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

August 31, 2014  

 -Observe the quirks and odd superstitions of your Latin help (maids, gardeners). Their strange habits are sometimes only exceeded by our own gringo peculiarities (peculiar to Latins, that is). Why do you think Latin workers often refer to us as “crazy gringos” behind our backs? Luckily, the locals almost always mean "crazy" in a nice way- Latins off the tourist trail mean it kindly, that is. Yup, we certainly do amuse them. So how do gringos know that? If you know enough Spanish to eavesdrop you'll soon get the picture…   


-As you might already know, in Latin America the most common reported crime of all is cellphone robbery. The statics are such that about one in every 20 to 25 people in Latin America gets his or her cellphone stolen each year. But there are things they’re not telling you…     

-Now for a word or two about vigilante lynchings- which still occasionally happen mostly in small Latin towns out in the boonies…     

-The totally out-of-control run for the border, Part 1: Some unknown facts and unsaid truths coming from those-in-the-know on the Latin American “supply” side of the equation. Some surprising new details concerning the illegal alien flow through the US border.       

-Please follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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August 29, 2014  
Screwed up in Translation: You can't believe how so-called professional Spanish media and entertainment translators can screw up a simple English to Spanish translation. For example, so often when you look up a USA movie or TV show while perusing a Latin paper or TV guide for example, when purviewing the “translated” Spanish title you might never recognize it as a film or TV show you'd normally be totally familiar with.
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
ECUADOR, Part 4(or is it 5?): Much more about Ecuador, this time with a few pointed emails and rather harsh stories from ”boots on the ground” gringos who've seen first hand how certain “ Ugly Americans” have been slowly contaminating the calm, peaceful, low stress Ecuador they once knew.
-As Ecuador becomes ever more socialized, The country has eliminate certain press freedoms and the ability criticize the government and the president as well as enacting new banking restrictions and penalties (read, taxes) on foreign wire transfers.
-How Ladinos and Criollos (and any other Latin with the slightest drop of old world Spanish blood) wrongly place themselves far above the Indigenous people both socially and economically. Its a shameful attitude and that's how its always been, and it ain't pretty. Again, that's why the lower classes much prefer to work for gringos
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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August 24, 2014  

-Zoning laws in Latin America: how can you be sure your next door neighbor won’t suddenly accumulate goats, donkeys or chickens? Stranger things have been known to happen, even in very high-end subdivisions with strict rules supposedly prohibiting such things- this is Latin America you know.    

-Driving the famous Pan American Highway: as you may have picked up in 7th grade geography class (unless you’re under 40 and got socially promoted) it’s a 2000 mile straight shot from Alaska, directly to Panama, City (no, not that geriatric capital city of the world in Florida). You really should try driving it at least once when you're in Central, America. Note that once you get past the Mexico stretch it’s not dangerous at all, but be prepared for a huge education in how not to build a first-world super-highway…    

- Home and business insurance coverage Latin style: what you need to know is that Latins generally think it’s money down the toilet and rarely buy any kind of insurance at all, while gringos and expats have an inbred first-world style “insurance guilt“ complex. Many of us are so knee-jerk about it that don’t sleep well at night if we don’t have a policy for every occasion. Meanwhile, Latins sleep just fine...   From the “biting the hand that feeds you" department:

-More Bad news from Costa Rica. Besides the fact that its first-world expensive and that gringos are targets for all kinds of scams, more and more Expats and gringo visitors are now reporting that many CR locals want gringos to go home. The fact is, locals are becoming rude and antagonistic to the very people that raised them many notches above their formerly banana republic status. In a way you can’t blame them. since so many “Ugly American” types have invaded that many locals want nothing less than to kick every last gringo out.   From the “be careful what you wish for department”: ECUADOR, Part 2: today we have expat opinions on Ecuador, people with ”boots on the ground” experience and sounding off about disturbing changes they’ve personally witnessed in not only Ecuador but in other places touted frequently by big retirement magazines and expat websites    

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

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August 22, 2014  
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
One of the top complaints I hear from expats with a new brick and mortar businesses (successful or not) is from day one they become “married” to it. Note that expats always say they come down to relax, slow down and have more free time, but many without real hobbies get bored and then start businesses only to find they have less freedom than ever. Bottom line: if you fancy a brick and mortar business in Latin America you’d better love it, or at least like it a lot. Select carefully whatever it is that you’re doing or selling because you’ll probably be chained to it for quite a while.

ECUADOR, Part 2:
Why gringos almost always pay more than they have to for real estate in Ecuador as well as in nearly all places considered to be “on the gringo tourist trail”. That said then why, after walking away from the closing, do so many gringos think it was the deal of a lifetime?  
 
-A short primer on how to dicker and haggle with Latin vendors:
Should you (a supposed “rich” gringo) try to play hardball when haggling with local vendors as local customers do? Why not? Why pay more if you don’t have to? Vendors never sell stuff at a loss.

-Though Gringos often overpay a street vendor intentionally- when the seller appears to be quite poor, be charitable of course, but make sure you select your own charity… don’t let the charity select you!       
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
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August 17, 2014  

-Expat Eddie fires cleaning lady #3 … once again for petty theft. This time you’ll never guess in million years what she palmed. And Eddie, after thinking about the misdemeanor for a day or so, threw out the book on his normally rock-solid employee rules and principles and decided to hire her back. It had to do precisely because of what item she pilfered.       


From the “be careful what you wish for department”: ECUADOR, the next Costa Rica? Yup, it’s beginning to look that way tourist-wise anyway, but what you didn’t know is that its government is beyond broke and Ecuador has one of the very worst international credit and bond ratings (in the bottom 10 of all 200 plus countries in the world). Not to mention the president is a very confirmed socialist. I know, I know: all Latin scumbag presidents and politicos conveniently blab the socialism line to snag the votes of the poor and uneducated, but Correa is really a dedicated marxist.   

-Though parts of Ecuador are still very, very nice, gringos are invading and having their usual negative effects on the place and the people. Here are a few disturbing things that tourists, wannabees, gonnabees (and the soon to be retired) need to know.   

-You read pronouncements all over the internet, in retirement rags as well as International Living, etc., that one can retire comfortably in Ecuador for 600 bucks a month. Some say $1000 a month will do it and still others say $1500, or $1800. So what’s going on here? Who’s right, who’s blowing smoke and how do the people living on the $600/month low-end actually do it?              

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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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August 15, 2014  
-Did you know that in this very macho Latin society there are many, many tens of thousands of educated but unmarried Latin career women, i.e., doctors, accountants, teachers, psychologists, managers, etc., still living with mommy and daddy? In fact, except for old spinsters without immediate family, it’s rare to find an unmarried Latin career woman who lives alone. Stranger yet, young Latin women living alone almost always arouse some suspicion and disdain from family and neighbors.  
 
-It’s truly amazing, in spite of stark realities, how Latins have completely bought into the fantasy of the so called “American Dream”. Look at the unremitting waves of illegals sneaking in the states by the millions. So then, what are gringo expats supposed to say to Latins who think that we’re crazy for coming down against the flow, abandoning that totally absurd “Dream” ourselves? Crazier yet, what do gringos say to clueless Latins (without actually calling them morons) who might ask for advice or help from you with the US visa process?    
 
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
How about this email….
Q: Gee Johnny, the folks back home can’t believe it. I really won the lottery. Look at me, a middle class guy from Milwaukee, engaged to a beautiful, rich Colombian girl whose father owns a giant teak plantation, a beer company and a few cement factories. How lucky can a gringo get.  
A: Well, just wait till after the honeymoon. Then tell me about it how great it is- after your identity gets absorbed into that wealthy Latin family- like the Borg.  
 
-We all know by now that Argentina is in default. But what most don’t know is that there are nine other countries in the world with identical international, (read crap) credit ratings. And yes most are the usual suspects, but there are specifically two Latin countries on the feces list that will certainly surprise you.        
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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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August 10, 2014  

-Part II of gringos, gringas and motorcycles in Latin America: Motorcycles are cheap, dependable transportation all right… but when in Latin America should you dare drive one or even hop on as a passenger?     


-If you drive any vehicle and you’re down in Latin America long enough, you will eventually get into an accident or collide with a motorcycle. Or more likely, a motorcyclist will collide with you. It’s nothing but controlled chaos on the roads down here and no matter how safely you drive or how perfect your driving record may be up in Cleveland, there’s a collision waiting to happen to you, bub! That said, what should you do when you get into that crash? What are the proper steps to take…. or not to take?   

-What would you say to living the expat life in a very small town of maybe only 4000 to 5000 people? There are thousands of Latin towns like that, way out in the boonies. Yes, life there can be very rewarding in so many ways. But being quite probably the only gringo in town, you’ll always be in a fishbowl. That said, you’ll either end up king of the mountain (if you’re a nice guy/gal) or king of the jerks (if you’re a dirt bag). Either way, though you’ll probably get cabin fever and have to get to the big city occasionally. In the end chances are you’ll end up really loving small town life in more ways than one.   

-And now for some very un-PC tips for gringa expat wannabees and gonnabees who could be looking for love in all the wrong places.        

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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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August 8, 2014  
-After discussing the good, bad and the ugly concerning owning and driving motorcycles on last week’s show, certain wannabee and gonnabee listeners chimed in with relevant email comments and questions. One such email is from an expat who has been driving a motorcycle in Central America for some months now. He enlightens us with his own take and experiences with cops and police roadblocks.   
 
-Gringos often notice that Latin kids will walk around with fragile plastic sandwich bags full of soda, juice or some kind of liquid refreshment. They suck the contents out with a straw. You might think that it’s their mothers who whip those things up for their kids at home, but that’s not so. Kids buy them very cheap from little hole in the wall stores and street vendors who make up those little bags from 2 liter soda and juice bottles. Why? Because they’re very cheap and the average kid can’t afford to buy soda in standard bottles and cans.       
 
-And now for few little tidbits about gringos and expats who are “on the run” or kind of just “hiding out” in Latin America. If you keep your eyes open it’s not too hard to spot them yourself. It’s a fact that many long-term expats have gone native or partially native as a way to continually remain well under the radar. If you happen to meet an old timer like that, and he opens up, the stories can be amazing. My first question to anyone like that is always, “How’d you pull it off for so long?”    
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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:


August 3, 2014  

One of truly great things about living and hanging well off the gringo tourist trail(besides occasionally being treated like a B-grade rock star) is that there are literally thousands of spectacular ancient Aztec, Mayan, Toltec, and Inca ruins open to the public that are almost NEVER crowded. In fact there can be so few people visiting these sites and parks that you can't even locate a park ranger or employee once you've paid the initial entry fee. That said, gringos sometimes wonder how Latin governments manage to keep so many of these places open to the public at all.     


-Latin Park Rangers will do anything to keep their jobs. Why? Not only do have some of the slackest job descriptions on the planet, but they are perhaps the best paying low-end, entry level jobs available too. In fact the guys policing the smaller sites “off the gringo tourist trail”... places that don’t have a computerized ticketing systems yet (and most don’t)... can make up to 3 times their normal salary because they often work a clever scam. And here’s how it goes, from the “be careful what you wish for department”: Ever wonder what would happen if you were in Latin America and somehow overstayed your 90 day visa by a few months? How much trouble would you be in? What if you overstayed by a year, or even ten years? Should you be concerned, worried or even terrified? Find out exactly what happened to a gringo who recently got caught overstayed his 90 day visa in Mexico by more than 10 years!              

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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:


August 3, 2014  

One of truly great things about living and hanging well off the gringo tourist trail(besides occasionally being treated like a B-grade rock star) is that there are literally thousands of spectacular ancient Aztec, Mayan, Toltec, and Inca ruins open to the public that are almost NEVER crowded. In fact there can be so few people visiting these sites and parks that you can't even locate a park ranger or employee once you've paid the initial entry fee. That said, gringos sometimes wonder how Latin governments manage to keep so many of these places open to the public at all.     


-Latin Park Rangers will do anything to keep their jobs. Why? Not only do have some of the slackest job descriptions on the planet, but they are perhaps the best paying low-end, entry level jobs available too. In fact the guys policing the smaller sites “off the gringo tourist trail”... places that don’t have a computerized ticketing systems yet (and most don’t)... can make up to 3 times their normal salary because they often work a clever scam. And here’s how it goes, from the “be careful what you wish for department”: Ever wonder what would happen if you were in Latin America and somehow overstayed your 90 day visa by a few months? How much trouble would you be in? What if you overstayed by a year, or even ten years? Should you be concerned, worried or even terrified? Find out exactly what happened to a gringo who recently got caught overstayed his 90 day visa in Mexico by more than 10 years!              

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult 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:


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