So, we have arrived in Chile. First impressions? Santiago is lovely. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I think it was a cramped, crowded city with everyone living in skyscrapers and choking on car fumes. What we found was a leafy, spacious city populated by friendly, open, smiling people.
Most of our problems so far seem to stem from language issues. The continental Spanish we learned before we came here has not helped us with the local dialect, Chileno, or with the speed issues. However, yesterday I partook in my first ‘language exchange’ with my madrina Johanna and her friend Jenny and I discovered that when the pace is slowed down I can understand and speak far more than I thought.
We arrived on Wednesday after an 18 hour flight from Heathrow to Santiago via Sao Paulo. We payed over the odds for the taxi bus that took us from the airport to our apartments, but while Ian was busy negotiating, Kyran and I were so tired that we were willing to pay anything just to get to where we were going. We were told the taxi should be about £20-£30. I think we payed £45 in the end.
Our apartment is lovely. Situated on the leafy street of El Vergel in the quiet, trendy suburb of Providencia we’ve basically moved to the Hove of Santiago. We are about a 15 minute walk from Kyran’s flat in Ricardo Lyon and 20-25 minutes from Los Leones, our closest metro station on the main line. There are cafe’s, shops & supermarkets within a few minutes walk of the flat and yesterday we discovered a fantastic running track that goes for kilometres down the main streets of Tobablaba and Pocuro. From asking around we appear to be paying quite a bit for our place, but everyone agrees that the location & the fact that it is fully furnished makes it well worth the price.
We have met lots of lovely people since arriving. Much of that is due to how lucky we have been with our respective padrino’s who have been very welcoming. Johanna met us on Thursday morning and took us on a tour of the city. She also arranged a dinner our for us with Strong Steam‘s padrino Fernando at a lovely restaurant, Como Agua Para Chocolate. I met Johanna again on Saturday afternoon to discuss Tiny Ears, and towards the end of the meeting she had invited along Jenny, her best friend who spoke little English (although far more than I spoke Spanish), and we had a small language exchange as I tried to talk (badly) to Jenny in Spanish. Later Saturday night we had been invited to Fernando’s apartment for dinner. From talking to other SUPpers we have already had more contact with our padrino’s that many have had with theirs for 6 months!
We also were fortunate to have friends here already and seeing Jon and Anna again has been great. They met us at our apartment on Wednesday with a bag of cold beers and then took us out into Providencia to dinner that evening. They also accompanied us on the tour of Santiago and to Fernando’s on Saturday night.
I am also fortunate to have Ian who researched all the companies on phase 1 as well as phase and contacted the ones who sounded interesting before we left. Therefore on Friday night we ended up invited to 2 parties by outgoing SUPpers and met some truly lovely people including Fernando Mejia from SQMOS.
All in all, our first few days here have been fantastic. We have fallen in love with Santiago and are really looking forward to the Startup Chile program starting tomorrow.