Archive for September, 2012

I had read countless nightmare stories on expat nonresidents in Chile being unable to get internet hooked up. Therefore I was in GuardedGringo mode when I went to try and get mine put into our new old former crack den.

VTR was my first choice, but in our area (Centro/downtown) they are unavailable and only offered a 2 megabit wifi line, which would be unacceptable. Maybe sometime in the future they will roll out more cable and I can get one of their nice fast 120 megabit lines. Ah well.

Movistar is the one which causes everyone to run screaming and/or projectile vomit (hence their colloquial name “Vomistar”). They were my second/last choice. And, unfortunately, they only offer a 6 megabit connection but it’s DSL and not wifi so that’s a little better. So I decided on them, not really, more like settled, but whatever. Half of something is better than all of nothing. Nonzero, bitches! I went to the Movistar office at the mall, and asked the lady at the counter about how I could get the hookup.

“Do you have a resident card?” she asked.

“Nope. But I’m en tramite.” I told her.

“That’s OK. Do you have a work contract?”

“Yes I do. But not with me.” Not exactly the sort of thing one carries in their wallet. “I’ll have to come back.”

“OK, no problem,” she says.

“Understood, but when I come back, I take it to mean from your unexpected agreeable attitude that this is possible and I can get an internet connection with just a work contract and no resident card?” I inquire.

“Yes.”

And, of course, when I return, she is nowhere to be found. Ghost lady. The guy there now is douchy Guido and tries to tell me that I can’t sign up for internet here. Bullshit, you just don’t want to do the paperwork. Whatever, up yours pal, I’ll try the other office down the street.

So I go there, and the dragon lady at the desk tells me I can’t get one without a resident card. “You need a Chilean credit history for accounts to approve it.” Again bullshit, if I don’t pay, just cut my line. Simple. I try to tell her that I know the game, but she foists me off on a grumpier, older guy, who tries the same bullshit. When I insist, he just walks off. It was Friday and about 6pm.

It should be mentioned that Movistar is formerly knows as Telefonica, the old government monopoly, which was sold off. The old functionaries who don’t want to help you are still there somewhere, jamming up the machine with the tar-like substance that oozes from their ears. OK, I can play this game another way. I go home to the refuge of my computer.

WifeBob, by the way, noticed my “been playing with bureaucrats” look and called me out on it. Maybe it’s the veins that pop out of my neck and forehead and the sparks that fly from my grinding teeth.

Movistar has a website where you can solicit a new line through a web form. They then call you to verify the information, and set up a time for you to have the line installed. Minimal human contact, and the only pressing info they need is an address and a Chilean RUT number, which any schmoe can get in 10 minutes. No credit card, nothing else.

I solicited the new line on Friday, and they called me that evening to verify the info. The lady on the phone told me that within 15 days I will be contacted for the installation. OK, I think, South Americans NEVER call you back, ever. In 2 weeks I’ll go see the VTR guy, tail between my legs, and opt for the crappy 2 meg connection.

Surprise surprise, Movistar called me this Tuesday to ask if I would be ready in an hour for the line to be installed. OK says I. Come on over.

2 hours pass and the guy finally shows up. Along with delivery guys bringing the chairs I ordered yesterday, which arrived on time. Everyone showing up at once. The guy installs my internet, it works at the advertised speed, all I had to do was sign the form stating it was installed and answer questions from a tech on the phone, verifying that I am me and that I live at my address and that the line works.

Done.

I should also mention that had my expectations not been drowned to death, resuscitated, and then drowned to death again, and again, and again, and again, and again, in Uruguay, I’d probably be flipping my lid over stuff like this. One cannot know the taste of sweet unless one has been force-fed rotten dog shit by the ton.

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Uruguay and Argentina have always been fighting over whether Carlos Gardel, the father of Tango, was really Argentine or Uruguayan.

Funny thing: now they both have to shut up, because as of today, it has been conclusively proven that he was born in France!

source: RFI Español

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Confirman que Gardel nació en Francia

Carlos Gardel murió en un accidente de avión en Medellín, en 1935.

Carlos Gardel murió en un accidente de avión en Medellín, en 1935.

Tres investigadores encontraron la partida de nacimiento que comprueba que el legendario cantante de tango nació en la ciudad francesa de Toulouse.

La disputa por la nacionalidad de Gardel se había extendido por varias décadas. Finalmente, tres investigadores, los franceses Georges Galopa y Monique Ruffié junto al argentino Juan Carlos Esteban, dieron con la prueba inequívoca de sus borrosos orígenes: el acta de nacimiento. El hallazgo se hizo luego de diez años de búsqueda.
Los tres estudiosos presentaron en Buenos Aires el libro “El padre de Gardel”, en el que se cuenta cómo nació la incógnita. El 11 de diciembre de 1890 fue inscrito un bebé con el nombre de Charles Romuald Gardes, hijo natural de Paul Jean Lassare, un ladrón que abandonó a la madre y al hijo tras el nacimiento de éste último. Madre e hijo viajaron a Argentina cuando el pequeño tenía apenas dos meses.

El embrollo surgió cuando el joven Gardel, durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, se negó a registrarse en la cartilla militar ante el Consulado de Francia en Argentina. Amparándose en una legislación muy particular para súbditos uruguayos en el exterior, Gardel decidió en 1920 inscribirse en el consulado uruguayo. Allí declaró haber nacido en Tacuarembó (Uruguay), tres años antes de su verdadero nacimiento y en vez de poner Gardes, firma Gardel. El cantante que ya comenzaba a cosechar éxitos artísticos, utilizó ese certificado uruguayo para tramitar luego documentación en Argentina.

Juan Carlos Esteban aseguró que el dato del “Gardel francés” no es del todo “una sorpresa” ya que él mismo encontró años atrás documentación que aseveraba que el cantante, fallecido en un accidente de avión en Medellín (Colombia) el 24 de junio de 1935, había nacido en Toulouse. “En el testamento de Gardel de 1933, que fue depositado en una caja de seguridad de un banco, y se abrió en el proceso de sucesión de 1935, aparecen los certificados de nacimiento de Gardel como Charles Romuald Gardes, nacido el 11 de diciembre de 1890 en Toulouse”, señaló el investigador argentino.

De todas formas, este hallazgo no le resta un ápice de “argentinidad” a esta leyenda del tango, quien contribuyó con su voz y talento a la promoción de este género y quien además siempre se consideró argentino.

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PayPal has had to close down domestic transactions for Argentine customers. Apparently the Argentinos were opening two accounts and using them to send money to themselves, in order to take advantage of a better Peso-Dollar exchange rate than is available from the Kirchner regime. Details here.

Meanwhile, as of writing, the government rate is 4.69 Pesos per Dollar, and the black market rate is 6.34, a difference of 35% (source: dolarblue)

Today was an interesting day. We started cleaning out the new old apartment. On one hand I like doing things like this: you work with your hands, you get to wear your overalls, and you get to see results. Granted it’s not as efficient as delegating the work to a peon, but it’s nice once in a while to do the stuff and get it done, and watch the phoenix rise from the ashes.

In this case, we’re cleaning out 40 years of not-been-cleaned chainsmoke residue, settled Santiago smog soot, and lord knows what else. We’re serial renovators and global slumlords. We like to find deals in gentrifying neighborhoods, get them on the cheap, and sell them for a profit after we pimp them out. Some folks think we’re nuts, but this isn’t our first rodeo. And we’ve done worse.

“Hey, honey, what kind of drugs can you smoke off the end of a butter knife?” I ask WifeBob.

“Oh God, I don’t know. Don’t tell me,” she answers, and, being unable to resist the curiosity, “What did you find?”

“I think I found their paraphernalia. Some burned butter knives. Oh, and here’s their pipe,” as I extracted a 6-inch tube of plastic, cloth rubber-banded over the end, from its bed in the inch of dust above the medicine cabinet. “Well, this is better than the first crack house we’ve owned!”

All in all the place is in remarkably good shape, structurally. But it was used as a college flop-house for some time, and has probably literally not been cleaned for decades. There’s beautiful hardwood under all that caked-on greasy soot.

Some people don’t have the stomach for it. We almost lost it a few times, scrubbing someone else’s petrified vomit off of a wall in the corner. Who leaves that stuff? Seriously? Oh, yeah… crack head college students. I won’t even mention the mystery substances I had to scrub from around the toilet.

Nothing says love like taking over scrubbing puke, feces, and pubes-caked-in-urine-residue for your significant other while they fight their gag reflex and get some fresh air.

The whole time, we were both discussing the merits of advice from my brother-in-law’s Abuelita from Ecuador. She used to drill into her kids:

“It’s OK to be poor, but you don’t have to be dirty.”

Good advice, and it’s true. Always made us wonder why some people in impoverished areas don’t seem to mind sitting around, sometimes literally, in their own shit. That can’t be pleasant. Go wash off, man. We’ve seen areas where people don’t have two pennies to rub together, but you could eat off their floors, even the dirt floors, and they were clean and wore clean clothes. Then we’ve seen others where you wonder if these people have ever taken a bath or washed their clothes, or even know how.

Between our “dirty” apartment and our “clean” apartment, which we have for one more week, we saw a crazy old man, stark naked, wandering around in the street. Folks kept their distance, but despite the fact that there was a park full of families right next to where he was, no cops came to take him away. Maybe they figured he wasn’t harming anyone, so let him dance like a loon in the middle of the street.

Good news, Chile has Tempurpedic beds. We went to their showroom earlier today, on a Saturday, during their advertised hours. They were actually open. The shopkeeper was knowledgeable and pleasant, and patient enough to get our bizarre international credit card purchase set up straight. She gave us advice on directions to go where we were going next. The directions turned out to be correct. The bed will be delivered on Monday. For less than the cost of our Queen size spring mattress in Uruguay, we can get a King size Tempur memory foam mattress in Chile.

Flawless experience.

Then we bought a vacuum for the house. The plug on the cord was the right kind. When we plugged it in, it worked.

We also went furniture shopping.

Did I mention we did all of this in one day?

Chile kicks ass.

Along the Costanera

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Humor, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

WifeBob was out walking today, because that’s all you can do when the whole country shuts down for two days to celebrate the Fiestas Patrias. Along her trek, she came upon a neat little area where every 200 meters or so there are these little “parklets” with a statue, a plaque, some kind of landscaping, etc. This one in particular she felt moved to take a picture, because she liked it so much; Korea had sent Chile a pagoda congratulating them on their 200th anniversary.

Pagoda Dabotap, Santiago

Then, purely by chance (and she was not cherry-picking on this) she saw the next one over, Parque Uruguay:

Parque Uruguay, Santiago

I probably don’t need to say anything here, but note the busted up Soviet brickwork, the graffiti, the trash, and the vandalized portapotty. Granted, Santiago’s trash collectors have been on vacation for a few days so things are a bit dirty in the city, but why was Korea spotless while Uruguay is neglected right next door?

I know! But I don’t have to say it, because you know too.

And no, we didn’t put it there.

Non-residents and non-citizens can buy real estate in Chile with few problems. The process is straightforward, which is probably why there are few reliable sources with complete information.

The first and foremost thing you will need to do is get a Chilean RUT number (taxpayer ID number, don’t let the name scare you). This is done by finding the closest office of the SII (Chilean version of the IRS) and going there with:

1. A printout of this form, filled out with the parts for your name and address (an address in Chile) and the box “Solicititud RUT” checked. Nothing more should be needed on this form.

2. A photocopy of your passport.

That’s it. It costs nothing, and it took me and WifeBob 20 minutes to get it done, most of which was spent waiting for our number to come up. When you are done, they give you a temporary ID paper with your RUT number, which you use in the meantime. They told us that they would mail the cards to us, but this is not the case; you actually pick them up at the same office in a week or so; sometimes they can have them done in 3 days but hey, it’s a bureaucracy. In the meantime, your paper works as your RUT card, and is 100% valid to use for real estate purchases.

Note: they would not let me pick up WifeBob’s card even though I was carrying her passport and temporary RUT paper. You need a power of attorney for this, or you need to drag your woman into the office by her hair. I recommend using a club to subdue her first.

When you find your ideal property, you will meet with the broker or seller, and draw up a Promesa de Compraventa. This is the sale agreement. You will be required to put down a good-faith deposit, which may be as high as 10%. Sometimes a promissory note will work; ask your broker or lawyer.

Once the Promesa de Compraventa is done, your lawyer should do the due diligence of looking up the property register and making sure that the deed is clean, there are no debts owed on the property, etc. This can take a few days or it can take a month, depending on the speed of said lawyer. Once the bill of health comes back clean, you move onto the next step, which is the official contract.

I should mention at this point that some brokers may be fearful about using the RUT paper instead of the RUT card, but it is indeed 100% legal and proper. It has been done and shall continue to be done. If they are being difficult, have your lawyer reassure them.

Now you should be trying to figure out a way to get your money into Chile. Normally foreigners cannot open a bank account so this presents some problems. Fortunately lawyers can act as escrow agents with the proper bank forms, however one should be warned that unless you trust your lawyer implicitly you are taking an unnecessary risk; the Notarias are held in strict regulation by the government and the lawyers less so. You are safer getting the Notary to do the escrow service for you instead.

The lawyer or notary will need to fill out a form for the bank declaring what the deal is with this incoming money and what it is to be used for. You the buyer will have to draft a letter to the bank detailing the source of the funds. For example:

Date: today
To: Banco Blanco Chile
Re: Funds transfer to NotableNotary from ExpatBob

Dear sirs:

The funds we are sending are for the purchase of an apartment in Santiago, 123 Happy Lane, priced at $1 pesos Chilenos (presently $.005 USD). We are including additional funds to pay for notary fees and exchange rate losses, for a total of $3 US Dollars.

This money has been in our possession for a number of years, and originated from salary and savings of both myself and my wife, WifeBob (RUT 12345, PSP USA 67890), and are stored in The Bank of Bernank. All taxes have been paid in the USA for these funds.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Signed,

ExpatBob (RUT 67890, PSP 12345)

After you move your money into the escrow, it comes back out as a bank check, or “vale vista” which, when signed, is considered as good as cash.

The lawyers will draw up the official contract and meet with you at a Notaria along with the seller and any requisite brokers. The Notary is the acting escrow for everything. They take in the contract, which all parties sign, and the signed vale vista. You also sign and receive a copy of a document which lays out what they got from everyone and what they are expected to carry out, basically a receipt for all parties.

It is then the Notary’s job to register the deed with the proper authorities. They then bring back the receipt of the change-of-ownership, conveying it to the new owner, and release the vale vista to the seller. This process can take a day or it can take a week depending on holidays, efficiency or lack thereof, etc.

The buyer is expected to pay on average a 2% commission to the seller’s agent.
Lawyer and notary fees may vary, but the whole process shouldn’t cost more than USD$2000-3000.

Tips:

  • Always make sure that in addition to property taxes, there are no debts outstanding from unpaid bills or “gastos comunes” and make sure it is part of the contract that the utilities are all on and working when you get the keys in your hand.
  • Get a statement from the former owner of all the bills and account numbers to said utilities, or at least request a copy of the most recent bill, to make the transition easier for changing over the account names (which you don’t *technically* have to do). At least make sure that you can keep up with the payment of the bills (via their account numbers) if the next round of them fails to appear.
  • Send extra into your escrow if you can, to cover attorney fees and loss to exchange rate conversion.
  • Make sure you have a power-of-attorney drafted so that your lawyer can deal with any documentation or incidental things in your stead.
  • Also make sure that the seller has a power-of-attorney set up, and you know who to contact, should they disappear on vacation in the middle of the deal and leave you without keys to the place, like ours did, leaving you with an extra week of hotel costs. Douchebag. In fact I’d make this a stipulation in the Promesa de Compraventa.
  • A (good?) site for finding real estate in Chile is PortalInmobiliari0.com. They have a decent selection of various properties, and the prices are not gringo-inflated (ie the locals use it to find what they are seeking).

Funs with Guns

Posted: September 15, 2012 in Humor
Tags: , ,

More chainmail dookie from friends, but there were some good ones in there.