Feb. 18, 2013
SANTIAGO, Chile -
Natalie Griffen, Taylor McCann, and Kendall Romine of Stanford's women's soccer team is spending the winter quarter in Chile: Here is their report from South America:
About a month ago, we arrived in Chile, wide-eyed and eager to experience a brand new culture. Immediately, we noticed a national enthusiasm for soccer, and in Santiago, you must choose sides between Colo Colo and La U (La Universidad de Chile, that is). Historically, Colo Colo has been the most successful and popular club in Chile, though La U has gained some momentum recently, winning six out of the past 10 titles. The rivalry remains prevalent, as it's a common topic of discussion with some of our Chilean families. Tension between fans of the two teams runs high, the rivalry resembling our very own with that forsaken blue-and-gold school across the Bay. Season starts up at the end of February, and we're excited for the Clásico -- the Big Game of Chilean fútbol -- during March!
As often advertised, soccer is a way of life in the South American culture. While walking through the colorful streets of La Boca in Buenos Aires, we saw La Bombonera, the stadium for Club Atlético Boca Juniors, one of the most successful soccer teams in Argentina. Fortunately, some construction was being done on the premises, leaving an opening we were able to sneak into. We got to stand on the field for a few glorious moments before being scolded by a mean (yet justifiably peeved) stadium employee. We shuffled away, content with our short-lived exposure to the interior of the famed stadium. However, the most impressionable moment came when juggling an old soccer ball with a local Argentinian boy. He was clearly impressed with our skills. And probably baffled as well. Girls playing soccer? Unheard of! Yet we proudly juggled our way into the hearts of a few soccer-loving passers by. A moment that almost makes all of those off-season sprints seem worth it.
In addition to the Latin American soccer culture, we have experienced other incredible places during our travels through Argentina and Chile. In Buenos Aires, we visited Luján, a zoo in which we were able to go inside the cages to pet lions and tigers! It was an awesome experience and people (usually) don't get eaten. The three of us can attest that petting Mufasa, feeding elephants, and riding camels was certainly a highlight of our weekend in Argentina! In Chile, we still have much to explore. However, our trip to the Lake District last weekend opened our eyes to the diverse and beautiful terrain in Southern Chile. Some of the most memorable moments revolved around outdoor activities, including hiking through the rainforest of Luhuen Ñadi's natural reserve and kayaking on the lake in Puerto Varas.
Additionally, during our visit to the island of Chiloé, we tried the traditional local dish called "curanto," which is a combination of mariscos (shellfish), carne (meat), and papas (potatoes), all of which are smoked inside a large hole in the ground. It was a lot of meat for sure, but delicious nonetheless.
Every week in South America, we keep busy with school and workouts during the weekdays and travel on the weekends. On the agenda for this month, we will hike a volcano and whitewater raft in Pucón, and then visit the Atacama Desert to see salt flats and go sandboarding. Of course, we'll also be experiencing the Clásico. Can't miss Chile's "Big Game." We miss life in Palo Alto, but we are thankful for the opportunity to immerse ourselves within the Chilean lifestyle this quarter!
Natalie, Kendall, and Taylor