I have already seen many changes here in Chile and that has only been within a 15-minute radius of where we are currently staying! New Metro (subway) lines, fewer buses, more cars, different stores … the list could go on. I find myself in the strange situation of looking at many things through a foreigner’s eyes (because it has been 13 years since I moved away), while on the other hand I am doing and accepting certain other things automatically because without thinking I just know that is the way it is here in Chile.
One thing that hasn’t changed about Chile is the length of time it takes to get things done. I’m not complaining (yet), just stating the facts! For instance, today we had to get small, carnet-sized pictures taken for our upcoming visit to Chile’s International Police on Monday. (A “carnet” is a photo identification card that everyone, even children, must have in Chile. It serves a similar purpose as our driver’s licenses in the U.S.)
Each of us had to hold a small plaque with our full name and passport number in magnetic letters/numbers (thank you, Mark, for putting each painstaking letter and number together for each member of our family!) The lady at the photo kiosk just took a simple digital picture, popped the memory stick into the Kodak Picture Maker, printed them off and cut them apart. But, it took SO long! (Oh, that’s another different thing in Chile, at least at this place – you couldn’t use the machine yourself but had to have the lady do it for you. It was password-protected and everything!)
While she was taking care of our pictures, the kids and I walked around the connecting grocery store, Lider. A very busy place – next time I am NOT going with the kids! I bought children’s toothpaste for $1259 pesos, adult toothpaste for $889, and a box of matches for $279 … a total purchase of maybe $6 US dollars or so (please don’t mind my fuzzy math!) What I really needed to buy, though, was some shaving cream for Pedro. But the only place they sold it was behind the beauty counter, and it was expensive! I asked my brother-in-law where he buys his, and he said he just uses an electric razor … maybe Pedro will have to give it a try … (:
Finally, here’s one more difference we discovered today. When Pedro went to see the realtor for our house and sign the housing contract, he not only had to sign and provide his passport number (as did my sister and brother-in-law) but also each of them had to affix their thumbprint to the document. Apparently, dishonesty is so prevalent even in business dealings, that multiple forms of documentation are required to try and prevent it. So, that was another point of interest for today!