It is upon us! A time when entire countries become vastly less productive in order to watch a group of their compatriots battle against another country. That's right, the MUNDIAL (World Cup)!!
I'll admit openly that I have never really understood the need to watch sports. They are boring and just an excuse to yell for hours. (I have been forced to go to enough football games in my life, that I feel I have the right to make these bold statements.) But here in Chile, I am all about the experience. About a month ago I went to my first fútbol (soccer) game in Chile and I was hooked! It was such a new experience. Never before had I been to a sporting event with flares, barbed wire, and the national guard. I decided right then and there that I might have been judging sports a little too hard. Maybe there is something to it after all.
There are two teams in Chile, el Colo Colo and La Universidad de Chile. I am a proud hincha (fan) of La U. see?
The most exciting part of the fútbol, for me, is the chanting. All of the fans know the same, intricate cheers and they all sing them together the entire game. It's beautiful. The cheers can get rather racist and sexist as they yell things at the other team or the other team's fans, but if you just ignore that small percentage of the cheers (89%), you will find that the rest of the cheers are really uplifting and the fans even cheer themselves on. With spirit like that, who needs cheerleaders?
As you can see, people actually do care about soccer in some countries. And here in Chile, they have been gearing up for the world cup for weeks. It has been all anyone talks about. The first game for Chile was yesterday at 7:30 in the morning. I have a class at 8:30 in the morning, so I figured I would just have to miss it. Ooohoho no. Evidently, fútbol comes first. It's like going to a catholic school on holy days. You may not be catholic, but you sure like those saints when the half days come around. Yeah, here everyone, even those that don't care about fútbol, fought to get the class either cancelled or moved back. And it worked. But it wasn't only that class. The library was closed, and all of the other classes that morning were moved back. Even the elementary schools and high schools were closed until around 10am.'Esteemed patrons: We inform you that Wednesday, June 16th, the library will open it's doors at 10am.'
Seeing the preparations for the game, I knew it was going to be big. A couple of my friends from the class that was moved back until 1:30pm invited me over to stay up the entire night and watch the game in the morning and of course I was down. We managed to stay up until around 4, but then the sleepiness set in and we passed out for a few hours.
I awoke at 7:40 to the sounds of the fútbol game on the television in the next room. I quickly ran in and settled in to watch the game. We blew up balloons and drank coffee while we watched. I'll save the blow by blow for another post...meanwhile...look it up: Chile vs. Honduras and we won 1-0. Woot Woot!! This was the first time that Chile had won a game in a mundial for about 70 years! Even though we were dead tired, my friend, Max, and I decided to go to Plaza Italia where all of the celebrating goes down.
The police were redirecting traffic because there were so many people in the Plaza throwing confetti, drinking, spraying foam, and cheering. "¡¡¡C-H-I (CHI) L-E (LE), CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!!!"So much happiness all gathered in one place. And so much nationalism. There were a ridiculous number of Chilean flags everywhere and I'm pretty sure I was the only one not wearing a lick of red. There was even a point when a little boy was being thrown in the air on the chilean flag by a large group of men......no worries, i'm sure all safety precautions were taken.
By this time we were starving, so we ducked into a diner that was showing the Spain vs. Switzerland game. Let me remind you: this was at 10 in the morning. So I feel like it is normal that I was a little bit surprised that EVERYONE was drinking beer. I felt like a wuss ordering water. hah. But I managed to sneak a pic of some guys at a booth next to us complete with beers and festive hats.perfection.
Anywho...we ate huge sandwiches like this one: and then we started to see people running away from the plaza. Evidently the police had decided that it was time to open up the streets again and they were using whatever force was necessary. Oops...i had almost forgotten we were in Latin America. Thanks for the reminder. So we decided that it was as good a time as ever to leave and we walked calmly to the car. Meanwhile, people around us were running with their children dressed from head to toe in red and blue from the cops who were now spraying people with guanacos (big trucks that spray water at people...they are called this because they spit like a llama aka guanaco). I didn't find out until later that 81 people were arrested. It really got out of hand.
That was only the first game. Now there are two more and I imagine that those will be even more intense because they are against harder teams and they are at normal times of the day. Guess we'll just have to find out...(1313)