We landed in Santiago on different days – husband and Japhy (the dog) on the 30th of November and me on the first of December. We had rented an apartment in the ‘bohemian’ (read: population divided between punks, hippies, old alcoholics and real estate entrepreneurs) neighborhood of Barrio Yungay prior to our departure so thankfully the three of us had somewhere to go when we landed. It was costing us a fortune to stay there but there was a full-size bed and a TV in the bedroom, so in between giving hubs a crash course in teaching English as a Foreign Language, visiting language institutes begging for employment opportunities, and scouring newspaper ads for an apartment, we installed ourselves in front of the TV for healthy doses of Americana. CSI Miami. I think the both of us felt a little disconnected at the time, we are finally here, now what? kind of a feeling. My Spanish skills (which I had spent six months in Spain, three months in Buenos Aires and a very expensive Bachelor’s Degree perfecting) were failing me miserably. Little did I know that Chilean Spanish was like a distant cousin to the ‘Castellano’ I had practiced on my other trips abroad. Thankfully my other half was gung ho ‘Full Steam Ahead!’ and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. About 2 weeks in we found an apartment and jobs teaching English for an institute. The apartment was in our favorite neighborhood in Santiago, Lastarria, so even though it was old and musty and way overpriced, we were sold. Our friend Pedro served as our ‘aval’ (cosigner) and after an entire day of paperwork and arguing over the terms of the lease the place was ours for 6 months.
We started working. We spent Christmas in a gringo bar called California Cantina eating nachos and drinking cheap beer. We scoured the internet for land to buy in Chile and researched prices and places. We tried not to touch our savings. There was an earthquake (the BIG one) which scared me half to death and knocked out power and water supply to our apartment for days. And in April, we made a trip to Laguna Verde to check out a property we found.
The owner of the property was French and had bought a bunch of land, hoping to sell it off. The price was fair and the property was pretty large (1,700 meters squared). It was 2 km. from a gorgeous beach and close enough to the city of Valparaiso (30 minutes driving) that we could work and live there full-time. After a couple visits to the place and a bunch of thinking we bought the property in May 2010. Then we bought this beauty and the fun really started.