Posts Tagged ‘South America’

SOSAS

Posted: March 19, 2015 in Life, Real estate, Stupidity, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

Same Old South American Shit (SOSAS) hooray for fun acronyms.

I came here to do a few small select things.

  • Remove WifeBob from the Chilean medical insurance policy.
  • Get the car’s paperwork renewed for another year.
  • Go on an awesome road trip through Patagonia.
  • Pack up my things into storage and rent the Volcano Lair out as a furnished short-term rental.

Even the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. We are, dear reader, once again in South America…

Let’s start with the first simple thing. I contacted my medical insurance rep months ago to ask how I might have WifeBob removed from the policy since she no longer wants/needs it. “Oh, all we need is your signature,” I was told, and so that’s what I went on. Months later, here I am in Chile to meet and sign, and “Oh, we need your divorce certificate.” Gee, would have been nice to have known that when I asked months ago, right? So I would have time to get a copy and bring it down with me? So now, in order to take care of this crap, it will cost me several days which may eat into my road trip and possibly make it a no-go.

Then the car. I keep, in my opinion, one of the best-maintained little shitboxes in all of Chile. Yes it often sits unused for long periods of time but I keep it in such a high degree of operational fitness that after 6 months of non-use, all I need to do is turn the key and it comes back to life. And so, I figured, it should be a piece of cake to take it into the inspection station, get my papers, and off we go on our road trip. Not so! I was rejected flat-out for “visible blue smoke” which does not exist. Not only am I mechanically inclined enough to know that this is bullshit, but I took it to a mechanic for further inspection, whereupon we both scratched our heads as to what they could have possibly seen to make them think it was so bad that they failed it outright and did not even bother to give it the emissions test. Oh, and they also failed it for having improperly-aligned headlights, even though nothing has changed since last year when it passed with flying colors and perfect emissions. Weird.

So anyhow, I have to “fix the problems” and then bring it back for re-testing. Which will eat into potential road trip time and may make it a no-go.

As to the possibility of the road trip at all at this point, it teeters on the edge.

The only potentially good thing in this little to-do list is the prepping of the place for rental, which is really just a matter of boxing a few things up, upgrading the locks on a closet, and handing the keys over to my chosen AirBnB rental manager (who I have dealt with in the past with excellent results). But, alas, he is on vacation right now and won’t be back until about a week before I leave. So if the road trip is delayed I may miss my window to do my dealings with RentalBob. In my opinion doing the rental stuff is more important than the road trip, and so the road trip plans are being squeezed from two directions.

Ahhhhh, life in South America. It is content to leave you alone completely, until you decide to do things.

In other news, I learned that since October, our citizenship file in Uruguay has finally passed muster (2+ years of waiting) and is now in the hands of the bureaucrat who will actually make our passports happen. Whatever that means. Nobody who is supposed to know seems to know, and they don’t answer emails or phone calls. The only information we have is that the next step should take 8 months (since October 2014), which means that in theory, in April, if all goes to plan, I can wrangle someone who will give me my goddamned passport. But, Uruguayan time being Uruguayan time, 8 months really means another 4 years. There is actually a formula for this:

Let Z = real time in months. Let Y = time promised by Uruguayan in months.

Z = Y (6 +- 48000)

7332km. Unknown number of days. Loads of fuel. Lots of fast food. Lost sleep, car ass, stiff beds and scumbag cops! Sounds like fun? Maybe. But hey, why the hell shouldn’t I?

bigmap

BobQuest will begin in Santiago, Chile, head up north through the Atacama Desert, then across Argentina into Paraguay, down through Argentina and Uruguay, to Punta Del Este. There I shall load a bunch of stuff (which is TOTALLY not worth the expense of this trip) to take back with me to Chile, on a straight shot through Argentina. I shall drive the BobMobile, a sad, bedraggled $4000 Suzuki Vitara that is equipped for zombie apocalypse warfare and survival. Stay tuned for future reports. Same Bob time, Same Bob channel.

If you spend any time in Latin America, you will find that things happen with a bizarre, backwards-zero-sum lack of logic that makes your head spin. Part of understanding this has to do with understanding the Viveza Criolla and its influence on the way the people think.

The Viveza Criolla, also shortened to “Vivo” is a behavioral phenomenon in Spanish-speaking, Latin-based cultures, whereby an individual tries to screw someone else over before his victim has a chance to do the same to the perpetrator. They brush off the guilt by saying, “Si no robo yo, robará otro (If I don’t steal from you, someone else will),” as if you should thank them for the privilege of being robbed by someone you know!

It is their way of forcing a zero-sum outcome to snag it away from the other guy before he even has a chance. It has become a way that society rigs outcomes in favor of schemers and shysters, and punishes the honest. It is to blame for the tiring plague of ingrained lack of trust, the penchant for socialist nonsense, and the laziness, lack of work ethic, and disdain for self-starters and those who wish to excel.

There is no literal translation for Viveza Criolla that fits, and the best a local has ever come up with to explain it to me is to describe it as a “Wiseguy” mentality. Some describe it as “artful lying.”

The term Vivo can be used as a noun for the act itself, or as the formal title of its perpetrator. The Vivo is viewed by its winner as, well, a way to get ahead. The Vivo is viewed by bystanders as a “good for him,” one-up street cred for the winner. The Vivo is seen by the loser as a part of life, and a learning opportunity not to be repeated (so he is more apt to pull the Vivo on someone else before the Vivo is pulled on him).

The Vivo, when caught, is a sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge situation that is treated with an “oh, haha, you got me!” attitude, whereby both the victim and bystanders are expected to catch it first; if they fail to counter-Vivo, they are expected to take blame for losing because they were not sharp enough to see it coming. It is a bizarre backhanded outsourcing of responsibility.

Regardless of the result, the dynamic of the Viveza Criolla places more importance on getting away with the heist, than the actual fruits of the labor.

In the Vivo game mechanic, the instigator of the Vivo has nothing to lose, and is, in fact, strangely one-upped for being caught (you charming devil)! The loser, if he catches it, is also one-upped for catching the instigator. However if the instigator does not get caught, he is one-upped while the loser is one-downed. Heads I win, Tails you lose. It is, quite literally, nonzero game mechanics turned inside out.

And no, the bystanders will not necessarily warn the victim of his impending fall to the Vivo, for it is his responsibility and his alone to see it. After the fact, oh yes, they will all come by and say “Oh, yeah, we knew about that but we didn’t want to seem nosy.” Which flies in the face of Latino culture because they are the most inherently gossipy bunch of people I have ever encountered.

If the victim is lucky, someone might pull him aside and say something like, “Ojo, es muy vivo ese (Watch out, that guy is very untrustworthy).”

The Viveza Criolla is a negative, destructive cancer upon the social and economic fabric of Latin America, and one of the reasons the region cannot seem to pull head from ass and get its act together. It is the reason why Latin Americans do not trust each other, and, as the Peruvians are apt to say, “Your own hand cannot even trust what the other one is doing.” It is the reason for short-term profit taking with complete disregard to future business prospects, and lack of customer service.

This trust issue is not just between buyer and seller; it can happen with any agreement, from simply getting together for lunch, to major property deals, to selling a car, to employing someone, etc. To keep it elementary I will just describe the parties as “buyer” and “seller.”

Often times the seller, after making an agreement, will pull the Vivo and actually sabotage the deal, thinking that he is getting undercut somehow by the buyer, after they have already settled on the details of the deal. Thus, when some are negotiating prices (for real estate in particular), the seller jumps the gun on the Vivo, thinking he can get a better deal because “hey, there’s interest shown in this thing, that means I am not asking enough!” Counteroffers then come back to the buyer higher than the original asking price!

Often times the seller will simply kill the deal because he gets too nervous, thinking that smooth sailing means the worst, and that he will get really screwed in the end. It’s almost as if they cannot contemplate a square deal at all.

Sometimes the buyer, despite wanting what it is that he is after, will sabotage the deal after the fact because he thinks that it is too good to be true. Or something about the seller makes him question the quality of the merchandise. Both parties will analyze and re-analyze every little interaction until they have made themselves paranoid. This is why there is no such thing as customer service in Latin America. You are expected to deal with it if the seller fails to provide, because after all, it is your responsibility if you got stuck with the wrong end of the Vivo.

Another aspect which the Vivo invades is employment and contracted relationships. The roundabout Vivo thinking will invade the mind so much that if a mistake is made, the party at fault will feel the need to blame the wronged party and create extra drama around the whole situation whereby the one at fault will attempt to shift the blame and make themselves appear the victim. “I am being exploited! How dare you demand I show up at 9 and work until 5?! How dare you hold me accountable when I say I will be here tomorrow and I don’t show up until next week!”

Thieves, when caught, will become angry and try to turn the situation around, claiming “faltándole el respeto,” that you are disrespecting them, as if they deserve any.

The Vivo thinking is a source of much of the “Mañanismo” (tomorrowism) that has killed the work ethic, since it provides an excuse for them not to do anything. Why, they will be exploited for sure– better to screw the boss over first, before he can exploit the workers!

It’s very hard to explain, and I have tried my best, but there it is. You will encounter it if you venture into Latin America, so watch for it; maybe you can see it coming, maneuver it to your advantage, and get Vivo street cred for cutting it off at the pass.

Special thanks to BeelzeBob for helping me to understand 🙂

 

PS. The book is at 85 pages and counting…