We left LAX on July 2, summer, and were lucky enough to be offered exit row seats as we checked in. The seats were mid-center, in front of an aisle. This gave our legs as much room as business class and made the 14 hour flight feel half as long.
Arriving in Santiago on July 3, winter, we were met at the airport by our program’s assigned and gracious padrino at 5:30 AM. We packed our bags, monitors, and Jordan’s snowboard into his car. He dropped us off at the temporary apartment I found on Craigslist at the last minute for a cheap $29/night.
We slept for about two hours until the apartment manager came by to collect a deposit. He gave us a hysterically animated tour of every electronic device, appliance, faucet and kitchen drawer of the 400 square foot space. The portable electric heater that was the only source of warmth, blew a fuse as he was demonstrating how it worked. We managed to sleep for another two hours in the freezing cold. Later, our padrino met us and took us on a tour of the upscale east side of Santiago, with a clear view of the Andes from almost everywhere.
Since then, it’s been a blur. After three days of searching we found a furnished three bedroom apartment in a great neighborhood, Lastarria. That left us free the following weekend to visit Valparaiso, a beautiful city by the ocean 40 miles from Santiago. It’s filled with graffiti, stray dogs, 37 hills with century old inclined elevators, amazing views and architecture. I loved it. We ate at a great restaurant, Bijoux, where you discuss your options and preferences with the chef before deciding on a meal. We feasted on fresh fish caught that day, beef and pisco sours. As we explored the hill around our hostel, we met two local university students and were invited to join them in drinking boxed wine out of cans of Budweiser. I did, while Jordan deferred.
In the two weeks since we landed, we’ve received our Chilean social security numbers, bank accounts, gone through the program introduction, launched the alpha release of our latest project, and hired two people.
Next week we go to the north of Chile to attend a class at a university and share our start up experiences with the students. We’ve set aside some time to see the Atacama desert and will hopefully spend a few days in Bolivia.
I can’t say enough good things about our program and Santiago. Start Up Chile feels like a great opportunity.