What’s better? What’s worse?

7 Apr

Here’s a little game I like to play in my head: What’s better (for us) here in Chile? What’s worse? Here’s my list as it stands now:

Worse, or more accurately, harder in Chile:

  • Getting a bank account! We just want a place to deposit Mike’s paychecks, but that’s not happening.
  • Paying bills. Especially since we don’t have a bank account, it means that I go stand in line, and they get paid in cash.
  • Getting the kids to/from school. It’s further away, and the traffic is horrible. Also, Chile seems to be overly fond of one-way streets, and disdainful of left turns.
  • Communicating with the kids’ teachers. All communication must go through the school’s administration. Really?
  • Making phone calls. I’m sure we’ll get this figured out … If you’re calling a cell number you start with 9, unless you’re on your cell. And you add a 2 to home numbers? Okay I get that, but why don’t my calls go through?
  • Getting a cell phone contract. Well, you need a bank account for that. See above.
  • Milk. It’s not fresh here; it’s in tetra paks.
  • Buying Diet Coke, I mean Coke Light. One time at the grocery store they told me I couldn’t purchase my Coke Light. And since I assume you readers know me personally, I think you all know that this was a very painful and confusing moment for me. When I got home Mike explained that I had probably grabbed a returnable bottle, which I couldn’t buy since I wasn’t bringing bottles back. (Apparently they have different colored caps.) Then for awhile I was afraid to pick up any Coke Light, in case it was the wrong kind and I was denied again. Very traumatic.

And here are some things that are better, or at least easier, for me.

  • Laundry. My washer and dryer are right off the kitchen, so no more trips up and down the basement steps for me. Also, we have some household help here, so I am not doing every single load. Hooray!
  • Hanging out with my kids. Since we all have fewer demands on our time (fewer playdates, coffees and other social events) and we are in a smaller house, we seem to hang out together more.
  • Buying wine. Not only can we buy it at the grocery store, but the selection is amazing.
  • Mike is happier. He loves his job.
  • The climate. I love the weather here: the days are hot (but dry), and the nights are cool.
  • Did I mention I have household help?
  • Fresh bread and other baked goods. Well, I suppose I could have gone to the bakery every other day at home, but it would have seemed excessive. Here it’s normal, and there are bakeries on every corner.
  • Big families are normal here. At home I sometimes felt like we had a freakishly large (and loud) family. I don’t feel that way here. It’s a very child-family culture, and big families are common. And Chilean kids are loud. Now, of course none of the other families look like ours, but I think we’ll explore that in another blog post …

Of course the hardest part of being here is that we miss our families and friends! Much love to all of you.

One Month.

10 Mar

One month. We have now been in Chile for one month. Someone told me today that the first month in a foreign country is the hardest, but I am not buying that, mostly because our first month hasn’t been that hard — at least it wasnt until last week. We moved into our house about three weeks ago. This made the kids happy, since we have a pool and wifi. We also got a refrigerator, a washer & dryer and (last week) some furniture for the terrace, and that makes me happy! Our animals arrived almost two weeks ago, and Raven and Shadow adjusted very quickly to their new digs. And while we are still waiting for our giant crate o’ stuff from Minnesota, I am hoping that the delay will make me appreciate everything we have even more.

(We also got mattresses for the kids. Mike and I have been sleeping on an air mattress, which was fine until a cat claw got stuck on it. Now it sucks.)

Last week the kids started school. And as I posted on Facebook, it was good for three out of four kids. Henry, Mizan and Angie have all been doing well and seem to like their new school. But Milo had a tough first day … The rest of the week got a little better, however he has not been happy, and would like to get on the next plane home. For the first two days Michael and I were able to drop them off and pick them up, but on Wednesday Michael started work, so they now have to ride a bus to school, and I pick them up. (By driving to their school, alone.) And of course Milo hates the bus too, and the fact that it picks them up an hour before school starts. So we have a lot of work to do. And it just makes me realize that although it was easy to predict that it would be hard for him, it is still difficult to live through it.

As for me, I am doing okay. I miss my families and friends, of course, the most. I miss the Friends School. And Trader Joe’s and Target and Chipotle. But I do appreciate a lot of stuff here — the awesome wine selection at the grocery store — heck, being able to buy wine at the grocery store. The empanadas and avocados and tomatoes. How patient everyone is with my pidgin Spanish. The climate! I miss knowing where I am going, but at the same time, I like not knowing what’s up around the corner.

I think that sums it up for now. XOXO to you all.

Nuestra casa

24 Feb

Already I feel like a bad blogger. I have to admit I find the blogging apps difficult to use — maybe I am just too tired to figure it all out by the time I start writing. Anyway, here’s the latest:

We moved into our (rental) house almost a week ago. I have mostly positive feelings about it. I like the pool and the yard and the kitchen. For the first time in my life I have a brand new refrigerator (Chilean rentals don’t include appliances), and I think it’s just spiffy. We are still waiting for the washer and dryer to arrive. I don’t like washing clothes in the kitchen sink, but I do appreciate having a clothes line and living in a climate where everything dries in a few hours.

I don’t like our bedroom (unfortunately carpeted), and the bathrooms have not won any design awards.

I have mixed feelings about the location. We live close to a metro stop, a grocery store and a mall. Unfortunately the grocery store is owned by Walmart, and the mall is, well, the nicest thing I could say is that it seems stuck in the 1980’s. But we are also near a nice park, a Falabella department store (which Angie insisted she had already been to before with her grandma, since she recognized the cosmetics department) and many bakeries.

We also have a view of the Andes, and I’ll try to post a photo of that soon.

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No washer & dryer yet.

24 Feb

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All the kids in the pool.

24 Feb

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The girls in the pool on our Jarlsberg floatie.

24 Feb

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Monday & Tuesday

14 Feb

 Our plan for Monday morning was to register with the federal police, as foreigners are required to do, and then to go get our cedulas (ID cards, also required). We got off to a later start than we wanted (of course), and then first took a taxi to the wrong office. After another taxi ride, a metro ride and a long (for the kids) walk, we arrived at the Jefatura de ExtranjerĂ­a y PolicĂ­a Internacional in downtown Santiago. Which had about 200 people in it’s waiting room … Luckily for us, when Michael went to pay and get our number the official directed him to Window 16, the window for families and old people, so our wait there, while still long for the kids, was quite reasonable. And the official at Window 16 was wonderful — very funny and engaging, especially with Henry, so it was a good experience.

It was about 2:00 pm when we were done, so we needed lunch. And, since this will be a blog that Keeps It Real, I’ll tell you what happened next: We were eating at an outdoor cafe on the Plaza de Armas when a beggar, angry that I wouldn’t give her any money, swiped some of the food (calamari) off my plate. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, but at the time we were all Freaked Out. It was weird and jarring. We have since talked about it a lot with  the boys trying to turn it into a teachable moment. But it was yucky.

And we still need to get our cedulas.

On Tuesday morning we visited the kids’ school, The International Preparatory SchoolWe weren’t expecting it, but they tested the boys on math and English. I am actually glad we didn’t know, since they just would have worried about it, and we might not have been able to get at least one child into the taxi. After they were done we toured the grounds, which are lovely (the school is in the foothills of the Andes), and I will post some photos once I figure that out. I really hope the kids like the school as much as we hope they will. The school does have two cats, which made two of our kids very happy.

All of the kids have mentioned that they miss their friends, teachers (and school secretaries and administrators) and various family members, so if you fall into any of those categories (or if you are a friend of mine, or of Mike) please know that we miss you but are holding you in our hearts.