Chile just won La Copa America — a huge soccer tournament for Latin American countries that takes place every four years. This was the 44th edition, and it was hosted right here in Chile (how lucky am I). I didn’t get to go to any games, but I did get to watch them all (at least the ones that mattered)- at a bar, around a tiny television with 12 other people, at a different bar, with my friend’s mom at her apartment, on an app on my phone at my place, etc. What an incredible time to be in Santiago, experiencing the celebration of the entire country with chants and cheers and whistles and fireworks (and tear gas and fire extinguishers and crowded streets). That was especially true last night. Watching the bar with four other gringos (aka people from the states), we put aside our home country’s favorite holiday in order to cheer on our host country in the finals. They were playing Argentina, which (arguably) has the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi, and honestly needed all the support they could get. Chileans are hopeful but also practical and I think a lot of people didn’t have 100% faith in their team. In fact, the odds were like pretty slim I think, I just tried to look it up on a gambling website but couldn’t really understand it so let’s just go with “slim.” As soon as the game started though you could tell that Chile was in it to win it. They came out really strong, although they have such a hard time finishing which is so hard to watch. Every time they got any kind of momentum they turned back around or kept passing instead of taking the shot and you could hear the disappointment in every groan from our table neighbors at bar Astor. However, their defense kicked ass (I’m an adult so I can say these words now mom, but also excuse my French) and led the match into double overtime and eventually a penalty shoot off. They both made their first goals. Then Argentina missed, and all of Chile gasped, followed by raucous cheering. We made our second, and then Argentina was up again. He took his shot and our beautiful Bravo dove to block it, caused the rowdiest group of futbol fans I have ever witnessed, followed by an almost silent room. Everyone held their breath as Alexis (mi amor) went to take his shot (if he made this, we won the tournament) and shot a perfect goal, winning la copa for Chile for THE FIRST TIME EVER.
Literally one of the best moments of my life. We rushed to Plaza Italia to take in the scene with the other 7 billion citizens of Santiago. It was so wild. I have never seen a group of people so collectively happy and carefree. I learned new songs and met new people and took pictures with Chileans that I will never see again and it was awesome. Vamos Chile. Te amo.
Below you will see us celebrating, still in red white and blue, please note.