We have been in Santiago now for almost 2 weeks. Our host family came down to Quilanto on Feb. 2 and we spent a nice week together. Then we headed north 11 hours to spend 2 weeks here in their house in Santiago. We are headed back early next week to spend some time with them before they return to Santiago for the start of the school year in March.
Right before we left, we spent 3 days in Osorno finalizing our paperwork for temporary residency. We had our background check done at the PDI which is the chilean FBI. This took 2 days because of the antiquated computer system. Then we headed over to the civil registry to get our national ID or cedula. We got fingerprinted and had our pictures taken and in 4 weeks we will be card carrying temporary residents.
But anyway, about Santiago. We are just not big city people but we have enjoyed the change of pace here and the opportunity to look around and see what kind of things are available.One nice thing is the city is relatively uncrowded because so many people are on vacation. Jim has gotten really good at driving around so we don't always have to take the subway. We are staying in Las Condes which is the rich section of town at the foot of the mountains. It is very affluent here. The president lives in this area. It feels like the USA because of the affluence - nice homes- well landscaped - lots of shopping. We felt better after having a delicious Dominoe's pizza and good burgers at Burger King. We went to Parque Arauca which is the american style mega mall. We hate malls but I wanted to find a craft shop there for some wool carding tools. This mall has 300+ shops - underground parking for 5,000 - and every conceivable north american store and restaurant- Applebee's - Starbucks - PF Changs - Guess -
Levi - $88 for jeans- Gap - Timberland - patagonia- KFC- Taco Bell -
Interestingly, Santiago has a building boom. many cranes in the skyline building condos and office towers. Economy seems strong - lots of consuming going on but still the prices are so high. I find it very discouraging.
Looking for lower prices, we headed over to the poorer section of town where our Spartanburg friends live. They took us to La Vega which is a large dirty open air market but it had a great selection of beautiful produce, cheese, pickles, and some dry goods. Good prices and really fresh. Chile is truly the fruit capital of the world. When we were driving up to Santiago on Ruta 5, we were amazed at the amount of trucks carrying fruit to the city and port. So many fruit processing plants. Miles and miles of fruit farms. And then I thought about every grocery store in the USA carrying chilean fruit and I was staggered to think how much fruit Chile must export. raspberries and grapes and wine being the most common. I paid $4 for a large watermelon - $5 for a kg of raspberries which is a half a pound.- that's a lot of berries.
Then we roamed the streets where most of the hardware stores and computer parts stores were.
Disappointingly, it is all cheaper in the USA and computer supplies are a couple years behind the times.
As Jim says, this is all opportunity for us.
Today, we are headed for Los Andes which is a small town about 1 1/2 hrs north of here to visit the shrine of Chile's only saint. St Teresa de los Andes. I will post some pictures and more thoughts on Santiago later.