Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Like Riding A Bike...


After much discussion and comparisons we finally decided to purchase a vehicle for me while we are here in Chile. We went back and forth between getting a car and hiring a driver. In the end, the deciding factor was that one of the easiest ways for me to know my children's friends (and to keep tabs on them just a little bit more) is for me to have the ability to drive them to and from their activities. Otherwise, the driver is there for all the initial excitement and not me - that is not something I am willing to miss. So we set out to look for a car.

I wanted something small. By small I mean teeny-tiny. The lanes here are more narrow, the parking spaces are tight and the other drivers are very pushy. I have driven Greg's truck (provided by the company) and have felt very out-of-control in it. I'm not sure where the end of the truck bed is and no way would I ever park that thing at the mall (remember: the grocery stores are inside the malls here).

So we started looking. Greg mentioned it at work and found out that a friend of his was selling this 2007 Hyndai Getz (I had never heard of one). So we did a little research and thought it would be a good fit for us. For the past week, Greg has been working out the details. First the guy had to get back in town from a trip so that he could bring the car in to work for Greg to see. Greg liked the car, called and talked to me about the details and we made the decision to buy it. We then needed to make sure we had the cash in the right bank account so that we could write the guy a check. That took some finagling.

Greg finally got his permanent RUT number (his identification number here in Chile), so he contacted the bank to submit it a week ago. When he submitted his new number, that changed all the safety features of his account. He needed to go to the bank, set up a new pin number and password and get a new card thing. They have this card with various numbers and letters. When you want to access your bank account, you will be prompted to give them the code listed on one of the lines (for example: A-7). When you enter the correct code from that grid, you will be able to access the account. He needed a new code card thing.

So that took a few days. Finally we have access to the account again and can verify that we have the amount of money in there that we need to purchase the car. Greg talked the guy into replacing the battery as it was the origional, and while they had it in the shop, Greg went ahead and had them change the oil. There was also extensive paperwork and getting it insured, etc. etc.

Finally on Tuesday, (yesterday) he brought the car home.

It is important to understand 2 things:
#1: I've not seen the car before now.
#2: Cars retain their value here, so in a year's time, we should be able to sell it for what we paid, or very close to it.

**NOTE: What you are about to read is ridiculous, but I promised to be completely honest and share my REAL feelings. Nothing sugar-coated here. I apologize to my mother in advance for what you are about to read. She raised me better than this, I promise.

I have to admit to being a complete spoiled brat. I was worried sick about this car. (FYI: I hid these feelings from my husband.) I HATED the idea of going back to a car similar to the one I drove in college. I LOVED my college car - while I was in college, but I'm a grown-up now and obviously a lot more spoiled... I didn't want to be in an old clunker. But I kept putting things back into perspective. We will only be here a short time and I need something small and dependable. I also don't want to buy anything new. A new car is almost certainly a thief magnet and I am completely aware that this car will probably suffer at least one fender-bender (these drivers are unbeliveable). If we bought something at least 3 years old, we avoid a huge tax of some kind. A little cheap car just makes sense. And this Getz was perfect. *I had to keep telling myself that over and over and over*

Anyway, Greg brought the car home yesterday and SURPRISE! I LOVE IT!

It's as cute as can be. Absolutely clean without a scratch or dent. The inside is spotless. It has a hatchback with a tiny little space for groceries and a cover that hides anything back there (a must have in this town). It's sand colored with grey/black fabric interior. Fabric seats are nice in this cold weather! It has an upgraded stereo with CD player which is great because I no hablo espanol bien and listening to the radio gets a little old. No, no GPS, or on steering wheel climate/radio controls. No AIR CONDITIONING - which I am told is not used here very often anyway, but it does have a great working heater and right now, that is very important. Front and rear wipers - also important right now, and power windows/locks. It is small but not too small. My teenagers still fit comfortably in the back.

The one BIG concern about this car was that it is a manual transmission. My dad firmly believed that we needed to learn to drive a stick shift before we got our licenses so that we could "drive any car we sat in". Thank goodness for that little tidbit of wisdom. I haven't driven a manual in years. I will admit to being a little worried about it. We do live on the side of the Andes mountains! These are more than just hills people - they're mountains.

There is one slope in particular on the way to the kids' school that had me shaking in my boots. It peaks at a 4-way intersection. In theory, nobody should be turning in front of you between the hours of 7am-8am, but road rules are truly a suggestion here, so it happens, and you really do have to pause and make sure it's clear before you go. *Another thing to note; where in the US you see only STOP signs at intersections, here they are almost always YEILD signs. You can imagine how that goes...

This morning as I was driving the kids to school, Andrew asked if I was worried about he slope. I started talking smack about how the car companies called me to have them train people how to drive manuals - because of my mad skills. Then as we approached the hill, I noticed the brand-new Mercades SUV behind me and my heart sank. CRAP!!!

I nailed it! Made it up the hill, paused (nobody was coming in either direction - thank goodness) and continued without stalling, or rolling back. I'm awesome like that.

I also felt a million times more comfortable going in and out of traffic in front of the school with this smaller car.

I can't say it enough - IT IS PERFECT! Thank you honey! (Greg made a remark about all he does is buy me new cars - I want to point out that this one isn't new, so it doesn't count!)

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