Thursday, September 1, 2011

Survivalists and Preppers

              Dear FerFAL,
First and foremost, thank you for taking your precious time to share your experiences through this blog. The information here is by far the best, at least in my humble opinion, in regards to real and no-kidding modern survivalism. I am so sick of the wanna-be commandos, the EOTWAWKI preachers, and the zombie hunters. Your book reflects the crude reality; which may be something new for some folks. Personally, born and raised in a latin culture (Puerto Rico), it all sounds very familiar (with the exception of a full economic collapse, of course). We are very lucky to be a U.S. Territory; I really can’t imagine our little island being run without the oversight of Uncle Sam. As it is, the monkeys that try to run the island (our politicians) are extremely corrupt that even with millions of USD provided to us and all the freaking taxes the government of Puerto Rico takes from us, our roads are as crappy as the surface of the moon, our education programs are unfit, our government services are by far third-worldly, crime is rampant (drugs, murders, robberies, car-jacks, home invasions), unemployment up the roof… The sad thing is that we are used to this; it’s our accepted lifestyle… Gee, what would happen if the U.S. decides not to babysit us anymore?
Gracias, Fernando. I’ve been prepping for a few years now, out of common sense. My wife told me that I was crazy, especially when I started coming home with guns, ammo, and a shitload of canned food. I guess I’m not the only one!! I wish I could’ve read your book a long time ago. It’s a very good book. Barbarita’s story really broke my heart. I have kids myself; a 6 year old daughter and a 1 year old boy (will be 2 in October). I don’t ever want them to suffer hunger like Barbarita did.
I also wish my Rockerfeller wanna-be neighbors read and digest your words of wisdom. You wouldn’t believe how many of my idiot neighbors rather spend $6,000 USD on a beautiful garden, than investing on a water cistern, or security doors, or having a gun for home defense. Let me tell you, we just got hit by tropical storm Irene (a storm; not a hurricane) and people were not ready. Stores and markets were packed by people doing last minute purchases; goods were running out in a matter of hours. Gas stations were packed before and after the event… Many stations were dry in no time. The power and water services were shutdown; and people were going nuts! Have you seen people fighting for ice, a galon of water, etc? Many of my neighbors can’t cook since they rely on electric stoves and microwaves and don’t have a gas grill as a back up. Again, this was just a storm that had no significant damage to our infrastructures… Imaging something bigger and how people would react!
Out of curiosity, how is the mail working in Argentina after the collapse? Do they confiscate the items they send you?

Hi Carlos,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. Sorry for the delay in replying, sometimes its hard to keep up with everything and email piles up quickly.

In the last few years survival and preparedness has gained much more notoriety and its becoming more accepted. The media has a lot to do with this, seems you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a survival show of some sort. While it’s good that people are getting used to words such as “survivalist” that used to have a more negative connotation, on the downside the media has to make sure before anything else that it keeps a healthy amount of raiting so as to survive itself. This means that what you see on TV must be entertainment before anything else, and only after that can actual information be added to it. Documentaries are a bit more informative but reality TV shows need a fair amount of visual impact and pace so as to be digested by the mass viewer. So now we have preppers and survivalist all over the place, but when it comes down to it, are you simply begin entertained, or are you learning things that you can actually put to use? Thanks do Bear Grylls I now know that I can hydrate by squeezing elephant poo but somehow that’s not helping me a whole lot. That’s how on one hand you have a guy sitting in a couch “learning” how to survive in the Siberian wilderness but at the same time he hasn’t got a few cases of water in foresight of the next storm or hurricane which he will most certainly have to go through.
In spite of preparedness and survivalism hitting the main media, the vast majority of people still don’t get it. They don’t understand the life changes involved, the new set of priorities they should have because as the different social safety nets start failing the future in USA or anywhere else will not be nearly as forgiving as it used to be for a long time. You’d think people would know that there’s always going to be another tornado or big storm, that there’s the possibility of flooding in certain areas, yet as you noted they will wait until the last minute to rush to the supermarket.
For people used to living in first world countries, the impact will certainly be greater. They are used to a system that works, while in the third world you already don’t expect much from the authorities. You learn to make your own retirement (the government here just steals your retirement plan) you learn that water or power may be cut off for days and no one is really surprised when it happens. Floods? Evacuate yourself buddy, no one’s coming to help you. If they do, its mostly neighbors and ordinary people. I remember during the Santa Fe flood of 2003, the help was only in the form of people’s donations. What did the local authorities do? They “helped” once the donations reached the disaster area by locking them up in warehouses and SELLING the donations to the people that lost their homes afterwards.

At least around here, every guy knows how to cook with charcoal or wood and of course, start a fire. Every self-respecting Argentine is expected to know how to cook an “asado” and prepare meat and offal (intestines, kidneys, etc) . Instead of firing up the BBQ , people here can cook with any wood they come by. I knew a guy that actually preferred pallet wood for his asados, go figure.

In the end, what does it mean to be a survivalist or prepper? I still find it hard to define completely. What we all have in common is that we foresee the possibility of problems and disruptions down the road, and take the necessary steps to be ready for it. But more than that, its also about a way of living, heavily inclined towards practicality, appreciative of freedom and individuality. It’s not only about being ready but ensuring a quality of life and way of living. Some people consider that the difference between self-claimed preppers and survivalists is that preppers are “lite” versions that get ready for emergencies and disasters but do it in a way that doesn’t involve any significant changes in their lifestyle. In some cases people define themselves as preppers because they have a bug out bag, and a Rubbermaid with a few supplies. It seems to me that when someone defines himself as survivalist he’s generally more committed. The difference isn’t because of the amount of stuff one or the other has, but the mindset involved generally speaking. At the same time some people that call themselves survivalists do fall into that preconceived and much stigmatized version which involved individuals with “issues” and certain detachment from reality.  This is yet another example where you have to deal with people on a per case basis and survivalist, prepper or whatever they choose to call themselves aren’t a clear indication of what type of person you’re dealing with.

About your question, yes mail here is working much better than it used to and shipments dont get…err.. “lost” as much as they did. This may be due to the 50% tax on the items (plush the shipment cost) they are now applying. Usually there’s no problem receiving shipments, but unless its pretty small like a folding knife or some other small box, you’ll have to go pick it up at customs and pay the 50% tax over its value. Small items and envelopes are more likely to pass unnoticed.
Take care and again, thanks for your email.
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Anonymous said...

Well said.

For example, hundreds if not thousands of people bought generators prior to hurricane Irene hitting the northeast. But right after the storm passed most of those people returned them!

No one thought they might need it again before the end of hurricane season?
No one thought they might need it next year?

And BTW since they returned the generators that means they didn't even figure out how to use it and probably didn't have fuel for it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, mindset defines the various breeds of prepper or survivalist. Here in Montana, one is also likely to consider themselves as self sufficient as were our forefathers, the classic rugged individualist, rather than be stuck with the other labels. Regardless, the trend is huge in Montana, and the trend is your friend if you choose to be surrounded by like minded folks.

Montana has a higher percentage of folks preparing for hard times and is sparely populated. An estimate shows that there are 19 rifles per household and neighbors tend to be polite. The low inhabitant per acre and the higher number of firearms present in few other states or countries is a game changer, a huge advantage that will shape the future in this region.