We arrived in Santiago on Monday. Danny summed it all up well this morning, "We found a place to live. We have clean underwear. Our kids have adapted to dinner at 8pm. Life is good."
Right now we are in an apart-hotel. We can't complain. It is spacious and ladies come and clean up after us each day when we are out exploring. We made dinner in last night which was a real treat after so many meals dining out. This place is in a great location, a little neighborhood called El Golf, with a park just a few blocks from our door. It is surrounded by many of the restaurants our friends, Brett and Nicki, recommended we try and we like the area a lot. Although we're happy here, the apart-hotel costs more money than we can afford to spend, so we are moving down a couple stops on the metro this weekend.
We've rented an apartment in the Providencia neighborhood for six weeks. It is also a good spot just a little more "grittier" than El Golf (to steal Nicki's description.) We move into our new home-away-from-home on Sunday. It has two bedrooms, a full kitchen (which means it has an oven, but not a coffee maker!) and a great rooftop pool. The pool is surrounded by nice views of the city and the mountains and we can't wait to splash around under Chile's great big hole in the ozone. (My brother I know has already google mapped it and is jealous.)
Every once in a while we are reminded that Christmas is coming soon, but it is not on our radar too much. With palm trees, 80 degree days, and sunlight until 9pm it feels kind of weird. That said we are going to do our best to get in the spirit by hunting down some tacky tinsel, possibly buying a fake tree (gasp!) and getting the Christmas carols cranked on our laptop. Although Danny can't stand her, Barbara Streisand is really about all I need to feel the holiday cheer. (And a plate of the Zeigel's Christmas cookies never hurt either.)
We haven't done much sight-seeing in Santiago yet because we've spent the last 2 days looking at apartments. Because we've got our apartment secured, we set out today. It was a feast day for the Virgin Mary and the custom is to hike up a big hill to her statue starting from the Bellavista neighborhood and attend mass at the church on top. We went to the neighborhood to check it out, and saw throngs of people all sweaty and happy on their way down. There were lots of people out selling crafts and food along the street so it made for some good people watching. We were surprised to see how many people ended their hike down from church with a beer and a huge plate of meat and cheese covered french fries. We never ended mass that way growing up, but I guess a stop at Little Joe's after church would be kind of comparable.
So far we are enjoying Santiago. It is very big and crowded but the people are friendly and cars actually stop for pedestrians here, unlike in Quito. The trees lining the streets are beautiful and a nice contrast against all the tall buildings. Cal and Harper don't like walking in the city like they did on the dusty roads around Rio Muchacho, but they don't complain about the all the yummy helado and empanadas we've eaten on our walks either. Another difference from Quito is the Metro subway system and Cal is very interested in it. We've spent lots of minutes standing and watching the subway trains pull in and then head down the line. We have a long list of spots to explore in the city so I am sure we'll get our fill of walking and taking the "under the ground train," as Cal likes to call it.