Sunday, 30 November 2008

St Andrew's Day by Thomas

Happy St Andrew's Day.

I've got my uncle staying over (in a hotel). we got a fish from the store - it was enormous! we got a barbecue and Uncle David cooked the fish (he said it came from the swimming pool)

i swam in the swimming pool before lunch!

i had some morcilla which is chilean black pudding.

see ya

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thanksgiving in Chile, by Thomas

ummm. happy thanksgiving! we had a half day at school today. Nico had a party in his class and my mum and dad watched a show that Nico was in, and he was a turkey in it. i didn't get to see it though!
oh - my mum and dad chose a car today. they didn't pay for it though, but they did give them a little bit of money, so nobody else would buy it. 2 days ago we got the air shipment, which had our sleeping bags in it, which i want to sleep in tonight.
the boat with our other stuff has arrived in Chile, and guess what company the hoover and microwave are made by? A company called Thomas!!!! we got a TV as well.

we've been a bit busy...

sorry for the radio silence. we're in the house and happy. we finally got our air shipment on Tuesday - 4 weeks and a day after arriving. the public sector strike had ended on friday, so to get our stuff cleared from customs and delivered by Tuesday is quite a feat. Ivonne at ESO deserves medals.

From what we understand our container arrived in the Port of San Antonio on Monday, right on schedule. and only 4 weeks after us. that's quite incredible.

Once it clears customs, it'll be arriving at our door. but we don't know how long that will take. so we're not expecting it tomorrow. thank goodness, becasue we haven't unpacked the suitcases and air shipment yet!

And given that my brother arrives on Saturday for a couple of days, we'd rather spend time with him than cleaning the kitchen cabinets. which we really need to do before we put stuff in them. really. we do need to. can you see how i'm trying to talk myself into it?

we have a few sticks of furniture - a couple of very comfortable Ikea-esque chairs from Cathy - I can vouch for their comfort levels - I have fallen asleep in one of them - twice. mattresses for the boys and an air mattress fr the growen ups.

the house is really lovely. there are some pictures of it empty up on flickr here.

more pictures of it looking lived in soon, I promise.

Today is American Thanksgving. Nico's grade (all 5 classes) did a play this morning, which Bill & I went to, but we weren't able to go to the party in the classroom afterwards, becasue we had to go and test drive a car. And a a result we have put a deposit down on a Subaru Outback. As soon as we get our bank account, we can go and pick it up.

But - today we had to sign all the papers for the bank account again, becasue something was wrong with one of them. we're not sure which, we just signed everything again. so maybe next week...

the supermarket had a turkey breast joint thing in yesterday, so we got it. so we are having some semblance of a thanksgiving dinner.

Tonight's big adventure other than that, is that Bill is getting the bus home from work. He consulted the Transantiago Website and should hopefully be on his way home now. Because the rest of the family is hungry...

Friday, 21 November 2008

moving in!

we are going to sleep in the house tonight! hooray!

but we have no internet there yet so we will have to make our own entertainment.


Monday, 17 November 2008

Home sweet Home!

We've had a busy day. The boys went to school and had Spanish Club after school, so they didn't finish until 4. So that was useful, because after dropping them off I was supposed to go and help a friend move out of her temporary house and into her flat. Well, I only had an hour, and I think I may have spent more of the hour talking than I did baby minding, which was my allotted task.

The reason I only had an hour was becasue we were (well, Bill was) signing the lease on the house at 11.00. We got picked up by Rebeca our relocation consultant at 10.30. Drove around the find a branch of the bank we needed to deposit a large amount of cash in - we had to have a deposit slip for the landlord before we could sign the lease....

Then to the Notary's office, where Bill signed each page of the 5 page lease, in quintuplicate. We also got a power of attorney in my favour while we were there, because as the spouse, I don't have much power of my own - I have to borrow Bill's!

After that, Bill went back to his software review meeting, and I walked back to the flat. A 20 minute stroll. Um, it was noon. This is Santiago. I was almost back here when I realised that I wasn't going to make it, I was too hot and tired, so I found a nice shady bench to sit on for 5 minutes and regroup. And to remind myself to ALWAYS put on sunscreen.

When I got back to the flat the Mucamas were here. They are Elena & Eliana, and are really nice women, but they seem to always be here when I get home, and this is a very small flat, so it is very difficult to keep out of their way. They look after this flat, and a couple of others on this floor, and they seem to do it in a sort of assembly line fashion - so they do the kitchen, then the disappear for a while, probably to do the kitchen in the other flats, then they do the bathrooms, go away again, you get the idea. So they can be in and out for about 2 hours. And they don't knock anymore - they just come in, shout Hola! and that's it. Aargh. I miss my privacy.

But never mind - Bill came back at 3.15 and we went to collect the boys, and then we went to the HOUSE! Our house now! But it took 2.5 hours to get it "signed over" to us. The owners' daughter Francisca was there, representing her parents, estate agents from the two agencies that had been advertising the property, us, Rebeca, our relocation person and Paola, the Nana. So the first half hour was spent with Francisca and Paola showing us how to work every thing. The hot water (there are three separate boilers, and yet another one for the radiators!), the alarm system (we will have panic buttons, eek! but the family lived there for years and never had a problem), the washing machine, the fridge (it has ice and water dispensers!) oh and probably other stuff.

Then the estate agents turned up, and we went round the house with fine tooth combs. That took the next two hours. Bill took the boys away to get drinks and snacks, but I had to stay there for the whole time.

We checked light switches, whether the laminate floor was glued down properly (not in a couple rooms) whether the sinks leaked (one did) whether the toilets flushed (there are 7, hee! Are you listening, Colleen?!)

The house is big. It was listed as a 4 bedroom, but it actually has 6. The reason that the other two weren't listed is because they are the "servicios" - a room for the Nana, or maybe for 2 Nanas, I don't know.

Um, the house is big. But we saw it and I fell in love with it. Pictures soon, of course! We have a two year lease, which *should* be renewable. The owners have moved to Mexico.

We finally got away from the house at about 7pm, which is a bit late when you haven't had any tea on a school night. We went to a restaurant in a shopping centre for a quick meal, then back here to the flat to put the boys to bed. They went down at 8.30, and have to get up at 6. oh dear.

We have now been here three weeks. I think getting a house, especially a house that I LOVE in that time scale is pretty good.

The only blot on our landscape is the non-appearance of our air shipment. It's here, in Santiago, but there is a strike in the government ministry that handles customs clearance. So we don't have it. We're going to hire some stuff so that we can move into the house - so the air mattresses and sleeping bags won't be getting used after all! Never mind. At this rate, we'll probably get the sea container before we get the air shipment!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Rainy Day, by Thomas

Hi there,

For the first time in 2 weeks, it RAINED yesterday! You see these two pictures down at the bottom? Well, those are two pictures of the cloudy skies.

And on the way out to dinner, we saw this airplane in the picture below:

My mum should have taken a picture of the inside of the undercarriage. It had special lights to see if there was anything wrong with the airplane and loads of electronic stuff.

We've nearly got our air shipment, and the boat with our furniture is supposed to be arriving in Chile in 9 days.

We don't celebrate bonfire night in Chile, I could have drawn a picture of fireworks, and scanned it for this blog if we had our printer, but it's in the air shipment.

I'll do another post around Thanksgiving. Good luck, bye, and see you there!

photo update

I've just put eleventy million photos up on Thomas & Nico's Flickr page

When I have more time I might even label them and set them to the right orientation. But not today, I believe we are going down to the swimming pool this afternoon.

As far as we know, but this being Chile, things may change, we will be getting the keys to our new house on Monday after school.Today we looked at cars. Well, we looked at the Chevy Captiva and the Subaru Tribeca. The Tribeca is, well, how can I put this? Big and showy. And not the sort of Subaru we're used to! The Captiva isn't exactly the most inspiring vehicle ever, but it's smaller, and practical in that it has 7 seats, two of which fold down. But - we're going to look at a Subaru Outback as well. Even though they are totally ubiquitous here, and only have 5 seats. We just like them. We think we're going to test drive the Captiva on Tuesday. It's a diesel. Can't have'em all.
The Subaru dealer (car dealers have pretty good English, or all 4 we spoke to today did, at least!) was telling us about the great ground clearance on the Tribeca. He said it wouldn't ground going into underground car parks.... We live in a country full of dirt roads and mountain tracks. The best example he can give to illustrate the benefits of the high ground clearance is the underground car paks. You have to laugh.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Twisty Roads and Twisted Ankles

Today, we decided to get out of Santiago and see what we could see. We decided to try for one of the ski resorts. Cue long explanation to the boys that we weren't *actually* going skiing, becasue it is spring, but just going to see it...

We headed out of town on the road to Farellones. We couldn't go very fast, becasue not only was the road very very very twisty, and practically vertical in places, it was FULL OF CYCLISTS. Hundreds of them!

Sorry - you can only barely make them out, but they are here! We were maybe 15-20 km from Santiago here.

We thought there were hardly any cars on the road - then a few minutes after we stopped here, we saw why - all the cars were stuck behind a couple of buses:

We went no further than where these photos were taken - we went off along the path here, and I was the first casualty... I slipped and twisted my ankle (luckily, it was my *good* ankle, not my bad one, so I can still walk!) and landed quite hard on my bum... Nico and I went back to the car, and Bill and Thomas went on for a bit. The next thing we knew, a group of mountain bikers raced past us, along the scree path that I had slipped on, and then we saw them literally flying down the side of the mountain. I think my jaw was probably hitting the ground...

Not long after, Thomas and Bill headed back to us, and Thomas was the second casualty - he slipped and scraped his shin quite badly. Thomas was, at least, wearing more sensible shoes for traipsing about the countryside than me...

We headed back here to the flat and ate Empanadas. Then we spent some time at the swimming pool. The boys have now been in it three times. I got in up to my knees and decided that while it was probably very good for my swollen ankle, it was way too cold to go in any further!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

School Fair

Today was Kermess at Nido. It took a a lot of talking to convince N to go to the school. He likes it fine when he's there, but the anticipation is difficult for him, so having to go on a Saturday was not a popular idea.

Kermess at Nido, at least, is like a cross between the international food evening at Preston Street, and the Summer Fair. Except it's a whole lot bigger (a whole lot). There were food stalls from lots of the countries represented in the student population (but no British one!). And bouncy castles and raffles and an entertainment stage with dancing, singing (some of which sounded like the high school's rock band).

We had to buy tickets to spend as cash - they came in denomiations of 100, 200 and 500 pesos, and you used them to buy food, pay for activities, etc. The only problem was that neither Bill nor I could get any cash out of any machines beforehand, so we could only buy $15,000. We managed to buy lunch, and milkshakes and ice cream. And for the boys to go on a couple bouncy castles and a train ride.

We ran into people we knew, which is really nice for a place we've lived in for less than 2 weeks! There are very many people here that either Bill or both of us know, that it doesn't feel totally foreign. Not to mention running into people that we've just met. Both boys saw kids from their classes (they have had a whole 2 days at school so far!).

The weather was great, of course, it always is, as far as we can tell. We also ran into the estate agent who has shown us the house we want - his wife is the Headmaster's secretary. We were talking to another astronomer, who also turned out to be a client of the estate agent at the time. Santiago might be a huge city, but it seems that our part of it will be quite small. Which is good.

After we left Nido, we went to Jumbo, the big supermercado. Bill and the boys stayed in the car while I dashed in to get something for tea. BIG MISTAKE. My credit and debit cards had failed to work in the cash machines in the morning. They also failed to work in the supermarket. I had to go and get Bill and the boys from the car, and then Bill's card failed as well. We assumed that we would have to starve, but the manager got out the old fashioned credit card machine and the carbon slip and did it that way. She then had to phone up for authorisation. Which obviously worked. Then she asked Bill for ID. Oops. Some Chilean government department has our passports while we wait for our RUTs. Still, we have photocopies. So he went back to the car to get it. Except it was in his other bag. Luckily the nice manager accepted his driver's lisence as an ID. Phew.

It wasn't just tonight's tea that was in the shooping bags - I had managed to find fresh milk! This is something of a miracle - it's the first time since we arrived that we had seen it - almost all the milk is UHT. So, it would have been heartbreaking to have had to leave that behind in the shop. Never mind the food for tea, the milk was the most important thing in the basket!

We came back to the flat and I immediately checked my online banking. For starters my credit card had disappeared from my list of accounts, which gave me a bit of a fright. So, thanks to skype I was able to phone the RBS credit card people, and make them believe that I really am in Chile and it really *is* me spending all that money. Then they very kindly put me through to someone who could deal with my RBS debit card. So, my plastic should be working again. Will find out tomorrow.

Bill then phoned up about his credit card, but the CS agent insisted that his card was fine. Hmmm. Didn't seem like that to us. We'll see if it works tomorrow.

My halifax debit card doesn't work here at all. Which is a bit annoying, since I can't phone them up, becasue I can't remember my phone banking pwd!

Other than that, we watched a bit of spanish language children's telly, had our tea - we bought potatoes for the first time today, and while expensive (out of season) they were really nice! We had cherries though, and they weren't expensive. And the asparagus? And the avocados? I won't tell you. It will make you envious. Very envious indeed.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Arriving in Santiago, by Thomas

We arrived here on Monday and I've made a lego helicopter which keeps breaking, and which I store my money in. But my mum says I'm not allowed to, but I am.

We went on the Metro on Tuesday. Our local line has BIG wheels. We went to Estacion Central, and we had yummy cinnamon rolls.

Our new school is called Nido de Aguilas which means "Eagle's Nest". We had a test and in the word game if it was to that test, I would be in the 15 year old class!

We want to get a house with a swimming pool and with a big garden to play football in. We looked at some houses, and the best one belongs to somebody from my dad's office.

Good luck back there in Edinburgh, and please comment on the blog about how you are doing!