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

July 27, 2014  

From the “be careful what you wish for department”: The Nicaragua Canal- PART II. Ask yourself, where are they going to put 200 million cubic yards of sludge and rock left over after dredging the proposed channel in Lake Nicaragua? And that’s just the excess stuff that must be removed to make the 90 foot deep proposed channel in the 60 mile lake route. Note that doesn’t include what's to be dug out of the 120 mile channel (twice as long) cut along the land route. And by the way, that 200 million cubic yards from just the lake dredging measures out to about 4 times the rock, soot and lava that blewing off as Mt. St. Helens erupted. Once again, where’s all that crud going to get dumped? That said, there’s no end to the engineering and logistics problems posed by this new canal…    

-Time to find out when a “gringo” is not a gringo?  

-How do Latins address “sensitive” hyphenated North American ethnic tourist types? Well, except for one particularly odd ethnic case, Latins just don’t make those distinctions or even get the concept when you try to explain it to them. Thus they follow none of the unwritten stateside PC name rules that pervade Cleveland, Danville and Cucamonga (yup, that’s a real place, and it’s in California).      

-Besides being a cheap and dirty way to lodge, backpacker hotels and hostels offer young, free and easy adults certain things they can’t find in a traditional hotel setting- like shared bathrooms, bacteria and bedbugs as well as the extremely friendly company of other free and easy adults!                  

-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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July 25, 2014  
From the “be careful what you wish for department”: The Nicaragua Canal- PART I.
Lots of emails and questions are coming in about the new proposed canal to be built through Nicaragua. Some gringos, expat wannabees and gonnabees think it might be a golden once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set up a gringo business of some sort and shovel in the riches. Many are thinking of moving down near one of the canal’s mega-construction areas. After all, experts estimate that the construction of the thing will employ anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 workers (but then again, how can experts quote such huge spreads, duh?). So today the discussion hits on some little known reasons why people in the know have grave doubts as to whether the project will ever getting finished. True, most feel with Chinese backing, it will likely get rolling, but many feel it will never get finished… and for many good reasons.  
 
- Did you know that many of the large Latin based sugar cane plantations are completely self-sufficient, petroleum free and off the grid? Here's what they're doing... 
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-All over Latin America, classes and seminars on alcohol and biodiesel production are being offered regularly by Brazilian experts in the field (Brazil sets the world's best bio-fuel example since it imports no petroleum for fuel). Here’s an update on Latin American biodiesel and alcohol production, as well as another great low-budget gringo business idea whose time has come.
 
-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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July 20, 2014  

-Now for a small report on the latest Expat Wisdom seminar. Since this show was recorded on Saturday, the day after the official last day “boots on the ground” experience- it’s still very fresh in in the minds of the attendees.  

-Locals are complaining about Venezuela’s new $20 Airport “air quality” travel tax levied at Caracas International airport. Its ostensibly to pay for the new ozone air purifiers installed in the terminal- never mind that the airport bathrooms have no water or TP, the escalators have long since ceased to function, there are packs of stray dogs actually living inside the terminal and there are 70 plus broken windows all over the place. Duh? The only good thing is that most gringos and expats will never ever venture near the place. (Unfortunately I recently did)              

From the “be careful what you wish for department”: First world people believe many Latin countries are socialist or have a heavy socialist bent. In fact, most halfway intelligent first-world folks know the names of a certain few standouts: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador (and maybe Nicaragua). Then what about the other 15 Latin countries? Where do they stand politically? Well, sorry to say, they are all socialist leaning countries to varying degrees (yeah, like yours isn’t?) Here’s the scoop on that…       

-Cameras are starting to pop up in all Latin American big cities. Many busy street corners now have them. Are we being tracked and cataloged? Should expats worry? Here’s the real story.  

-When gringos and expats pass through Latin airports they’re almost always pleasantly surprised- find out why.   

-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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July 13, 2014  

-Down here in Latin America there are little hole-in-the-wall upholstery shops everywhere. The fact is that many of the little guys operating these business are true artists that can repair or re-cover any piece of furniture or auto seat like new. Don't judge them by the condition of their shops, cloths or amount of scattered debris. Most can expertly re-upholster even a very common, cheap, chair or sofa, etc., in fine leather if you like. So, if it isn’t against your sensibilities to sit on dead cow parts- amazingly enough the cost of the leatherwork will certainly be less expensive than having the equivalent job done in cheap vinyl up in the states. Meaning, if leather furniture was always a bit extravagant or out of your price range in Cleveland- down here you can shoot the works and not feel guilty(except maybe about the dead cow).    

-Did you know that most Latin families have a vacuum cleaner in the closet somewhere but almost no one in the family (including the cleaning lady) ever uses it? Why? Most all of them get terribly abused right out of the box and simply break down fast. And as for the rest? They're often too clogged to work efficiently. Again, it’s about the maintenance(surprised?). The fact is, most cleaning ladies and maids are afraid to use anything mechanical anyhow, lest the item break down and they get blamed for it(they do take the heat for broken stuff all of the time and often get docked for it).      

From the “be careful what you wish for department”: If you play the piano, or have the desire to own a “real” acoustic model… we’re not talking about an electric keyboard model here… then there are some important things you need to know about having delicate instruments like that down here in Latin America. In fact any instrument that has a lot of real wood incorporated in it, be it a violin, guitar, viola, double bass, cello, etc., all need a certain amount of special care, attention and maintenance. As you know, these  concepts that are foreign to most Latin folks.. even the educated ones (why do you think its called the 3rd world bub?)      

-INSECT INVASIONS PART 2, Rule #1: Never attempt to swat an insect that’s bigger than your head.    

-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:


July 11, 2014  
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
-Many long term expats have dreamed of buying and restoring one of those very cool and often fantastic old Spanish Colonial ruins. There are literally tens of thousands of partially destroyed, abandoned, otherworldly monasteries, churches and chapels. Yes, some are available and when located out in the boonies can go dirt cheap. Now if that sounds like a great weekend restoration job for a gringo tinkerer or do-it-yourselfer you’d better think twice. It’s never, ever that easy. Projects like that have been known to swallow a gringo whole and then spit out his empty wallet.            
 
-Of earthquakes and expats: earthquakes happen all of the time in Latin America. In fact you may have heard there was a 6.2 to 7.2 point earthquake this week on the Mexico/Guatemala border. Being close to the epicenter myself, I felt it rock and roll for about 30 seconds. Yes, dishes rattled, dogs barked and driveway chickens worried they wouldn’t be able to cross the road, but there was no real damage done to any 1st world construction sites or projects. That's the key you know... first-world construction.

 

-As usual, after the quake, lots and lots of TV coverage: collapsed buildings and rubble, etc., almost exclusively in the small towns and boonies. But 95% of the damage affected old adobe walls, sheet-metal shacks and cobbled-together rickety dwellings perched on cliffs. The truth is, fully half the structures in Latin America would never meet even 1960's first-world building codes and thus they take a big hit in any earthquake. Yes, the poorest areas suffer as usual and since there are no effective building inspections poor folks and builders cut countless corners that often don't reveal themselves until a nice rocking 5 pointer or so rolls on in.
But you knew that already, right? So, what’s the lesson here?

 

-Beware of slow and steady home invasions by insects. Expats themselves must be ever vigilant or lose the war. One problem is that maintenance guys, maids and cleaning ladies often don't notice what we gringos might deem a totally unacceptable insect proximity to our living spaces. Latins are so used to living side by side with various insects in and around their own homes that what they deem as normal (like a basketball sized hornet's nest perched above the back door) might just freak a gringo out.

 
 -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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July 6, 2014  

-From the “be careful what you wish for" department: More stories from the trenches- as well as a sad tale from wealthy expat gringo whose Latina wife’s “putting’ on the Ritz” act and first-world spending habits have caused him to seriously consider moving to another Latin city or country to regain his formerly simple, un-entangled life. Why? Because in the Colombian city where he lives now his family has such a high profile it’s like living in a fishbowl. So now, he’s had an epiphany and is talking about ditching it all (most of it anyway) and getting anonymous again. He much preferred his life 15 years ago when he first arrived- when he was a relative gringo nobody and was much less stressed. Our successful gringo is one of the many expats who’ve found out the hard way that once you lose your low-profile it’s almost impossible to crawl back under the radar. Bottom line: don’t let anyone suck you into the classist, uber-materialistic Latin lifestyle.    

-Part 4 of Crime and Safety in Latin America  Tips on protecting you and your property if you decide to live the gentleman farmer/homesteader's life out in the boonies  

-In various parts of the Latin American boonies, squatters do infrequently set down roots on what they perceive to be abandoned or untended land. If so, what can a gringo/expat agricultural landowner do to evict such intruders? There many ways to handle the problem though it can be a very delicate situation. Even when you’re entirely in the right, the last thing you want to do is make enemies or upset a local family clan.  

-Some tips on how smart expat ladies stay very safe on the streets of Latin America      

-Last call for my upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar. There’ still time to sign on. 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.  

-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:


July 4, 2014  
-You've heard the recent talk and press concerning the new flood of illegal Mexican and Central American children that have been trying to slip into the USA. Latins south of the boarder are somehow under the impression that their children will qualify for amnesty. Today we have some revealing reports on how the situation is being viewed from down south, here at the starting gate. Here in Central America the story is all over the news like it’s never been before, and no Latin newscasters are denying the supposed amnesty part. Meanwhile on the streets, the Obama amnesty rumors are running rampant.     

 -Part 3 of a recorded interview with a recent Expat Wisdom seminar attendee who has been going through the residency/passport process in both Paraguay and Guatemala. For now, both Paraguay and Guatemala offer some of the least expensive and easiest routes to residency, citizenship and ultimately a passport for gringos. Today hear him explain some little known facts about Paraguay and what it’s like for expats who choose to live there. Hear about the necessary legal step-by-step process for gringos who choose Paraguay as their country to live, play, retire and /or do business. And finally, hear some sage advice and tips for gringos and expat wannabees that relate to his own adventures in Central and South America.       
 
-Last call for my upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar. 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.
 
-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:


June 29, 2014  

-First, on the lighter side: many gringos and expats find watching a bit of Latin TV every day helps them improve their conversational Spanish skills (sure it’s mind-numbing, but that what gods invented tequila for). Do note that as your Spanish improves you will notice strange gaps and odd discrepancies in the way most familiar English programs(ones you have up grown with) have been dubbed. True to form the Latins in charge of TV production often can’t even get the storyline or translations right. Thy even screw up simple childish cartoons like the “Flintstones”. In fact, gringos who know their Spanish well swear the morons doing the translating/dubbing don’t know enough English to get it right so they just   invent storylines as they go along.     


-Part 2 of a recorded interview with a recent Expat Wisdom seminar attendee who has been going through the residency/passport process in Paraguay. For now, Paraguay offers one of two or three least expensive and easiest routes to residency, citizenship and ultimately a passport for gringos. Hear him explain some little known facts about Paraguay, how gringos are regarded, and what it’s like for expats who choose to live there. And hear about the necessary step by step process for gringos who choose Paraguay as their country to live, play, retire and /or do business.   

-This same expat traveler from California with quite a lot of Central American “boots on the ground” experience “off the gringo tourist trail” reports on his own experiences with crime and security issues. An adventurous type, he’s traveled multiple times through Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and is not afraid to trek alone through even the dodgy parts of big Latin cities. Hear about crime and security from a guy who’s been in the thick of things.        

-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.  

-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:


June 29, 2014  

-First, on the lighter side: many gringos and expats find watching a bit of Latin TV every day helps them improve their conversational Spanish skills (sure it’s mind-numbing, but that what gods invented tequila for). Do note that as your Spanish improves you will notice strange gaps and odd discrepancies in the way most familiar English programs(ones you have up grown with) have been dubbed. True to form the Latins in charge of TV production often can’t even get the storyline or translations right. Thy even screw up simple childish cartoons like the “Flintstones”. In fact, gringos who know their Spanish well swear the morons doing the translating/dubbing don’t know enough English to get it right so they just   invent storylines as they go along.     


-Part 2 of a recorded interview with a recent Expat Wisdom seminar attendee who has been going through the residency/passport process in Paraguay. For now, Paraguay offers one of two or three least expensive and easiest routes to residency, citizenship and ultimately a passport for gringos. Hear him explain some little known facts about Paraguay, how gringos are regarded, and what it’s like for expats who choose to live there. And hear about the necessary step by step process for gringos who choose Paraguay as their country to live, play, retire and /or do business.   

-This same expat traveler from California with quite a lot of Central American “boots on the ground” experience “off the gringo tourist trail” reports on his own experiences with crime and security issues. An adventurous type, he’s traveled multiple times through Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and is not afraid to trek alone through even the dodgy parts of big Latin cities. Hear about crime and security from a guy who’s been in the thick of things.        

-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.  

-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:


June 27, 2014  
-Last show’s email on chem-trails in Latin America (OR NOT) has prompted a small flood of emails. Have a listen and see what all the hubbub is about..

-A short primer on the meaning of the 5 flags concept and why you need to diversify yourself internationally very soon (like now) or forever hold your peace when your abusive-restrictive govt makes it impossibly difficult to do so.
 
-Note that stepping beyond the borders to a brand new destination always involves some risk of getting swindled, gouged, screwed or taken (not just by locals but by first world expats too!) When you're up against lawyers, deal makers, fixers and facilitators its buyer beware. Today we discuss a recent breaking fraudulent paperwork scam and how a number of gringos were swindled in a Paraguay residency and passport operation. Turns out they hooked up with the wrong facilitator “residency broker“.
 
-Part 1 of a recorded interview with a recent Expat Wisdom seminar attendee who has been through that very same residency/passport process in Paraguay. Hear how he avoided the scam artists by having a good BS detector of his own and choosing the right fixer/facilitator. Don’t fool yourself. Even with good Spanish, you can’t really do it all by yourself. You will need one of these “facilitator” guys. But how to find an honest one? That's the question...  
 
-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 thewww.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 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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