Sunday, June 28, 2009

OM - Day 28, Part 2

I have made it safely to Argentina. The line for customs was long but fortunately they didn't go through my bags (perhaps partly on account of my very apparent lack of Spanish). I thought Argentina would be a bit colder than Chile, but it was actually warmer when I arrived.

Anyways, Chile was pretty cool. It was quite a different experience because 1. Rich was there and 2. we stayed with an American OM couple, Hal and Sandy. They have been living in Chile for 6 years and know their way around really well. So we got to be quite the tourists, especially on Saturday.

But first, work. Rich and I spent the majority of Thursday and Friday working in the OM office trying to get things working. Thursday was frustrating because the internet kept going in and out and it was hard to pin down the problem. We think it was caused by the faulty router due to the fact that it was behaving strangely even when it shouldn't. So we bought a new router, and eventually the internet stabilized. We aren't sure if it was the router, or the ISP fixing something, or the sheer grace of God. Either way, it worked pretty much all day Friday.

I was told that >80% of Chilean software is pirated. Being a Christian organization, one of my tasks was to "legalize" the office. So I changed the product keys for Windows XP and Office 2003 to legal ones, and I installed Windows on another laptop and did my best to make some of the computers faster. Hal has done a good job with keeping them up to date, so there wasn't much there to do. I was going to put more RAM in one of the computers and discovered that the motherboard only takes 168 pin SDRAM. (For you non-techies, that's OLD!) So much for that. I only brought DDR and DDR2 RAM with me, so I couldn't help that computer. I did put another 512 MB in Mario's computer, so hopefully that helps. Our other task for Chile was to convert their email accounts to Exchange, but the email accounts had not been set up yet, so we couldn't finish that.

Now for the touristy part. On Friday after lunch, Hal, Rich and I walked around a tourist market and bought a couple souvenirs with our very own Chilean pesos. Quite popular in Chile are items made from lapis lazuli, a beautiful blue stone found primarily in Chile and Afghanistan. Depending on the brilliance and craftsmanship, the prices on lapis lazuli figures can vary greatly.

On Saturday, the four of us drove up to the top of a large hill overlooking the Santiago valley, and the view was GORGEOUS! Perhaps the most beautiful view I have seen in my life. They said that usually the smog is thick and makes it hard to see clearly, but that day it was the clearest they've ever seen it. I got my camera out and started snapping pictures like crazy. My goal was to stitch them together into a wide, detailed panorama. When I get them finished, I will post links to them here so you can download them.

The point of this hill is that there is a very large statue of the virgin Mary at the top, where people go to worship or offer praises or whatever else they do with Mary. My view of Catholicism changed drastically after this experience, because of the flagrant idolatry all over the place. If I have any Catholic friends, I'm sorry, but that's too much for me to swallow. Give me the classic God of the Bible any day.

Other random facts of some interest:
  • It is safe to drink the tap water in Santiago.

  • It's rude to eat with your hands below the table. Maybe you're hiding a knife, a sword, or a gun down there?

  • Don't flush the toilet paper down the drain; the plumbing can't handle it well. Instead, dispose of it in the waste basket provided next to the toilet.

  • In Chile, the price is the price. There's no negotiating. But if the seller is nice, you may get a slight discount. :)

  • Chileans don't heat their homes. Or at least, not much. My first night there was extremely cold, and windows were open to the outside all day and night. (Fortunately Hal and Sandy keep a "gringo" home, so they kept it around 70 for us.)

  • Chilean food is typically very bland. You are responsible for your own spices.

  • A huge number of Chileans smoke.

  • Public transportation is cheap. You buy a "Bip" card and put money on it, which grants you access to the public buses and metro (subway). Once you use it, you have an hour to use it as many times as you want on the same charge. So you can catch the bus to the metro and take the metro to your destination and you only get charged once. Pretty nice.

  • (Particularly young) Chilean couples like to make out anywhere and everywhere. I guess they don't have much need for privacy.


Ron said...

Sounds like you had a great time in Chile. Can't wait to see the pictures. Mom

Anthony Rajaonarivony said...

Exciting! I am sure the Lord is using you in ways you will never know (even if they involve 168 pin RAM...hehe).

Robert said...

I heard in Spain that eating with hands below the table is rude as well...kind of interesting.