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Digging ourselves out of the rubble…

March 27, 2012
Santiago, Chile

As you may be aware, there were two reasonably strong earthquakes in central Chile over the weekend. I think we must have the kindest subscribers on the planet, because our customer service team had a flood of well-wishing emails and inquiries to make sure everything was OK.

Most people seemed to have the idea that we were digging ourselves out of rubble, that entire cities lay waste in ruin, and that some imminent tsunami was about to wipe this entire civilization off the planet.

No such luck.

Not exactly the utter chaos and devasation that was reported...

The first earthquake we had was Friday night / Saturday morning about 4:30am. It was measured at a magnitude 5.2 by the University of Chile’s seismology lab, and it had an epicenter about 40km from Santiago.

No doubt, I felt it. It woke me up at night as if I was being shaken awake by an excited friend who wanted to tell me some good news. And then it was over. I was conscious long enough to check the time, and then my head flopped back on to my pillow for a few more hours of Zzzzzz.

Sunday evening around 7:30pm, another earthquake hit. This one was measured at a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter a few hours south of Santiago near where my farm is located.

[The US Geological Survey says it was a 7.2. I couldn’t care less what the US government says.]

Someone sent me an article later from an Edmonton, Canada based news site which made heavy use of the words ‘alarm’, ‘panic’, and ‘devastation’. Leave it to gringo news media to overblow a story thousands of miles away that they have no understanding of.

Down here, the weekend’s events were no big deal. Local news reported on the earthquakes and then moved on to more important things– like soccer, President Pinera’s trip to Asia, and the Aysen hydroelectric struggle.

Earthquakes are simply part of the landscape here. Chile is in the ring of fire, a seismic zone that runs from southern Chile up the coast to California and northern Alaska, across the Bering Strait, down the coast of China and Japan, across to Indonesia, and down to New Zealand. There’s no avoiding nature.

Chileans, however, have learned this lesson. Things here are built to last. Not so much as a picture frame fell over in my apartment, and there wasn’t a speck of damage at my farm either.

Consequently, there’s a big difference between a 6.8 earthquake in Chile, and a 6.8 earthquake in Haiti. In Chile, people stop what they’re doing briefly, say, “hey that was an earthquake”, and then go on with their lives.

As I write this note, in fact, most of my local staff is down in Talca (near the epicenter of Sunday’s quake) conducting meetings with contractors, negotiating to sell my wine grapes at a tidy profit, and carrying out business as usual. I’ve stayed back in Santiago for a few meetings and to prepare for my trip to Asia.

Sure, in a perfect world, I’d be able to snap my fingers and eliminate all earthquakes in Chile. But since I can’t do that, I simply have to learn to manage a risk that is… quite manageable.

For me, this is a much more desirable scenario than being trapped in a police state where I have very little influence over what happens. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea… and that’s fine. The world is a big place, and chances are you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAQ25QG5MNMGUNXFO3JQW4TKBE jake garciaparra

    I’m glad that you and everyone else are ok, but you like to talk about diversifying abroad and living outside of America and its throngs of bureaucratic, fascist-dictatorship.

    Which is why I was always baffled by your choice of living in Chile, a notorious hotspot in the ring of fire. Are there no other South American countries you fancy? Uruguay, for one?

    • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

      I think from him it was more of a governmental choice although the land is good too

  • Meelkee

    Simon, a few weeks ago you had stated that your IT team is working on a plan (report) for those of us who want to setup a secure offshore email solution and how to do it correctly.  I would rather setup my own rather than use a third party like runbox. We have a right not to be spied on. We have nothing to hide so we are entitled to privacy. A few random thoughts. Thank you.

  • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

    Waittttttt you had a earthquake? Where was i? lol

  • http://www.iheartubuntu.com iheartubuntu.com

    If I squinted my eyes just right the photo of Chile looks like Southern California with the San Gabriel mountains in the backdrop. Gorgeous. Glad you are fine!

  • John Lloyd

    ” For me, this is a much more desirable scenario than being trapped in a
    police state where I have very little influence over what happens.”

    Is there anything one would have less control of than an earthquake? I mean, the ground shakes from under you for pete’s sake. That is more desirable a situation than a nosey policeman? Sometimes, Simon, your politics(which I usually agree with) cloud your reason. I have no doubt that Chile’s building standards are excellent, however, when that 9.5  hits again it won’t be pretty. And yes, I said again, I suggest everyone take a moment to Google the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest ever recorded.  There is more to expatriating than finding a country with a good economic/political system, which Chile excels in. Natural disaster are a SIGNIFICANT issue which Simon seems content to down play. I wouldn’t buy property in Chile for the same reason I wouldn’t buy farmland in Bangladesh: it may not be there the next year.

  • Mhouhuabob

    Just curious whether you have any comment about the 600  protesters who stormed a police station in Peru forcing the police to abandon the post. I suppose that Chile is so very different than Peru. I have worked in both countries so please do NOT try to con me!

    • uncle bob

      Well, it is.

  • Gary

    Hi Simon

    Lived in Costa Rica for nine years, so earthquakes only phase me for a few minutes. What is the job situation like in Chile?

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