Sunday, February 23, 2014

Random Thoughts on Our Trip to Chile

Abbey and I drove a few hundred kilometers around Chile exploring over the last 2 weeks. Here are some thoughts.

It is a beautiful country and very similar to California.

Food is cheap. But that may just be because the dollar is so strong against the peso right now. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables cheap from hundreds of roadside stands throughout the country. All fresh from the farms. You can eat healthy down here for less than in the US. This is a huge plus and something we were looking for. Chileans also make lots a tasty pastries that are cheap too.

Building is going on EVERYWHERE. Roads, buildings, housing, etc. Construction everywhere.

Housing building materials are very different down here. I would say not the same quality as american homes. They obviously have to build for earthquakes as well, but overall they use different types of materials for homes. I did not get a good grasp on land prices or the cost to build unfortunately on this trip. Utilities are much higher. Electric and gas are higher than the US. Almost twice.

There is a tremendous amount of government housing which is easy to spot. They are huge grids of the same exact box house in most cities. There is a pretty big amount of government welfare down here which concerns me. Even though capitalism is somewhat happening, there are about 15 super wealthy families that control most of the biggest industries here respectively. And very mafia like from what locals told me. If that is truly the case, then it will never rival what the US accomplished since monopolies do not innovate efficiently without competition. Still trying to wrap my mind around this. There is obviously a HUGE gap between the rich and poor here still. I am not sure how many years of economic boom it takes to filter down and créate a strong middle class like America used to have.

Although there is very little to no violent crime, theft is a huge problem down here still. Gates and fences everywhere. People will just pull right into your driveway and steal stuff. So that is kind of disappointing, although understandable, since there is a high level of poverty still. Someone stole abbey's shoes at the beach.

We drove through some Little towns that were almost third world. And others that were very modern. Some cities have big box stores and malls. There is a ton of graffitti throughout almost every town we passed through. Painting must be the national pasttime down here or something.

There are a big variety of beaches down here. One of our favorites was north of pichilemu and had huge sand dunes right on the beach. Almost 100 feet high.

Weather is amazing all over. The southern lakes región is stunningly beautiful during the summer, but the locals told me it rains like it will never stop for 6 months. So not my optimal idea of a place to live permanently. Although awesome for summer vacationing. We hiked Villarica volcano and that was super cool. We saw 2 different ski resorts that were on the volcanoes.

We drove up into the andes a couple of times which are incredible. Living between route 5 and the andes would be nice. I would be playing in the mountains every weekend. The andes are very volcanic and have some great mountain lakes.

The weather is pretty much perfect between Santiago all the way to Los Angeles before starting to get into the Seattle rainy Winter weather pattern. Some áreas west of Santiago and around it are very, very dry. I think The Los Angeles latitude offers the best overall weather year round with enough natural rain wáter for gardens and crops.

We drove through hundreds of miles of orchards, grapes, trees and other produce. Much like California, they produce a tremendous amount of food. If you get the right piece of land, you can be almost entirely self sufficient down here. Solar panels would probably be great for most of Chile. While I am on the topic of land, apparently there are only about 100-200 realtors in the entire country. At least that is what I was told. So there is probably a huge market for reallty and marketing of real estate in Chile.

The internet is still very week down here. There is a lot of potential for growth in that área.

The bus system down here is incredible. Buses everywhere. We didnt use them but it is a very extensive system that covers the whole country. You can definitely get by with the bus system. I would probably not rent a car next time. The roads are private in Chile, so tolls everywhere. Between the high gas prices and tolls and car rental, it makes sense to use the buses.

I think our overall experience would have been better had we known more spanish. Not much of the population speaks English down here. So my goal is to learn a bunch more Spanish before I come down here again. The language barrier is frustrating when you are trying to learn a new culture. You can communicate what you need, but you can not get into deep discussions.