Santiago, Chile: If you don’t have something nice to say… [Days 48 – 49]

“If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.” -My Mom

Day 48 | Saturday, December 10, 2016

This morning we get on a flight from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile at 8:25am. I have to admit I am sad, a little terrified, and a tiny bit excited. Unfortunately, I invested some time this week in reading some other travelers experiences in Santiago, Chile and it has me a little worried. 

If you read our post Adiós Portland, Hola Lima you know that the airline hassled us a bit when we checked in for our flight from Las Vegas to Lima, Peru about not having onward travel booked. We have onward travel to Argentina booked this time but we are still nervous about getting our luggage checked and our carry-ons through security. We are flying with Sky Airlines today and we haven’t flown with them before so we are hoping that they are ok with our luggage sizes, weight and configuration. Yes, we are within their allowances but you never know when an airline is going to single out a piece of luggage as unacceptable. Also, there is fear on the arrival side that when we go through customs and immigration there could be a hiccup.

Fortunately, we got checked in for our flight without any issues and made it through security alright. We just have a 5-3/4 hour flight, customs, and immigration between us and a new country.

The flight was fine. Customs was breeze. We are allowed 90 days in Chile. Immigration was quick. That almost felt too easy.

We know it isn’t the cheapest solution but we just use the “official” taxi service at the airport to get to our Airbnb apartment. We make sure that we have the apartment address written out on a piece of paper that can be handed over and scheduling an official taxi goes pretty smoothly. Honestly, because there are two of us it isn’t that much more expensive to take a taxi than a shared transfer. 

Man, it is hot outside and the humidity is much higher than it was in Lima. When we left Lima this morning it was about 65 degrees and we haven’t seen highs above 75 the whole time we have been in Lima. It is 78 degrees currently in Santiago and 90% humidity. 

As we whizzed along the freeway we passed by glimpses of big city buildings and billboards and small shanty towns with heaps of trash strewn about the banks behind them with horses staked just outside. All kinds of new scenery and chances for new adventures.

This time we intentionally booked an apartment close to the office Steve will be working out of and unfortunately it is not located in the best area of town. We are staying just a couple of blocks from the Plaza de Armas and there are a fair amount of unsavory characters hanging about. 

After retrieving the keys to the apartment and dropping our stuff off we have decided to look for a grocery store to get some staples to get us through tonight and tomorrow morning. We put Google maps to use to see if we can find some viable options. Being in the heart of downtown our options are limited and many of the places near us are no more than minimarts. With a small list of stores to check out we finally hit the street.

Stepping out of the apartment building and onto the sidewalk we are hit with the humidity like a brick wall. I don’t think I have felt humidity like this since we moved home from Kwajalein. The sidewalks are bustling with people having boisterous conversations. The air is thick with the smell of urine and cigarette smoke chocking the last bits of oxygen from our lungs. There is trash all over the streets and sidewalks. Graffiti marks almost every wall we walk past. I am already missing Peru. 

We finally settled on Santa Isabel supermercado, isn’t great but it isn’t awful either. It has a small health food section that has a few gluten free items and alternative milk options. After wandering the store for a while and making some compromises we headed for the checkout line. Now in Peru the trick was that you finished your grocery shopping once the cashier started ringing out your groceries. In Chile it appears that the habit is to second guess your selection while waiting in line and to set one or more items on the display right before the register belt. In my reading earlier in the week I had read that there are baggers that don’t get paid and you are to tip them. However, there isn’t a bagger at this register right now so it turns out it is a bag your own scenario which isn’t a bad thing it would just be nice if someone communicated that in some way other than moving on to ringing out the next customer’s groceries and pushing your stuff out of the way. Just when I was really feeling comfortable we had to change countries and now we have to learn a whole new set of rules.

Day 49 | Sunday, December 11, 2016

Today we are going to do a bit more wandering around to see if we can figure out our best grocery store options nearby plus we want to get a bit acquainted with the new neighborhood.

The truth be told I don’t feel really comfortable walking the streets of Santiago even in board daylight with Steve. I feel as though we are surrounded by every depravity known to man and that this is not my scene and these are not people that I really want to rub shoulders with.

After a little exploring we have determined that our best grocery store options are the Santa Isabel that we visited yesterday and Express de Líder (which is Walmart) next door to the office Steve will be working out of while we are in Santiago.

My impression of Santiago is not any better today. Right now it feels like a big filthy city that I don’t want much to do with but I am trying to have a good attitude. I am thankful that we booked an apartment with air conditioning and that it works well. Here’s to the next chapter in our adventure. Let’s hope I find something nice to say.



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