Friday, 4 February 2011

We're not in Kansas anymore.

We’ve just come from the Sunshine Coast which has had one of the wettest summers in a long time.  Everything is green (some people even have green growing on their walls).  To land in a city that has about two rainy days a month is quite a contrast.  As we were raced to our hotel by a taxi driver who came top of his class in Taxi school (accelerate, swerve then indicate intent to swerve) we saw a Hyundai car yard which had everything from hairdryers with wheels to earth movers that could relocate Uluru.  All of them were covered in dust.

Uptight gringas

I think we came through the poorer part of town as the graffiti and prisonlike enclosures around houses gave a very distinctive vibe.  One guide book finishes its description of Santiago with “It ain’t no Paris.”

Gringas getting in the groove.

The people are very polite and put up with our poor attempts at Spanish.  Some take the time to speak a little slower while one security guard gave me a piece of paper and asked me to draw what I was after.  With our very limited knowledge of the language I feel confident that we’ll pick up the lingo quickly.  I was walking with Truce this afternoon and she asked in a very confused voice.  “How come we’re in Chile and we can’t speak Spanish?”  All of last year we’d been saying that when we move to Chile we’ll speak Spanish.  She must have thought there was some magical process that took place during the thirty minute wait to be seen by customs. 
The internet connection here makes it very difficult to put photos on the web at the moment.  We were told that there was Wi-Fi at the hotel but it’s more like dial up that seeps in through the under the door. 

Ice creams (helado) are cheap and the girls were enjoying having one after lunch and dinner but tonight we realised that we better start some sort of budgeting and we don’t want the kids to think that it’s ice creams for all.
On one street there were five shops all selling blenders and vacuum cleaner parts.  The strange thing is they were all adjoining shops.  Most shops in Australia are working on becoming plastic bag free, where as here there is a real love affair with having your shopping put into a plastic bag (bolso).  I was in the supermercado and said to the person who packs the shopping, “No bolso, por favor.”
The response was of genuine shock, “¿No bolso, señor?”

I'll finish renovating tomorrow.

With some careful planning it’s possible to eat on a cheap budget.  It’s easy to spend 20,000 to 35,000 pesos on a “cheap dinner” at a restaurant but we’ve been buying a small packet of ham, cheese and crackers from Lido for 3,000 pesos.  Tubs of yoghurt for the kids are only 100 pesos (AU$0.20) Once we have permanent residence food will be the least of our worries.  But for the moment, while we’re at the hotel without refrigeration or cooking facilities we have to make do.

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