One week on

So… we arrived in Santiago a week ago today. The flight from MSP to Santiago (by way of Toronto) was quite uneventful; but then again, what could go wrong with four children, ages 4 to 10, in tow? The fact that we were armed with a laptop, two iPads, an iPod Touch and a Nintendo 3DS, and each seat on our Air Canada Boeing 777 came with a personal entertainment system with hours of kids’ programming, certainly helped. (Back when I traveled to Latin America as a younger lad, my only entertainment on the plane was a pack of Lucky Strikes.)

We were greeted in Santiago by sunny blue skies and warm temperatures.

Since then, the skies have remained virtually cloudless. And we have experienced some of the hottest days of the Chilean summer, with highs a couple of days reaching 37C. But because the air is so dry here, the heat is far more bearable than in Minnesota (where it is generally accompanied by high humidity and large mosquitoes). Further, the evenings here are pleasantly cool.

Our family of six has been staying in a small two-bedroom apart-hotel in Santiago until the house we are renting here is finally available in a few days. The hotel itself–La Sebastiana–is quite nice, as is the location, but given that the twelve suitcases we brought with us consume a not-insignificant percentage of our habitación, it will be a relief once we have some additional breathing room. At least the name of the nearest Metro station, Tobalaba, seems to amuse the kids.

Our first several days here have been quite busy, with activities including: introducing the kids to the new neighborhood; riding the Metro; checking out the fare at a Chilean Pizza Hut; stopping by the office where I will be working to deal with some administrative matters and to sit in on a telephone conference; visiting our new house; playing football (of the North American variety) in a nearby plaza; drinking Chilean wine (which is really inexpensive here); visiting the kids’ new school; shopping for a TV; and otherwise dealing with all of the bureaucratic niceties of being recent arrivals in Chile.

On Monday, we decided it was time to register with the PDI, so we crammed all six of us in a small taxi and drove to the station nearest our residence (per the FAQ on the PDI web site). But when we arrived, a local official politely informed us that we were in the wrong location and that we need to go downtown to register. So we crammed everyone into another taxi, which we took to the nearest Metro station, and headed downtown.

When we arrived at our destination, there must have been two or three hundred people–largely Peruvians and Bolivians, I believe–waiting in line to register with the PDI. It was hot and the kids were already getting cranky. Fortunately, in one of the few instances in which having four children makes life easier, we were told to stand in the “preferential” line. After waiting for an Argentine family with three children to finish up, we were soon greeted by a very outgoing and friendly official and he and our oldest son, Henry, soon developed a rapport–discussing everything from the Super Bowl to whether Henry was dating–as he processed the paperwork and gave us the certificates that we would subsequently need to obtain our national ID cards.

Today was my day to head over to the Registro Civil to apply for my ID card. In what seems to be a recurring occurrence, I first went to the wrong place, where I was directed to the correct location. And once again, when I arrived at the correct location, I was greeted with a long line. But after waiting patiently for about an hour-and-a-half, and playing a few rounds of several on-line Scrabble games in progress, I made my way though the labyrinth and will soon have my Chilean ID.

Much remains to be done, including figuring out the private health care system and how to register with one of the various insurers. And then I will also be dealing with buying and registering a car here and obtaining a driver’s license. But all-in-all, it was a productive and interesting first week.

UPDATE: My wife has also posted about our arrival and first week in Santiago.

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