Day 57 | Monday, December 19, 2016
Since we don’t have to be to the bus station until 11:45am this morning we have a little bit of time to kill so we figured we would walk to Jumbo (the largest grocery store chain in Chile) to give it a once over. About a 20 minute walk from our hotel we finally reached Jumbo. It is part of an immense complex where you can also find a large department store and a home improvement store among other shops. The Jumbo itself is approximately the size of 2 regulation american football fields and they carry all manner of imported products. They have a large section of gluten free items, a wide variety of alternative milks, teas from around the world, and an impressive selection of just about every product that rests on their shelves. Honestly, I have never seen a grocery store this impressive. Not even in the States. I feel as though the heavens have opened and I can hear angels signing. On that high note we returned to our hotel to claim our luggage and check out. A quick Google search before leaving the hotel revealed that there are several Jumbo stores in the Santiago area.
A quick Uber ride to the bus terminal, a short wait for our bus and we are on our way back to Santiago. Through this weekend away from Santiago I am learning to appreciate Chile.
I always want to stay awake on the bus so that I can see various part of the countries as they whiz by but unfortunately as soon as the bus starts moving it is like I am narcoleptic and I just can’t stay awake. I honestly can’t tell you a thing about the area between Valparaiso and Santiago.
We Ubered from the bus terminal to our new Airbnb apartment. We have moved closer to Steve’s office and further from the Plaza de Armas so hopefully it will be slightly better. I know it won’t be a huge change as we are still in the same neighborhood (or barrio as they say in Santiago) but even a small improvement would be nice.
Let me just say I know my definition of clean is very different from a lot of peoples. I can be honest and say that this is one of the areas where my compulsive nature really shows. Upon arriving at our apartment we found it to be utterly filthy. Everything from the kitchen counter, dishes, floors, a heaping pile of dirty sheets, towels and blankets in the bathroom and the topper a trash can in the bathroom FULL of used TP. YUCK! It sent me into a meltdown. After briefly looking for new places to move to I contacted the host and after a few messages back and forth had arrangements for him to inspect the place for himself. Either the host was genuinely horrified or a good actor. While standing in our apartment he called one of his cleaning ladies and scheduled her to come the next morning. He took the pile of dirty laundry with him and showed us where we could empty the trash. I am hoping this situation is resolved to my satisfaction tomorrow.
To wrap up the evening we decided to do a little shopping at Jumbo at Costanera Center. This store is HUGE. It might even be as big as 3 regulation american football fields. They have gluten free granola bars, a wide variety of alternative milks to choose from, the largest tea selection I have ever seen in my life and all around just about anything I want to buy except for nut butters other than peanut butter and Nutella. This is something we have consistently run into since we arrived in South America. They don’t seem to be big nut butter fans. We found cashew and almond butter in a couple of the tiny specialty organic stores in Lima but they were ridiculously expensive for absurdly small quantities. In Lima we could get one variety of peanut butter that was just roasted peanuts and no other ingredients. We haven’t seen anything but peanut butter and Nutella in Chile and the peanut butter we do find the ingredients read something like: roasted peanuts, sugar, stabilizer: fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt. So, some sacrifices have been made in the food category. If I was back home in Oregon, is this what I would buy? Absolutely not but when that is what you can get you do what you have to. Peanut butter aside this has been a very successful shopping trip and it is nice to know what we have such an option available in Santiago. Things are definitely looking up.
Day 58 | Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Fabiola arrived just after 10:30am this morning and after involving a gal off the street to translate she went to retrieve the laundry from the lavanderia and then set about cleaning the areas I had identified as concerns. Fabiola did an amazing job and I can finally relax. It is not to say that my home is always clean but there is something about living in my own filth verses someone else’s.
We are only in Santiago for 4 more days before we head out on another excursion. This apartment actually has a washer/dryer combo in the unit (which we are learning is very rare in this area of Santiago) so I am trying to get all our laundry caught up and ready to go because once we leave on December 24 the places we will be staying won’t have laundry machines for us to use until we return to Santiago on January 2.
I am also spending some time doing some research for our upcoming excursion. Let the Googling and TripAdvising commence.
Steve has a brief break from work tonight so we figure we will take the opportunity to get out and get some steps, explore a little of Santiago and enjoy our new found knowledge of Emporio la Rosa and their dairy free sorbets. There are a few Emporio la Rosa shops in our current neighborhood and they even sell cartons at some local grocery stores. Yum, something sweet to remember about Santiago.
While walking we found this little pop-up shop that reminds me a bit of Portland and was fun to walk through. We also witnessed a very cool fireman’s parade. We learned just this last weekend that all fire fighters in Chile are 100% volunteer so it was moving to see them so honored.
Day 59 | Wednesday, December 21, 2016
While we were still in Peru and planning out how we are going to spend our time in Chile one of the guys in the Peru office recommended that we visit the city of Pucón. We can get a pretty inexpensive round trip flight through Sky Airlines between Santiago and Temuco then take a bus to Pucón however as continues to be the case with Sky Airlines we can’t purchase the tickets online because we are using a foreign issued credit card. We have been holding off going into the Sky Airlines office to make the purchase because it looks like our cheapest flight out of Argentina is going to be through Sky Airlines and we want to purchase all the tickets at the same time because they charge a $20 fee per person to book tickets in the office and we only want to pay that once. We have finally settled on the date we want to leave Argentina so we are ready to purchase our tickets through Sky Airlines.
This morning we are venturing to the Sky Airlines office to check this item off our to do list. A quick 8 minute walk from our current apartment and we are at the Sky Airlines office. Fortunately, they are not very busy and we are able to walk right up to the counter for assistance. I have pre-written out the flights we are requesting in Spanish to help us communicate and it is a good thing I did because the lady helping us doesn’t speak English. First, we are arranging the flight to Temuco so that we can get to Pucón. Everything is going pretty smoothly. Once we have those tickets settled we move on to attempting to book a flight out of Argentina which is going to require us to fly from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile then from Santiago, Chile to Lima, Peru. We will spend the night in Lima, Peru and then fly from Lima, Peru to Bogotá, Colombia the next morning. Sadly, it is significantly cheaper to fly this route with Sky Airlines and stay at the not so cheap hotel at the airport in Lima than it is to book a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bogotá, Colombia through other airlines. Going through other airlines also does not get around a long (8 to 13 hours) layover somewhere in between Argentina and Colombia. Lets back up for just a minute and let me remind you we have purchase Sky Airline tickets previously in the Sky Airlines office in Miraflores, Lima, Peru. We purchased tickets from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile and from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was fairly easy and painless. We found that the prices were very close to what we were looking at online. Ok, back to the present moment. The first question out of the lady’s mouth helping us was do you have travel from Peru onward. Our answer no. We are planning on purchasing tickets from Lima, Peru to Bogotá, Colombia once we have secured tickets to Lima, Peru. Her answer, well then I can’t sell you tickets to Lima, Peru. I HATE THIS GAME! I really don’t understand why airlines think they are the border guardians. Correct me if I am wrong but there are whole departments of people in each country employed to do this job. I have interacted with multiple of them upon entering Peru and Chile now. Another fun fact not a single one of those immigration or border patrol employees has asked me if I have onward travel booked. Plus I don’t know if you caught it earlier in my detour but Sky Airlines in Peru sold us tickets into Argentina without any questions about onward travel being booked. Steve began to argue this point but it is difficult when you don’t speak the language very well. I sidebarred with Steve and asked him if he wanted to attempt to book the tickets to Bogotá, Colombia quickly from his phone or did he just want to purchase the tickets to Temuco? Neither. If we purchased the tickets to Temuco and tickets to Bogotá separately we would end up paying the $20 service fee twice and that is silly. So, we ended up walking away without tickets and cursing the inconsistency of airline policies/enforcers. We hurried back to the room pulled out a laptop and purchased the tickets to Bogotá, Colombia that we had looked at the previous evening. Upon receiving email confirmation of the purchase we headed back out to the Sky Airlines office. Another side note to my rant, the airline I just booked tickets to Bogotá, Colombia with didn’t ask me to provide proof of onward travel. I just don’t get it.
Fortunately, the same lady was available to help us and we approached her counter again. Either she was able to save our previous transaction or she hadn’t helped anyone else while we were gone because she was able to quickly review our Temuco ticket selection and then move on to the tickets that would eventually put us in Lima, Peru. Steve showed her the email confirming our flight from Lima, Peru to Bogotá, Colombia which was proof enough of onward travel for her. To add to the frustration of the morning the way she input the flights into the computer we are paying 2x the taxes and fees than we would have online if we were able to purchase tickets through the Sky Airlines website. Then to add just a little more insult to the injury she informed us that it is the airlines policy that for international flights you need to be at the airport 3 hours before your flight departs and the flight would be getting into Santiago only 2 hours before our next flight to Lima and that the liability falls to us to make the flight. If we miss our flight Sky Airlines in not liable. My head is starting to hurt! At this point I wish it was the same price or very close to fly with another airline. Finally with ticket confirmations in hand we exited the Sky Airlines office and continued on with our day.
In a brief moment of buyers remorse we hit the internet after returning to the apartment. Sure enough it is still cheaper to fly this crazy route with Sky Airlines and pay the extra taxes and fees than to purchase tickets through another airline. I did read on another blog later (I haven’t had the ability to test it though) that you can purchase tickets for Sky Airline flights on Skyscanner. It is worth a shot to save yourself some money and the the frustration of dealing with an employee like we encountered in Santiago.
Day 60 | Thursday, December 22, 2016
I am looking forward to getting out of Santiago again. With Christmas rapidly approaching it would be nice to experience some cooler weather and to see some Christmas decorations. Santiago is sadly devoid of decorations and no one really seems to be in the Christmas spirit. Steve has been working long, crazy hours this week. Staying up till midnight trying to help out with work as much as possible before we head to the land of questionable internet.
I am washing the last of our laundry today and attempting to pull together a list of things we can do while we are away.
Day 61 | Friday, December 23, 2016
Our final full day in Santiago until the New Year. Today is about packing up and getting ready to board a plane tomorrow morning at 11:05am for Puerto Natales, Chile in the far South. Getting ready for a new adventure and a Christmas vacation.
Here are some helpful addresses and links to websites for places mentioned above.
Av. Argentina 51,
Valparaiso, Región de Valparaiso, Chile
Jumbo at Costanera Center
Andrés Bello 2425,
Providencia, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Emporio la Rosa
Yummy ice cream shop that has options for those that are dairy free.
Paseo Huerfanos 815,
Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Phone: +56 2 2632 9449
Skyscanner – should be able to book Sky Airline tickets through this site.