Monday, February 22, 2010

Exploring Santiago, Becoming Official, and various living situations

I am updating this as I am watching the first two episodes of The Amazing Race that have been posted to Youtube.  At first I thought that I would have to suffer through hearing family and friends telling me all about it without being able to follow along, but I am saved.

The past 3 days or so have blurred together.  It has involved yummy food like schwarmas (gyros) and churros con chocolate.  I haven't had either since my last trip to Europe about 5 years ago.  The delicious part of the churros con chocolate was the dark chocolate and dulce de leche that they provided as dipping sauces:

This food was all consumed in the company of cool people with the program and/or from the hostel.  Here are pictures of us together:

The hostel I am staying at is nice, but the lack of privacy and small kitchen have been getting to me.  Here is a picture of what my room (that I am sharing with 2 others) looks like:

The bunk bed looked like the wooden frame was cracking, so until the owner could check it out they gave me a room all to myself for the first night.  Here I am in it:

In case if it is not clear, I took the picture showing that storage closet thing from that spot on the bed.  And yes, that is the door to the right of the storage closet thing. 

So I started looking around for an apartment.  I took the program director's advice of wandering around neighborhoods where I would like to live and just walked into lobbies of apartment complexes to ask if they had any places free.  This did not work out well, as every place but one (out of 9 visited) told me that they didn't have any apartments to rent.  The one place that did have a studio to rent cost 360.000 pesos, or about $600 per month.  And of course I found this out after waiting 45 minutes for the owner to show up.

Originally I wanted to have my own apartment to have my own privacy, but I realized the two major drawbacks to this would be the cost and not having social contact with any Chileans.  So I decided to change my plan to try to find a room in a house or apartment with Chileans.  I also decided to try searching online, and I found a great living situation.

So, I will be living in a 4 bedroom house with 2 Chileans and a German.  For 95.000 pesos (about $190 per month) I will have a furnhised bedroom, common area with TV, wifi, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and a washer/dryer.  This is an amazing deal, and the only additional cost will be gas (which will be split amongst all of us).  By American standards this would not be an acceptable situation with the condition of everything, but by Chilean standards this is a great place:

I will be going tomorrow to pay the first month's rent and deposit and sign the contract to make it official.  I'm really excited about it, as saving so much money will mean I don't have to work another job and I will also have the company of others and be able to practice Spanish and German.

Last but not least, the program helped us get our paperwork done with the Chilean registry to become offical here.  Luckily the entire process (from the time I left the hostel to the time we were done) was less than 3 hours.  At the first place an English guy with the program ended up taking much longer than anyone else, and we were all worried about him and what was taking so long.  When he came out, it turns out he was talking it up with the woman who was processing his paperwork and got invited to celebrate her mother's birthday next month. 

After that, we were off to get our fingerprints taken and get our official Chilean ID cards and numbers.  Because of the glare on my glasses they had to shine a lamp on me, which caused me to blink more often than normal.  This resulted in them having to take about 5 pictures before they could get one with my eyes open.  And low and behold, I once again look like a deer caught in headlights.

Well, it's almost 1 AM here, and for whatever reason I can't see the last 20 minutes of the first episode of The Amazing Race.  I already know that Jeff and Jordan win the first leg, but I hope I can see how it all plays out.

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