Last week Xalo and I traveled down to Santiago Chile for the 3rd leg of the CSP South American series. It was a quick 4-day trip that ended up being one of the best trips ever.
We got in to Santiago Friday morning. It’s always a good sign when you make it to your final destination and you have all your bags. Even though some guy scammed Xalo and I going through customs, and we had no idea where we were going once we got our car, we were still excited about the trip. I mean they didn’t loose our bags we were set.
We head outside to get our rental car and it starts raining. The guy brings the car around and it’s making some loud noise. The guy assures us it’s nothing to worry about; yeah right he’s not the one in a foreign country. Here’s a quick run down on the car. It’s a tiny little Nissan that’s about 9 years old with 90 thousand miles on it, parking break light won’t go off, the wipers squeegee the wind shield about as good as a hair brush, and the gas gauge doesn't work. Safety first! Xalo and I decide, screw it, we are there for an adventure and this car is defiantly going to make the trip interesting. We load up and take off
Xalo and I somehow find our way to the hotel, if you are ever in Santiago and need room check out the Atton El Bosque, I highly recommend it. At the Hotel we meet up with the Jungle Boys, Xalo’s old team from Brazil, and the team we are playing with at this event.
Later that afternoon Xalo and I headed to the field and hold a short Pro school. It was pretty cool because the promoter set it up so that the school was included in the regular tournament entrance fee. The best part was that I had a personal translator so the class could understand me.
The next two days were a blur, full of playing paintball, fixing guns and meeting some really great people. There was a good amount of young players; it’s always good to see paintball growing. Quick shout out to Radio ramping, you guys are awesome. At night we sampled the traditional Chile food, and checked out the city. Over all we laid low. Last thing we wanted to do is show up tired or hung over and throw away a tournament.
Sunday afternoon we ended up playing the Mercenarios (Ryan’s team) in the finals. It was a best of 3 finals format, and we ended up beating them in two games. They made it a little easy on us by getting a one-for-one in the second game. Either way it’s always fun to win a tournament.
After winning the event Xalo and I thought we were done playing for the weekend, instead a bunch of the kids at the event decided to challenge Xalo, Ryan, and I to a match. It was a blast, 9 little three-foot tall kids on the three of us. We made short work of them the first game, but the second game didn’t go so well and the kids beat us down, I still think they cheated.
Ok, so I said this was one of the best trips ever. Now it’s always a real good thing to win an event, but to be honest winning this event isn’t quite equal to winning world cup, so it wasn’t the win that made this trip so cool.
The trip really started getting good Sunday night after the event. South Americans are fanatical about their soccer, and Xalo being full blooded, born and raised Brazilian, is no exception. It turn out Brazil’s national soccer team was in town to play Chile. Of course nothing is stopping Xalo and the Jungle Boys from going to the game and supporting their team.
We show up outside the stadium and it’s like being in war zone. There are no streetlights; the streets have been blocked off so there are not even headlights from passing cars. The area is barren, worn down to dirt and concrete. Anything trying to grow has been trampled by the masses. In the shadows pass large crowds waving Chile flags and chanting in Spanish about death to Brazil. I can understand most of their chants not because I speak Spanish, but because I took the time to learn all the REAL bad words and phrases in high school. The only light outside the stadium is from the spotlights of two large military Helicopters hovering over the crowds. The Police are in full riot gear; many of them on horse back, trying to keep the crowds under control. Suddenly wearing a bright yellow Brazil jersey seems like an extremely bad idea. I quickly zip my jacket up.
Once we get inside we are separated for the crowd and quarantined, for our protection, in a small section of the bleachers with other Brazil fans guarded by the police. We sit down just in time for the opening ceremonies. I’ve been to a few ball games in the states like most of us have so I don’t think to take notice of the fans in the stadium. But as soon as they started announcing the Chile players and playing the Chile national anthem, the fans made themselves known. The entire stadium erupted, chanting and singing in unison. 62,000 hard core Chile fans. It was deafening! I have never seen or heard anything like this it was unbelievable. That’s also the time I realized that the small section of Brazil fans that we were sitting with were the only Brazil fans. We found out latter About 1,500 Brazil fans were at the game most of them were bussed in and out of the stadium under police escort for safety.
So it’s 1,500 against 62,000 OK no problem. Brazil proceeds to put on a clinic for the Chile team and their fans.
Final score: 3-0 Brazil.
As the last minutes tick off the game clock Xalo, the Jungle Boys, and the rest of the Brazil crowd are all pumped up and chanting back at the Chile losers. While I sit there and wonder how we are going to make it through the war zone outside the stadium alive, especially now with 62,000 angry Chile fans roaming the streets. I quickly zip my jacket back up. Luckily we didn’t have to worry about this. About 5 minutes before the game ended the Police showed up and would not let anyone leave our section. We were detained for over an hour until the stadium and streets were emptied of Chile fans.
This was one of the coolest experiences ever. The US thinks we have sports fans but we’ve got nothing on South America soccer fans.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was almost Midnight. We got a quick bite to eat and crashed out. We wanted to be ready; we had big plans for tomorrow.
I have decided that Xalo is the ultimate South American tour guide. The plan Monday morning was to head up to the top of the Andes Mountains and do some snowboarding.
We got up at 7am, met up with Ryan Greenspan, and one of Xalo’s Dealers from Peru, and headed for the slopes. I don’t think the road trip could be beat. From down town Santiago to a secluded ski resort at 10,000 feet in less then 1 1/2 hours. What such a treat to be boarding the first week of September, in Chile no less. There was more snow on the mountain then you could ski in a week, and the weather conditions were about perfect. Ryan and Xalo are pretty good. I on the other hand am horrible and spent most of the day hurting myself. At the end of the day Ryan and I packed up and headed for the airport. Xalo and the Jungle boys were lucky enough to have another day of skiing planned.
This was one of the best trips ever. Even the rental car didn’t give us problems. I can’t say enough about how well we were taken care of by the CSP and everyone else in Chile. Everyone we met was friendly, laid back and had endless patience for my gringo butt, and my complete ignorance of the Spanish language.