My sister and I are feeling pulled to South america. So far the internet does not offer much info. We would love to speak with people living or traveling there (especially people reforesting!) We have so many questions.
1. The snake situation. It is not so much fear but respect of these beautiful creatures. I personally would not enjoy putting myself in a situation where I need to kill a creature to survive. Do people catch venomous snakes to milk them for anti venom? Are there ways to reduce the snake population on your land using owls or other birds of prey, dogs, bad ass geese or cats, non venomous snakes or anything else?
Which country has the least amount of venomous snakes? How many snakes per hectare do you think?
2. Reforesting projects. Do you know of any reforesting projects that would welcome two people for a more long term working situation? When I look at wwoof sites a lot of them say like 2-4 weeks. If we burn fossil fuels to get down there we want to stay long term and transitioning into living there.
3. Government situation. Which country is least corrupt? I have heard great things about Uruguay. Are there any other countries in a similar situation as Uruguay?
4. GMOs - Which country has the most amount of organic farming? Hearing about Brazil and Argentina growing GMOs out the wazoo made me question the corruption level of their government.
5. Health Care- In the future I will be a caretaker for my little brother. He has some health issues with his digestive, heart, thyroid, and neurological. Which area offers the best care? Also vaccines? I would not wish to give him anymore vaccines.
6. Education- My brother is eight years old right now. Which area offers the best education for some one with a different rhythm? Preferably a school with a similar Waldorf/Montessori style of teaching. Or homeschooling groups?
Which country is least corrupt? I have heard great things about Uruguay.
I almost choked when I read those 2 sentences, side by side.
I once spent a week in Uruguay. In that week, I was 'asked' for money (by government officials) more often than I had been asked in 7 years of traveling in almost every other South American country. In Uruguay, it is expected that you 'give' each official something for each thing he does for you...stamping your passport, inspecting your luggage, going through a gate he guards, etc.
Perhaps, it has changed since I was there, but old habits are hard to break.
I know this thread is a little old, but will post my two cents just in case someone is still watching it. I live in eastern Ecuador, but am also a little familiar with the Sierra and coast part of the country.
1. Snakes are quite common here, and many of them are venemous. Locals kill them on sight. Those who know the species sometimes leave the non-venemous ones alone, but generally kill any snake that comes near people. Livestock losses are quite common - I don't know anyone with cows or horses who hasn't lost an animal to snake bites. There are some native birds that control snakes, especially on the coast. But snakes are common enough here that I doubt any natural control method would be sufficient to allow you the luxury of never killing a snake. My opinion - better for me to kill a snake than for it to kill myself or an animal.
2. I am starting to develop a tree nursery project in the small town where I live. If you would like more information about that, send me a private message.
3. I have only had good interactions with the police in Ecuador. They are friendly, helpful, and aren't looking for kickbacks. I have not had extensive interaction with other government officials, so can't comment too much on that. Previously, Ecuador had a problem of people purchasing degrees to qualify for high-paying jobs. The government is currently cracking down on universities and the quality of educaiton in general, so this is improving.
4. Ecuador is in an interesting place where the production of GMOs and large-scale agriculture is just beginning. There is also a strong ethic among most people that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are bad and that natural food is much more healthy. I think a strong push for commercial better-than-organic agriculture could send Ecuador down that road instead of having to walk the folly-laden path that the over-developed countries are leading down.
5. Ecuador has nationalized healthcare for locals. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I am provided with health care through the Peace Corps doctors, so I don't know much more about it than that. It is possible to find good hospitals, dentists, eye doctors, etc. in the big cities. The specialists I have dealt with were ok - not as good as what I am used to in northern Arizona, but not terrible.
6. I don't have any suggestions about alternative education. There are many foreigners in Ecuador and some english-speaking schools depending on where you end up. I personally would probably not choose to put a child into the public schools near where I live. The quality is not high enough yet.
Disclaimer (sigh) This post contains my own opinions and doesn't represent the position of the US government or the Peace Corps.
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