Interesting thoughts, MissO. On the mate matter. Chileans use quite a bit of sugar in their mate, as well as celery and other things to enhance the flavor. My wife, however (from Argentina), drinks the mate "amargo" and I don't care for that either.
On your thought #7 - insn't there a thriving "street" market right now in foreign currency? I believe it is about 6.5 pesos to the USD. That should help some, right?
Enjoy your trip south and I hope you will take time to dip back into Chile at Futaleufu. The border crossing is fairly easy there.