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Thread: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

  1. #1
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Can't remember where I first saw this, but I happened upon it again: http://www.reddit.com/…/heres_exactly_how_american_expats_…/ The main article is on "How Expats Go Crazy in Central America," but the comments were easily as interesting as the article.


    In my opinion, the best comment: "Exactly how American expats don't go crazy in Central America would be a much shorter post: they keep their investments small, their plans flexible, and try as hard as possible to integrate into the culture rather than act like a perpetual tourist. It's easy, and again, the same exact story from every successful ex-pat I've met."




    Maybe the people who plan to transform places started out crazy and didn't become crazy here.

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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Can we get that message across to expats of the world who move to the USA?

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Like the people who came in from the UK 400 to 100 years ago . I think some places are immigrant places -- like Managua here and Miami and New York in the US. Philadelphia got people who wanted to assimilate; Charlotte, NC, too. And some parts of the US belonged to Mexico not that long ago -- as was said in the film, "Machete," "We didn't cross the border. The border crossed us."

    One of the bicycle shop guys in Charlotte was from Colombia and moved to Charlotte because he wanted to assimilate, learn English, run a business and all that. I had a Chinese student in her late 60s or early 70s whose daughters got her out of China and told her just to be happy speaking Chinese in Chinatown. She found out about free tuition for retirees at Temple and started taking classes with minimal English. One of my other students agreed to tutor her in English.

    When I was in NYC, I never hung out with other Southerners, but there was a Southern expat scene there. We had an expat get together in Matagalpa and I spent most of the time talking to a guy from El Salvador. I know what gringos are like; I lived in the US. But I'd never met a bilingual El Salvadoreño before.


    I also think that a lot of USAnos are quite bigoted about people who don't speak English perfectly, and there's a bit of that here with people whose Spanish has that ugly Gringo accent (muy feo, according to my Spanish teacher).

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    Can't remember where I first saw this, but I happened upon it again: http://www.reddit.com/…/heres_exactly_how_american_expats_…/ The main article is on "How Expats Go Crazy in Central America," but the comments were easily as interesting as the article.


    In my opinion, the best comment: "Exactly how American expats don't go crazy in Central America would be a much shorter post: they keep their investments small, their plans flexible, and try as hard as possible to integrate into the culture rather than act like a perpetual tourist. It's easy, and again, the same exact story from every successful ex-pat I've met."

    if you are referring to expats that just want to live and enjoy a quiet and safe life...I agree with you as I have in the past.




    Maybe the people who plan to transform places started out crazy and didn't become crazy here.
    really!! " integrate into the culture".??... Try hiring 200 Nicas ..then speak upon this subject...I do not transform people...just pay them ( and INSS) for their effort...you are a very bright person with a great education...but recognize that this is just ahead of Haiti in GNP......

    if you mean the people that come here to Save the Rain Forest...when the people can not afford fuel...I am in agreement with you...
    pp

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    TRN Luster in Chief Jimmy Carter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    (snip) I also think that a lot of USAnos
    What are these (g)usanos of which you speak? Has PRNL been resuscitated? Comrade Fydel is the only person I've EVER encountered who uses that (ridiculous) phraseology.

    /rant

    .
    I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. Maybe if I had gotten laid, I wouldn't be such a nincompoop?

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by Playa Pete View Post
    really!! " integrate into the culture".??... Try hiring 200 Nicas ..then speak upon this subject...I do not transform people...just pay them ( and INSS) for their effort...you are a very bright person with a great education...but recognize that this is just ahead of Haiti in GNP......

    if you mean the people that come here to Save the Rain Forest...when the people can not afford fuel...I am in agreement with you...
    pp
    Read the article and the comments. People who set up factories based on local skills generally don't have the problems that people who think untrained people who've never made artistic handmade lamps before in their lives can be hired and a magic wand waved and they'll become creative. The women expected that they'd be working with pre-fabbed units and putting them together to order, like the jobs they were used to. Because they couldn't start making lamps without instructions and prepared parts, the idiot who tried to start this factory failed and blamed them.

    You're integrating into the culture as an employer of Nicaraguans. Or you're trying to do something they've never had a day's prior experience doing and expecting to not have to train them or hire a supervisor who isn't a recent college graduate who has never supervised anyone but has made some sculpture.

    If you're smart, you figure out how to be a boss who asks for things from them that they can understand, or can actually teach them how to do more than what they've done in the past in some reasonable way (Eastern Microfilm, MicroMetrics, Virginia Mechanical Design).

    Example here is a small quilting operation. A number of women in Jinotega know how to operating a sewing machine. The guy who owns the workshop is from a family that's manufactured quilts for two generations. Not a huge leap from sewing family clothes and small scale dress-making to making quilts.

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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Never mind.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Sorry, ms Brown...if you really know anything about serious biz here ...it is not about training...it is about culture...after several years of reading your posts...it is clear you know nothing about major business in this country, except " let's make quilts, etc...cottage businesses ...that is why Haiti is first in lowest GNP first and NI second.

    a great larger example..is the government telling the wind energy companies that they will not buy all of their energy...
    this may be new to you...we have highest energy cost energy cost in the Americas and with 70% coming from polluting diesel???with oil cost being reduced 50 %... How much has energy cost been reduced in NI?...oh, ZERO...even for the poorest..

    your wonderful energy and intellect ...please promote renewable energy...lowering energy cost for all segments...and learn what they did not teach you in those great colleges...help create REAL jobs...and promote...real jobs, and best paying in CA...in many businesses...energy...costs...six times USA and more polluting hurt the locals...not about culture...it's economics.

    p.p.

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by Playa Pete View Post
    Sorry, ms Brown...if you really know anything about serious biz here ...it is not about training...it is about culture...after several years of reading your posts...it is clear you know nothing about major business in this country, except " let's make quilts, etc...cottage businesses ...that is why Haiti is first in lowest GNP first and NI second.

    a great larger example..is the government telling the wind energy companies that they will not buy all of their energy...
    this may be new to you...we have highest energy cost energy cost in the Americas and with 70% coming from polluting diesel???with oil cost being reduced 50 %... How much has energy cost been reduced in NI?...oh, ZERO...even for the poorest..

    your wonderful energy and intellect ...please promote renewable energy...lowering energy cost for all segments...and learn what they did not teach you in those great colleges...help create REAL jobs...and promote...real jobs, and best paying in CA...in many businesses...energy...costs...six times USA and more polluting hurt the locals...not about culture...it's economics.

    p.p.
    Thing is that without traction in the culture, I can't (and nobody else can) do a whole lot to change things. My interest here is in living a reasonable life here, and helping my young friend with his English (he had to twist my arm) so he can go study data base management in Asia.

    If you're in something other than tourism and the great pyramid schemes with land sales, I salute you, but some things are not my gig. The thing with the Patrick industries that worked were that the two or three of the people doing them had gone away, made money and came back with their capital and their industries. Other guy had moved his business from Queens, NY, for a range of reasons. The really big factories ended up going to places with cheaper labor yet.

    To do what you suggest, I'd have to have near native fluency in Spanish and probably more social capital and real capital than I have. And an even better understanding of general Nicaraguan social structure and class that I have (I understand a good deal of the coffee economy because it's not that different from the tobacco economy of my grandfather's and uncle's lives). Our desire to fix things in other people's cultures tends to have blow-back -- and it's rather condescending to the Nicaraguans whose educations match or surpass my own that they can't fix things or that they lack imagination.

    My young friend plans to study Mandarin and data base management because if the canal goes through, he can get a job. I don't know if this is the wisest solutions, but it's his. He's 23 years old and there's not much I've ever been able to say to him that changed his mind on anything. I have let him see for himself that putting out $160 to get a visa might not be a good investment of his money -- but he had to watch four other Nicaraguans in a row get turned down for visas at the US embassy.

    My education was history and literature. What I bring to the table is some knowledge of how things were in the early 20th Century, 19th Century, and how the US made its money in from the invention of the cotton gin to 1860, and how long it took a Paleolithic ivory bead maker to make one bead (15 minutes according to the people who've reconstructed that very old manufacturing system which allowed some people to specialize in bead making while getting other people to trade meat for beads).


    Used the handicraft shop here because it's something I have some details about. Someone opened and closed a call center here which was rather upsetting and affected one guy I know here.

    Economics and culture are always intertwined. The Swiss have something called Industrial Democracy in some of their factories -- and Germany has unions which cooperate with management and a government that cooperated with both.

    I think that we can't be the rescuers here any more than Milo Baughman, of the handcrafted lamp factory, could transform Patrick County. Those people coming in with something other than the fantasy hotels and all that can do useful things, but it's not going to be as simple as standing on your desk and telling the Nicaraguans about solar and wind energy. Switching from a agricultural economy to something more complex requires a number of interlocking parts. A couple of decades ago, I read a book called The Industrial Development of Japan -- and some books by a man who taught in Japan during that transition (Lafacadio Hearn). I've pointed a bright Nicaraguan at the book Postwar. Someone who does have traction in the culture is going to have to think through a synthesis of what has worked elsewhere. Throw in Jane Jacob's Death and Life of Great American Cities and her less known Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and a whole lot of local knowledge that I don't have, and you've got someone or a group of people who can start doing the things you suggest. I doubt seriously that the best intentioned of North Americans can completely shed our cultural skins and do this as effectively as Nicaraguans who can look at the information about other cultures' economic transformations and figure out something that would work here.

    I did things in my own country that I think were useful. And sometimes, things that looks useful aren't.

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    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    But maybe it's the wrong question. Maybe going crazy is the true solution, the path of least resistance, the ultimate adaptation...

    Webster single handedly wrote the dictionary of American English because he had compulsive disorders. The guy who did my bathroom tile had a bunch or problems and drove me nuts for the 2 weeks he was working relentlessly on the one week job but boy did his anal retentive addiction to detail make for purdy tile. It leads me to believe that crazy ain't always so bad.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"


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    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    I think that Billy Joel said it best.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo9t5XK0FhA
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post


    In my opinion, the best comment: "Exactly how American expats don't go crazy in Central America would be a much shorter post: they keep their investments small, their plans flexible, and try as hard as possible to integrate into the culture rather than act like a perpetual tourist. It's easy, and again, the same exact story from every successful ex-pat I've met."
    Love this.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How Not to Go Crazy in Central America

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    I think that Billy Joel said it best.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo9t5XK0FhA

    I think that we are all crazy. It's just a matter of degree.

    "But, it might just be a lunatic you're looking for . . . . . . . ."


    "My young friend plans to study Mandarin and data base management because if the canal goes through, he can get a job. I don't know if this is the wisest solutions, but it's his. He's 23 years old and there's not much I've ever been able to say to him that changed his mind on anything. I have let him see for himself that putting out $160 to get a visa might not be a good investment of his money -- but he had to watch four other Nicaraguans in a row get turned down for visas at the US embassy."


    I think the canal is effectively dead. There is no investment. China is not going to pony up the money, and Nicaragua can't sustain that amount of investment with the level of accountabiity and transparency it would require.

    How Daniel and Rosario plan to explain this will make for some interesting theatre

    Still, Mandarin and data base management seem to be good choices.

    He might be able to find a Spanish language based company in the US with business in LA that would sponsor him.

    Yeah,, Visa is hard. I told my best story last year for a Christmas trip for Ariana . . they took one look at me, one look at Ariana, and "that girl is going to walk at the first gas station".

    I was kind of expecting it. I saw any number of people turned down while we were waiting for our interview.

    There is a guy down the road from the Embassy who will "package" you and your application. Claims he has decent luck. He didn't charge me anything to talk to him, seemed very nice, speaks good English too.
    Last edited by KeyWestPirate; 05-29-2015 at 11:42 AM.

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