Category Archives: Buying & Selling

Cachivache & Cachantún: Antiques as bits of a life (Photo Essay)

I love antique shops–not that fancy, nose-in-the-air kind with all the fru-fru porcelain and don’t-touch crystal and wax-em-up furniture. No. I mean the little mom-and-pop corner shops with crazy assortments of real-folks stuff that was truly used by someone, somewhere, once upon a time.

Typewriter © Margaret Snook 2011

I mean the kind of shop that has all manner of stuff–the fabulous and the forlorn, the funky and the sublime, the valuable and the junk–all hodge-podged together in an inimitably haphazard arrangement that could never be repeated anywhere else. Continue reading


A Little Business Etiquette Please!

Forget punctuality… is a bit of honesty too much to ask? Chilean “Business Meeting Etiquette” has a long way to go!

I’ll admit it right up front. This post comes from anger. I’m not going to say that this is a “Chilean thing” and I’m not even saying that this is common here, but I will say that the only times I have ever seen this happen have been right here in Santiago. Just bad practice and an incredible lack of respect for others.

I’m talking about business meetings… how hard is it to schedule an appointment and stick with it? We’re professionals. We’re all busy, but c’mon, how about a little respect please? I’m not talking about people showing up a half hour late without acknowledgement (or apology) for the hour. You get used to that here. I’m not even talking about meetings that get canceled at the last minute  or even those that get forgotten (I admit my own guilt there). Something happened today that has me shaking my head and wondering how some people look themselves in the mirror…

Here’s the story. My boss (Chilean) and I went to a meeting last week and were told upon arriving that it had been cancelled. A pain, a long drive wasted, but it happens. The exchange of emails that ensued determined that the receptionist had been confused, that it was the meeting BEFORE ours that had been canceled, so sorry. Ok. It happens. We rescheduled.

A couple days ago we confirmed and reconfirmed the meeting for today. This time the receptionist informed us that the person was in a meeting and would we wait? Half hour. Ok. We had come a long way and didn’t want to waste the opportunity (again), so ok. It happens. We settled in to wait. Read the paper—half hour—discussed other projects—another half hour—so we ask again. “Sorry, should be any time.” So we wait some more and I’m really regretting not having my laptop along to be able to do some real work. Another half hour and now we’re playing poker on the blackberry.

Why would we wait so long? Because it was an important meeting to present an important project and we really think this place is the right fit, so we waited, I’m embarrassed to say, more than 2 hours before we finally gave up.

In the meantime our own secretary was calling their office to see what she could find out. It turns out that an hour and a half into our wait the managers had all gone to lunch and wouldn’t be back til 3:00… All this time with us (and a dozen other people) waiting in reception. Total lack of respect.

Back at the office, more email swapping… this time with the lame excuse that “I sent you a mail this morning to call off the meeting.” Does this person think we’re idiots? Apparently.

But we’ll go back again next week, smiley faces in place. These are difficult times. Everyone wants to do business and there’s just so much to go around… but what does it take to keep a little bit of common courtesy in place? How hard would it be to say to the secretary… “please cancel my appointments for this morning”? Why is it so hard to put oneself in the other person’s shoes? C’mon!

Los cantantes chilenos de la micro

Aunque el progreso y el ya famoso Trans Santiago se ha arrasado con una amplia cultura comercial arriba los buses urbanos, los cantantes de “la micro” siguen entreteniendo a los pasajeros.

For English use the translator tool or see the summary below.

En Santiago hubo una modernización del transporte urbano que arrasó con muchas costumbres capitalinas relacionadas con la venta y comercialización de productos “arriba de la micro”, en el autobús. Se vendían desde diarios a herramientas de jardinería, borradores mágicos de tinta, calculadoras, bebidas y helados en verano, chocolates y dulces en invierno, parche-curitas (bandas adhesivas con esponjita para proteger las heridas), calcetines, llaveros, linternas, paraguas, quitasoles, pilas, relojes, sombreros plegables, chalas… Todo se acabó. Prohibido. Pero pese a ese cambio en el transporte urbano hay un gremio que era tan típico y autóctono que permaneció: los cantantes de micro. Esos maravillosos “cantores”, que le diría un amigo argentino, que piden permiso al chofer para subirse al bus y entonar una canción (guitarras, charangos, tambores, panderetas en unos casos y en otros, los raperos, generando los sonidos con la boca, por parejas o tríos).

Si ves subirse a uno, préstale atención, seguro tiene mucho que decir, son gente de oficio, son cantores de micro, no son cantores de escenario o de plaza o de fiesta, son otro tipo de cantores, tienen su particular público que se sube y se baja y te golpea para pasar, tienen otras habilidades. Y casi todos son muy buenos.

¿Te has topado con algún cantor de micro en Santiago? ¿Qué música cantaba? ¡Cuéntanos!

A continuación puedes ver el video de un cantor ciego en una micro por Av. Vespucio, de noche:



The recent modernization of Santiago’s public transportation system did away with an entire way of doing business on the bus. Vendors would board the bus to sell everything from gardening tools, magic marker erasers, calculators, cold drinks and ice cream in the summer, chocolate and other candy in the winter, bandaids, socks, key chains, flashlights, umbrellas, batteries, watches, fold up hats, sandals… you name it, but that’s all gone now. Kaput. It’s a shame, but the one hold-over from the old homegrown transportation system are the wonderful busline singers. They ask the driver for permission, and then start to sing and play their guitars, charangos, drums, and/or tamborines in some cases, and in others, perform their raps in pairs or trios using the human voice to provide rhythm and backbeat. It’s quite an experience–and most are quite good! Watch the video above for an example.

Do you have a story about singers on the buses? Let us know!

Las farmacias

Si buscas una farmacia en Santiago te sorprenderá la cantidad de ellas que hay. Existen miles y se posicionan muy frecuentemente una al lado de otra. En una misma calle puedes encontrarte con 15 locales de farmacia de 6 cadenas distintas. Las farmacias del centro son más urbanas, al pie de la calle, pero también existen las farmacias tipo bomba de bencina (o gasolinera), en las esquinas de calles amplias y con estacionamiento en la entrada.

For English, skip down to the English summary below.


Farmacias como supermercados

Tanto en unas como en otras, puedes encontrar productos que van mucho más allá de la venta farmacéutica europea: típicos productos de aseo y maquillaje, pilas, anabolizantes y complejos vitamínimos para deportistas, tarjetas de recarga para celulares, y, lo más sorprendente de todo: en las farmacias, además de la típica máquina para pesarte y medir tu altura, siempre hay un cajero automático y refrigeradores con coca-cola, agua y otras bebidas refrescantes. Se vende de todo.

Suelen estar llenas de carteles de promoción, y los productos lucen en vistosas vitrinas con colores. Algunas de ellas parecen realmente supermercados, con enormes pasillos que van desde la entrada hasta el mesón de atención.

Ojo: las farmacias siempre tienen un número de atención que hay que sacar de la típica maquinita roja (¡como en los supermercados!).

¿Tienes un comentario o una anécdota respecto a las farmacias chilenas? ¡Cuéntanos!



You’ll be amazed at how many drugstores there are in Santiago–thousands of them, and very often one right next to the other! up to15 drugstores from 6 different chains on the same street. The ones downtown tend to be the storefront type, but there are also the gas station style pharmacies on broad corners with parking in front. They go way beyond the European concept of pharmacy and include make up, pills, steroids, sports vitamins, cell phone cards, as well as the typical machine to weigh and measure yourself, but the most surprising of all are ATMs and Coke machines! They sell everything!

Important: if you ever want to get waited on, be sure to take a number from the typical red machine (like in supermarkets)!

Do you have a story to tell about Chilean drugstores? let us know!

Want More on Chilean Pharmacies?  See a later post on another aspect of Chilean pharmacies and perscription drugs: Some Serious Jonesin Going On. Topic covers the dangers of falling through the holes in the health care safety net.