My Life in Viña del Mar, Chile: Part Four, More of the Little Things
I’ve discussed previously how things are the same, but different, and how much of that shows up in shopping, so here are some more of those little differences. Note, they’re not bad things, just different. EXCEPT THE PRETZELS, WHERE ARE MY PRETZELS? AND POPCORN FOR POPPING AT HOME?
- Soup only comes dried in packages (think Lipton’s French Onion Soup mix), not in cans (that we’ve seen, anyway)
Aluminum foil & Saran Wrap come in rolls, but not in boxes. I saw this when we moved in, but thought it was just an oddity of whoever was here before us. But when I had to replace the foil, discovered that that’s the way it comes.
- Kitchens tend to be small, so people shop more often, especially for things like bread, which you get at your local panaderia anyway. It’s been odd though, because even a month in we’ll often buy one of something (such as a bag of pasta) instead of multiples, because we just don’t have the space.
- Many things that come in plastic in the U.S. come in pouches or paper-based boxes here. Milk and jam are two examples off the top of my head.
- No half and half, so Cecile gets thick, rich cream in her tea. I used some of it to make a white sauce tonight for our (one bag of) pasta.
- Note to self, need to buy another bag of pasta tomorrow.
- Cheese. It’s popular here, but different. Less in the way of packaged cheeses: you can get a couple of varieties pre-sliced (gouda (so it says) and montenesca I believe) and some processed packaged soft cheeses like brie and mozzarella. But I have yet to see cheddar, and even the parmesan, when we can find it, is softer than we’re used to. Can’t use the fine sides of the box grater, it just sort of melts. Have to spend more time at a cheesemonger and check out the options there.
- Not that we buy a lot of them, but fewer salty snacks and not as much variety. In potato chips, for example, you have Lay’s and you have a local Chilean brand, and that’s it. And that seems typical.
- Crackers: you can have water crackers or soda crackers and that’s about it. Fortunately we like them both.
Just a few observations here, and because I’m not a tech “analyst” I won’t claim that what I observe is generally true and must be taken as gospel.
- (Nearly) everyone has a smart phone, but use is a little different
- You don’t see people constantly texting, especially while walking, like in the states. I believe this may be because they are generally still charge by the text, or at least don’t have unlimited free texting here. (Cell phone plans are generally worse than in the U.S.)
- You don’t even see them being used ubiquitously in places like the Metro. Some people are using them, but people here still read newspapers and books!
- I’m seeing more iPhones than I expected; just by my eyeballing, close to 50% of the phone I’m seeing are iPhones, which I did not expect.
- Lots of electronics stores, small and large, along the street.
- Many internet cafes, which are often not cafes, but places where you can rent time on a computer with internet access.
Odds & Ends
- They have recycling, both in our apartment building and throughout the city they have these huge plastic containers that are central repositories for dropping off recycling. (I’ll try to get a picture, meant to today but forgot)
- Radio: I hear as much U.S. music as Chilean/Spanish language music when out and about
- Standard restaurant tip is 10%, so I assume the wait staff gets paid better.
- You should tip the young person who bags your groceries, and they have a rotation, so if you see several kids standing at the end of the checkout line, that’s why.
I’m sure I’ll remember more after I post this, but these are things my brain notices as I go about my days here.