One week update: Chile

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Our neighborhood at night

The boys and I have been in Chile for a little over a week and I thought I would give you a little update on how we are adjusting so far.

The House:
To be honest, I wasn't really sure about the house at first.  Keep in mind, we have no furniture, it's a brand new construction, so there is no grass, a garbage pile in the front yard, and a port-a-potty (which may come in handy for the boys.)  It was just such a different view from walking into our completely furnished home in Thailand.  This past weekend, we bought curtains for all the rooms and started to install all 97 light fixtures that need to be put up.  The houses in Chile come without light fixtures, so we had to buy all of those.  For now, we just have a light socket and wires hanging out of the wall.  Ben is making furniture for quite a few rooms in the house and our new couches should be arriving in the next week.  It's slowly starting to feel like a home, but I completely forgot how much work a house is!!

Ben did a really good job finding a house for us.  This house has a master bathroom.  Did you hear me? A master bathroom!!  I will never have to walk into a bathroom covered in pee again.  Moms of boys, you understand, right?  I have 2 bath tubs!!  Oh my goodness, I think we have taken more baths in the last week than we ever have in our whole lives.  I have a dryer...something I went without for 5 years in Thailand.  A proper oven, like I can make a pan of brownies at once instead of splitting it in half and then it taking twice as long to make.  I will even have  dishwasher!!  I feel a little spoiled. We also have a car, but I'm not quite so sure how I feel about that.  I really miss my scooter.

The Boys:  
The boys are all adjusting really well.  They love that they have their own living space.  Greyson is really liking having his own room and it is fun to see the relationship that is forming between Lincoln and Britton, since they share a room.  They have been enjoying playing outside.  I don't have to worry about cobras or scorpions.  They are totally smitten with their new dog, who is still without a name. They love playing on the playground that is right behind our house.  Lincoln has mastered the monkey bars and is pretty proud of himself.  We have had two "Taco Tuesdays" with two other families from the school and that has been a lot of fun for all of us.  Overall, I am really happy with how easy this transition has been for them.  They miss their friends in Thailand, but I think they have accepted the life that we have and realize they are lucky to have friends all over the world.

So, my part may come off that I am whining, but please do not take it that way.  My first impressions: Chile is beautiful.  I could just stare out the windows all day.  The mountains are amazing and I have loved watching the horses across the street from us.  Chile is cold!  Coming from triple digit heat, this 40 degree stuff is way more than I can handle.  I know 40 is such a mild winter, but I am freezing,  We all ended up with terrible colds and are all still trying to feel better.  Lincoln is the only one that is back to his healthy self.  I have already been looking into air purifiers.  I think that is something we will need here.

Last week, I was waiting on some of the workers to come and clean up the yard.  I didn't know what any of them looked like, so when two men showed up and were looking through the back yard, I thought they were supposed to be here. Turns out, they were not supposed to be here and stole Ben's brand new saw.  The guy even had the nerve to wave at me!  So, we are now looking into security systems, electric fencing, and barbed wire to keep our house secure.  It left me with a very strange feeling, but the contractors have been wonderful and have offered to buy Ben a new saw and have been showing up every morning to make sure the right crew is at the house.

I'm in a bit of a funk right now.  Could be due to the cold weather, could be the lack of community I feel around here, could be the confusion of not ever being quite sure what is happening, or could be due to the fact I am sick right now, but I don't want to leave the house.  I fully expected year one in Chile to be difficult.  I didn't expect to miss my friends and life in Thailand with such a fierceness that I find overwhelming at times.  I loved these people, they were my family for 5 years and my support system.  I am so thankful to have met them and been a part of that community in Thailand.  I know, that in time, I will make wonderful friends here and find a support system and family I also love, but a the moment I am like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum and saying, "I don't want to make friends.  I want my old friends."  Moving is tough.  It takes time to fall into the right place and I know it will take a good part of year one.  I want to love Chile, but like I have said before, Chile has some big shoes to fill.

On our agenda for the upcoming week:  The boys will be starting school on Monday, ready or not, I will be hosting my first Taco Tuesday, we will be diving into our Spanish lessons, taking the dog to his first vet appointment, and we will be learning to be kind to ourselves.  It's ok to not love your placement at first, it will all just take a little time.

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What is a RUT?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

 Our adventure on Tuesday, getting our RUT numbers.  What's a RUT and why do you need it?  Good question.  Basically, if you want to do anything in Chile, you need this number.  You need it to buy things, set up services, everything an anythings uses this RUT number.  It's your ID for the country. Everyone needs one of these numbers including your children.  So, off we went to school with Ben at 7:00 am to get these numbers.

If living abroad has taught me anything, it has been there is always a lot of waiting and usually you will have no idea what is going on.  Yesterday was no different.  Our driver only spoke Spanish, which was no big deal because I am used to being the only English speaker and being clueless.  First stop, the police station.  We get in the queue with hundreds of other people and wait for our number to be called.  After waiting at least an hour, we make our way over to an officer who looked through our passports, visas and a few other papers and then took our photos, stamped our papers with an official police stamp and we were good to go.  Easy enough, that only took about two hours so not bad all all. I should have known better.

Next stop, the building that issues the RUT numbers. The lady looks through our papers and PROBLEMA!  Of course, that all was moving way too smooth.   The numbers on our paper work did not match up with Ben's numbers.   Our dates needed to be the same because we were issues our visas under him since he is the one working in the country.  Whelp, back to the police station.

Now the police station is so packed you can hardly walk through the building.  We make our way up to the same officer who proceeded to change all the dates on our paper work.  New stamp, now back to the RUT building.  Thankfully, I had the kids with me because we were moved to a special line that actually moved pretty fast. We had to get more photos taken and all be fingerprinted.  The RUT numbers were issued and then realized they spelled Lincoln's name Lincolin.  Let's hope they fix that. After a long day of waiting,  we made it back to our house at 3:30!   That was our first adventure in Santiago.

Few things I noticed right away about the city: 1. There is graffiti everywhere. 2.  Traffic into the city is pretty minimal.  I had heard the traffic is terrible in Santiago, but nothing compares to Bangkok traffic.  We made it into the city without any stops in around 40 minutes. 3. All the cars on the road look really nice.  I only saw a handful of cars that look junky or old, every other car looked like it was in really good shape.  The taxis look really nice too.    4. Smog is going to be an issue.  As we made our way into the city it was covered in a blanket of smog.  It was gray, cold and overcast in the city.  I'm thankful we live up in the mountains where the sky is much clearer and the sun shines.

That was adventure number one in Santiago. We made it through and lived to tell the tale.   Oh, and my missing bag made it back to me!! Yay!  I don't have any pictures from our outing on Tuesday, but I will leave you with a few photos from our neighborhood and our new dog.  (More on his story later.)

Our new rescue dog.  Name still being decided on. 

Horses right outside my front door.  

Britton was excited to see this.  The plant life is interesting here.  There are evergreens, palm trees, cactus, trees with leaves and trees without leaves.  It's got everything covered.

There are really nice walking trails all over our neighborhood and it even has a stream running through it. 

One of the many playgrounds in our neighborhood. 

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Getting to Chile in 48 hours

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hey all!  After my last post in April we had some major changes happen and I had to step away from the blog for a little while.  Ben was offered a job in Santiago, Chile four weeks before we planned to come back to the States for the summer.  We had to pack up our house, say goodbye, and prepare to leave Thailand in four, very fast weeks.  I'll post more about our last month in Bangkok later, but after an amazing summer, also another post, we made it to Chile!
Saying goodbye to Gigi & Papa

Ben had to leave way back at the beginning of July to get acquainted with Santiago and start his new job, which meant the boys and I would be flying to Santiago by ourselves.  This was a simple flight, only 12 hours which is short compared to our 22 hours to Bangkok.  No time change, which meant no jet lag.  Easy peasy, or so I thought.

We left Detroit on time at 3:30 and had to fly to Dallas.  If all would have gone as planned, we should have arrived in Santiago at 7:00 am on Saturday morning.  Well, we made it over Dallas and had to keep circling the airport due to a terrible storm that was over Dallas.  DFW ended up closing for a few hours and we were rerouted to a small little airport in Arkansas.  We had to land there and stayed on the runway between 2-3 hours before finally flying back to Dallas.

All flights coming and going to Dallas had been delayed but by the time our flight landed, our next flight to Santiago had already left and we needed to re-book our flights.  This meant standing in a line for 2 hours with 3 exhausted kids, but this is where some good started to happen.  A super nice stranger stood with me for at least 30 minutes trying to get a hold of American Airlines on the phone so I wouldn't have to stay in that line.  It didn't end up working, but it was so nice that he took time from his night to try and help us out.  The sweet woman at Auntie Ann's gave me a discount on our pretzels because she felt so bad. We met a really fun young couple from Australia and their 4 year old daughter that were stuck on their way to Disney World.  The lady helping me re-book our flights was wonderful and did a great job finding our fastest route to Santiago.  And thankfully, we have family in Dallas that was able to book a hotel room for us near the airport after all the other hotels were completely filled up.  Our taxi driver was also really kind, but I did have sticker shock after seeing taxi prices in Dallas compared to prices in Bangkok.  No $5 fares in the States!

We finally made it to our hotel after midnight, but we were so thankful to be able to take showers and sleep in an amazing bed for the night instead of staying overnight at the airport.

After a great nights sleep and a yummy breakfast, we left for the airport at 9:30 am to make it to our flight to Miami.  Our shuttle driver to the airport was also really wonderful.  He was a retired teacher, so it was fun talking to him.   Funny little side story:  Greyson had on an Ohio State shirt and one of the security guards said "Go Blue!".  I asked him why in the world would he like Michigan all the way in Texas.  His response, he thought Michigan had awesome helmets.  Perfectly good reason to like Michigan better, I guess.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 12:20, but ended up being delayed until 2:00 because they couldn't find enough staff to help with the flight.  Most of their crew had been rerouted to other places due to the storm and they were having trouble finding people to work.  We left at 2:00 and had a pretty uneventful flight except Britton and Lincoln decided to have an eating contest which ended in Britton throwing up all over himself.  I handled it like a champ, cleaned him up right in his seat, stripped his clothes, got him in fresh clothes all without anyone even noticing he had gotten sick.  The attendants were so sweet and made sure we had whatever we needed to get everything clean again and I made sure Britton and Lincoln didn't try to have any more eating contests on that flight.

Made it to Miami, walked about a thousand miles to make it to gate J to transfer airlines to Latam Chile airlines, which is amazing by the way!  I highly recommend flying with them if you are coming to visit us.  The boys and I were all able to sit together after the two young guys in the seats in front of me were willing to switch.  We left Miami at 10:00 pm and the boys slept almost the entire way. Now, the tricky part with all of this was the boys and I had to switch airlines, my luggage was going on the original flight directly to Chile from Dallas on a separate airlines.  I was just hoping it would all make it there.

Got to Santiago, made it through immigration, and then started searching for all my bags.  Thankfully, I found 10 out of 11 big bags and all 4 checked carry-ons.  Two workers at the airport were amazing at helping me get everything loaded up and were great about helping me find my lost bag.  Had to wait an hour to make a claim to find the lost bag, but in the process met another great guy who is originally from Chile but Lives in the States.  He stayed with me and the boys for an hour after he found his luggage just to make sure I got the claim filed and helped translate when I had any trouble.

So, I thought we were going to be cutting our flight in half (flight to Bangkok), but ended up doubling our travel time to 48 hours!

The boys were absolutely amazing.  Only a few hairy moments, but for sitting in airports for 2 days they were really well behaved.   We are here.  We made it.  Now time to start setting up the house and starting our new lives in Chile.

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