It is an interesting summer in Los Vilos. Since many of the vacationers arrive here from Santiago there is a larger number of ‘fair-skinned’ people with light eyes here. Evidently the Europeans were a big part of the early settlements of Chile, mainly in the southern parts. They became the wealthy land-owners and businessmen. They are pure Chilean but look different than those here in the small, northern towns and country.
Here are a few random thoughts---
Transportation: Most do not have personal autos so they pay for a collectivo or taxi if it’s too far to walk or they have too much to carry. It’s important that they live within walking distance for daily life.
Housing: No urban sprawl here! Even though there is lots of undeveloped land here (mountains and coastal) the towns remain very compact. People live with & on-top of each other. A small dwelling will rent for ($200-300/month). They are very tiny casas. It is normal for the renter to remove everything before vacating, including any light fixtures, curtain rods, kitchen cabinets etc. Everything goes-
Technology: They all have and use internet (Facebook is huge here) and cell phones but they never seem to have enough calling minutes. Since an in-coming call is usually free or greatly reduced in cost, they like to receive calls but not to make them. We find it interesting that the tiny houses hold upwards of 3 TV’s each. It’s common for every child to have their own electronic devices, including TV. TV’s are one of the few things less expensive for purchase here. All the movies (Disney included) and music is pirated but cheap. It is nothing to see hundreds of DVD’s in a box under the TV.
Utilities: don’t seem very expensive but they do monitor how much electricity & gas they use. They keep lights turned off and since most own at least one HUGE big-screen, they don’t leave them on unnecessarily. If they run out of gas they just shower in cold water. (We’ve enjoyed that experience on occasion)
Healthcare is government run (and very bad!) The hospitals in all the towns are dirty and horrible. Everywhere you look you encounter maimed, crippled and blind folks and children. Diabetes goes un-attended and cancer is rampant!
Taxes are a flat 19% and are always included in the price of the item so there are no add-ons when you check out, except that you need to tip the bagger-kids and the bum who ‘helps’ you park your car in one of the 6 parking slots, if you’re shopping at the largest grocery store in town. (Unimarc)
Food is pricy but if you shop at the street feria, then it's a little cheaper (no receipts). Everything from food and clothing to toiletries to office supplies is about twice what we would pay in the states. As far as the clothing goes, even if it is a used item (think DI or Goodwill) if it’s in good shape, then it’s pricey. They love any clothing w/ European or American Brand names or words. There was a woman at church wearing a T-shirt (dress standards are much more casual here) and on it written was: “I’m not knocked-up ~ I’m just fat! She said she didn’t care what it meant, but that she liked the colors. I’ve seen men wearing Lady Viking’s and pink Susan G. Kohlman Mammogram shirts. (And to think it used to bother me wearing black clothing with brown shoes or accessories, not anymore.)
Fleas: we know first-hand are miserable, little critters There are so many stray dogs roaming that it’s easy to get them and hard to get rid of them. People normally just put up with them and wait out the 2 months of summer, and then the cold temperatures put the fleas back to sleep for another year. We had our house ‘bombed’ yesterday to kill them.
Everything is very tiny here: You purchase Cake by the piece, flavorless gum in super tiny packs, sheets of paper individually, and milk (no refrigerated milk here) in cartons from 1 to 3 cups. You drink yogurt. They don’t give you ‘twist ties’ on anything but rather tape packages shut or staple them.
List of things I’ve learned recently:
You can re-use dental floss. One-day contacts can be worn for up to a week. Saving things like empty TP rolls, wire from a used spiral notebook, nails found in the street, or any plastic bags is good. They can be used for other purposes and save you money. These things don’t exist (perhaps they do in the big cities):
Clothes dryers; Curly Ribbon; Corn Syrup; pretzels; chocolate candy (it’s all only the flavor of chocolate & heavy on the wax)….well I could go on and on with this list but this entry is already too long.
Next time I will write more about our gospel experiences and things that really matter, like how we are growing and changing our lives and (hopefully) others J Love to you all! C-