Hello everyone, greetings from Chile! Sorry for the long delay; things have been fairly busy. It’s a little hard to believe that I’m now officially halfway through my Fulbright grant (you may remember that in the southern hemisphere, the academic year runs March-November rather than September-June, because of seasons). For anyone who would like to read about my work and life in Chile so far, I have a more frequently updated blog at travelingscientist.wordpress.com.
Regarding my project, things have gone somewhat slower than I had hoped, due in large part to a number of only-in-South-America setbacks, such as “official data” which is blatantly and inexplicably not quality-checked, meetings with relevant persons canceled and not rescheduled, and general unavailability of instruments needed to calibrate the other instruments. (Not that things have completely stalled; if you’re interested in my project I have a few posts on my own blog about that!) Fortunately (from my perspective), the feeling of unproductivity in our projects seems to be common among many of us Fulbrighters here in Chile (or perhaps is just indicative that many of us had far too ambitious projects plans). But there has definitely been no shortage of cultural experiences. One of the major work delays this month was also one of the biggest cultural experiences: the World Cup, or the (Copa) Mundial as it is commonly called.
As I described on my blog, Chile’s first game was played on a Friday evening, so basically the entire city shut down early (well, earlier than they normally do on a Friday afternoon). As with any sport, not everyone was into it, so I still went to my mapudungun class, but as this is close to the city center, we could tell when the game was over (Chile won) by enormous cheers coming from outside. The second win 2-0 against Spain (the reigning champions from 2010, so quite a surprise) which secured their space in the octavos de final was on a Wednesday– I didn’t even bother to go into work that day, even before they won. People would disappear in the middle of the day to watch a number of other countries play as well, particularly Colombia and Germany, although oddly not neighbors Argentina– more on that later).
The saddest experience was Chile’s match against Brasil (on a Saturday, so no official work conflict). After 1-1 (which, Chileans will remind you, was the product of an inadvertent own-goal on their side, Brasil couldn’t even score against Chile!!), extra time, and 4/5 penalty kicks, Chile’s fifth attempt hits the post and Brasil advances. After the partying and vandalism following the two wins in the group stage (there was the threat of a transit strike during the third game against the Netherlands because of vandalism to the buses– I guess “fortunately” they lost, though?), this last-minute loss/elimination left the city of ~7 million people completely silent. I know of no cultural event in the US that could provoke such a united response among nearly everyone in the country. But the team returned home as heroes, including taking selfies with la presidenta.
(photo credit Katy Indvik)
As an undergrad (also at UCSD!) I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, so I have a certain affection for that city and Argentina as a whole. From the beginning I suspected that statistically, Buenos Aires was going to be a more interesting place to be during the final than Santiago, and after delaying because I was trying to convince other people to come with me, I bought my plane ticket the week before the final (right after Argentina secured their spot in one of the last two matches).
In the semifinal match Argentina v Holland, it was really interesting to see the Chileans rooting for the Dutch. There is an almost sort of sibling rivalry/resentment between these two countries in particular that I really can’t fully explain. According to Chile, it surely goes back to Argentina stealing land from Chile and cutting off their energy imports, and anyway, Argentine wine totally sucks, you guys; according to Argentina, have you heard what Chile did to Peru and Bolivia? Chile’s pretty terrible, there! This is one of the very few areas in which I will play the role of dumb gringa and say “oh, really? I didn’t know that, that’s interesting, I’ll have to read up on it more” and not get into it any more than that. Regardless, I was very glad I went to Buenos Aires, even though it resulted in my cell phone being a casualty at the obelisco (PSA: kids, don’t let yourselves get distracted for even a second, even when they steal your hat. Or maybe grow a third arm so that you can have one hand on everything at a time, and an extra for the hat-stealing contingency, sigh). But regardless, it was great to watch the game with people who actually wanted Argentina to win. And even having lost to Germany, the argentinos were still partying.
(selfie with my soon-to-be-stolen hat. It had dinosaur spines down the back and everything…)
Also… I hadn’t noticed it before, but I’m pretty sure the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires was heavily inspired by another library… http://www.buenosaires.travel/Biblioteca-Nacional.aspx