Friday, November 25, 2016

Questions from Readers






I have been getting a lot more emails the past few months from people interested in moving to Chile so I thought I would share some of the questions with my responses here for you.

 what made you go to Chile??

Well, this is what we were looking for
Stable government
Growing economy
Safe
A place where we didn't stick out as the rich gringos
Moderate climate not too dry or too cold or too hot
We went to Uruguay and it was nice but not too impressive
We had friends here in Chile from the USA who owned a vacation home which they let us use  for 2 years until we found our farm
Funny thing is they didn't like Chile and are now back in the USA.


How are the school systems in your area?

Public school is the pits but there are private schools - some free like the catholic school my kids attend. Public schools in my experience have problems controlling the students. Their ideas on discipline and control are a bit different than in the US. The teachers teach to the yearly exit exams mandatory for each grade and text books are revisionist history written by the socialists. Students are not taught to think but just how to follow the steps to achieve the correct answer. All schools have english teachers as there is a big push to get all chileans speaking english but in my opinion they don't start soon enough because most kids graduate not being able to speak english.


How bad are the mosquitoes? Any fear of getting one of the fevers? 

Despite the fact that this area is a temperate rainforest (the Valdivian rainforest) mosquitos and other insects are not really a big problem like in Maine, Minnesota, or Canada.
Remember Chile is not tropical or jungley. It is nowhere near the Amazon so we don't have any of the tropical fevers and diseases you may find in Ecuador or Brazil. Chile is very modern, clean, and healthy. You can drink the water anywhere with no fears. The US State Dept does not have any warnings for travelers to get any immunizations before coming here.

Are there wood burning stoves instead of central heating?

Wood burning stoves are very common or propane heaters. Central heat is very unusual.

Are the locals welcoming at all or do they not want us there?

Locals love us. They think America is great (little do they know!) In the area we live, the Los Lagos region, in 1860 it was settled by thousands of german families so we fit in and most people who don't know us just think we are colonial germans. In places like Ecuador and Peru, you will be targeted as a "rich" American but not here. Chileans are friendly and helpful. My kids had an almost superstar status when they joined our little local school as they had never had american students before.

My hope is to get a job teaching English as a foreign language does that actually sound like a possibility in a not so populated area?

If you want a job teaching in a school, you may need to be certified but I don't know how that works but make sure you have all your documents (look up my article on my blog entitled "Don't leave home without it" and I have a list of all the documents you may need and how to have them apostilled.
We have friends who teach english but it's not in a public school and they seem to live in the cities (Santiago & Puerto Montt). You can do some research on Facebook or online for schools that teach english in Chile. Many businesses that don't have a website often use Facebook for advertising.
There's a course for TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) but it's only in Santiago I can't find it anywhere south.

Is there lactose free milk or a dairy alternative? my son is lactose intolerant

Chile has dairy companies that produce lactose free milk and yogurt and are found in most larger supermarkets. Lider (walmart) and Jumbo have the best selection of products and the imported (expensive) products from the US. My friend found a new product at Jumbo made in Chile called Nature's Heart Almond Vanilla drink with no sugar. There are more products available in Santiago than here but things are moving and changing here so eventually we should have most products! Also Jumbo has lactose free cheeses.


What is the safest and best way to transfer funds from America to Chile?

As far as money, we use our ATM and debit card everywhere without a problem though ATM fees can be quite hefty. For large sums of money, you can use Western Union or XE.com

Are there any stores for things to get for kids like toys?

Yes, they have toys here :) but anything imported from America is super expensive.

In your opinion what town is best for someone that prefers the cold but also wants the ocean and forest? (Haha so basically I'm being too picky)

No - that is one of the great things about Chile!  Because the country is only 150 miles wide, more or less, You can easily be in the mountains, the forest, and the beach in one afternoon. We prefer green areas as opposed to the dry dusty arid regions around Santiago. We don't like snow and prefer the year round mild temps of the Los Lagos region. 40 F in winter and 60-70F in summer.  We don't like cities so we live out in the country but if you need a job you could live somewhere near Valdivia or Osorno. I'm not as familiar with the other regions.

My husband was wondering besides English teaching, what jobs are there for Americans there that aren't super fluent in Spanish just yet?

Jobs are a difficulty here if you don't speak good spanish so start working on it now! Lots of good online programs. Starting a business here or online are options. Though starting one here won't be easy and you need to be here for a while to figure out what you can do or to fill a need you may find. Tourism is big here and cabin rentals and farming. A hands-on trade like plumbing or electrical work may be a good business as Americans are trusted here and have better knowledge of these fields.
Here are a few tips for you- 
You will need some income or savings while you are getting established. If you live simply, you could make it for a year on $20-30,000 USD
Chile is not one of the cheaper places in SA to live.
We keep our expenses down by living simply like chileans and homesteading to produce a lot of our own needs. We sell pigs and pork and vegies to supplement our monthly annuity income.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An exciting opportunity

We have an exciting opportunity for you to get an 8 year jump start on your dream homestead in the south of Chile.
We are helping some friends sell their homestead near Rio Bueno in the Los Rios Region.
Here are some facts

Property Facts:Rio Bueno, Chile

10 Hectares or 24.7 acres fenced with river frontage

Orchard with 370 Avcllano or Chilean Hazel Nut Trees


+/-2100 Sqft House; 3 Br 2.5 Ba W/Inground pool


House is furnished and stocked

NOTE: House is being being remodeled, but is currently habitable



Care Takers House

John Deere 5400 Tractor w/loader & back hoe attachment
POLARIS 4X4 "Magnum 325" , Roto Tiller (a Big one)
2007 Hyundai 1.7 ton Diesel Truck
Woodchipper, lawnmowers, 2 Containers 40', Every shop tool you could almost imagine,
Kipor 6500 or 5000 watt diesel Generator


All this and more go with property. Everything you need to move in is here.
 To see the video on our Youtube page click here
Video
Or you can email Jim for more info  at
jim.dorchak@gmail.com
The seller is asking $450,000.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Great Travel articles for Chile

The Telegraph in the UK has a series of excellent well written articles about traveling in Chile.



Panoramic view of Santiago, Chile, South America


                                                                                                           photo borrowed from article linked below
Here are a few links for you ....

21 Reasons to visit Chile

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/chile/articles/reasons-you-should-visit-chile/

Doug Tompkins and more Patagonian Parks

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/chile/articles/Patagonia-Chile-a-new-national-park-and-conservation-campaign/

Patagonia, Chile: a new national park and conservation campaign
                                                                                                             photo borrowed from article linked above
This is my dream trip to the Atacama

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/chile/articles/Atacama-Desert-Trip-of-a-Lifetime/


Atacama Desert: Trip of a Lifetime
photo borrowed from article linked above

And my dream cruise to the Patagonian Fjords and Glaciers

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/chile/articles/Cruising-Chile-comes-in-from-the-cold/

And there are more articles about Chile at the bottom of each link. Enjoy your desk top traveling! It's the cheapest way to go!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

April/May News in Review

Well, April was not a very exciting month but May has been pretty eventful!
                           
For a good laugh about Chile's continuing problem with the off again on again Daylight Savings Time program read this article from the Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-time-is-it-in-chile-theres-no-telling-1463063085

This article was quite "tame" as some sites had pictures of the man with his head in the lion's mouth.
I'm not sure why they had to kill the lions instead of tranquilizing them. I guess maybe tranquilizers don't work fast enough?
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/22/two-zoo-lions-shot-and-killed-after-mauling-suicidal-naked-man


This is a little closer to home and BIG news.

In April, large red tide algal blooms were poisoning the fish and shellfish of Patagonia. Red tides are common but this was of unprecedented size fueled some say by El nino and warm waters and others by pollution from salmon farming. It hurt many small artisan fisherman. They protested by blocking the ferry ramps to Chiloe which not only hurt them but many others on Chiloe who have nothing to do with the red tide. Like our friends who own a small dairy farm and count on the income from selling their milk to companies whose trucks couldn't make it over to the island. Never fear
"We are the government and we are here to help you" They offer the fisherman 170,000 pesos, about $250.
As it turns out, the salmon farms were dumping a lot of their dead salmon (from a previous infection earlier this year) way out in the ocean but apparently due to the currents they washed ashore causing more problems and maybe exacerbating the red tide.
What a mess!
Here are 3 articles you can read in chronological order

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/03/chile-fishermen-red-tide-algal-bloom-protests

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/11/red-tide-crisis-deepens-in-chile-fishing-waters

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/17/chile-red-tide-salmon-farming-neurotoxin



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Buying Online and shipping packages

We try to shop as locally as possible and we try to make do with what is available. We try to live like the average Chilean. But what do you do when you really need something that is not available locally? Well, we do have a few options.

1. Buy online here in Chile
This is not always so simple or easy as it is in the US. Many businesses don't have a big online presence. They may have a website but you can't order off of it (?) or they just use Facebook (not!).
So for example, I found out from my friend about a company call Tostaduria Puerto Rico in Santiago. They sell dry bulk items which is great because buying (10) 1-ounce bags of cinnamon is a pain in the neck. So you go to the website which has just lists of their products with no prices or sizes and you email them and tell them what you would like. They send you a price list.Then you find out what the minimum order is and tell them how much you would like of each item. Then they send you a cotizacion or quote of your order with the total amount due. Then you have 2 options - if you have a Chilean bank account (which I don't) you would send them a bank transfer  which takes 5 days to clear or you can go to their bank in the closest city and make a deposit which clears fairly quickly. The next day or so your item will ship from their warehouse by bus to your city of choice. When it arrives the next day you go pay for the package's bus ride and pick up your package. Wow, I feel like it's the 1980's!
Here is what I bought

From top to bottom 
Basmati Rice - 5 kilos for 3,077 pesos per kilo inc. taxes of 19% and shipping
Whole coffee beans from Brazil - 5 kilos for 8,430 per kilo
Polenta or grits if you are from the south - 10 kilos for 903 per kilo
Popcorn - 10 kilos for 1,128 per kilo
These came in 2 boxes and the bus ride was 13,000 pesos but prices above reflect shipping fees.
These prices are good deals as buying an inferior coffee in the grocery store in a 250 g bag runs over 10,000 pesos per kilo.


Here are a few other options for shopping online in Chile.

Mercado Libre is like the ebay of Chile and purchases are free from the 19% IVA tax.


Busca Libre is a search engine for Amazon and Ebay and other US stores plus it has Spanish and Chilean books. If you shop on Amazon through this website, it gives you the prices in Chilean pesos and the shipping accordingly which seems pretty cheap if it is coming from the US. I tried ordering a book and the shipping was only 1,990 pesos. My gripe is the custom regulations. This is the note you see if you try to order a vitamin or supplement. I am seriously bummed out!!

Warning: Due to customs restrictions, we can not import airbag, perfumes, makeup, skin creams, food, food supplements or remediesIf the product you're quoting is none of the above, proceed with the purchase. If the product is one of the above and continue with the purchase, we will refund your money.


Another interesting site for local products sold by locals is the Chilean version of Craig's List called Yapo. Ya is spanish for already but adding po to the end of words is distinctly chilean. Sipo! You can search for an item by region and they sell great things like chickens, rabbits, trucks, tractors, etc.


2. You can order directly from the US. 

Though you do have 2 choices. You can order directly from a company if they ship internationally and you will probably have to pay Chilean taxes on it. We have a friend here who ordered something worth $500 and when it arrived she had to pay another 19% tax on her purchase to the Chilean government. Or you can order it and send it to a friend and have them ship it down. We have a friend who has a shipping box. When we need something we have it sent to her and when the box is full she ships it down to us. Since it is personal, it is usually not subject to the sales tax. We had a 40 lb box one time that cost us almost $200 to mail. yikes! We don't do that much anymore.




This package above had a pressure canner part and cell phone parts for a phone Andrew was fixing so we labeled it replacement parts. It wasn't insured for much and had to have weighed less than a pound but we paid $22 for it and it took about 2 weeks to arrive. It was sent USPS and Correos de Chile (Chile Post Service).




This package only had a replacement part for our Coleman camp stove at 5 oz and $13 for shipping. I have heard Correos de Chile has a problem with items missing after customs inspections. I have never had a problem but my friend has had items stolen from the packages her mom sends.

And when you are worried about getting stuff and whether Chile has as much stuff as the USA remember this quote. A sentiment I am always working towards.


But there are two ways to be rich:
You can earn, inherit, borrow, beg, or steal enough money to meet expensive desires;
or, you can cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires;
that way you always have more than enough money.

The secret of happiness you see is not found in seeking more
but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

News in Review March 2016



Mounted Carabineros in Santiago
First Quarter economic news

http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/chile

Doug Tompkins was the owner of the largest tract of privately owned land in Chile. As of his death in December, Parque Pumalin, just south of Puerto Montt, will be handed over to the state opening up the lower third of the country for a new road to connect the far flung reaches of Chile. He has been a controversial figure in Chile. Find out why in this article.

http://www.elmostrador.cl/mercados/2015/12/09/por-que-era-tan-polemico-douglas-tompkins-el-millonario-ecologista-que-murio-en-un-accidente-de-kayak-en-chile/

WalMart in Chile

http://www.elmostrador.cl/mercados/2016/03/29/carrera-por-los-activos-de-walmart-en-chile-entra-en-recta-final-y-no-la-ganara-necesariamente-la-mejor-oferta/

The view of the Milky Way from the southern hemisphere is awesome and here is an article on the most comprehensive picture to date taken from an observatory in the Atacama Desert

http://www.thisischile.cl/the-most-detailed-picture-of-the-milky-way-was-take-from-the-atacama-desert/?lang=en

For hikers, new maps of Chile's senderos now available

http://www.thisischile.cl/alternatives-for-exploring-chiles-nature-trails/?lang=en


Salmon farms suffering losses - the hazards of factory farms

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/10/chiles-salmon-farms-lose-800m-as-algal-bloom-kills-millions-of-fish

The Unbelievable lottery but I wonder where they are getting the money from? I'll let you know if I win!

http://www.biobiochile.cl/2015/12/18/the-unbelievable-lottery-where-absolutely-all-the-chileans-are-going-to-participate.shtml

Marijuana is legal now in Chile but this farm is growing only for medical purposes

http://www.biobiochile.cl/2016/03/23/chile-is-reaping-the-largest-plantation-of-marijuana-in-latin-america.shtml

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lago Todos Los Santos and Petrohue


One of the most beautiful lakes in Chile is located just east of Lago LLanquihue and is surrounded by 3 volcanoes- Osorno, Puntiagudo, and Tronador.


A view of Puntiagudo to the north

A view to the east of Isla de las cabras (Goat Island)



A view to the east and south


Here is the town of Petrohue if you can call it a town. It consists of the Lodge in the upper right corner, the boat/bus terminal with a small snackbar, a post office, a museum, and a few houses. Yeah, I guess that qualifies as a town here!
The beach has beautiful black sand and there is swimming in the cool waters. You can go on a boat ride in one of the boats pictured here for 2-3,000 pesos per person (about 3-4$) 


I was a bit disappointed in the boat ride. It was 1/2 hr long but didn't go anywhere near the island and you could never get a good view of Volcan Tronador on the southeastern end of the lake. But you did get to go out to this cute little floating cabin ....


With great views of Volcan osorno.


Nice panoramic view with 2 volcanoes - Osorno on the left and the tip of Puntiagudo on the right




And here is the Lodge. Quite beautiful and modern. We stopped in for tea and cookies one rainy afternoon and were treated to this spectacular view below.




And here is the link to their website http://www.petrohue.com/

I haven't stayed there but I've seen the rooms and cabins and I would recommend staying and Trip Advisor has some pretty good ratings for it. The Lodge also offer excursions like fishing, hiking, rafting, kayaking, horse back riding, climbing, zip lines, and canyoning (?). Check out the website!


There is also camping if you can't afford the expensive price tag of $200 per night for the Lodge.
The campground is at the entrance of the Sendero Desolacion for the intrepid hiker. See my other post on this. No, I did not go! but my boys did and they loved it!


This is the only ferry on the lake and it goes to the only other town on the lake, Peulla. For 27,000 pesos ($40)for the day you can go over to the other side and spend the day at the Lodge there. Check out this link to see what you can do for the day in Peulla.
http://www.turistour.cl/tour/es/excursiones/lagos-y-volcanes/peulla-dia-detail



And here is a view of the lake from up on the Paso Desolacion on the side of Volcan Osorno.
 Just spectacular!







Thursday, March 10, 2016

Getting a Chilean Driver's License Part 2

He got it!
But it wasn't easy. They call it tramites (trah- me tays) here but I call it traum-ee-tays. These are the procedures usually associated with bureaucracy. The inefficiencies of government and its policies are often tiresome and lengthy but we played the game and followed the rules and were rewarded.



So here is how it went.

Day 1
Jim showed up at 9 AM on Tuesday morning. He waited just a few minutes and then got online for the computerized test in english. You have 45 minutes to complete 35 questions and you can only get 3 wrong. Jim got 4.  Don't ask how it happened. The english test was written by a non-native speaker and was a little awkward in spots, those double negatives were confusing, some questions were just stupid and he overthought them, whatever.... Come back tomorrow at 9 AM.

Day 2

Jim showed up at 9 AM to get behind 20 other people. He waited an hour just to get on the computer. He checked his answers carefully, made a few changes, and he passed with only 2 wrong. OK

Step 2 get in line behind 20 other people to see the eye doctor. Waiting and waiting. Phone goes dead. Waiting and watching mind numbing Chilean TV. Finally gets in - look through here and tell me what you see. BTW, Jim is pretty blind in one eye. Actually it is so bad his eye doctor didn't even give him corrective lenses. But he managed to pass even though a lot of the pictures were very fuzzy.

Step 3 On to the games for reaction times and coordination. The first one is a game where you tap the moving ball with a stick. Jim was a little too violent with this game and the lady told him "tranquilo!" I think he was a bit stressed out by this time. Then on to the coordination test. These tests are hard to describe and we got no pictures since Jim's iphone was dead.
He passed it all about 1 PM and they told him to come back at 3 for the driving test. So we went out for lunch and a few beers while waiting, (just kidding) Though I think he really needed one at that point.

Step 4 We show up at the parking lot for the driving test 30 minutes late because Jim didn't understand the directions. Good grief! Where's that beer? Well, fortunately, the other 20 people were in line in front of us so the instructor didn't notice he was late.  Jim walks over to the instructor between tests. The instructor asks Jim if that is his car? Yes. And you have a license from the US? Yes. I have had one for 30+ years. Ok. No problem. Let me see your RUT card and you can pick up your license tomorrow. Come at 9 AM for the photo. Yes!!

Day 3

Jim showed up at 9 AM for some paperwork and picture and then was back at 3 PM for his new license. It feels good to be legal!

And 30 days before March 8, 2022  Jim has to go in to renew his license with the vision and reaction tests. And you thought the US bureaucracy was inefficient!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Is Chile a Third world country?


Chile - clean and modern

Well, my daughter likes to make fun of me and says I live in a third world country but Chile isn't a third world country. Actually, the terminology does seem a bit dated. It arose after the end of WWII and was used to describe the capitalist countries allied with the United States and they are the first world countries including Western Europe, the UK and their allies. The second world countries are those of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc, China, and Cuba while the third world countries are all the rest, the neutral nonaligned countries. This broad categorization based on social, political, cultural, and economic divisions was a useful tool during its time but today things are different. Most people don't know enough of WWII history to understand this classification and for people today a first world country would be modern and affluent while a third world country would be poor and backwards and second world is somewhere in between.

So where does Chile fall in these categories? For the original meaning, Chile did not participate in WWII. It was a neutral unaligned country meaning a third world country. So says Wikipedia under the heading of "Third World" but under "World War II by Country" it says " initially Chile chose to remain neutral in the war, having close trading links with Germany. Later in the war, however, Chile distanced itself from the Axis powers, and the Chilean government took steps to dismiss pro-German military officers. Relations with Axis countries were broken in 1943, and in 1945, Chile declared war on japan, being the last nation to join the war. As with Argentina, by this time the war was almost over." So it was an ally entering after the attack on Pearl Harbor so that would mean Chile is a first world country according to NATO.

And what about the more modern sense of the word - poor under developed v. rich developed?

Chile is very modern and clean. Most of the poor live in homes with flooring, water and sewer, electricity, cell phones, and direct TV. Education is compulsory and literacy rates are high. The economy is growing and unemployment is low. The government is stable. Health care is modern and affordable. The highway system is modern and well maintained.  What else could you ask for?
Sounds pretty first worldish to me!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

First Day of School

                                Andrew's last first day of school in 12th grade or 4th (cuatro) medio and Thomas's first first day of school in 3rd (tercero) basico or 3rd grade

Yes, friends, my homeschooling days are over! Yoo hoo! and that is a big one after 18 years!
 Samuel will be attending the PreUniversity Pedro de Valdivia in Osorno to study for the PSU which is the Chilean equivalent of the SAT.  And then Thomas and Andrew at the Colegio San Vicente. This is just a school not a college that goes from K-4 to 12th. We decided to end our homeschooling days as living in Chile is just not conducive to that lifestyle and we have access to a free catholic school. In South Carolina, we were part of 2 large and active homeschool co-ops. Now I have one little boy all by himself and no support group with all its activities. And Thomas needs to learn Spanish and make friends here so we decided to put him in while Andrew was still attending. Having big brother upstairs will make the transition easier, we hope! BTW, Thomas speaks little to no spanish so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. And with his dyslexia he can't read english so the special ed teacher will have an interesting challenge to teach a little boy who speaks english and can't read it to speak and read spanish. And I will post more about the Chilean school system as far as I know about it, anyway!
Update on March 10- All is well at school. Thomas loves it and I have noticed a new confidence in him. He is not cowering behind my apron strings anymore. Though it has been only a week, he already has picked up a sore throat. Jim and I are loving the new found freedom and our peaceful days as we just enjoy being together without kids.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Angelmo Fish Market in Puerto Montt

Angelmo is the fish market on the bay in Puerto Montt. It is a colorful fish and artisan market that attracts a lot of tourists for the local seafood and crafts.

              A mix of restaurants, craft stalls, and fish market

                                           The tour boats

                Each dormer on the building is a different restaurant


                           Dinner with a nice view over the bay


            The salmon plate was around 8,000 pesos or about $11 which includes bread but no drink


                 We ate on the second floor at the end at Sra. Vilma's

      I still don't know what these are but one sees them at every feria
       I think they are dried smoked shellfish like clams or mussels

                             Two different types close up.
 I'm willing to try almost anything but these little things don't look to appetizing!



                              Sea urchin, a favorite of the gulls

                                                Kelp used in seafood stews

      I have tried these tasty little critters! It is a picaroco or barnacle and they are as tasty as lobster!


 And here is the crafts section with lots of cheap wood souvenirs and also some nice knitted products with local wool like mantas, sweaters, socks, mittens, etc.