Saturday, September 7, 2013

¡Viva Chile!

September is a beautiful month in Chile. It marks the beginning of spring; the elderly in Chile have a special day to celebrate the end of August because it is the coldest month of the year. It also marks the anniversary of Chile's independence, which although officially recognized on the 18th, is celebrated with a whole week off school and work. Ok, let's be honest... Chile starts celebrating as soon as September 1st rolls around. Every store, every taxi cab, every public space, is decked out in red, white, and blue. The Chilean flag flies proudly on every pole. 

There is no better time to experience the traditions of Chile. This week I went to a workshop to learn the cueca, which is the national dance of Chile. It is a partner dance in which the man and woman interact in a series of turns, all the while waving a handkerchief. They repeatedly approach each other only to return to their respective spots. The audience claps in time with the music. The whole dance is flirtatious in general, but especially the Porteño version (Porteño is the term for a person from Valparaíso because it's the major port city of Chile). My region specializes in being a little more racy. For example, the man can drape his handkerchief across the shoulder of the woman and later return to snatch it back using his teeth. She can trick him by sliding the handkerchief into her cleavage and forcing him to remove it (using his hands, thankfully, and not his teeth). To which he can respond by tucking the handkerchief in his waistband, front and center, and having her pull it out. Overall, I enjoyed learning the dance, and I am excited to practice at the Independence Day parties coming up this month!

A couple dancing la Cueca in traditional garb
At the same time that football madness is starting to take over in the United States, fútbol madness continues to run strong here in Chile. This weekend I was fortunate enough to have the chance to see the Chilean national team play against Venezuela in the game which would determine which country would continue to the Mundial (World Cup) in Brasil in 2014.

A heap of other gringos and I piled on a bus and headed to the national stadium in Santiago, the capital, which is about an hour and a half away. We made a pit stop in a park for an asado, or BBQ, which is another Chilean tradition which centers around choripan, or grilled chorizo sausage placed on a bun. We painted each other´s faces and enjoyed the afternoon:
Then it was back to the bus and off to the game! We only got more excited the closer we got. There were guys poking their heads out the sunroof, flying flags out the window, (thereby eliciting supportive honks from every Chilean driver who passed us), and booing at every Venezuelan license plate we passed.

My friends Harry and Merisa even danced the cueca in the aisle of the bus as everyone clapped along!

The game was pretty crazy! The entire stadium was packed out with spectators decked out in red, white, and blue, with exception to the one (very small) section for the Venezuelans who made the pilgrimage to come support their team. 

To demonstrate the sentiments in the stadium, here is a video of the fans doing the wave before the game even starts (pardon my shouting the background haha):

Here is a quick run-down of Chilean sportsmanship:
1. Instead of booing at the other team or at unfavorable ref calls, Chileans whistle. Shrilly.
2. (profanity warning) When the announcer was reading off the names of the Venezuelan players, after each one the entire stadium shouted in unison "Concha tu madre!" which is probably the most offensive thing you can say to a person in Spanish. It literally refers to someone´s mother as female genitalia, but the sentiment is closer to our "F*** you."
3. The most important chant any Chilean fan needs to know is as follows:
(person who starts the chant) "C-H-I"
(everyone else) "Chi!"
(everyone together) Chi, chi, chi, le, le, le, ¡Viva Chile!
4. To get everyone in the stands pumped up, a section would start singing: "Olé olé, olé ola, Los que no salta, no va a Mundial." Translated, it's "Hurray hurray, hurray to the wave, Those who don't jump don't go to the World Cup." This gets everyone up on their feet!
5. After a goal, everyone sings the classic soccer chant "Olé" but substitutes the last few Olés with Chile.
6. As the second half drew to a close and Chile was clearly going to win, the entire stadium started waving at the Venezuelan section and yelling "Adios!" or "Chao!" 

In the end, Chile won 3-0! Here is a picture that captures the feeling when we won:

That's all for now, folks. More to come after the week of Fiesta Patria, or the Homeland Celebrations!

1 comment :

  1. Fun! Love the national pride in winning the cup! Love, Mom