Chile is a fútbol (that would be soccer) lovin’ country and the tension has been rising steadily as the national team came closer and closer to falling inside—or out—of the great “In Group” divide that determines who gets to play in the next World Cup. Fortunately for the mental health of the nation, Chile classified (I stand corrected–that’s “qualified in real English” on Saturday, October 10, and it’s now official: Chile 4, Colombia 2—on Colombian turf, mind you—and Chile’s on its way to South Africa in 2010! (First time since 1998, so yes, a very big deal!)
Chee-chee-chee; Lay-lay-lay… VA-MOS CHI-LE!
Let me say this right off the bat (oh wait, that’s a different sport!)… back up… Let me kick this off (not bad, eh?) by saying that I’m pretty much out in left field (darned baseball again!) rather, in the ozone when it comes to sports, but when you’re surrounded by a nation full of fanatics, something has to sink in. It’s in the air, it seems… it’s infectious, contagious, and relatively healthy–so why fight it? And so it was that on Saturday evening, in the midst of a long holiday weekend at the beach and following a long hike in an incredible park full of Jurassic-like palm trees (which I’ll be telling you all about soon enough), my husband’s decidedly Chilean roots gurgled forth and we set out to find someplace with a big screen TV locked in to “the” game. We arrived at Raíces in Concón just in time for the second half… a fútbol first for me, I might add…
Happy hour, yummy pisco sours, crisp French fries, and piping hot cheese empanadas with a nice spicy pebre (salsa) and Goooooool! (¡Chuta! Oops, after that long hike I was more focused on the food)…
Tie score, OK, we’re good… C’mon Chile! ¡Vamos que se puede pues!
Then, just as things were heating up:
Not to worry, it didn’t take long–problem solved, both on and off screen–And once again: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!
As I said, most sports news soars over my head, flies beneath my radar, goes right in one ear and out the other… you get the picture. I couldn’t tell you who the stars are these days, but I do know that the Technical Director—Marcelo “el Loco” Bielsa, imported from Argentina—has had an awful lot of responsibility (and respect) resting on his shoulders of late.
He’s quite the character they say… very expressive (how Argentine of him), as I could see for myself:
And here we go, this is it… it’s official…
And just like that it was over–for all but the celebrating. A nation-wide cheer went up in unison as fans across the country took to the streets to celebrate. Cars, trucks, and buses full of flag-waving fans caroused the streets, hanging out of windows and shouting with glee, car horns blasting their typical bip-bip-beep-beep-beeeeep! Over and over for hours.
Santiago’s Plaza Italia filled to the brim with fans who sought like-minded souls to share their pride and bask in the national glory.
O-le, Ole, ole oleeee,
¡La vamos a ganaaaaar!