The Chilean economy is doing very well as there are new buildings, homes, and businesses springing up all over Talca. One of my frustrations was the fact that the price of things in Chile seemed a bit too high to me at times. Particularly, housing and luxury item purchases. I once saw a bike here in Chile, advertised for about $300 USD. I saw that same bike at a Walmart in the United States and it was about $99.99. However, I always get the cheapest fruits and vegetables at Alejandra’s for which I am very grateful. The people who own the store are very nice as well.
I asked José to take a picture of me hard at work today. Instead, he was taking a video. That’s why I hit him with the, “No you didn’t!” look in the picture below when he finally figure how to take a picture instead of video. Ha ha It’s so hard to find good help these days. lol 🙂 Just kidding, he’s one of my favorite folks in the office.
I was granted another one-year student visa in Chile (which I understand are very difficult to obtain) to complete my dissertation research and study abroad experience. If you have been following my blog, you will remember the nightmare I had in my first year when I didn’t realize I needed to register with my local police station and obtain a Chilean residency card (read the story here) because I had a year long visa. Well, my student Visa was ready in early September, but I was still in the US, after returning in August, preparing to return in to Chile October. I was a little nervous yesterday when I picked up my student visa documents from the Gobierno del Talca. Inside my passport were stapled some little pieces of paper that read in Spanish. I was to have only 30 days from the date of the Visa to register with the local international police station. My October 2nd arrival would have made me 1 day over that deadline. Additionally, my providential residency was invalid as of September 1st as well. So I immediately went to the PDI office and updated my info. The officer initially paused at first when he read the dates on my documents. I immediately told him that I had only just arrived to the country on October 2nd, to which his response (with a smile) was a reliving, “No problema Doña Lisa“. After that visit, I needed to renew my residency card (see above) which I completed today. 🙂 This experience was a bit of a milestone for me as I conducted all of my affairs alone and figured out how to get to each appointment without having to take a personal taxis everywhere. They (personal taxis) can be very expensive to take around our city. I have become a friend of the micro (little public buses) and colectivos (cheap group taxis) that one can usually take from place-to-place for under a $1 USD.
Carmen’s twin sister Paola, bakes homemade breads. I purchased a loaf and enjoy it with a late night cup of my Juan Valdéz instant coffee (that I brought with me from home). It’s a very expensive brand to purchase down here. I love that new knife you see there that I just purchased from Home Center. It’s slices things like butter! Ha ha Nevertheless, Chile is the land of where Nescafe instant coffee rules. I do miss my french press and coffee beans. I can be such a spoiled American when it comes to my morning coffee routine.
One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival to Chile was the difference in the way most homes are build in the Midwest and Southern USA compared to what I experiences here in this country. I mentioned in an earlier blog post how there are a number of new homes being build in our neighborhood. Here are some pictures of the interior walls that initially caught me by surprise while sleeping. On one my first night of sleep in Chile, I turn in my bed toward the wall and thought I had broken my elbow. In the US most homes are build with drywall (or plasterboard) that pretty much create a hollow space inside the interior walls of most homes. When I turn and hit the wall during my sleep in the US, I simply know to turn the other direction and go right back to sleep. As you can see from these pictures, Chile builds house that the Three Little Pigs would envy. I can imagine it’s in part due to their being an earthquake prone area or its simply a historical way in which homes are built in Latin America. Additionally, it seems that wall-to-wall carpet (with fluffy base padding) is not the norm here either. So I don’t know how common it would be for little kids to sit on the floor to watch TV or play with toys. Maybe, it’s very common and no one gives it much thought. I will be keeping an eye out to see if as Chile continues its economic ascension, will shag or cushy floor carpeting become part of the symbols of affluence. One can hope! 😉