The time in Santiago is a mix of sightseeing and getting our stuff in order, with the main priority being; buying a car!
Arriving in times of Covid-19
Chile is quite strict on their foreign tourist policies for entering the country, so the list of admin to do before you get there is quite extensive. From having your vaccinations validated for a mobility pass, to uploading a negative PCR test and providing an address for your compulsory quarantine, all is in order as we touch down in the city. At the airport, everybody takes another PCR (we had a very harsh nurse, still hurts now!) which makes exiting the airport an almost 2 hour affair, and from the airport you have to go straight to your accommodation to await the results of the test before you can go out.
Our apartment is in Providencia on the 17th floor, so we enjoy the view and get settled in while our results are processed which in the end turns out to take 24 hrs. The next step is to selfreport how you are feeling for the next 10 days through a website (or app, but that turns out not to work), where you register if you are feeling any symptoms related to Covid. It is not so much of a nuisance so we are fine with the process and do it diligently every morning. On top of this the mouth mask is compulsory EVERYWHERE, also outside, so we get used to this again.
A round of Cerro San Cristobal and an afternoon in the park
As it is weekend, there is not much to be done (beyond searching for cars online), so we take the Sunday to take the boys up the Cerro San Cristobal with the cabin lift. The views around the city are great – you even see snowy peaks in the heat of summer – and it is really nice to stretch our legs again after all the travel and quarantine. At the back of the hill there is a sneaky trail down, right to the Parque Bicentenario – a great park with slides coming down the hill and a true track to play on! To get back, we get a metro card to take us to the apartment, but we quickly realize that an Uber is often a faster and same price option to get around the city.
Another day we decide to take the metro to Parque Araucano so the boys can have fun in the park while mom goes into the mall to check out the Decathlon and other stores we may need to fill our car with. The sun is out and the metro ride is always fun, so we have a relaxing afternoon. We do our first round of Decathlon clothes shopping, mostly cold weather gear we may need for our time down south and camping in colder temperatures. As we get back we get hit with two disappointments: the car we had our eye on is off the table, and our trip to Antarctica is canceled by the operator! :-(. Flexibility is key when traveling at times of Covid, but we are all taken aback by this letdown.
The (grand)parents arrive!
In the middle of car searching, camping gear buying and paperwork handling the next highlight presents itself: The grandparents arrive! They do, their luggage does not hahaha, as it got stuck in the US, but the boys are over the moon as they enjoy their company and get all the cuddles in they had to miss for the last 6 months. With the grandparents here, we can up our tempo to get things organised as we can leave the kids with them some times. They settle in easily and shake off the jetlag in the next days as we take it easy and mostly see the sights in the surroundings. We also check out their campervan they are renting for their travels here, which is a greatly outfitted van by Suzi Santiago again.
The buying a car saga
So buying a car in Chile is not that easy. That is to say, there are dozens for sale, but they sell so fast that it is hard to get a foot in as a foreigner wanting to buy a car. We learned this the hard way as we started our search for a car before we got to Chile already and actually found one quit quickly! Unfortunately this seller wanted cash from us which is really difficult and expensive to come by, and he was in a hurry to sell, so we had to let this option go.
With a few days of scouring the internet together with our agency – SuziSantiago – we found some more options to look at. Thankfully the agency has mechanics who can check some of the options that we are interested in to ensure we do not buy a lemon :-). One of the options actually turns out to be a typical ‘to good to be true’… which was caught by the mechanic and we quickly scratched it off our list (after spending an afternoon on it).
With half the week gone we find two options, one of which we seriously want to buy. As we check out the other on thursday evening, we decide to go with the first option and conclude with the seller. Our excitement quickly fades as the seller tells us he too only wants to deal with us with cash…. This is a true feat in Chile, as the maximum you can pull out of an ATM is only 200k pesos, which is roughly 220 euros. We are buying a car worth approx 12k, which amounts to 55 (!!!) transactions at the ATM, while we are told that every card can only do 3 transactions per day!
Next week: Will we get on the road?