Retreat Owner Profile: Mr & Mrs. “FerFAL” in Buenos Aires, Argentina

AGE: 28
SOs: Wife 30, 4 year old son
Currently living in the southern Buenos Aires suburbs in a 2 story masonry house with independent reinforced concrete structure.
The houses share walls to the left and right, all around the block, completely enclosing the back yards which are divided by walls or fences covered with libustrina plants. You lose some privacy (noises, loud parties) but you ensure a rather safe garden and back yard for the children to play in since the streets haven’t been safe for a while now, and no responsible adult lets his children play on the street these days.
BACKGROUND: My parents are both accountants, and emigrated to Spain after the 2001 crisis. Both my grandparents emigrated to Argentina from Spain, escaping civil war. Its is ironic that their children and grandchildren escape the country that once sheltered them, back to the country they ran away from but now, 50 years later, is one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in Europe.
There’s a lesson there. Countries fall and rise, always have and one has to admit the possibility of leaving it looking for greener pastures.
Due to my father’s work we moved a bit when I was a kid. First to USA (Boston), then back to Buenos Aires, then to Cordoba (an Argentina inner province) and then back to Buenos Aires again. Now, due to the consequences of the crisis, we are going to move as soon as I finish my studies, either to Spain or to the USA.

ANNUAL INCOME: About $20.000 USD, give or take. I manage some family investments and a small accountant office my parents left behind when they moved to Spain. I also teach Architecture Representation at the same University I attend to, but even though its been three years now since I started teaching, I don’t get paid for it. (ad honorem )
INVESTMENTS: None ( other than those owned by the family business that mostly consist of real estate) no money in bank accounts either. We only deposit money in our debit accounts just to take advantage of some discount, we deposit the money right before we use it, most of the time within the same week. We never leave money sitting in a bank account. After what happened, most people, including us, don’t trust banks with our money any more. It has become common for people to store cash in bank’s safety boxes, but even those are getting emptied due to some cases in which the private safes have been opened by government officials. (Against the constitutional right to privacy, and private property, of course.)
We have credit cards but we don’t use those either, we only keep them for emergencies.
We have a safe where we keep about 2,000 Pesos ($600 USD) and $1,000 USD just in case of an emergency, or someone getting kidnapped and needing ransom money fast ( express kidnapping).
PRESENT HOME: It’s a two story, mortar house. Double walls, 12 inch thick, and poured concrete flowerpots on the 2nd floor which provide nice bullet protection in the master bedroom.
3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, and a nice size backyard with a small swimming pool. The house has a 1000 liter reservoir water tank, central heating, air conditioning, and both city water and an electric pump well for the swimming pool.
Metal bars and grating on windows and backyard door, add a lot to the security of the house.
There’s also a 7 foot metal fence, topped with foot long spikes, right where the front garden meets the sidewalk. Breaking into this house is not easy, no one can do such a thing if we are inside the house, since it would take a lot of time and noise to do so.
We have cable, gas, electricity, and pay for private security ( kiosks with guards on each corner). Even though we have all services most of you know about, they are a bit different form what you may experience in First World countries.
Tap water is polluted, so we basically pay for contaminated water. We have a water filter and drink filtered water exclusively. We bought a 200 USD filter, with smaller filtering cups that get replaced every 2 or 3 months. I keep a year’s worth of cups, and the filter itself is good for another 2 years.(active carbon-ceramic-silver)
Power goes down occasionally, and during summer we have “dirty power” low voltage power, lights go dim, and most appliances don’t work properly. That’s why we keep lots of flashlights handy, along with regular batteries and rechargeable ones.

VEHICLES: The streets are in awful conditions, and the constant roadblocks by “piqueteros” are rough on cars. Some kind of small 4×4 is obviously preferable to a sedan car.
Cars are very expensive, about $20.000 to $50,000 USD. A used Suzuki Swift, one with 100,000 km, goes for $11,000 USD.
I have a Daewoo Lanos, and though I wished I had something better its relatively fast and small which is also good for running around the city, and getting out of tight spots. Spare parts are expensive and hard to get.
My car is set up with GNC, meaning it runs both on gas an natural compressed gas, big yellow tank in the trunk. I can switch to either one just by pushing a button, and I run for 100km with only $2.50 USD worth of compressed gas. It also allows me to keep the gas tank full at all times, using only GNC, and having the gas tank full for emergencies.
GNC is used by almost 60% of the cars in Argentina, more than any other country in the world, so there’s enough infrastructure (GNC stations, mechanics, parts) for our society to run on it.
It’s also interesting to note the burst of GNC after the 2001, after people found out that they couldn’t afford gasoline for their cars. Maybe other countries that suffer an economical collapse or fuel shortage will end up doing likewise.
FIREARMS BATTERY: I have several firearms and my collection is constantly changing. I went into a lot of effort to get the collector license that allows me to purchase box magazine fed, semi-auto centerfire rifles. The average citizen that gets a gun permit can only acquire handguns, shotguns and manual repeating arms, with the exception of 22 LR semi autos.
The great majority of shooters in this country don’t have this license ( has to be approved by the Senate, took over a year for it to get approved), few knew about it back when you could get one, so I know I’m terrible lucky when it comes to firearms, having more firepower than most Argentines could ever procure.
My main handgun is a Glock 31 in 357 sig. Ammo is expensive and hard to get, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
I have several other handguns, as back ups and chambered for more popular rounds, such as a Norinco 1911 45 ACP, a Llama 4 inch 357 magnum revolver, A Bersa Thunder 9mm, two 9mm Hi Powers.
For long arms I have: As a main rifle I have a FM [FN clone] FAL Para carbine, and a FMK3 9mm SMG. A Mossberg 500 with a 14 inch barrel and mounted 80 lumen light.
Ammo is extremely expensive. I have about 500 rounds of 308 and 7.62[mm NATO], over 1000 rounds of 9mm, most of it +P JHP and a few hundred 12 ga shells, most of it 00 buckshot.
9mm is my “core” battery round, that would feed my 9mm handguns and SMG.
I keep a few boxes for each other caliber.
I have been in a few “complicated” spots so far, and being armed and alert has made the difference for me in more than one occasion. In those occasions the mere presence of my gun has been enough to stop the threat, without the need of ever shooting anyone.
It doesn’t make any sense to plan on shooting hundreds of rounds and not getting any fire in return, so I also have a concealed body level II body armor vest which has provided a lot of piece of mind on several occasions. Specially when going into “tough” places or meeting with people I’m not so sure about. It’s one of my most precious possessions.
GARDENS: No gardens for me, just a lemon tree that provides lots of lemons and a laurel plant to spice up pasta. I could have a small orchard in my backyard if I wanted.

PETS AND LIVESTOCK: No livestock, just a Jack Russell. Good pet but not as good as a watch dog, though I must admit that for the last couple of days he’s been more vigilant and watchful. He’s just a one year old so maybe it was a maturity problem. I’d like to have a larger dog though, but since I’m planning to move soon it could be a problem.
COMMUNICATIONS: Cable modem internet, phone, and a couple of cell phones.
FOOD STORAGE: About 5 or 6 months worth of food. Most of it flavored rice, rice with dehydrated vegetables, canned meats, canned tuna, canned vegetables, soups, dry pasta, powdered milk, non lactose powdered milk for my son, smashed potatoes flakes, tomato sauce, tea, coffee, honey, sugar, salt and 30 5 liter bottles of water.
MEDICAL: Lots of medicines, several kinds of antibiotic, meds for my son, for treating gastritis, tape, dressings, band aids, disinfectants, ibuprofen, just to name a few. I also keep a nice supply of hand soap, disinfectant soap and cleaning products to insure hygiene inside the house. 3rd world countries are full of diseases due to the general poverty, so its important to prevent as much as possible.

HOBBIES: Shooting, collecting guns, reading, working out and watching a movie every now and then. Having a good time with my wife and playing with my son.
FUEL STORAGE: 30 liters in plastic cans, enough to get to the airport or out of the city, though I’m not planning on leaving my house during civil unrest, I’d rather “hold the fort” until I can leave.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (“WHEN THE BALLOON GOES UP”): Another December 2001 would be pretty bad, meaning anarchy, serious social unrest, looting and mobs invading privately owned homes. It happened before, I saw the mob just around the corner form my place so that’s something to worry about.
I’m also worried about our government being friends with Chavez, Evo Morales and Fidel, this county will end up like those socialist/communist if it continues to go in that direction.
MY SURVIVAL PLAN: We have already made up our minds about leaving. As far as I’m concerned, this country will only go down hill in the next few years, and the censorship and lies about things being better is downright scary. I’m sure this country will one day rise above the rest of Latin America, but not now. Many years will have to go by, and a lot of blood an bullets will be wasted before that day comes. I don’t want to take part of any of it.
So we have two make sure we are safe for the next couple of years, until we leave. This means being extra cautious and vigilant , bordering the paranoid line, to keep us all safe.
CONCLUSION: Prepare as well as you possibly can without turning it into a compulsive thing. I prepare to survive and live a rich life, not the other way around. I don’t live just to worry about the sky falling. The sky has already fallen for me and we’re still here. Things are bad, pretty bad if you want to torment yourself and research further into the corruption and violence in this country. We are still alive and we have each other. Millions of people have accepted this as their reality and decided to go on with their lives and try not to worry too much, many go as far as lying to themselves, denying the reality that surrounds them. We want to go on with our lives, but we don’t want to worry our brains out, nor will we go through life as blindfolded sheep that can’t see what’s in front of them. We simply accept the fact that this country has changed, and is now too dangerous, too corrupt, insecure and too primitive for the standard of life we look forward to, and we take the necessary measures, meaning we move out of it and start a life somewhere else.