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

June 30, 2013  
-Simple minded as I am, I would never have imagined that certain listeners would write me thinking

Bienvenidos a Gerona

that I am somehow subtly discouraging them from coming down to Latin America - with my motive being to preserve my (and other expats) version of paradise- lest newbee interlopers come down and trample it. Well, I suspect the telling of some of my true expat tales is the source of that idea. Maybe some folks would rather face life’s  larger calamities on the horizon (up in Cleveland) other than deal with the minor though sometimes frustrating local habits and traditions we expats face when living in Latin America.

-For all you wannabes out there who subscribe to International Living and those other multiple  "Expat Retirement" rags... yes, they are often good sources of info. But know this, when they recommend some new unknown inexpensive, golden “Expat retirement haven”, I promise you that by the the time it hits the presses or your email box the so-called "well kept" hidden secret has been “well-picked-over” and there are certainly no great deals anymore. In other words- unless you just love being around hoards of gringos AND you have a healthy first world retirement package- I have to recommend you avoid highly touted places like the plague.
-Note that Latin America has an amazing amount of wildlife right outside your door. The trick is to try and keep it out there! So here are a few good pointers on how to keep the wild critters at bay, that is, on the outside not your bedside!
-Don't be surprised when I say that “first-world wanabee” upper-class Latins with money really do some foolish things... in their quest to appear first world hip and chic. And though the first-world stuff they buy may impress acquaintances and friends (and instill envy, which is also the point), their cluelessness can backfire in some surprising ways too… yet they still don’t learn their lessons!
-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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June 28, 2013  
-Some people wonder what you can see when looking at the wide open Latin American night sky. What about background light, clarity, pollution and other factors that might affect one’s star gazing?
-Oh oh! You have a bad tooth and need a root canal…. and you’re living in Latin America! YIKES!
Ahh, ..I dunno.. its bad enough getting one done in the states! Some gringos ask if they actually know how to do that kind of thing in  the jungle.  Ok you weenies, they DO have first world docs here! And so we have another true story that highlights how to successfully navigate the field if you have any special dental needs.
-A surprising close-up and personal perspective on the Latin real estate bubble. Some  interesting insights straight from a wealthy, stressed-out Latin right in the thick of it. He feels something coming and s getting nervous about his investments.
-The rise and fall of old monied families in Latin America. Within the 2% of Latin families who have historically held and maintained great wealth, a certain rather large group of them have feckless kids who are not capable of holding it all together like daddy and grandpa did.... so they are slowly killing the golden goose.

-They say if the price is right, even good people will sometimes do dastardly things. And in Latin America the same is true. The only difference is that down here, unlike in the first world, it doesn’t take thousands to subvert a person… a little pocket change will 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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June 21, 2013  

-Chocolate, chocolate, everywhere but not a decent local candy bar to be found! Latin America is precisely where many of the best, highest quality confectionery ingredients in the world come from. They’ve got cacao beans, pecans, almonds, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, raw natural sugar and a dozen kinds of pure honey, as well as many local candy companies producing all kinds of low-grade mediocre sweets, but they still can’t make a quality chocolate bar! Looks like another expat opportunity, yes?

-There are over half a billion people in Latin America… a huge market. And every one with a sweet tooth and addicted to cheap, low grade, candy and junk food. Expats and wanabees looking for a business opportunity should take note that one only has to develop (or even copy) a first world sweet that’s slightly better quality than the local competition (a no brainer) and it’ll be a winner in the local Latin markets.

-Oh Oh... not again! Johnny gets invited to another upscale Latin “cince anos” party (a 15 year old girl’s coming out party). This time he’s tossed in with a host of Latin movers and shakers and very high rollers. As usual he was practically the only gringo in the place and naturally left the place with more crazy stories about living in Latin America….

-Get ready for this… at parties and events, upscale Latins will try to break the ice with gringos like you by speaking English and trying to impress with their superficial knowledge of America sports. They think that by tossing out a few sports facts to a gringo it will put them solidly in your gringo boy’s club (it won't).

-Latin friends have asked me this odd question, “Johnny, I don’t get it. What’s with the gringo obsession with everything and anything to do with zombies?” I've heard that question because all the first world zombie shows have suddenly hit the cable airwaves here (dubbed and translated) yet the Latins have not really bought in to zombiemania yet. But never fear, the first world “lag time effect” will prevail and soon they will be as nuts about zombies as brain dead gringos up north are. Which begs the question… has our society hit an all time low yet, or do we still have a ways to go to scrape bottom of the dumpster?

-Many wanabees want to know if expats eventually get bored with Latin life.... especially those fidgety expats with so-called type “A” personalities. First world expat wanabees living in the big city wonder if they’ll miss the variety of culture and top notch entertainment they're so used to in L.A., Chicago (or Cleveland, don’t laugh). Lets talk about that..

-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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June 14, 2013  
-When expats and gringos size up Latins by their first impressions, often times our ideas and judgements about them can be way off base. In many ways Latins can’t be profiled in the ways we generalize about first world folks. And here are some examples and reasons why …
-Soon enough expats learn that all 20 Latin countries have their own distinct Spanish accents, and native Latins can distinguish perhaps ten or more of the most common said accents blindfolded. But us long-term expats with decent Spanish skills can only begin to distinguish maybe four or five Spanish accents even after many many years of actual "boots on the ground”.
-Some 80 to 90% Latins grow up with nice, straight, beautiful white teeth without the aid of dentists or orthodontics, while 50% of north American kids need braces and professional help to achieve similar results (often to the tune of five grand or more). How can that be explained?
-A true story that can only happen in Latin America. Three brothers, fresh from the coffee plantation, strolled into a Toyota dealership and asked to test drive a brand new HI-LUX pickup truck. These guys, with their three-foot long, razor-sharp machetes, muddy cowboy boots and all, were not going to leave the place until they had their way. And man, did they have their way!
-Here’s a strange dilemma. Very recently another expat friend of mine, a former Illinois EMT, was sitting next to a macho Latin cowboy machete-wielding type and my friend spotted an obvious (to him) cancerous growth on the guy's nose. Yet the expat never said a thing to the guy…. he had his reasons. What would you have done in a situation like that- had you known a bit about medicine yourself?
-The upcoming Expat Wisdom “Latin American Insider Seminar” (well off the gringo tourist trail of course) will be Sunday, June 23, thru Friday, June 28… a full six days. Its 3/4 filled now so be be sure to go to www..ExpatWisdom.com and click on the seminar link for full details.
-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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June 10, 2013  
-Another story from the trenches; real life tales of an educated, first-world lady expat who came down and after a few years married an educated, upscale Latin gentleman… who turned out not to be such a gentleman after all, but well,.. remained a typical macho Latino .
-You may have heard there’s a Latin “baby boom” going on right now and that the typical family size can hover in the double digits. Well, that may be true for the poor folks and the lower classes, but its far from reality in urban areas, and with the more educated folks. Meanwhile the uneducated half just keeps pooping (er,.. popping) them out.
-Upscale and wealthy Latins (and their spoiled, entitled kids) routinely break minor traffic and civil laws since they know they’ll get a free pass from the cops. In Latin America, unlike in the states, the cops normally don’t use their authority position to harass or harrange folks, and in general they go very light on people they perceive to have money.. like people with upscale cars and such (that includes smart expats with junky vehicles too, because they believe we have money too).
-A true story of what happened when an expat (this time a lady expat)demolished a motorcycle and sent the guy to the hospital. Pay attention here because it can happen to you!!
-Latin women of all social classes put up with a lot in their men, because they’ve been brainwashed by their own mothers and grandmothers (and tradition) into believing “men have their needs” and can’t be changed.
-The upcoming Expat Wisdom “Latin American Insider Seminar” (well off the gringo tourist trail of course) will be Sunday, June 23, thru Friday, June 28… a full six days. Its 3/4 filled now so be be sure to go to www.ExpatWisdom.com and click on the seminar link for full details.
-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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June 7, 2013  
-Did you know that Latins of all socioeconomic brackets now have nearly the same life expectancy as first world gringos? Its a conundrum all right, considering the lower hygiene and sanitary conditions found almost everywhere down here. So why is that? Here’s the skinny…
-About half of all Latins have never taken a bath in a real bathtub. Only the upper middle class and the wealthy folks have them. And even if the middle classes had tubs in their houses, which most don’t, the majority of Latin homes are connected to municipal water so it would talk about 6 hours to fill one. No joke!
-Table etiquette advice and the do’s and don’ts when you’re invited to dinner at a Latin person’s house. Not that chicken will probably be served, and that there will be some unsettling moments for you, not them…
-The truth about healthy Latin American eating habits and why we all can learn a lot from their traditional ways. I don’t mean we should all switch to rice, beans, tortillas and tequila… but we first world guys and gals could do a lot worse (and we generally do)
-A few thoughts on how Latins party, and some things you never knew about bars, booze and cigarettes in Latin America.
-The upcoming Expat Wisdom “Latin American Insider Seminar” (well off the gringo tourist trail of course) will be Sunday, June 23, thru Friday, June 28… a full six days. Its 3/4 filled now so be be sure to go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the seminar link for full details and the earlybird signup bonus…
-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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June 2, 2013  
-The big front page headline news all over Latin America is how just last week a former president of Guatemala (proclaiming himself a so–called average middle class man of the people) had been spirited away to NYC to face federal money laundering charges. The charges stem from 17 separate wire transfers to US banks. The funds went to accounts in his name, his ex-wife and his daughter… adding up to the tune of 70 million dollars. All of those transfers took place from 2000 to 2004, while he was president. But you don’t know the half of it so I’ll let you in on what’s really been going down with that case.
-Many gringos and expats have a weakness for celebrity... after all we grew up with Hollywood and the Boob Tube. And expats who spend a lot of time in the big city often fall in with wealthy Latin movers and shakers and media types and the scumbag political crowd. It happens a lot when you’re off the tourist trail where gringos are a novelty. And at first, hayseeds and average gringos from Dallas or Cleveland can be a bit awed when generals, senators or billionaires, with body guards and beach house heliports, invite them to a birthday party or a weekend barbecue. It may be fun at first, but I guarantee if you have any brains, that kind of entitled crowd will eventually suck the grey matter out of your noggin. In fact, some expat friends of mine have been so affected, that when the name dropping starts, I head for the exit… and when I see the caller ID I just don’t pick up anymore. But then again, if you like that kind of action ....
-Some discussion on the painfully slow Latin legal system and how it can actually  be a positive thing for expats
-The upcoming Expat Wisdom “Latin American Insider Seminar” (well off the gringo tourist trail of course) will be Sunday, June 23, thru Friday, June 28… a full six days. Its 3/4 filled now so be be sure to go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the seminar link for full details and the earlybird signup bonus…
-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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