One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Chile was that there were no mailboxes at the street, none on the gates of the houses, no big mailboxes on street corners. One rainy day some mail for someone else was deposited under our gate, on the stair, in the rain. “So that’s how it works!” we thought. Thus far we have received several cards and a couple packages sent by loved ones in the US.
We were able to send postcards home in Rapa Nui, but we had to go to the Rapa Nui post office which was accustomed to dealing with tourist mailing postcards, so we thought that was just a small, desolate island thing.
There’s a Correos “post office” about a mile from our house in Vitacura. I’ve passed it quite a few times noting that it did not appear open but knew where it was should I happen upon a card or envelope sometime.
Yep, that’s right, I have yet to see an envelope for a letter, a mailing envelope, or shipping box in the wild. I’ve even asked at what would be a Walmart equivalent. The associate just looked at me very confused when I asked where the “sobres” were located and shook their heads with a “no, no tienemo”.
So when I found some random cards at the Jumbo the other day, I bought a few and decided that since they came with an envelope, I would attempt to send some mail home.
I walked my addressed mail to the post office with the kids. There were three people working in the small office and no other customers. After a few minutes I was told to “take a number”. After a few more minutes the lady who told me to “take a number” called my number over a loud speaker. There were still no other customers at this time. I tried very hard not to smirk or laugh when this went down.
I presented my letters and she asked me for my “RUT” which Mark has mentioned in previous posts. I told her I did not have a “RUT”. She asked me for two forms of ID, one being my passport. I gave her my passport and drivers license. After about 5 minutes of reviewing them, she told me my total was ~$2.70 US.
I paid, assumed she put the postage on the letters, and went on my merry way. Fingers crossed those letters arrive!
I’m told that when you travel here most of this (i.e. postcards) can be handled at your hotel. I’ll report back as I have a long list of people to send postcards to from both the desert and the very bottom of the world, Antarctica.
I shared this experience on Instagram and so many people shared things like “What about wedding invitations? Holiday cards? Snail mail?” I don’t know! What I do know is that I posed the mail question to my Gringos group and many said things like “I’ve been here 13 years and never mailed anything.”