One of the lessons we’ve all learned this year is that ‘experts’ have been utterly politicized. And if you aren’t one of the experts who go along with the PC ones you are deleted from Social Media, denigrated by MSM or professionally destroyed. I no longer believe anything I read that conforms to the PC take on events. But worse, I can no longer trust those in opposition as they seem to have their own agenda. We are cast adrift in world determined to make us all victims living in a perpetual state of panic and fear. Read more here. the-pandemic-has-revealed-a-darkly-authoritarian-side-to-expertise
In the 1950’s I owned our black and white television set late night Friday and Saturdays after my folks went to bed. Whatever movie was showing, I watched. In those patriotic days the set was full of movies made during or about the Second World War. Heady stuff for one so young. A few of those movies have stuck with me over the years, Thirty Seconds of Tokyo, for one where the director had to good sense to create tension by omitting the nearly obligatory music for the run to Japan. All you hear are the clipped voices of the crew and the relentless drone of the airplane engines. Then there was The Steel Lady with Rod Cameron. It’s a B movie and until last night I was at a loss to understand the hold it had on me. Without exaggeration I’ve chased this move for 40 years, first on late night television [again], then on cable, then on VHS, then DVD, finally on the Internet. No luck. Until…. last night. I searched the title as I have every few months and there it was, in full and in surprising clarity, on YouTube. And I was not disappointed.
Okay, the plot is hokey but no less compelling for that. Rod Cameron with the lady obsessed mechanic side kick, drunken prospector and a really, really good looking 21 year old Tab Hunter as the radio nerd. Their plane forced down in the Sahara desert, cut off from communication, with little water, they find the storm that forced them down uncovered, are you ready?…. a German tank, complete with mummified crew. Realizing their situation is hopeless they repair the tank, fill its radiator with nearly all of their precious water and proceed to drive a hundred odd miles to a French Foreign Legion outpost. Sounds easy, right? Well, you don’t know Hollywood in the ’50s.
Searching for a place to hid his last bottle of booze the drunk finds a concealed compartment [every German tank came with one during the war] and voila! hidden in it is a sack full of precious gems. He decides to keep the information for himself. The tank crossing sand dunes is the best part of the movie, filmed I suspect just outside Yuma, Arizona. The tank then encounters an Arab settlement which is the most embarrassing part of the movie. The painted backdrops aren’t even close to realistic and the white men with darkened faces playing Arabs had to be embarrassed to deliver their lines but there you are. Seems during the war a tank came out of nowhere and stole their treasure. They’ve been looking for it ever since and now miraculously here it is.
One thing leads to another, we have treachery, fistfights, a running gunfight of natives who can’t shoot straight against a machine gun, then finally selfless sacrifice and rescue as the Arabs close in. Great stuff.
Tab Hunter, who worked hard at it but was never much of an actor, is much better than you’d expect in a limited role. But it’s Rod Cameron who carries the whole thing off, no matter how absurd the lines he has to deliver.
My father, a combat veteran of the Pacific, was appalled at the patriotic warlike enthusiasm I got from these movies. He sat me down when I was 12 and for the only time told me what combat was really like, the insanity of it, friends blown into pieces, the carnage of young men against bullets and shells. It made no difference. How could reality compete with the story line Hollywood was feeding my young mind?
It looks like Bill Gates has got his wish: population reduction, even elimination. And it didn’t take a toxic vaccine that diminishes a woman’s fertility rate. Turns out we’ve been doing this to ourselves for decades with no end in sight. At least since the 1970’s the ability of men and women to produce children has been in steady decline until today it is at half the rate it once was. Since 1973 male sperm is down 60%. A woman today in her twenties has the same fertility rate as her grandmother did at age 35. In addition the size of a penis has diminished as has the size of testes. It turns out all the things we depend on for our quality of life are filled with toxins that take a relentless toll on us over the years and our bodies don’t shed them. They just keep building up. These toxins are everywhere. They are in plastics, clothes, cleaning products, fragrances, soaps, electronics and carpets, just to name a few.
The tragedy is that there is no easy way to undo this. The industries profiting from poisoning us will resist any change and even those of us suffering will not want to put up with the inconveniences of saving ourselves if it is even possible. It has been postulated that Ancient Rome committed suicide in part by the steady poisoning of its population with the pervasive use of lead. Now we’ve done the same same thing. Read the details. It ain’t pretty. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/18/toxic-chemicals-health-humanity-erin-brokovich
One of the major changes for North Americans [I use this term as about 10% of expats here are Canadian] have in adjusting to Cuenca is the food and eating habits. Ecuadorians eat virtually no breakfast, either nothing or perhaps a role and cup of coffee. Dinner is little more than a snack, often corn bread much like the outer layer of chile releno in the American Southwest and again a cup of coffee. The main meal is in the middle of the day, served between one and three in the afternoon. Expats typically show up at noon and often have to wait but more restaurants have become accustomed to our strange habits and are ready serve so early a meal.
The midday meal is called the almurezo. It consists of a watered down fruit drink, a wonderful and large bowl of soup, rice, a very small dinner salad, then either fish, chicken or beef in a small portion. In some cases you’ll get a modest dessert. The price runs between $2 and $3.50 with the dessert more likely at the higher end. This is not gourmet cuisine but I’ve never had an almurezo I didn’t enjoy.
Quality food in South America is to be had in Peru which has made it a matter of national honor. The best meal I’ve eaten in SA was in Cuzco, in a restaurant interestingly enough run by a German. I had two excellent meals in Buenos Aires but my single meal in Lima was very good if not better than these. Expats returning from Lima though universally praise the cuisine. The Ecuadorians do an adequate job but that’s about it. The high end restaurants however are excellent though they charge North American prices.
Our doctor advised us when we first arrived to change our eating habits and so we have. I can scarcely eat a full dinner these day having eaten my main meal at midday. Most expats eat both and you see them trudging around thirty or forty pounds overweight.
Food costs here are roughly one third what they are in the U.S., even less if you frequent the mercados which we do. Nearly all the food consumed locally is raised within ten miles of the city. No GMO or antibiotics are used. The quality of the vegetables is outstanding. You’ll recover the taste of a real tomato and of potatoes. Chicken is excellent. I like the beef but there are no feed lots so it’s a bit chewy. Fish I avoid as it is trucked up from the coast or grown locally with mixed results.
I consider the quality of food here to be one of the great joys in living here.
This will be the first of an ongoing series about living as an expat in the Andes in South America. I had thought to start this earlier but political events in America have distracted me but I’m finally moving on. I’d also thought I’d go about this logically, beginning with why become an expat, but in the end it turns out this will be a bit of a ramble. I’ll get to all the big questions but it will take several postings.
Before retiring to Cuenca, Ecuador I did a great deal of research plus my wife and I spent three months here getting to know the place. We talked to longtime expats to see what they liked and didn’t like. I aggressively searched for the negative as I knew people tend to want to affirm decisions they’ve made. I thought such measures were logical and that everyone did them. Not so. A shocking number of expats here had done no research and had never visited Ecuador before selling everything and moving here. Of those I knew personally, all have since returned to North America.
The first thing I discovered in my research is that half of all expats who move to Cuenca return home within two years. Half. By seven years, ninety percent have either moved to another country or gone back, with most of them returning home. So the odds of staying here until death are quite remote.
So why go back? Well, to be blunt, in most cases it’s the wife. After two years or so they tell their husband they did what he wanted but enough is enough. They miss the grandchildren and neither Zoom nor MagicJack cuts it any longer. I’ve watched contented husband after husband reluctantly give up their dream and return to what they once fled. The reality in my experience is that grandchildren have little to do with it. They usually move back to states well removed from where the grandchildren live. Wives miss the shopping and the freedom of driving their own car.
The conclusion to me is obvious. It will take eight years before you know if you are really going to stay here so do the self evident. Don’t depose of things to which you are emotionally attached. Put them in storage. If you own your house and don’t need the money from it to support yourself [in which case you shouldn’t come here] lease it out. You will most likely be returning to it.
Then, do research and I don’t mean International Liars, woops, I mean International Living. They are in the business of encouraging you to make the move. They cut deals with expat realtors who sell you overpriced real estate and kick back a fee to IL. That’s how it’s done. Check for blogs of those who have lived here a long time. Keep in mind that one long standing blog on Cuenca is operated by a Canadian couple who haven’t lived here for years and their information is very out of date. Search for negative news because it’s there and you need to know it. We have active volcanoes, earthquakes, street demonstrations, national strikes, just to name a few.
Also, plan to come here for at least three months, preferably more than once. A quicky one week trip won’t do. You will be dazzled. It’s like visiting Disneyland for the first time. You’ve got to get passed the glitz.
Finally, don’t get caught up in the excitement or romance of living abroad. There are many sound reasons for making the move, but those aren’t it. More to come in future postings. Take care. Be happy. Quit reading about politics all the time. Trust me, politics in America is above board and honest as the day is long compared to politics in Ecuador.
In the final months of World War Two, a young German finds himself serving as a guard at a Nazis concentration camp. Having escaped the horror of the Eastern Front he now descends into a new kind of Hell. The Holocaust told through the eyes of the oppressor. Powerful and relentless. A must read. Arguably the finest book I ever wrote.
Venezuela, once the wealthiest country in South America, has been systematically looted and misgoverned by leftists for decades. The economic results have been inevitable. They have now issued a one million Bolivar bill worth just 53 cents. Hard to believe but not really if you have been following the story. The object lesson here is simple. In the past 14 months the United States has created half of all dollars ever printed in the entire history of the nation. Half. That means over the next few years the dollar will lose half of its value. But it won’t stop there because Congress plans to keep printing. The dollar is in a nosedive and the result will be to wipe out your savings. This is no accident. The GOP has given up and the Dems want to make you a dependent. This is no surprise. Every fiat currency ever created has fallen to zero. If you wonder why Bitcoin is booming spend a few minutes and study it. No government controls it. That alone makes it valuable. More and more companies are permitting employees to take a portion of their salary in Bitcoin. Look into it so you’ll have a future.
It was 88 years ago next month that the Nazis in Germany began publicly burning books of which they disapproved. It was not enough that they be sequestered or removed from libraries and bookstores; they had to be physically exterminated in a public orgy of flames. As long as I can remember, American libraries have displayed those books and urged readers to add them to their reading list. Those days of literary freedom are well behind us. Today we are witnessing the same burning, only digitally, as books are removed from sale and we are largely silent as were the good Germans of the 1930s. After all, no one was coming after their books or, more importantly, after them. But given time that’s exactly what the Nazis did. As our cultural heritage and history are being destroyed and we remain silent there will in time be no one to blame but ourselves for what follows.
Johns Hopkins doctor Marty Makary has pointed out that Covid 19 cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. The number “plummeting much faster than experts predicted” because, “natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.” He adds, “Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.” This is not vaccine related.
Efforts to hide the truth won’t end soon, though, nor will the overreaction. Teachers’ unions refuse to go back to work. Nursing homes extend cruel policies isolating elders from loved ones.
Why have we treated this virus so differently from countless other ones we experience each year? The answer, of course, in my opinion, is politics and the chance to defeat Donald Trump by creating a state of fear. The article refused to link but you can find it at AIER, which a site link below.
Today we celebrate George Washington’s birthday, though in some places it is known as Presidents Day despite the fact there are a few recent former presidents who don’t deserve celebrating. Washington grew up in a slave owning family and at a time and place where slave owning was the norm. In fact, to that point, slavery was practiced continuously in every place of the world with few exceptions. As a leader of a new nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” owning slaves was clearly in opposition to these high ideals. Washington wasn’t the only one of course. During the last 20 years of his life Washington struggled with the moral conflict. He was a decent slave owner, if such can be said about someone owning another human being. No one asked the slaves how they felt about it. He refused to sell slaves as he would not break up families. He confessed in a letter that he wanted to free his own slaves but most of the slaves at Mt. Vernon belonged to the estate of his wife’s first husband. He could not free them, not could she. To make the situation even more complicated his slaves were intermarried with hers and drawing the line of who he could free and who he could not was all but impossible. He resolved the issue by freeing his slaves in his will.
This isn’t to excuse him but as I said, slavery was the norm in his time as it had been throughout history. Great men often have aspects of their lives that reduce them in our esteem, so it is with Washington. But we should recall that twice he laid down near absolute power when he could have been a king or dictator by popular consent. Our nation of free people owes him its gratitude and it is fitting that we set aside this day to honor his righteous legacy.