Archive for December, 2012

“Go home, go straight home, and go straight to bed. Stay in bed for at least 2 days. No moving furniture, no going outside to the hardware store, no painting the apartment. You are young and otherwise healthy and you Polakos are built like tanks, but look at yourself. You have a temperature of nearly (102F/38.8C), you can hardly breathe, and sweat is pouring off of you in sheets. And you tell me that you haven’t eaten or slept in 2 days because you cough all night and have lost your appetite? Frankly I am amazed that you made it all the way out here under your own power and are still able to stand.”

DoctorBob had valid points, all around. OK, I’ll go home and do nothing for 2 days, but I don’t have to enjoy it.

“According to these chest x-rays, you don’t have pneumonia. Yet. So get some rest. You’re in bad shape.”

He gave me a laundry list of stuff for the pharmacy and made sure I understood what does what, to get better fast. DoctorBob works in a clinic across town, and I needed to take a combination of metro, buses, and taxis to get there. I found him through the IntegraSalud website and recommendations for a good lung-and-throat doctor who specializes in respiratory funk in Santiago. These clinic websites tell you which specialist is going to be at which clinic when, so you can make an appointment with them online and just show up. Efficient, and it works. I waited max 30 minutes initially, had a very good consultation, was sent down for chest x-rays, which had maybe 5 minutes wait, and then back up for the final words which you see above. This was my first experience with the health care system in Chile, and it was a positive one.

The only weird and extremely South American part came when I went to check in at the front desk, and the lady there told me I had to use the little number-issuing kiosk to take a number. I looked around, there was nobody in line with me, maybe a dozen people sitting in chairs waiting who had already checked in. So I went to the kiosk, punched in my info, got the little printed ticket, and then instantly my number came up on the screen behind the desk, and assigned me to the same lady who had told me to use the kiosk. Riiiiight…

I was not able to use our Fonasa coverage, which technically kicks in once we are earning a salary here, because I never went in to activate it. Could have gotten me some discounts. As it was, I had to pay out of pocket, which cost me about CLP$38000 each for the consult and the x-rays (about USD$160 total). Not cheap but VERY cheap compared to what it would cost in the US, and much better care. In February, our Isapre Aleman plan kicks in, by which we will pay about USD$450 additionally per month to cover both myself and WifeBob, for excellent coverage. To put it into perspective, WifeBob’s old plan in the US was costing us $350 per month just to cover her, and only for severe accidents (no clinic checkups, no preventive stuff, only covers you if you lose an arm or something). To top it off, her plan was made illegal by Our Dear Leader so it’s got to be cancelled anyways.

Last night was a show of crazy fever dreams. Almost as good as mushrooms. I was being whisked around in a Lazy River of sorts, my body held up by an invisible inner tube under the arms, lounging through s-curves of slowly moving water that I could not see or touch, but it held me up in the sky. I passed through groves of melted black plastic geometric shapes which morphed, as if there was a fibrous structure inside which changed fractal shapes, nested inside a sticky melted tar-like goo. Fascinating.

Then I was in someone’s front yard at night, which was haunted. As we walked up their driveway, a mirror silhouette of a man sliced itself into existence with a metallic scraping sound at the top of the driveway and started advancing towards me. There was another guy there, a sort of generic bearded war correspondent cameraman movie extra, who tried to run past it, and as it slid past him it sucked the life out of his body in a Tesla-like display of electric sparks which glowed at the edges of the mirror silhouette and then faded, the lifeless corpse falling to the ground behind the advancing mirror. Then the sound started, reverberating noise like my head was in a rumbling exhaust pipe, the mirror getting closer and closer… This must have been inspired by my reading of Tesla’s diary of experiments with light and electrical fields being effected by the weak bioelectric/biomagnetic field that human beings give off, which I had read about before bed. Fascinating.

Then the next dream I am in my grandparents’ house constructing the set for the previous monster movie, when the folks there decide to have a costume party, so we go to the local convenience store where they have bags of candy with wigs inside, so I buy the bag with the afro wig, and decide that my costume will be Wilt Chamberlain. “But you’re white,” they tell me. Naysayers! Once everyone has their stuff I try to herd everyone back into the car and nobody wants to leave.

About 3 weeks ago I received a call from a representative from our home insurance company in Uruguay, with information about the upcoming expiration of our homeowners policy and how to deal with the bill payment. As I had wanted to find a new, different agency, but had run out of time, I simply let it slide and decided to renew it. So I explained that I am leaving within 48 hours and have no time to deal with running around doing bank deposits, so can I do it online,? The lady said yes, gave me the account number, and her email, etc. so here I thought I would be slick and technology-oriented and do the transfer online and have it done without needing to drive to the bank, like the way it is done in the rest of the world.


The bank deposit went without a hitch, I made a PDF of the transfer receipt, sent it via email to her, received no bounce message, so I assumed it was done. However, you must do everyone else’s job for them in Uruguay, even if you are not in Uruguay, so I called her today, 3 weeks later, to verify that the funds were properly received and credited. No sign of anything from her end. No checking of email, nothing. So of course she says she must search her records and call me back, so she takes my number and I know I will not hear from her until… never.

I am beginning to think that Uruguay cannot cope with technology and only understands grunts, simple hand signals, and pieces of paper with stamps and foil seals.

Meanwhile… is my house insured? Nobody seems to know. If a tree falls our your house in Uruguay and nobody is there to insure it, does it still make a sound?

Friends of mine here in Santiago are having a hard time finding an apartment. They say that first of all, what they do find ends up snatched up quickly. Everyone is buying and nobody is renting out. The rental market in Santiago is definitely a “seller’s market.” Furthermore, anything with parking or pet-friendly makes things even tougher. Part of this is due to very low interest rates on mortgages. Obviously lots of people can afford to take out a mortgage, but those who still wish to rent are a huge market looking for an outlet.

BassPlayerBob, one of said couple of friends, told me that if you buy an apartment here “en verde” (before construction) you save a significant amount. If one were to buy a cheap apartment, one would definitely have no problem renting it out for a decent return.

This pans out not only in Santiago, but in other regions like Rancagua where the growth rate is absurdly high due to mining expansion, and there are only a few apartment buildings in existence. One could say there is a critical housing shortage there.


Tumbleweeds in Santiago

Posted: December 9, 2012 in Life
Tags: , , ,

Feriado: a holiday, this time for the Day of Immaculate Conception. The streets are empty, the traffic is nearly gone, everything is closed, and the entire city is devoid of life. It’s bizarre, like being in a zombie apocalypse movie. Only the grocery stores are open, and the lines are long. It’s impressive to me how a city the size of Chicago can turn itself off completely, overnight. That’s feriado in Chile. It could only be more complete with tumbleweeds blowing through the streets.

I celebrate by building a 3d printer, until I get to a point where I realize I need tools which I don’t have, and I can’t go out and buy them today.

On a good note, I have my own private metro car. Not anywhere to go, though, other than to practice some music with friends. Others in town were getting up bright and early and hammering their own music into the air. The afternoon turned quiet but then people came out late and the metro was packed on the way home, around 10pm.