Gross State of the Union Address: Feb. 2016
Six months ago…
- We stepped off the plane in Santiago, Chile, were greeted by Pastor and Ellen, and proceeded to go on a four-hour search of the airport grounds looking for our dog.
- We spent two weeks in Santiago completing Spanish beginners immersion courses, exploring, and figuring out how to use gas space heaters.
- I went to the drug store and with my impressive Spanish skills had to act out the symptoms of a cold in order to get the right medicine.
- We moved into a rental house in Linares, thanked God for a plumber who immediately found and fixed a gas leak, and camped out in our sleeping bags for a couple nights as we bopped around town looking for furniture.
- Quickly learned that Chilean Spanish is extremely creative but a BEAST to learn and much different from other Spanish.
- Walked to our church for the first time and smiled at many members … since we certainly couldn’t communicate verbally with them yet!
It’s hard to believe that it has already been 6 months! In some ways it feels like the time has flown, and in other ways it feels like so much has happened. It is already entertaining to look back at my first blogs and realize how much things have changed.
So, in honor of our first 6 months in Chile, I’m going to share 6 AMAZING things about where we are at now in our lives.
1. RUT Cards
To say our initial VISA paperwork process was painstaking would be an understatement. I could describe it to you, but that would also be painstaking. All you need to know is that our running joke with anything to do with paperwork is “Would you like this copy of a copy notarized?”
However, the good news is that this January (six months from when we arrived) we finally received our Chilean identification cards (RUT cards)!!!!! Apart from this being our ticket to legally staying in Chile for a year, it also opens up countless doors to us like easily getting paid from our schools, phone plans, bank accounts, etc. Whoot whoot! We were so happy that we went around to give little thank you gifts to all of the offices and people who helped us.
We are going to bask in our RUT glory until we have to apply for our second round of visas… in November… sigh.
So what else does having a RUT card give you? INSURANCE! When we first arrived here, I did a lot of insurance researching and figured out that getting Chilean Private Insurance would probably be our best option especially if we plan to stay in Chile for an extended period of time. 6 months and one RUT card later we were able to sign up! Apart from the joy of having insurance, we were also blessed with the insurance cost being much lower than we anticipated. Thank you insurance agent Ester! Not only did she get us a deal but also taught us a new Chilean phrase. “Soy seca” literally meaning “I’m dry” but actually meaning “I’m good” or “I rock.”
3. Homemade Home
If you saw our initial blogs then you would know what a special little challenge our rental house has been for us. It’s charm (lack of closing doors, shelves in the kitchen, and working pipes) has grown on us. Not only did we get to become very good friends with our plumber, but Jon has also gotten to show off some of his handy skills. Thanks to him and our friends/minimarket owners who have given us endless supplies of free fruit crates, our house has really become a home that we love! Also, we love our friend the plumber, but are very happy to announce that we have not seen him for several months! Things are flowing smoothly if you catch my drift.
4. Veterinary Spanish
Jon and I have a big announcement to make. Apart from our beloved Alabama-born dog and the stray cat that lives in on our roof that I feed everyday, we have added another family member. Meet our new puppy Coli! (pronounced Coalie)
Perk #976 of living in Chile is that getting a puppy is free and that the vet is incredibly cheap compared to the states. We were so excited to get a little friend to keep our dog occupied since some days are getting pretty busy. We were also excited to met a wonderful vet who lives close to the church and who even came over to a get-together that we had at our house!
Apart from the joy of a puppy, I was shocked to reflect on the fact that we just survived a vet visit with relative ease in Spanish! Our Spanish still has a long ways to go, BUT I am so happy it that it has come that far in just 6 months.
It takes a while in Latin America to develop strong relationships with others especially when you are a gringo and perceived to probably not stay around for too long. Because of this we get so excited over the smallest interactions: like the man at our neighborhood minimarket calling hello to us as we walk by his store, or having our regular taxi driver invite us to his family’s restaurant, or seeing and talking with people we know almost every time we go shopping at Lider, or having an impromptu get-together at our house and being to call people who quickly come over. These things mean so much to us!
6. Feeling Normal
Because of all the things above and so many more we now have days of normalcy! It no longer is a challenge to go shopping or stressful to hang out with others because we are straining to understand them. Blogs are becoming harder to write because the new and exciting just isn’t as new anymore…it’s becoming a beautiful part of our everyday lives. Living in Linares feels more and more normal every day.
Just this Sunday, I told an older woman at our church that we got a puppy. She was shocked and immediately asked what we are going to do with that puppy when we go to the United States. I shared that friends will watch it when we visit the states but here is our home. She gave a huge sigh of relief, smiled, and said, “How wonderful!”