The previous post actually came from an email that I wrote about a week ago, right when those events were happening. It's been interesting to see the highs and lows that can occur within the span of just a week. I was so elated and proud of my students at the end of last week. And then this week, on Tuesday, I was faced with the hardest day I've had at the school since I've been here. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, because really it was a combination of many small problems that normally would hold little significance. What made it so difficult was that they all came at once. It's as if Satan didn't want me to be too encouraged about my ministry here and wanted to bring me down a peg or two. Or maybe God wanted to be sure I remained humble and relying on Him, so He sent me an awful day to remind me. Either way, it was a very difficult day coming right on the heels of an excellent week. The next day everything was back to normal though, and I was not upset about that! :o)
Last night I was able to do something that I've wanted to do since I arrived in Chile 8 months ago. I was very close to doing it last spring (spring for Chile, fall for the States), but it never happened. Have you guessed it yet? I went to a professional soccer game!! It was incredible!! One of the two main Chilean teams was playing against one of the main Argentine teams, so it promised to be very exciting. And we were not disappointed. I went with a large group, since the fans of the Chilean teams can be a bit....enthusiastic, shall I say? At some points walking down the streets we made sure to only speak in Spanish, or at least keep the English very quiet (Mom, I didn't tell you any of this beforehand....for a reason!). :o) But really, it wasn't as bad or as dangerous as people warned us of or as it could have been. God protected us, as He always does! We were a group of ten: 2 Chilenos, 2 gringas, and 6 gringos (ranging in age from 16 to.....uh, I'll just say adult.....some who have been in Chile for only a few weeks, and some who have been here for a couple of decades). So we had quite the span of experience in our midst. With the combination of all these factors, I knew we'd be safe. And praise God, we were!
Ok, enough of that. Let me tell you about the actual game experience. We parked about 7 blocks away from the stadium, mostly because at that point traffic was already gridlocked and it was faster to just walk. We were all dressed in the team's colors (white and black) to try to blend in, and to appease the two or three actual fans in our group. :o) Even while we were waiting in line to get in, people were yelling the many chants, getting pumped up. I could already smell beer and smoke. We were at the wrong entrance, so we had to go around the block. As we did, we encountered many police on horses, prepared to keep the crowd under control. We arrived at the correct entrance, had one end of our ticket ripped off, and then were squeezed into rows between metal fences. It reminded me of the tight lanes cattle are walked through at the rodeo or on a dairy farm. I think I even mooed once or twice to make my point. At the end of these lanes were police stationed to pat down everyone, looking for contraband. Being a gringa, I was not frisked. What a nice privilege! We walked a little more, then had to go through another checkpoint, get the other end of out ticket ripped off, and be frisked one more time. Once again, I wasn't subjected to that.
We found some seats all together, and then just had to wait and watch the craziness around us until the game started at 9:45. People were still cheering, chanting, singing, and just being boisterous. It was so exciting! When the game finally started, it was amazing. The players came onto the field, and the fans went CRAZY! Everyone was on their feet, jumping, twirling shirts in the air, chanting, swearing, insulting the other team and fans, and watching the contraband flares and fireworks exploding all around. I guess it's basically expected that some will get through security. Then HUGE flags were passed over us that covered our entire section practically. Then the game started. And we scored in the first 3 minutes! We scored again the first half, and that was the end of scoring for the rest of the game. We won, 2-0!! We got out of the stadium and back to our car around 12:15. I was too wound up afterwards and didn't go to bed until 2. Good thing there's no school today!
There are several things that are very interesting about a Chilean soccer game. For instance, some fans seem more concerned with insulting the other fans than on watching the game. Throwing toilet paper or tickertape onto the field is highly normal, and there is someone on staff simply to remove it. When you buy a drink, they give you a bottle of soda, and then you have to pour it into a cup, because if people took bottles into the stadium they would throw them at the players. The sections behind the goals are for the extreme fans and don't even have seats, because apparently they would always rip them up and throw them. In the places where there are seats, people remain seated almost the whole time unless the ball gets close to the goal, or if there's a penalty kick or something. And as soon as that's over, people start shouting "Asiento!" which basically means "sit down." There are cops decked out in full protective gear all over the stadium, especially near the extreme fan sections. And there are some cops whose main job only happens when there's a corner kick. They'll turn towards the crowd holding up their plexiglass shields so the player isn't hit by the things thrown at him.
Like I said, it's a very different experience! We took lots of pictures and a few videos, so I'm going to include the links to those now.
Here's a selection of the pictures we took. It was an AWESOME experience!
Here's a video from before the game started...the flares in the crowd, the general excitement...and a quick shot of those of us who went.
Here's the video when the Chilean team, Colo Colo, entered the field at the beginning and general craziness ensued...
Here's a video from when the huge flag was passed over us.