “rica” in it… meaning “rich” coast. But “rich” as in, chocolate cake rich, not wealthy rich, is only a small part of the various intended meanings of rica. Their word for "rich" is more akin to our brain-numbing, almost meaningless, English filler words “cool” and “awesome”. That said, “rica” is one of the most heavily overused descriptive words in the Spanish vocabulary.

-Gringos can brainstorm great business ideas up in Cleveland and still miss their projected Latin target market by inches or even miles (I mean kilometers). Now here's a real-world example of why you really need “boots on the ground” to gauge the potential of any prematurely brilliant Latin business idea that might have sprouted while munching Cheetos on the sofa in the hood.

-My upcoming JULY, 2014 "Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.

-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.

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April 13, 2014  

I will be talking about what is going on in the real estate business in Latin America 

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April 7, 2014  
-Today we sort out some very frequently used Spanish words that sound very much like their English counterparts but often cause some confusion among fresh gringos and new expats due to the double and triple meanings  
 
-I have to laugh when new expats and fresh gringos come down and ask me for a few pointers about driving a car in Latin America. It never fails, when I tell them how crappy Latin drivers are, and that less than 5% know the rules of the road or have even taken driver’s ed… not to mention the truly wretched mechanical state of most of their cars and trucks, etc., etc. Yet some gringos still insist on giving me the line about how they themselves are such good and prudent drivers, how they never had a single accident back In Cleveland, blah, blah, blah. After hearing all that, its still a fact that no matter how careful you are, soon enough you'll get rear-ended. It’s a 100% certainty… that is, unless one rides the Chicken Bus. They still get rear-ended, but at least the gringo won’t be driving!
 
-Did you know that many Latin American beat cops and cops in cruisers were once illegal aliens up in the states not long ago? It’s a crazy irony that being a deported illegal alien (and thus branded a criminal in the states) is actually a PLUS when applying for a spot in a Latin American police academy. And here’s why…   
 
-For all of you folks who’ve had the idea to come down and make some fast, easy money teaching English at a private school or academy, it’s very easily done when you’re off the tourist trail. But you’ll be lucky to make $500 a month to start. And if you make $5 an hour working half-time at an upscale language academy, consider yourself fortunate! Now that’s all ok and livable, but not quite first-world livable. However, there are some ways you can make really good money teaching English. Here’s how…              
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17, so do send an email to theexpatfiles@gmail.com and get on the early bird list. Note that the agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
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April 4, 2014  
One of the very first English phrases Latin Americans down here learn (both on and off the tourist trail) is “don’t worry”. Even if the average local Latin only knows ten words of English, he or she will probably have that one happy feel good phrase down pat in their tiny vocabulary. But do be advised that soon enough a gringo learns the happy upbeat “don’t worry” phrase can me just the opposite. In other words…. sometimes“don’t worry” means it’s time to start worrying!        
 
-For all of you expat gonnabees and wannabees still interested in expatriating to Belize…. have you ever wondered if there was more to the story behind the saga of John MacAfee, the antivirus software mega-millionaire? Remember him? He was the guy that made international headlines by expatriating to Belize. Then after living there a year or two, he went on the run while being sought after by Belize authorities as a murder suspect. Well, it’s been a year or so now and the dust has settled, and more has come to light. The story behind what you’ve heard in the media offers some very good lessons for all expat gringos and gonnabees who are looking at places like Belize as their final destinations.   
 
-Part 3 of Antiques, Yard and Rummage sales in Latin America. What’s the Latin rummager’s protocol? Do you need to be the first one in line? Is there a line? How to find the best deals and potential hunting grounds. Yes there are tremendous opportunities digging through other people’s junk… and so many cool one of a kind items you’ll be amazed. But do skip rummaging on the gringo tourist trail... don’t waste your time. The gringos picked through that stuff years ago. 
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17, so do send an email to theexpatfiles@gmail.com and get on the early bird list. Note that the agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
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March 28, 2014  
- How and why so many tens of thousands of legal Latin aliens up in the states(former illegals) are now retiring from their middle and lower middle-class first-world unskilled jobs (bus drivers, city workers and such) and moving back down to Latin America in order live like kings and queens- like they never could up in the states on their small pensions and savings. What do these folks know that others don’t? Well, nothing we don't talk about on the Expat Files all of the time. We knew that already!          

 -Once you get settled in Latin America, you really must check out all the great Yard and Rummage sales. For all you antiquers there are tremendous opportunities… and get this: a lot of amazing one-of-a-kind handmade and furniture items you simply have never even seen before. But do remember that all the great deals and amazing things will almost never be found on the gringo tourist trail. In Costa Rica for example, the gringos already picked through the good stuff ages ago. 

 -You ever wonder where all the world's manual typewriters went? Remember those... the ones that you hated in 9th grade typing class? Not so long ago every stateside home and office had them. Yup, I even had one once. Well, not all of them made a trip to the dumpster (or melted down to became Toyotas). There are millions still in daily use down here in Latin America and they still sell brand new ones in stores and by bulk in the newspaper classifieds!

 -My next upcoming July, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is nearly set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12th thru Thursday, July 17th. Do send an email totheexpatfiles@gmail.com to get on the early-bird list. The agenda and complete the signup details will be up on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website in a few days. Just click the “Latin American Seminar” link on the top of the main page for full details.
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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March 24, 2014  

-Occasionally the emails come in from doubters claiming they probably would just not be comfortable at all living in Latin America. They worry they’d be too isolated and out of touch with what’s happening out in the rest of the world. Can it be true? Here’s how it really stacks up..      

-Today we have some quirky examples of the “gringo advantage”. Though if you live down here you just smile and remind yourself that nothing that happens to gringos is too surprising.

-Is this not amazing? I’ve yet to come across one single Latin person born, bread and educated in Latin America that actually knows anything at all about what we call in the first-world the “alternative media”. There really is no organized alternative media down here to speak of. Even very educated Latins have a hard time with the “alternative media" concept... even when you gently explain it to them. They too buy the usual traditional corporate media crap hook, line and sinker. So in a way Latins are much like most stateside folks- who know infinitely more about Miley Cyrus and pro-sports than the organized government/corporate rot that’s eating away at their country. Now understand that during the bad old Latin days of Ollie North, the military coups and the civil wars, of course there were many alternative underground newspapers etc. But most Latins today weren’t around back then or aren’t old enough to connect with that stuff. And besides.. we're mixing apples and oranges.             

-Latin women and sports. Would it surprise you to know that most Latin women know all the personal facts and dirt about the one or two most handsome (guapo) guys in the national soccer league? Sure, Latin ladies attend sporting events but most only know their team colors and thus who should win. They rarely know the rules or how the game is actually played (sound familiar?)  

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one. 

  

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March 21, 2014  
-Latin folks can have a very different take on USA first-world history as we know it (or history as we have been taught in stateside schools). Take the Kennedy assassination for example. Its been 50 years since it happened and its still an unsolved mystery to us gringos, yet Latins (the scant 5% who actually read and pay attention to world events) are quite certain who was behind it all. Yup, they think they’ve solved it all right! Its interesting stuff to be sure, but who are we to pummel their illusions.  

-Latins are genuinely friendly to us gringos (part of the “off the tourist trail” gringo advantage).

Occasionally a gringo standing in a line to pay bills or waiting to get some idiotic government stamp, will strike up a conversation with a nearby Latin person(a friendly stranger). And even though only barely acquainted, surprisingly enough the Latin person may actually invite said gringo for dinner at the house or to an upcoming family get together. It does happen so don't be shocked. I bet if that happened in Jersey or Cleveland one would suspect the person making the gesture had dark ulterior motives or is at least a little unbalanced..or maybe a pervert, or just recruiting for Jesus. Yes, your new Latin friend will have ulterior motives for invitng you over too, but 99% of the time they are not dark motives at all.   

-Now a few facts about Fidel Castro’s “Oil for Doctors Program.” First of all. I bet you didn’t know such thing existed. But here it is: for each Doctor sent to oil rich Venezuela the Cuban govt gets paid 3 barrels of oil per day. So at $100 a barrel, that’s $300 per day for each doctor. Now with over 30000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela, the Castro boys get over 3 Billion dollars a year for their capitalistic trade of docs for oil.. the docs by the way are ever so eager to get the hell out of Cuba and get that extravagant $185 per month salary...(7 times a doc’s monthly salary in Cuba... plus extra ration cards).              

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one. 

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March 18, 2014  
-Now some very valuable tips for anyone renting or buying a house, apartment or office space in Latin America. You can save yourself a world of hurt and frustration if you follow a few of these simple rules when shopping around for any living or office space.   
 
-Its well known that nearly all standard bathrooms in Latin America (even the ones in upper middle class homes) are much more than a notch or two down the hygiene scale compared to what we gringos are used to or expect. That said, one of the first things many of us do after settling into a new Latin homestead is to spend a few hundred bucks and upgrade the generally horrible bathrooms to our own (hopefully) much higher standards. But in trying to achieve that, do get ready for some unwanted surprises...it’s not quite as easy as it sounds... 
 
-Excerpts from a very revealing -and somewhat sad- interview with a humble gardener/maintenance man who’s been working for wealthy Latins and their families (and the occasional gringo in-between) for over 40 years. Its yet another true story that strongly confirms why average working-class Latins have come to believe so many positive stereotypes about gringos(whether true or not)… and why most Latins much prefer working for first-world bosses rather than their own occsionally abusive countrymen.  
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
  
 
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March 14, 2014  
-How really, really “BIG” business is usually done in Latin America… as opposed to the kind of small enterprises most of us gringos and expats get involved in.      
 
-In every Latin country there are 20 or so mega-wealthy land-owning families with a monopoly on basic agricultural commodities and traditional industries like coffee, sugar, tobacco, cement, electric utilities, steel, as well as some older technologies like radio and TV frequencies, stations, newspapers, etc. These entitled families traditionally buy politicians like candy … so they’ve been calling the shots politically for decades and thus easily squelch any local upstart competition (sound familiar?) But alas, in the past ten years first-world mega-companies like Nestle, Johnson and Johnson, Siemens, etc., with their first-rate marketing and advertizing machines have landed and are intent on conquering. Trans-nationals have their own kind of mega “gringo advantage” and as of late have been taking hefty bites out of the old-school moneyed class.
 Bottom line: the old money never had that kind of serious competition before (or really any kind of competition) so they’re scrambling. Many of these lumbering giants are so inflexible and land rich (with such top-to-bottom management sclerosis) that massive structural changes are in the works. As the old saying goes, “Oh how the mighty have fallen.” No, not that they’ve fallen yet... but some are teetering: and with the massive real estate bubble that old money is now heavily invested in… they will soon get duly burned. Hurray! It’s about time too!            
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
  
Listen Now:


March 10, 2014  
Few female expat wannabees and gonnabees truly understand the plight of women (of all socioeconomic classes) when living in a Latin macho society. True, a few first-world ladies have some knowledge of the male macho thing, but no gringa up north knows the full extent of the macho effect unless she’s actually dated (or married) a Latin guy up north, hung around with a Latin girlfriend or has been a frequent guest in a 100% Latin home.         
 
-Today we have another absolutely true expat story of a Canadian who landed way “off the gringo tourist trail” some 15 years ago. Our hockey man found Latin life so cheap, fun and easy that he ended up doing what so many single, lonely gringos do. He became a party animal and nearly became the poster boy for a Jimmy Buffet song. Then after striking it big in business, and finding his true Latina love and settling down, another weird expat life experience began…   
 
-Why do so many Latin adolescent boys and young men still go to church on Sunday when most don’t really believe in the ceremonial part at all and could easily get out of the weekly event with no family recriminations whatsoever? You’ll be surprised at the answer (or not!) and it has nothing to do with faith or guilt.
 
-Note that when you hit any Latin beach town, you’re bound to run into a few long term expats who have gone completely “native”. Here’s a short primer on that subject..       
 
-A word about those fabulous and famous local “Expat bars” you fond in every decent sized Latin city… and why you should try to avoid them as much as possible.
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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