So I FINALLY made it to Chile and I have to apologize to all you “true” followers out there (all, like, five of you). For some mysterious reason, I was completely locked out of anything related to Google (i.e. gmail and blogger) for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Thus I couldn’t really check my email and most definitely couldn’t blog. And trust you me, I have much to blog about.
First of all – can it be ANY COLDER??!! It’s literally 45 degrees here and I’m not talking Celsius. It does not get any warmer. And further, no matter how modern the house and/or apartment, it seems that the heat here just refuses to work! You literally have to have these old school gas heaters – the kind you buy at the store and set up in the middle of the room so that it can radiate its toxic chemicals through the air and at the same time bring much needed warmth to all households. Also – side note – the heater is sold separately from the actual gas. You have to call the gas company to have them deliver the tank of gas you then connect to the heater for the aforementioned toxic warmth. That, or you have to pay like a GAZILLION dollars to get one of these said Toyotomi heaters, which, apparently, are ALL the rage here in Chile. Naturally, Gonzalo and I agree that it’s a must-have for our apartment which we move in to August 1st.
Secondly, there are people EVERYWHERE. And all they do is shop – shop for bread, shop for clothes, shop for meat or wine. It doesn’t matter – they’re just everywhere and they shop NONSTOP. I know this because in the last two days I myself have been to the mall twice and to Jumbo (the large supermarket chain, quite adequately named) twice. Seriously no matter where I put my cart so that I could survey a particular aisle, I was in someone’s way. Or they were in my way. Or they just crossed in front of me with no regard to me and the space I was inhabiting. Walking through the mall (Parque Arauco) is like playing Frogger. Dodging people (sometimes cars) is the name of the game.
And don’t get me started on how people drive… three words on that: Pick a lane!
(Though I’m currently driving without a license so who am I to criticize, you know?)
Speaking of driving – I bet you’re wondering right now: “Dre, what, pray tell, are you driving? You don’t have a car! Remember, you sold it to that nice, young couple from Mountain View?” Why yes, dear avid blog follower (one of five), I do remember I sold my car to that nice young couple. I remember because I was a carless hobo for the remaining month I had in MP before my Chilean departure (btw, thanks for that reminder). However, let ME remind YOU just how lucky I am to have someone like Gonzalo in my life (ADORE him!)… he mentioned having a “surprise” for me when I arrived in Chile. Put two and two together and I will simply provide this lovely image.
The cherry on top was the GPS which is about 85% accurate but that’ll do for now. Sometimes it tells me to turn left where I’m not supposed to so I have to keep an eye out for that because it could create all kinds of scary. Other times it kind of gets into a frenzy and tells me it’s “recalculating” over and over again. It usually does that when I’m driving and so I have to go REALLLLY SLOWLY to allow time for this recalculation. Today I got lost because the GPS told me to make a left where it wasn’t allowed. I spent the next twenty minutes making rights after rights in order to get on the correct street. I don’t recall anyone ever saying that driving in Latin America would be easy. I’m not about to state the contrary either.
Finally, a few tidbits on daily life in Santiago:
- Banks close at 2 p.m. every day and when they’re open, there is usually a line out the door. I can’t even begin to understand why this is when everything in Chile is either paid online or in person. Why are so many people at the bank??!!
- Notaries are apparently a BIG DEAL. Whereas I remember getting something notarized at like Mail Boxes Etc by some franchise owner with a friendly belly hanging on the counter, in Chile the Notary is like the Godfather. He usually has his own office bldg or space and he has lots of people working for him to collect all items that need to be notarized. Then his peeps go somewhere behind the scenes to get his signature and stamp. I’ve never actually SEEN a notary the few times I’ve gotten documents notarized thus adding to this Wizard of Oz kind of stigma they hold in my mind. I feel like one of them is going to come out in a gangster suit, smoking a cigar telling me to leave the documents (as opposed to the gun) and to try the cannoli. Like I said, apparently they’re a big deal. Who knew?
- Bread. Bread is integral to the daily diet of a Chilean. They’re all about tea time (or “once” as it’s called here) and it’s all about the bread. Which is good, mind you, but nothing like a warm piece of sourdough.
- The Andes Mountains are beautiful and just like the Pisco Sours, I feel like Chileans don’t enjoy it/them as much as they should. I’m new here so I’m taking it/them constantly. Hmmm…good thing I’m not taking in the Pisco Sours WHILE in the Andes… the altitude mixed with the alcohol makes me CRAZY!
P.S. – Gonzalo rocks for always accompanying me with a Pisco Sour, even though I’m sure he’d much rather be drinking rum (or “ron” as they call it here) and coke. Oh schnookums… don’t ever be so fabulous! :o)