“Oh my gosh, you are So… Burt… Gummer,” my wife said. Yes, the badass survivalist in the “Tremors” movies portrayed by Michael Gross.
I can dig it.
When the Y2K bug rolled around I was in my late 20’s and found myself living in a one bedroom apartment above a shop in Southern California. It was the media hype surrounding the Y2K bug that started me on the road to prepping although I didn’t know it at the time.
Sometimes we wake up slowly.
A week before New Years of 1999, I ran down to my local market and bought a couple extra cases of water, ten cans of chili and some beef jerkey… just in case.
I look back on those efforts and feel embarrassed about my naivete and lack of clear thinking. I would have lasted a week (at the most) before ending up in some kind of refugee shelter if Y2K had created the kind of havoc that Gary North and others were predicting.
But on the upside: It did get me thinking.
One of the things it got me thinking about was: Moving away from California. You didn’t need to be an expert on preparedness and survival to know that California– especially Los Angeles– was a death trap waiting to happen. Too many gangs. Too many earthquakes, fires and mud slides. And a culture built on narcissism and superficiality that was (in my estimation) too far removed from reality to successfully navigate a future that might include a financial collapse or worse.
So I left for Texas and landed in Austin. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Austin was the “California” of Texas. Over the next five years I studied everything related to preparedness I could get my hands on. Especially Rawles and his blog. After a brief ten-month marriage to a Democrat and discovering that I couldn’t stand the weather in Texas I was ready for another move.
Costa Rica: The Switzerland of Latin America — Not!
Convinced that the economy was about to fall apart, I put everything I owned in storage and moved to Costa Rica.
Billed as the, “Switzerland of Latin America” I was convinced it would be the perfect place to ride out the coming storm.
But I was wrong. While Costa Rica seemed to have everything I was looking for (on paper) the reality proved far different. I’ll go into more detail in another article, but in short: The travel brochures failed to mention that the culture in Costa Rica has no stigma against lying or stealing. There were other problems, too. The government was rounding up many of the legally owned firearms and melting them in public media-driven spectacles while the criminals were allowed to run free.
Fortunately, I did meet a fantastic woman (who later became my wife) and we decided to try the Republic of Panama. Sure, the infrastructure in Panama was better than Costa Rica but as it turned out, the grinding poverty was difficult to ignore and the oppressive heat in most of the country made it an unpleasant place to live. We found that many (not all, but many) Panamanians have a bad attitude and poor work ethic (culturally) and the idea of saying, “please” and “thank you” is foreign to them.
It was about this time that I began to form more clear ideas about survival and preparedness, namely that the concept of the Lone Wolf is purely for the movies. Even wolves don’t survive on their own: They are social pack animals.
I talked with several people who survived the invasion of Panama and was struck by how neighbors banded together to keep roving gangs out of their neighborhoods while the Noriega government was crumbling.
Choose Your Neighbors Wisely
Culture matters. And what we saw in Panama we really didn’t like much better than what we had experienced in Costa Rica. So we split Panama and went to live for a year in Bogota, Colombia near family while I decided what our next move would be.
I enjoyed living in Colombia. It had a lot of what I was looking for in an expat destination. Unfortunately, it was/is still in the midst of a civil war. Sure, things have calmed down quite a bit in recent years– but a big part of that is because of “Plan Colombia” — the U.S. effort to assist the Colombian government in suppressing the communists and the drug cartels who were causing so many problems. I couldn’t help but think what would happen if the U.S. suddenly pulled the plug on “Plan Colombia”? Especially if there was a financial melt down back in the States? No more aid would likely mean that the FARC and the Cartels would have free rein to cause havoc again.
Certainly not where I wanted to be if the SHTF.
In my travels and life as an expat, I’ve survived home invasions, witnessed strong arm robberies, escaped crooked cops, bribed politicians, and navigated around gangs, hoodlums and all sorts of skullduggery that would probably make for a good novel. I’ve also met a lot of decent, hard working people who– one way or another– have adapted survival strategies for living through hard times.
“The best kept secret in the investing world: Almost nothing turns out as expected.” – Harry Browne
“The best kept secret in the preparedness community: Nobody knows how things will turn out.” — Sobert Gummer
After much prayer and reflection I came to the conclusion that the safest place for us would be to move back to the United States and find a community of salt-of-the-earth people: Hard working people who worked in the trades and knew how to build stuff with their hands. Welders and mechanics and ex-military and ranchers and farmers.
So, we found ourselves a small community adjacent to a small city that has good air, clean water, low taxes, excellent gun laws and reasonably priced homes. And we finally settled down to continue our prepper lifestyle.
Join me on this journey to discover the technologies, skills, tactics and strategies that will be needed to prepare for an uncertain future and the possibility of hard times ahead.