Monday, 29 November 2010

Housing update (yawn)

Just in case anyone else was wondering here's a very brief update on our housing situation (apologies if any readers are getting slightly tired of this subject; same here). Just under a week ago we were poised to sign the contract for the aforementioned apartment with our passports, having passed muster under whatever intense scrutiny had taken place. Then on the morning of the signing I received a call from our otherwise helpful estate agent with a rather sombre note to her voice, informing me that the current tenants were not actually moving out after all so the apartment was no longer available. Shame they waited so long to decide, but wonders will never cease. Thus we are back to square one and are now back on the frenzied trail of the holy grail of Santiago's rental market. How hard can it be?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Still waiting, with bated breath...

...for some kind of conclusion to the ongoing saga of househunting. A week ago we finally saw somewhere we liked which ticked all the boxes and which was walking distance from DD1's school (one of the most important criteria) and have begun the long procedure of making an offer, leaving a holding deposit as well as a list as long as your arm of the necessary documents to prove who we are, what we're doing here and why we need permanent accommodation. However despite all this there has been a sticking point with the fact that as non-Chileans still waiting for our visas we are not in possession of an all-important tax code which seems to be the crucial key to being recognised as serious people (as opposed to mere tourists) in a country where red tape surrounds one's every move. Exhausting, demoralising, stressful but all part of the experience I suppose, especially as we are not in the advantageous position of having huge corporate backing. Having said all that, there does now seem to be chink of light at the end of the tunnel as we may be able to sign a temporary contract using our passports until we are awarded our visas, residency permits and of course tax codes. Just hope it's not too much longer as I was hoping to be unpacked by Christmas...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Coming home

Last week marked our first foray out of the city and to the coast as we tagged along with DH for a conference. Not quite as glamorous as it sounds as it wasn't exactly the five-star treatment and golden sands. Rather it entailed the children and myself wandering around the vibrant though ramshackle port town of Valparaiso, trying to find our bearings and keep warm in the cool, cloudy mornings while also being prepared to peel off our layers like onions once the sun came out later in the day. Valparaiso itself is an interesting destination for grown-ups: a picturesque UNESCO site of world heritage for its colourful houses perched on its 45 hills and once the principal port in South America until the opening of the Panama Canal, it is now teeming with tourists from far-flung places while also apparently a hang-out for hippies of all ages and persuasions. The children enjoyed climbing up and down the steps, watching the boats and of course were desperate to get their shoes and socks off and play in the sand. Trying to avoid losing anything either in the steep winding streets of the hills or in the hustle and bustle of the busy flat area near the port with two children, plenty of snacks and drinks and all those jackets and jumpers was always going to be difficult. Dipsy (DD2's favoured soft toy) was the first casualty, coming a cropper on the way to our bohemian boarding house (run by an enigmatic Frenchman with flowing locks), but by the end of our stay we had also managed to mislay a purple sock, a sun hat and some Chilean pesos. Highlights of the stay included getting close to swimming and resting sea-lions on a boat trip and watching seagulls and pelicans flying over the rugged waves of the Pacific Ocean while the children had their afternoon of frolicking on the beach. It was good to have a change of scene and coming back to Santiago afterwards for the first time felt like coming home.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Remember remember... Guy who?

Up until very recently one could have been forgiven for forgetting one was in the southern hemisphere where the seasons are back-to-front, as the weather has been quite variable and although it is actually spring it almost seemed like a very fine autumn but without the leaves rustling underfoot. Last week however things changed, practically overnight, as the temperature rocketed and we found ourselves completely overdressed. Changing one's wardrobe from winter to summer in one day is always a shock; doing so on 1 November seemed downright wrong. But the clocks have gone forward, the trees are in blossom and the air is visibly thick with pollen, so spring it is, whatever the calendar may say. Try as I might I found it hard to imagine bonfires being lit on Friday as the sun refused to set until the children's bedtime. I tried to explain to them that back in Britain all children their age would have been pulling on woollies to go out and watch the cold night sky glow and sparkle with fireworks but they gazed back at me blankly, totally unaware of who Guy Fawkes was and more intent on getting their hands on a bucket and spade for imminent trips to the seaside...