On August 22nd, 2004, I was on a group mountain bike ride up at Huinganal, an open hilly plain with bouncy terrain in the eastern sector of Santiago, up through the comuna (district) called La Dehesa. There were about fifteen of us, with a wide range of types of bicycles, from chanchitas (lit: piggies, fig: beater bikes) to styley light bikes with clipless pedals, tons of travel (suspension), and uberfit owners to match.
The fact that I can tell you exactly what I was doing on this day has much more to do with Chile than it does with me. You see, this was during the Athens Summer Olympics, and Nicolás Massú and Fernando Gonzalez were playing in the men’s tennis doubles finals. We blithely biked over hill and dale, through puddles and the like, when my phone rang. It was a friend’s boyfriend, and all he did was shout in my ear. Not completely deafened, but somewhat surprised, I hung up. Then, from up in the hills far from where the locals were, inside with their giant screen tvs, we could hear the roar of the city turning itself inside-out with joy. Chile’s homegrown heroes had won the nation’s first gold medal in the Olympics.
Last night I was reminded of this because through the thick walls of my darling apartment, and through the single-paned windows that keep out no cold at all come winter, I could hear throughout the neighborhood, shouts of
And I was thinking about how you really don’t need to watch tv (handy because I don’t have one), or even listen to the radio to find out what’s happenening in sports here in Santiago. The main thing you need to do is have a vague idea about what matches are up and listen for news from the correo de las brujas (grapevine).
And then, if it’s really important, you can go to Plaza Italia to get teargassed and maybe throw a bottle or two. Or run into one of your 14-year-old students’ mothers while you have mud on your face and your hair in pigtails. I’m just saying. It could happen to you.