via J.G. Martinez D.:
Surviving in a Venezuelan city is a lot different than it is in a country retreat. Each location has its own problems and benefits. I wrote before about the dangers of rural retreats and today I will write about the dangers in a city. You must not underestimate people because they are different then they deal with hunger and poverty.
I would like to dissect a little bit about the importance of a parameter that is paramount for “the retreat,” or whatever you may want to call it. Location is everything when it comes to your safety, especially when you live in the city.
It is all about the location before and after a collapse.
I like to think that I am a smart buyer. After all, money is made when you buy, not exactly when you sell something. For me, buying our home was a lengthy process. Selection of the place was not just based on pricing, like most of my fellow co-workers.
We looked for a house located in an area of the city close enough to go to the supermarket on foot, and near a school, too. I used an engineering method to select the best option after we had selected five neighborhoods. It was quite an interesting exercise for the intellect.
You need to select the must-have variables, pondering each one in a debate (that is, if you and your family can do it peacefully LOL), and summarize the results to provide a final conclusion, based on an evaluation supported by a common ground that enhances the most important parameter, selected by the work team based on its relative importance.
How we selected our location in the city
The result was a house close to a supermarket, a couple of mini-malls with lots of services and shops (back then), and with an independent water supply (something that would make us very happy afterward, indeed). Independent meaning that the supply was not provided by the national (now seized, and state-owned, almost absolutely useless) water companies.
Oh, and it was a casual distance to a liquor store. Haha. I don’t drink a lot, but walking 10 minutes to drink a cold beer after a hard work day, has to be healthy. Oh, and we had a local beer around that was delicious. I hope it has survived the apocalypse.
Getting back on topic, I had a neighbor pretty close by that worked as a mechanic, and we struck up a good friendship. Other acquaintances were in the surrounding subdivisions, so it was easy enough to get a ride sometimes if I needed to.
When we realized how important an independent water supply was
The water supply was much more important than anything else (I always liked the fact of the independence factor and this was one of the most important parameters), and we would discover that the hard way.
One of the bigger oil spills in the national history of our country was in that area in 2012. It contaminated an entire river that is the water supply of the city. I was on a business trip that took several weeks, and the entire city was drying like a carcass in the middle of the Death Valley. The water treatment plant was also contaminated, to a degree.
Being the water supply of almost half a million people, you could imagine the problem.
During the first days, the mayor of the city tried to provide clean water with trucks. This would become a HUGE business in the next months. Truck owners would pay a fee, and the corrupted mayor would “assign” contracts for them to supply the water to the city…by the trucks, rather than using the financial resources to fix the issue. In addition, this solution was combined with using the state oil company that generated the problem in the first place.
In those years my son was a small child. By selecting the water independence off-the-grid as one of the main parameters, rather than good grid power supply (15 years ago, remember) my family did not suffer the hell that other people had to endure, in a city with temperatures over 32 C (about 90 F) the entire year.
Instead of misguided protest, you need to be practical.
What made me somewhat angry was to hear the stories of the people protesting on the streets, almost like now, but no one was asking for a loan to buy plastic barrels and rain gutters to store rainwater, or filters (in that area, it rains almost every day).
People with lots of space to collect water NEVER moved a finger to collect the water for their basic needs like toilets or showering. I mean, they spoke out for the need for clean, treated water; but never took the time to research how to purify it…jeez, even with sun-power that could be done with some ingenuity!
I have the entire design for my place, including a grey water tank under the washroom sink that goes into the toilet tank for our main bedroom. And another for the guest restroom, in the middle of the house. For the house expansion, some other tanks were going to be added. With this apocalypse, we rather preferred to exchange the house for some machinery (we have an empty, small plot of one thousand square meters… if we come back some day to live there again).
How predators learn about your location and valuables
This good choice allowed my wife to take the kid to school without a car, and go to the market and even the mall on foot. Risky, provided that the streets were owned by thugs, but luckily nothing happened. I can´t explain how, indeed. But I give thanks for that.
In the past few weeks, there was a shooting in our neighborhood. Two attackers followed a potential prey in the subdivision next to ours, only to find out that the man was well armed… and drew his gun, killing one and hurting the other. The neighbors jumped to help, and several of them (those who REFUSED to give up their guns) fought back, shooting and providing fire support for the attacked.
This was narrated to me by someone who was there. This person was amazed of learning how the attackers knew the place, considering it is an enclosed subdivision, with just one gate. It is a small city, indeed. Families are usually large and that includes those with black sheep in their herd, too. Therefore, collecting intelligence information about who to steal from is easier for those lazy MFs.
Usually they sent in small kids, in teams, around 9-12 children, or women with babies, to beg for anything, and they will eyeball flatscreen TVs in your living room, or if your furniture is fancy, main air conditioning or any general indications of wealth, how many cars, bikes, or whatever goodies their older relatives could steal… usually at gunpoint.
Get creative before predators strike
If you are lucky, they would enter when there’s no one at home. If you are not, your doorbell rings, perhaps early in the morning, and you just see a poor woman with a baby throughout the door peephole… until you open the door and find yourself suddenly with a gun in your forehead and four guys in your living room unplugging your electronics, and the dog gets killed with a beating.
As one very useful tool against this, one of my favorite deterrents is sonic weapons (artificial intelligence for automatic machine guns is not that advanced yet… and they must be hard to maintain and feed). I know how it looks, but I would prefer to make someone with bad intentions run and not come back, than risk the lives of my loved ones. There is no permanent damage done, either (not too much anyway).
Sonic weapons are cheap, effective against several people simultaneously, and can be triggered remotely if the setup is well executed. Use it outside your BOV and you will spread a mob surrounding if the volume is powerful enough. Designing a setup that could be installed in a matter of seconds in the roof racks is not such a big deal, provided precautions have been made to provide energy. Such devices would be enough for city dwellers though.
Or… perhaps portable devices and the people in the back seat properly protected, pointing the annoying devices to the surrounding mob? Possibilities are plenty, indeed. However this is not my specialty (proper consulting with a professional will point you in the right direction, just let us know so we can all learn from that too), and I am only wildly speculating and being creative, which has helped me a lot in a strange environment…
Location, location, location – and security
A proper choice of location can be the difference between having problems… or avoiding them. We could have bought quite a fancy two bedroom apartment in our city, with a pretty high monthly quote for services like gas, WiFi, electricity and backup gensets for the entire building.
The security was absolutely remarkable. There is a pool, and it is in one of the best parts of the city. Negative aspects?…well, the security employees have left. Those still remaining can be easily tempted to work for the mafia… indeed, sometimes associated with organized crime.
Those of you that think I am exaggerating, you have no clue about how people really are when they are faced with hunger and poverty and surrounded by wealthy (to their eyes) people while their own families are struggling.