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

September 29, 2013  

-Of drugs, gringos and expats: you’d be surprised at the kinds of email questions I get from expat wanabees concerning drugs in Latin America… and here are some choice samples (no not of the drugs, the emails!)  

 
-Note that if the following were Jeopardy questions I bet 95% of you would blow them:
 
#1- What South American country leads all others in drug cultivation and processing?” (Nope, its not Colombia)
 
#2- What Latin country is the number one transit or pass-through conduit for drug shipments worldwide? (Nope its not Mexico)
 
The answers will surprise you…    
 
- Here's the plain truth about coca leaves and coca leave chewing in South America: In many countries possession and use of the coca leaf is totally legal. Users say its like a good, long shot of double espresso. And its not just the poor indigenous farmers chewing on the stuff. Its used by cab drivers, hamburger flippers, bank tellers and presidents. In fact Bolivian president Evo Morales chewed a wad on camera along with Oliver Stone and his video crew in a recent movie documentary! (whereas in the states they'd all get the slammer for a move like that!)    
 
- In Venezuela, smart Latins are making a slick 700 percent on their money by taking advantage of a recent round of truly idiot government currency control laws. A mile-wide loophole has opened that allows that kind of return on US dollars in just one weekend! Imagine a guaranteed return like that without being a crook, getting into the drug business or doing anything that’s technically illegal! I know some adventurous Expats who are on their way to Caracas right now to get a piece of the currency chaos! 
 
-A word about piranhas and other alleged testicle eaters 
 
-Pencil in your calendar for this coming January. That’s when my next Expat Wisdom Seminar event is scheduled, “off the gringo tourist trail” of course. Right now I’m still setting up the program and fine tuning the particulars. This time we’ll be starting the adventure on Sunday Jan 19th and ending late Thursday night the 23rd. If you plan on attending please email me at theexpatfiles@gmail.com or Johnny@ExpatWisdom.com and I’ll be sure to send you the full details.
 

“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).

 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
 
 
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September 27, 2013  
-Pencil in your calendar for this coming January. That’s when my next Expat Wisdom Seminar event is scheduled, “off the gringo tourist trail” (naturally). Right now I’m still setting up the program and fine tuning the particulars and this time we’ll be starting the adventure on Sunday Jan 19th and ending late Thursday night the 23rd. If you plan on attending please email me at theexpatfiles@gmail.com or Johnny@ExpatWisdom.com and I’ll be sure to send you the full details.
 
-Bolivia has always been a nice, cheap, laid-back off the tourist trail destination for expats... until it’s profile was lifted by the likes of Itl. Living and some of the other expat retirement rags. However, the country's populist president Evo Morales continues to have his trouble with strikes and protests from the masses whenever he makes a move and now he’s having trouble again after he rammed through a hard-handed mining law designed as a sort of land give-back to poor indigenous folks but instead has only resulted in scaring off potential foreign investors.       
 
-Wanabees, gonnabees and fresh green expats “off the tourist trail” always want to know how long it will take for their Spanish chops to kick-in in a meaningful way. You’ll be surprised when I mention how hard it is to predict something like that. Believe it or not, many of us expats never get beyond the 3rd or 4th grade Spanish level, which seems to be just fine with some of us as long as we can make ourselves understood to the locals. The problem is, once we’re generally understood many of us hit a linguistic brick wall and never seem to improve. Latins are way too polite to correct us!
 
-There are multiple complications associated with buying your wife or girlfriend a car… and it doesn’t matter if the lady is Latina or a gringa expat. Here’s why...             
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report and it’s finally finished and available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
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September 23, 2013  
-Part II of an expat chocoholic’s step by step journey into the world of cacao beans and the pursuit of quality chocolate candy in Latin America  
 
-Just a few words of warning. When you’re about to have workmen in your house for any kind of repair job you must take precautions before hand since they absolutely never clean up after themselves. You need to take some evasive maneuvers and be prepared for a major mess (and possibly some damage caused by sheer inattentive clumsiness)   
 
-The vast majority of us long term expats have maids and cleaning ladies. And the fact is that most all of them are quite closed-mouth and timid when they’re around us gringos (we can be intimidating). Unfortunately we rarely know what they’re really thinking. So wouldn’t you like to know, when these ladies get together privately, what are saying about their gringo and Latin bosses? Of course you’ll never know what they’re saying or thinking unless you speak decent Spanish and are a good stealthy eavesdropper…. like ME!!
 
-Occasionally when scanning one of the larger Latin newspapers you’ll see a deal on a product or service that seems too good to be true: like for example 50% off on everything in a certain appliance store. But the fact is, often what seems unbelievable is really true… but you absolutely must act on that deal the very day its offered because a day later that deal is often finished and won’t be back again for maybe a year or so (or never). 
 
-Here is Part One of an intimate discussion regarding the concessions expat men find they have to make when they have Latin wives or girlfriends. Turns out, due to our societal and social differences we occasionally have to force ourselves be sensitive to certain illogical Latin customs. Expats must bend a bit. In doing so, just remember that to the Latin way of thinking we first worlder’s have some pretty illogical social customs ourselves! (I concur)    
 
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
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September 20, 2013  
-Part II of how new expats fare when jumping head-first into niche business start-ups.
-Stumbling around south of the boarder with “boots on the ground”, many new expats create little niche businesses or two based on a definite need or shortage of a product or service that they notice. The funny thing is that many expats dive right into the game head first and do quite well in spite of the fact that they start out knowing next to nothing about the new venture.
-And here’s Part II of the recent story of the expat in Nicaragua who started a successful organic coconut oil business by contracting local residents and creating a home-based co-op with them.
- How PC are Latins? Are they as PC and sensitive about certain social themes as first world people? Do they get called out by others when they make a social faux pax? What are the socially sensitive PC issues for Latins if any? Well, you’d be surprised to know that being PC is just not on the radar yet with the Latin locals. Its that first-world lag time effect again…
-A few choice words about the Latin use of the somewhat all-encompassing term “Gringo”. Here are some common rules about how Latins generally use that term “Gringo”. And note there are some surprising exceptions to their unwritten rules.
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
-For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down… two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.
-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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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September 16, 2013  
-More specifics on the trials an tribulations an expat might encounter when starting up a small business south of the boarder.
 
-Next time you get invited to eat at your new friend Jesus or Jose’s house, remember that their wives and girlfriends (whether poor, lower, middle or upper class) as well as their cooks and maids preparing the food will cook exclusively with a mix of margarine, cheap hydrogenated vegetable oils (like palm oil), chicken fat (yuk!) and lard from bacon fat (double yuk!). And though Latins use the word “mantequilla” (which means butter) interchangeably for both margarine and butter, you can bet that 99% of the time when the lady of the house says, “pass the mantequilla, por favor” it will be cheap-ass artery-clogging margarine she’s gonna hand you!   
 
- Now for another strange expat success story: This time its about an expat in Nicaragua who is filling the growing local demand organic coconut oil.
 
-Have you an idea for a business in Latin America? Well, if for whatever reason you think you’ll need a Latin as a business partner along the way, here are some of the do’s and dont’s and what to expect when you are considering such a tricky move. Do pay attention to this segment … because now you’re about to hear some very un-PC (but pointed) insights from expats in business who’ve taken on Latin partners and lived to regret it!  
 
 -If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my newly-revised free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
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September 13, 2013  
-Back on the health and food topic again: Health conscious gringos and wannabees want to know about the state of organic or certified organic labeling “south of the border”. Most folks who listen to this show realize that there is basically no truth-in-advertizing here therefore no monitoring or enforcement of product claims or labeling. That means a farmer or seller can say anything’s organic and get away with it. Then who can you trust?
 
-There are some US franchises you’d think wouldn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding in Latin America; for example GNC. But did you know that GNC now has hundreds of franchise stores both on and off the tourist trail in Latin America? Mexico alone has 400 and counting! And GNC product prices are even higher down here than the ridiculously high prices they charge back in Seattle and Cleveland (check alternative sources for vitamins and supplements on the internet, especially Amazon, and you’ll see what I mean). Now you might ask, if only 5% or less of the Latin population are health-conscious and educated enough to even know the proper mix of supplements to take (much less have the excess dough to be able to afford them on a regular basis), how then can the GNC business model possibly work down here? Any first-world analyst would predict that very low walk-in traffic and minimal product turnover would make GNC a loser. Hint: there are a handful of synergistic reasons for their huge success, not the least of which is that the good old “gringo advantage” rides again! Bottom line : when in Latin America you must constantly realign your premises.   
          
-People who know me well always ask me why I almost never get the stomach flu or any kind of even fleeting sickness from eating something that was either spoiled, unclean or just “off”. Well, over the years I have developed a set of hygiene habits and food sanitation rules and such that have served me well (while others occasionally suffer). So here now are some of my quick and easy food, cleaning and preparation tips. I do promise they’ll save you a lot of personal grief.       
 
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
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September 8, 2013  
-If you’re a health conscious person, you’ll definitely be looking for an outlet or store to buy your extra virgin olive and cold-pressed coconut oil. Sure that stuff’s available but you’ll really need to hear what I have to say before you shell out any dough on the usual suspects you find on the shelves down here.   
 
-As the world becomes more and more PC, even the term “3rd world” is becoming somewhat off limits especially in government circles and with so-called liberal leaning folks. Lately I’ve been told by certain Christian “do-gooder” folks that instead of saying“3rd world” I should be saying “developing world” because it has fewer negative connotations. A “3rd world country” conjures up images of corruption, poverty and general chaos, whereas a “developing country” denotes a kinder, gentler place that’s bent on pulling itself up by the bootstraps (like North Korea maybe?)      
 
-In Latin America more and more businesses, agencies, stores, health clubs, phone companies, landlords, etc., ask for copies of ID and other docs to do business with them. But smart expats only give up their real IDs when absolutely necessary. Most expats don’t want to be on any lists at all and keep off the radar by using little white lies and misinformation(hurray for them!). And here’s how some of the clever ones do it…
 
-Here we lay out another great, very-low cost, business idea for any new expat looking to set up shop. An exceptional product already exists down here but no one has picked up the ball yet. And like I’ve said before, Latins overlook the basic details and are very short on organizational skills… and that’s just what expats bring to the table ...
 
-The real estate bubble (I’ve been mentioning for a while now) is cracking around the edges. Here’s a little update on my recent visit in the apartment rental trenches…          
 
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, is the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Healthcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
 
 
00:0000:00
September 6, 2013  
-On guns and firearms: here are some of the latest rules for expats thinking about buying, owning or shipping down their own favorite firearms to a Latin country.
 
-Domestic violence against women and children is at near epidemic levels but mostly within Latin middle and lower class families. Latin macho men are nearly always the abusive perpetrators but never go to jail, get fined or end up in court… that is, unless they actually kill their spouses or impregnate an underage girl or two (possibly their own kids). So the sad news here is that that stuff goes unpunished. Latin America is one place you can beat and abuse your wife (and kids) and nearly always get away with it…   
 
-Here’s some “must know” tidbits that expats really should take into consideration when dealing with lawyers in Latin America   
 
-You’ve heard rumors about crooked Latin cops and bribes. You might want to know the chances that a Latin cop will plant dope on you or in your car at a traffic stop…ostensibly to just scare the crap out of you and get bigger bribe (called “mordida”)? 
 
-Have you ever seen one of those bad Hollywood movies that depicts a bunch of drunken Mexican banditios stumbling out of a cantina and firing their guns into the air like madmen? Well believe it or not, there are some Latin middle and lower class neighborhoods where that stuff does happen.... its not all Hollywood fantasy…        
 
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (probably in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. As usual, this project grew into something much more extensive than I anticipated (85+ pages) and it took much more time then allotted. But as you will see its just jam packed with real life “boots on the ground” info that you certainly haven’t heard about, with plenty of surprises too. Its up to the minute and I promise there’s nothing quite like it around. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Heathcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
 
00:0000:00
September 1, 2013  

-I get many emails asking my personal ideas on sure thing start-up businesses with minimal capital outlay. Many of these emails come from stateside teachers who want to teach English a while, then after settling in eventually get into some kind of business. But what kind of business might they be suited for? Well for them I say, why not do what you know best? Do come down and teach a while then start your very own small private school. Many many gringos have done just that, and very successfully.  I know gringos who started very small schools with just a hand full of students and because they had the ‘gringo advantage’ the business grew and grew! And here’s how they did it…       
 
-Did you know that there are no truant officers in Latin America, or even any government agencies checking on whether kids go to school at all? In fact about 10% of all school age kids work off the books- that is on the streets, in the big markets or helping their parents mind a curbside kiosk. We call it child labor, but if they don’t contribute to the family, someone doesn’t eat!   
 
-Some thoughts on beggars, street people, and those non-profit agencies and charities that are always asking for your money. Sure, we all want to help the disenfranchised and some in Latin America actually deserve your charity, but some deserve a kick in the teeth or worse.  
 
-I’ve been asked if there are any good (free) government public schools in Latin America.Well here are a few disheartening stats on that…  
  
-If you’re interested in getting in the waiting list for an Expat Wisdom Seminar (it may be in January) just send an email (theexpatfiles@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop
 
“AN EXPAT’S GUIDE TO FIRST-WORLD  HEALTHCARE IN LATIN AMERICA”, That’s the name of my long awaited free report. It’s finally finished and will be available for a time at www.ExpatWisdom.com. As usual, this project grew into something much more extensive than I anticipated (85+ pages). But as you will see its just jam packed with real life “boots on the ground” info that you certainly haven’t heard about, with plenty of surprises too. Its up to the minute and I promise there’s nothing quite like it around. Grab a copy and than compare how 21st century Latin American healthcare stacks up to your Healthcare in the states. Read it and weep! And remember the report is free(at least for now).
 
 -For all of you curious about how our last Expat Wisdom seminar in June went down…  two of our attendees, Deane and Heather, put together a great 10 min slideshow/audio clip with some very cool visuals. Now you can see what it was like (and what you missed) as we all trucked around with our “boots on the ground” Just go to ExpatWisdom.com and click on the “slideshow” link.   
 
   -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.
 
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports! 
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