Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vacations in Tierra del Fuego

The blog is great, thanks for posting. I was wondering what you thought of Ushuaia or the rest of Tierra del Fuego as a vacation spot. Is it as unsafe as Salta to visit?
- Greg

Hi Greg, Ushuaia is very, very safe, probably one of the safest places in Argentina in terms of crime and violence, of course you still have to be careful to some degree as always but within context its very safe. This is mostly because well, it is called "the end of the world" for a reason, it’s the most southern town in the planet before reaching Antarctica. Theres the low population but most of all, its economically better off because of the local import/production industry and the amount of tourism it always gets. I've gone camping and trekking in Tierra del Fuego a few years ago, spent some time in Ushuaia. It’s a very interesting place, strange nature in those latitudes. There was these huge mosquito like bugs as large as a fist, but there’s no dangerous large predators. There's not that much to see but the prison is worth a visit same as the boat trip in the Beagle Channel, and the national forest is worth spending a few days walking about.
If you want  spend some time in the forests though, be well prepared, you just DONT want to get lost in the wild in such a far away place. Dont expect help to come any time soon if you get injured or to be found fast enough, so be careful and dont try becoming the guy from "Into the Wild", especially if you dont have much backpacking experience.
Take care and have fun!
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

That which was taken away from us

I was driving back home with my son the other day after picking him up from school.
Since we’ve moved to Northern Ireland everything has been going on surprisingly well. You’d expect some adaptation period, maybe not liking a few things, but honestly we just couldn’t be happier.
Kids are different though, so I try to see how he’s adapting to the new friends and school.
“Are you understanding more of what the teacher says?”
“Yes. At first there were some words that I didn’t understand, but now I’m understanding almost everything, today I understood everything the teacher said”.
“That’s good, it will get easier as time goes by. Any kid giving you a hard time?”
“No, kids are nice here”.

“ok, but honestly, how are you liking it here, you know you can tell me anything”.
“I really like it Dad, the teachers are nice, the kids are nice, the school has lots of stuff to do, and besides its like in the movies, kids here walk to school all by themselves.”
Its funny sometimes, the things that strike a nerve. That hit one in me indeed.
It reminded me of this occasion some time ago while still in Argentina, my son asked me why he couldn’t walk to school on his own like Timmy Turner did (cartoon, “Fairy Odd Parents”) since we lived just two blocks away from it. I told him that it was a cartoon and that in reality streets were too dangerous for a child that age to walk all by himself. It was easy to make my point since no responsible parent lets a kid under 14 or so walk on his own. Yet here we were, in a place where ten year olds and younger walk to school, some take their even younger brothers and sisters  by the hand. It wasn’t that the cartoon and TV series scene of kids going to school on their own wasn’t a reality, it just wasn’t our reality.

You see, that was something that was denied to us. Walking to school, or riding a bike around the block or go see neighborhood friends on their own. They took that from us by allowing streets to become so dangerous and doing nothing about it, that not only kids but all of us had to live bunkered in, and watch over your back when outside.
I just turned 33, and I remember that we played on the streets without much concern. I remember going to school on my own, buying bags full of firecrackers when I was 13 and lighting them up all across the neighborhood with my friends. Man it was fun to blow stuff up.
Crime still happened but not nearly as serious as it is now. A kid from the other grade got his bike stolen. A couple older punks hit him and took his bike. The poor kid pissed himself during the incident. Even worse, his mother couldn’t keep her mouth shut and everyone heard about it. He was a friend of mine but from that day on I always remembered that incident whenever I was with him. I could tell its one of those things that changed him forever.

Camping and trekking is something we’ve been doing a lot since we arrived here. I loved doing it in Argentina but in the last few years, again, the crime problem was a factor you couldn’t ignore, especially when going with kids. There’s beautiful outdoors in the center west and south of Argentina, places like Mendoza, Neuquen and Rio Negro, but that´s all far away. Within reasonable driving distance from Buenos Aires any of the outdoor places you have are full of trash and often of the two leg walking type as well. Always the danger, always watching over your shoulder checking your back. Given the risk, its just not worth it. There’s several camping sites but they are so dirty they are disgusting. There’s security in numbers in these places but you should see some of the mugs of the people that go there. Certainly not my idea of outdoors quality time. Its ironic to see so much people in the survival community talking about bugging out and relating camping and trekking to survival and SHTF. There’s surprisingly little of that when it’s a real SHTF situation! People can actually do that safely precisely when the shit didn’t hit the fan, other than the other way around.

Yesterday we went to this diner near by, nice family place. I noticed my wife had the strap of her bag across her chest while eating, like you would do in Buenos Aires because of thieves. “Its hard to let go of the old habits, no?”. She looked down at what she was doing. “You know, it really is”.
In the end, what we ended up losing in Argentina was our peace, knowing that something bad happening to you on the streets was so unlikely that you could afford not to worry about it and not pay the consequences. That’s a liberty we haven’t had in Argentina for over a decade.

Just a few days ago, the general degradations in infrastructure and services ended up claiming the lives of 50 people that were going to work one morning in Buenos Aires. In spite of receiving millions in subsidies by the tax payers, the trains in Argentina are in awful condition as I’ve frequently reported. On February 22 , 2012 the train full of people going to work reached Once station and did not stop, crushing one of the wagons like a can of soda, while packed with people on the inside. The train that requires 8 working compressors to fully stop and had already been on the rails with only five, was down to three working compressors alone that day.  Three was clearly not enough. Still the authorities of the railroad company decided that was good enough.
Our freedom, our peace of mind, even our lives.  That’s what Argentina has claimed.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview with Jack Spirko on the Survival Podcast

It was nice talking with Jack again, mostly we talked about me leaving the country and moving to NI, why I chose Northern Ireland and then various other things.
Here’s the link
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A few announcements

1)Yesterday I did another interview with Jack Spirko for the Survival Podcast. Its always a pleasure to talk with jack and we had a great time as always. We talked about a variety of topics, the interview went very well so keep an eye on it. I believe it will be up for listening tomorrow.
2)VPro of the Dutch televisions made a nice documentary on Argentina 10 years after the crisis. They did one back in 2001 so had the chance to see how people were doing a decade later.  I didn’t get the chance to be in it myself because I was just leaving the country but got to help some, contacting Alejandro Pintos on their behalf, a police officer friend of mine. Overall it’s a nice documentary that shows different aspects of the country. From what poor people go through, the extinct middle class, well described by Alejando as lower middle class, and the rich guy that manage to land on his feet and profit from the crisis. Too bad its in Dutch and Spanish. I’ll post again once its translated.
3)There’s a good chance I’ll be making it to the Colorado Springs Self Reliance Expo, May 18- 19. I had a great time last time. On this occasion I’ll have time to organize better. Really looking forward to going to USA again.
Oh! One last thing. Busse is now offering a great looking knife, know doubt its an outstanding performer based on its classic lines alone and knowing what you can expect from INFI steel. Its called  Team Gemini.

No, I don’t own one, still making up my mind about getting one or not. No, I don’t make a single cent out of it and have no relationship with Busse whatsoever, I just happen to like their knives and… drums… they are actually offering a sheath for this one! At $337 these knives sure aren’t cheap but its still the knife to be beaten by all other manufacturers in terms of abuse resistance and steel quality.
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Your opinion regarding finding refuge in Cafayate, Argentina

Greetings, Fernando. You don’t know me, but I sure feel like I know
you. I been reading your blog and watching your videos for some time
with great interest. My wife and I do feel like, what has happened to
Argentina in the past will soon happen to North America and many other
parts of the world. We wish to thank you for sharing your knowledge
with us. We value it very much. We live in Canada, ourselves.
I frequently visit a website called The Dollar Vigilante and have been
interested in this groups perspectives on investing in preparation for
the coming collapse. However, there is one idea of theirs that I don’t
quite agree with or understand. It is the idea that a perfect place to
sit out the collapse is in a placed called Cafayate, in Argentina.
You are originally from Argentina and I would like your thoughts on
what The Dollar Vigilante is encouraging others to do.
In your opinion, is Cafayate really a place that will be safe enough
to protect anyone from the economic problems that are coming? What
could possibly make these people think that they would be protected,
in Cafayate, from what is happening in the rest of Argentina?
It just doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but I wondered what you
would think of such an idea.
All the best to you and your family. We hope that you (and the rest of
us God-fearing people) do well in your new home.

Hi David,
I keep getting emails like yours all the time, and the only reason I keep replying to them is simply that I don’t one a single one of you guys (my readers) to lose money or even worse, make a decision they will regret the rest of their lives.
No, I don’t think it’s a good idea to invest or move to a dangerous, socially, politically and financially unstable country such as Argentina. I honestly don’t think any latin 3rd world country is a good idea, but I would end up in either Chile or Uruguay if forced to choose one.
There´s lots of people involved in this sort of businesses, big money involved, and big commissions to anyone that lands a sale. That’s why they push it so hard and try to make such a strong case for it. Then you have others in the blogging community that promote it for a free trip to exotic Argentina or the chance to hang around the fat cats that go to these events. Sorry guys, been to Salta already and I have enough friends. Many of the “rich and famous” in these events happen to be investors in the project itself and are very interested in spreading the word of how a great an opportunity it is.
I’ve already explained ad nauseam the countless reasons why I think it’s a terrible idea to move there. Use the search function and you’ll find more extensive posts about it. Basically being in Argentina is bad enough already, but then adding to that going for the poorest part of the country, that happens to be in a desert with little or no water and purely depends on artificial irrigation to exist, that’s what makes it such a bad idea. Then you have the general decadent infrastructure you can expect from a poor 3rd world province, including a three hour drive if you ever need basic medical care, or a three hour drive plus a two hour plane if you happen to need more than that. For anything more serious like proper cancer treatment you’d better leave the country entirely. My friends in Argentina are telling me that its been a while now since oncologic medication has been difficult to come by, even in Buenos Aires.
I guess what makes the better case of how bad an idea it is to move to Argentina is that I left the country myself, already having a home there, family and friends, different family businesses I could have worked on and developed, having weapons for defense, good friends within the local police force and a network that very few people will ever have in the country. Still the sociopolitical instability, the crime, the increasingly Chavez-like, anti Yanki government was too much for my taste.
If after extensive research a place like Salta does it for you, then go for it. Just make sure you make an informed decision and aren’t influenced by people that have a personal financial interest in your decision.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

New Cold Steel Clip Point Voyager: Outstanding General Purpose Knife

Summary: 45 Bucks for this knife???? Just buy it. Now. Don´t think, just buy it, and if you don´t like it later may the Gods of Steel and everything that is Cool have mercy on your soul. That is all.

 Cold Steel Voyager Lg. Clip Point Plain Edge Knife  $44.99

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