I’ve been trying to figure out the Chilean mail system since before we arrived in Santiago. I had heard that anything shipped from the US took at least two weeks to get here, and I wanted to test it out. I sent a letter to myself before we left the US, and it arrived in two weeks time.
I had also read that if a package was shipped to us we had to pick it up at a Chilean post office where we, the recipient of the package, would have to pay an import fee to claim it.
Thus far we have received several cards from the US and one large envelope of pokemon cards.
We have sent out a few post cards but sent them from Rapa Nui. Thus far (15 days later) no recipient has yet to received their postcard.
When walking around, we were quick to notice there are no mailboxes at any houses in Santiago. This puzzled us. Then one afternoon we saw the mail carrier shove an old bill under our gate, so we concluded this was the Chilean way.
While out and about hunting down school supplies, I noticed envelopes were only sold in office supply stores. Not only that but you purchased them individually. I thought this was odd, but Chile seems to over complicate many things, so I dismissed it.
I finally got up the nerve to ask my “Gringos WhatsApp” group what seemed like a dumb question. “Is the post office the only place to buy stamps and send out mail?” Turns out it wasn’t so dumb as the answer was, “You don’t buy stamps here. The only way to mail a letter, card, or anything is to go to a post office and have them weigh it.” The group then went on to explain you just don’t mail anything here, some have lived here for over a decade and never seen or purchased a stamp to mail a letter.
But guys. CHRISTMAS CARDS! The Katie Kelley Christmas ranking system goes:
1. Christmas Music
2. Christmas Trees
3. Christmas Lights
4. Christmas Cards
Blast it! Sponsor us Minted. Let us simply upload our photos, holiday greeting, and address list and handle the whole thing without a Chilean postmark.
When I lamented to Mark about my postal findings, he said, “Think about the US postal system and the millions of dollars it loses each year. The Chilean way is pretty progressive.” As with most things, he’s not wrong.
But here’s to snail mail and the simple but apparently costly joy a card and letter can bring.