“I’m Asian, and I didn’t want to end up in a camp — they’ve done it before,” after a second glass of wine, a Cuenca expat is quietly telling me why she left California.
“I worked in the industry. We left Seattle as soon as we saw the video and understood what happened at Fukushima,” from my chat with a young couple holding their toddler in a Cuenca restaurant.
“In America, the food supply is dangerous. There’s not much there I want to eat,” a comment heard at a Cuenca cooking class.
“I lost my job and house in Florida, then I lived in a tent for three years. I’ll never go back to the states. Here, I can afford some dignity,” on a Cuenca bus, an American economic refugee tells me her story.
“When we got here, he was in a wheelchair and barely responsive. Right away our Cuenca doctor took him off all the prescriptions. Now, he’s walking and improving daily,” an American expat describes her husband’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
“Sooner or later, they’re gonna get us nuked,” a retired lawyer in Cuenca describing how U.S. foreign policy helped motivate his move.
The decision to leave your home country may be the most difficult one you ever make. Only a tiny percentage of Americans ever consider it. Even fewer actually have the means, opportunity or resolve. For those who are able, the psychological stress can be traumatic. Big changes mean big risks. The expat literature is full of advice that concurs on one major point – your reasons for leaving should be positive. For the best expat results, don’t just be escaping to somewhere. Cultural attractions, learning a new language, adventure in retirement, meeting other expats, finding yourself — all are incentives that pull travelers away from home to see the world.
However, for modern North Americans, we all now know there’s more to it — much more. Often undisclosed are a boatload of other motives. These are the negative persuaders, the leave incentives, the two hands pushing you in the back. Curious minds quietly wonder, ultimately, is the U.S. still a friendly place to retire? To raise a family? Is it safe? Healthy? For anyone with a smidgen of awareness, sadly, these doubts seem to be steadily mounting. The trend is not our friend. More and more, wannabes are seeing it clearly — time to get the hell out of Dodge.
Call it voting with your feet, or fulfilling a lifelong dream to travel. It’s a fine line between a gung-ho tourist expatriate, and a premeditated refugee. Either way, more Americans are stirring. Cuenca’s gringo population shows it and frank conversations with expats reveal some deeper motives. For better or worse, others are bound to follow.
Maybe the private wannabe decision has been made and you’re now a committed future expat. You get it, you’re the ballsy type, reality is staring you in the face and it’s time to bust a move.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Be aware. At that point, you have subtly, but undeniably, assumed oppositional status against the U.S. system.
Have no doubts. Your expat wannabe behaviors may now be considered semi-suspicious. Nobody wants you to leave the U.S, not your government, not your bank, not your insurance company, not your medical syndicate. For the overseers, there’s no money made with a smaller flock of sheeple. We’re a nation of immigrants, not expatriates. Guard dogs are eyeballing the restless masses. As natural as breathing, policy controllers will move to dissuade wandering. Bad information, real news ignored, and blatant propaganda are what make up the fences. Future expats should take heed. The information you need may be distorted — or totally fabricated. If allowed, others will covertly decide what you should know. It’s true regarding Ecuador, Latin America, and foreign travel in general. Real, valid reasons justifying a true escape from America? Those are totally unheard of in the U.S. press.
And the pundits say foreign cultures are complicated.
Or maybe it’s all just a conspiracy theory.
“Because they can kill anybody they want to, anytime,” a long time Cuenca expat describes why his friend, a prominent microbiologist, exited U.S. academia for a remote life somewhere in southern Ecuador.
Are the relaxed U.S. expats who casually stroll among Cuenca’s quaint streets still affected by a 50-year-old American political assassination and propaganda effort? How about wannabes back home making critical decisions? I say yes, but maybe it’s because suspicion seems to grow with age, like the hair in my ears.
It was April of 1967 when the CIA put together the two most famous words in the history of modern social control: conspiracy theory. The now unclassified document 1035-960 was authored as a strategy dispatch to control criticism of the Warren Commission investigation into the Kennedy assassination. It ignored evidence, but detailed tactics on how to ridicule and intimidate questioners. Wielded by a cooperating media, the phrase’s success shocked even the authors. A half century later, it’s almost impossible to say one word without the other — like “band aid” or “malt liquor.” Conspiracy theory, or “CT” issues are now pre-defined for us. No one has to ask what subjects are off limits. CT means proceed at your own risk, or better yet, just STFU. Most people who use the CT phrase have no idea of its origins. It’s the easy, default, slam dunk closer to any modern American controversy. Subjects targeted range from vaccines to election fraud to U.S. foreign policy. Also covered, are why citizens may consider expatriation. When the “CT-scan” shows red, and the phrase flashes like a stop light, it screams for wannabes and expats to be wary. Someone is messing with you, and all is not as it appears.
Yes Virginia, even the term conspiracy theory was, itself, the result of a conspiracy. Funny world, ain’t it?
To read about CT history, click here.
In America, we pride ourselves on having a big selection of everything. Now, reasons for leaving is no exception. Which to choose? It’s like picking fruit at a Cuenca market. There are always more and fresh ones seem to arrive daily. Here’s just two of my favorites, nice and ripe. You may have your own.
“That’s just conspiracy theory. Everything is fine, don’t worry. It’s what they tell us to say,” smiling comments from a nuclear engineer flying into Cuenca to look at retirement penthouses.
I’ve saved the worst for first. If you know nothing of what follows, I apologize for any discomfort. If you are anxiety prone, want to avoid brutal modern reality or have a paralyzing weak spot for the planet, please read no further. Suffice it to say, a plan-B in Ecuador is sounding good.
This topic will red line the CT-scan like few others. Fukushima is a non-subject in the U.S. press, academia or within any government sources. It’s covered by a tiny group of courageous journalists who are systematically attacked for telling a story no one wants to hear. If only it WAS just a conspiracy theory.
As my wife Dee and I casually stroll through our favorite Cuenca market, the Mercado 12 de Abril on Avenida Guapdondelig, we stop at the impressive seafood section. Regular delivery days, good variety, friendly vendors and quality fish fresh from Ecuador’s coast – all equal to the massive and more chaotic Feria Libre. These are the first shrimp we’ve considered eating since March, 2011, when four nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan collapsed into a radioactive heap – the greatest industrial accident in human history. “Pelar los camarones”? The merchant offers to peel our shrimp, a rare courtesy in the states. Prepared with spices and grilled, they tasted incredible. Still, it was a solemn meal in some ways. The fresh sea flavor was my palates version of a long lost friend, one who may be leaving again forever.
“No one has to tell me what happened at Fukushima,” comment from a retired nurse living in Cuenca.
Please research further on the links provided. But be cautious, too much wanna can panic a wannabe.
Is it possible to kill an entire ocean? Incredibly, the General Electric Corporation appears to have done it. They built the much feared Mark I type of reactors at Fukushima, Japan in the early 1970’s. Four of them are now radioactive rubble, have been for five years, and are permanently flushing massive amounts of radiation into the Pacific Ocean – every day, for all time. Six hundred tons of smashed fuel rods are burning in a permanent nuclear fire, somewhere under the site. Nothing will ever stop it. Within a week of the meltdown, airborne contamination reached North America. Federal radiation monitoring stations across the US were dismantled and the news blackout started. Ocean currents now permanently deliver radioactivity to the west coast of North America, where it will forever exist at levels hazardous to human health. The risks will perpetually increase. Radioactive elements are carried in ocean water and sea spray, deposited on the beach and blown inland. Fukushima radiation is now an everlasting threat. Hope will never change that. All you can do is leave.
Need more wannabe motivation? Read it and weep. I have.
Jeff Rense at www.rense.com has covered Fukushima from the beginning. His website has the complete story with all the radioactive details, if you can take it. Too painful to read? Download the free mp3 reports and panel discussions. Start with a stiff drink before you listen – preferably in a Cuenca bar.
Brave journalists, with sincere danger warnings, publish reports at rense.com. Yoshi Shimatsu is a science writer who studies radioactivity and its effects on the environment. To read his latest Fukushma report, click here.
Dana Durnford is a Fukushima researcher who studies the Pacific coast from a canoe, has been arrested as a terrorist, and will melt your conspiracy theory scanner from being constantly attacked as a noisy alarmist. Tragically, he is now connecting Fukushima radiation to several large fish kills in Chile. El Nino was blamed. These were the first such observations south of the equator. Let’s hope he’s wrong. His website says it all.
California crab season was cancelled due to a “neurotoxin”. Radiation was the real cause, which was later acknowledged. Read about it here.
Blue fin tuna, caught south of San Diego, were contaminated with radioactive cesium. It only took two years to make the results public: click here.
New studies show cumulative harmful effects of low level radiation: click here.
Need more news on what some are calling an extinction level event? http://enenews.com/ tracks all the official Fukushima cover-up blather coming out of Tokyo and Washington, D.C.
The only thing missing on these Fukushima news sites is a link for booking a flight to Cuenca.
How could it get worse? All nuke plants in North America are old and leaking — about 112 of them. And then there’s the dissolving underground waste tanks at Hanford on the Columbia River, currently adding to the Pacific coastal contamination.
Startling levels of radiation, now seemingly permanent, are being measured nationwide by citizen volunteers led by Bob Nichols. I check regularly for my hometown.
Don’t let your mind go too far with this stuff or you might start thinking about a depopulated US west coast, the Pacific Ocean gone as a food source, collapsing everything and waves of environmental refugees.
At this point, I’m still calling them wannabes.
From the tragic to the absurd…
Are you just getting started on your wannabe adventure? Do you have a U.S. passport? If so, is it about to expire? You may want to take action before the upcoming American presidential election. Otherwise, you could be answering questions like this:
Excuse me sir, but have you been circumcised? Could you please provide details on any accompanying religious ceremony? Also, you’ve left off the dates of your mother’s pre- and post-natal medical appointments.
When the new “Biographical Questionnaire” was proposed by Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2011, it was so preposterous the majority of public comments asked if it was a joke. People refused to believe it. Many thought it was satire from The Onion. Of course, it was also called a conspiracy theory. Several copies were leaked out. Now the proposed document has been made public and it was no joke. The “long form” is a revised application reflecting a whole new government attitude about what is required to establish identity and entitlement for a U.S. passport. Estimated time to complete the form is 45 minutes. Excuse me? Is it even possible for the average retired expat or wannabe to “List all current and former places of employment — with addresses and supervisor’s phone numbers?”
Of course it isn’t, but it shows you where their head is. The entire point is that incomplete or misleading answers are grounds for denial, or revoking any approved passport at any time. Thinking of leaving freedom-loving America? Here is the possible new leash. The prospects for abusing this policy are obvious. Your signature is your oath, under penalty of perjury. Now, once again, “What was the address of your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth?” Someday, answers to questions like these may determine where you spend your retirement.
In late 2012, enough people woke up and this absurdity went viral. The proposed questionnaire was quietly recalled for revision. A slightly less intrusive version was later released, with zero coverage by any major U.S. media. Most recently, the subject has moved back into the world of conspiracy theory. There has been no mention of it in the presidential campaign. Is anyone confused? The intent seems clear. In the future, international travel for Americans could become a granted privilege, no longer a fundamental right.
Read about the proposed passport application.
It’s enough to make some people cry — but I’d rather laugh. There are some very compelling, even life threatening reasons for leaving the USA. At the same time, expatriation is openly discouraged, and gradually becoming more difficult. It now seems that for U.S. expats and committed wannabes, any absurd obstacle can be expected. Where does it stop, if getting a U.S. passport someday depends on bizarre questions about circumcision?
If that’s not a warning — it’s at least an important tip.
Scott Fugit retired in 2015 to study leisure, travel writing and Ecuador. His goal is to bring real experiences and entertainment in hand crafted articles that are relevant to expat life. He, and his photographer wife Dee, are Cuenca wannabes.
To read Scott’s other articles, click here.
Photo credits: Beached crabs and dosimeter photos by Yoshi Shimatsu.