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

April 27, 2011  

Road Hazards, Car Problems and 3rd World Driving Survival tips:

- Pickups, 4x4’s, and other macho vehicles we recommend that you drive.

- Why lightly used luxury sports cars are so very cheap down here (and why only entitled kids of rich idiots drive them).

- Tumolos (i.e., speed bumps on steroids), and other car pulverizing Latin road hazards, and how to deal with them.

- Driving Latin style; where tailgating is a way of life, and rear-end collisions trump all other smashups.

- Two different ways to get a Latin driver’s license; the cheap, normal way (by way of a driving test), and the slightly more expensive grey market away(by way of cash money).

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April 25, 2011  

FOOD PRICES, the COST OF LIVING, and more on BANKS;

- Kicking your addiction to 1st World specialty items and why buying locally produced stuff is both smart, and cheap.

- Cooking with gas, electricity, or wood. Yes, half the people down here still use wood! (and you’re wondering where the rainforest went?).

- High fructose corn syrup, and why it hasn’t caught on down here (thank Buddha).

- The many ways a simple 2x4 framing stud down here beats its 1st World equivalent hands down. - When crime pays; Bank robberies in Latin America, and why just YOU might get robbed right outside of your bank.

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April 20, 2011  

The Right Car To Drive, Car Theft, and How To Deal With Traffic Cops - Part 2:

- When thieves steal your car and negotiate over the phone.

- Why there are so many hit and run accidents (er,… I mean the other guy actually running away on foot!).

- How and why a collision can be 100% your fault, and NOT your fault at all!

- Expats, breathalyzers, drinking and driving and the state of the DUI laws.

- Expats, radar, and speed traps.

- Why 1st World safety violations don’t mean a thing down here.

- Why the Macho society kicks into high gear when women Expats face the cops, and/or the legal system.

- Why Expats bearing small gifts make for big favors when dealing with cops.

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April 18, 2011  

The Right Car To Drive, Car Theft, and How To Deal With Traffic Cops - Part 1:

- Why it’s smart for Expats to “temporarily” go native (when it comes to cars).

- Why Police roadblocks are everywhere, and they love stopping Expats.

- What to do when you get pulled over and they search your vehicle (illegally).

- The fine art of bribing the police, and why you won’t have to ask (they will).

- When cops bond with Expats, just play along (and try not to laugh).

- A simple $5 way for Expats to totally foil a car thief.

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April 13, 2011  

Electric Utilities, Power Outages, Part 2,

- Your undecipherable utility bills part 2… just like in the 1st World, only worse (since they’re in Spanish).

- How Expats handle power outages.

- Where and why power outages do and don’t occur… And it’s not just a roll of the dice.

- The truth about portable generators, and what you’ll really need in a pinch down here.

- Total 3rd World energy self sufficiency? Can Expats really get off the grid and stick it to the oil companies (well, almost, but not yet).

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April 11, 2011  

Understanding Electric Utilities, Part 1:

- 3rd World utility bills,… And you thought nothing was more confusing than your 1st World utility bill!

- The secret cult of Kilowatt hours explained (almost) in 30 seconds… Hey! Watt the hecks’s a watt anyway?

- How big power subsidies for the poor distort an already terrifically screwed up energy market… And why energy’s practically the only thing that ain’t cheap down here.

- Why its no use fighting it out with a 3rd World utility company. If you think your bill’s wrong, its best to take a few deep breaths and just pay it(and then have a couple of margaritas).

- You know those little yellow “Energy Consumption” appliance stickers? They have them down here all right, but they’re all in English (duh!).

- The age old Latin custom of tapping into a power pole and stealing juice.. not recommended (but done all the time).

- Clandestine cable TV hookups, and other lessons learned while living in the land of the pirates.

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April 6, 2011  

When Expats go into Business Part 1:

- Reasons why Expats succeed in business without really trying (or lying).

- Why nearly every 1st World franchise that lands has the midas touch,.. even ones that, by rights, shouldn’t have a chance. Example: Starbucks

- King of the sandbox,... A psychologic breakdown of the medium and upscale Latin consumer, and why their misguided perceptions work in your favor.

- Why Expats (outside of the tourist areas) tend to get the royal treatment, whether they deserve it or not.

- Analyzing that oh so common “hey, I can do that!” pipe dream that so many tourists and Expat wannabes down here have when they spot a nice Expat owned hotel , bar, or restaurant (and why it really is a pipe dream).

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April 4, 2011  

On Banking, Credit Cards and more:

- How not to get clipped when changing dollars or euros into (or out of) the local toilet paper (but quite pretty) currencies.

- Credit cards -vs- cash, watch out!

- Visa/MC plastic issued on 1st world banks -vs- Visa/MC issued on banks down here, they look the same but there are major differences.

- What to do if your bank statement seems wrong, you're spoiling for fight, and your 2nd grade Spanish is failing.

- How to spot an ATM scam.

- Getting robbed on the beach, and how to avoid it.

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