Quinahue El Boldal, Chile
Remember this place? I was here a few months ago visiting the wonderful family of my good friend Jorge. And I’ve returned!
You’ll remember also that when I got to San Felipe this time around, I had difficulty finding anyone; Lamas and everybody had moved out of their house after a robbery had taken place there just after I had left for Bolivia. I went to the campus of the local university and waited around until I found somebody I knew. It didn’t take long; soon I was socializing with a few people from back in Constitutión, whom seemed happy to see me again. After about an hour I saw my friends Christian and Jorge arrive through the iron gates of the university.
Greetings were made; I was happy to be amongst friends again. However, it seemed I’d arrived to San Felipe on the wrong day; everybody was heading back to their respective towns for the long weekend. Jorge and Christian were leaving in a few hours, and I heard that Lamas had already left for Quillota; I decided to go and check to see if my friend Marco was in his apartment. I figured I would stay only one night in San Felipe and then head to the home of Jorge’s family here in Quinahue the next day.
Marco was not at home either, and Jorge and Christian had already left, so I decided to head for Quinahue at that moment since the day was still relatively young and it wasn’t really very far away. I went back to the exit of San Felipe and began hitchhiking for the 654,345th time in my life. Ish.
I got a few short rides totalling no more then ten kilometres and found myself in a small town that I had been stuck in before on my way to Santiago. I was nonetheless in a good mood, and began the walk to a better hitchhiking spot. As I waked I stuck my thumb out, as usual, and about halfway through the pueblito a little Jeep-like vehicle pulled over. Elated, I sprinted up, tossed my bag in the trunk, and hopped in the front seat….little did I know this was to be the Best Ride of My Life.
The driver was a young-ish guy in his early thirties, and introduced himself as Mauricio from San Felipe. We chatted as he drove; he was a dermatologist who was on his way to Santiago for some sort of convention. As I told him stories about my travels he asked me if I liked to smoke weed. Welll…yes! Yes I do!
We had found a topic that we had a mutual interest in; he told me about how he brought seeds back from a trip to Amsterdam last year and was now growing some killer Sweet Tai in his house back in San Felipe. Wow! Sweet Tai, that’s the stuff! Mauricio said I could come to his house whenever I wanted to test it out, and then invited me to have a burger with him when we got into Santiago; I happily accepted since I had been living off of mostly bread since I had left Antofagasta.
When we got to his hotel, I left the car and was getting my pack out of the trunk when Mauricio said that he had a gift for me. He handed me a wad of bills totalling CL$20,000! That’s around forty dollars! But that wasn’t the end of it; he then took a M&M mini plastic tube out of his pocket and gave it to me…and inside was 5 grams of hydroponically grown Sweet Tai. Five grams! That’s worth about $100 in the States, for those of you who don’t know. The THC crystals on the buds were so large I could practically see my reflection in them!
So…Mauricio bought me a huge meal, gave me $20,000 pesos and 5 grams of top-shelf Sweet Tai, and brought me to Santiago. And he gave me a bag of chocolates, like icing on the cake!
Best. Ride. Ever. Fucking hell, man. Fucking hell. He really is a nice guy, too.
So I then found myself in a rather new situation: Santiago, with lots of money and weed! I jumped on the subway and headed to Cistina, the furthest south the metro went, and returned to the distribution centres where I had hitched rides to the south on two different other occasions. This day I was again with luck, and was soon headed south in a semi hauling frozen chickens and potatoes to Puerto Montt. I got off in San Fernando and headed east towards Santa Cruze and Quinahue.
Finally, around nine-thirty that night, I arrived to the small village in the peaceful Chilean countryside and knocked on the door of the home of my friend Jorge’s family.
‘Pase, no mas,’ came a voice from the inside. I opened the door and came through the entryway.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcome anywhere else in my life; as soon as I passed inside there was a veritable explosion of ‘Paaaateeeks! Hoooola mi niñiiiiiito! Como estaaaaaai, que sopreeeesaaa!’ The family was just as great as I remember them; they didn’t know that I was coming that night and thought I was still in Perú. For the past four months since I was here last I’ve been getting messages from everybody (especially Marcello, Jorge’s older brother) asking me, ‘¿Y cuando regresaste a Quinahue?’ When are you coming back to Quinahue? I must have made a really good impression last time…
I had arrived before Jorge, proof that hitching can be faster then the bus. I came through the door just as dinner was being served, and was immediately invited to sit and eat. Afterward I went next door to Marcellos’ house to say hi, and was welcomed with eggs and a glass of whiskey. Everyone was so happy to see me I felt as if I was arriving to a family reunion; that’s the kind of greeting I received. Jorge’s mother said that she ‘missed her other son,’ Marcello asked ‘where his other brother had been,’ and all the young children called me ‘uncle Pateeks.’ This is definently ‘mi familia Chilena,’ and it felt fantastic to be so well received by everyone.
Jorge didn’t arrive until the next afternoon (he apparently was distracted by his lady for the evening), so the next morning Marcello and I went to the neighbouring town of Santa Cruz; Marcello took care of a few errands and I browsed around for a jacket (remember, I had CL$20,000!). When we got back to Quinahue, Jorge had just arrived.
‘Finally, you have come here!’ he said to me in English. ‘My family never has shut up about you since you were here the last time!’ I hugged my friend. ‘I think my mom loves you more than she loves me! Ha ha haaa!’
‘It’s good to be back here, man.’ I said happily. ‘Oh! Dude…’ I said, remembering. ‘I have an awesome surprise for you. Come on, let’s go take a walk.’
‘What? What is it you have?’ asked Jorge, interested.
‘This,’ I said proudly, ‘this is your gift from Santiago.’ I handed him the M&M mini container with the Sweet Tai in it.
‘¿Dulces?’ he said, confused. ‘Candy? Well, thanks my friend, I-‘ he stopped dead when he opened it up. ‘Oh my gosh man! Where you get this?’ he smelled it. ‘Oh my gosh! It smell really strong! Where you get this?’
I told him the story of Mauricio. ‘And now,’ I said proudly, ‘I am giving you the Sweet Tai as a gift for being my friend and for letting me stay here with your family. But,’ I added, ‘you have to smoke it with me.’ Laughter.
‘Let’s go smoke now!’ said Jorge excitedly. ‘We go to my favourite place! Come on, man. We gonna get really high today…’
And we did.Reeeeally high. We went to this dam by a river and wandered around by the rushing water in an advanced state of inebriation. The dam, in combination with the springtime breeze and snow-capped Andes on the horizon, made it probably the best Saturday of my entire life.
After we returned to the ground we went back to the house and took a nap; later on that night Jorge’s cousin had a birthday, so we headed down the road to go to his party. There was a gaggle of maybe thirty people mulling around in the barn and sipping their drinks.
Now, there’s one thing you should know about Chile: soccer is important. Very, very important. One of the most pressing things to the to the average Chilean man is: ‘Who won, Colo-Colo or Universidad de Chile?’ Jorge’s family is a Colo-Colo family; ‘Colo-Colo, campeóns eternal. ¡Colo-Colo es Chile, y Chile es Colo-Colo! Universidad de Chile, ¡SÁLE concha tú maadre culiao!’ Then, singing, about how Colo-Colo is so much better then Universidad de Chile and always will be.
At this party, there were lots of ‘amigos de Universidad de Chile.’ As soon as they saw me, they about had a heart attack.
Note: For the rest of this post there will be a lot of dialogue; It was always originally spoken in Chilean Spanish unless I say otherwise, but I’m going to write it in the kind of English I think they would speak if it were their mother tongue.
‘Holy shit!’ said one of them. ‘Look, man!’ he elbowed his friend. ‘Look man, it’s Seymour! It’s Seymour, that guy looks like Seymour!’
His friend looked at me. ‘Whoa, fuck, you’re right man, he looks just like Seymour! It’s Seymour man, holy shit! Hey, man! Hey! Hey, Seymour! Seymooooour!‘ He gestured for me to come over.
Apparently I bear a striking resemblance to ‘the best player in Chile,’ Felipe Seymour, who plays for ‘the best club in the world,’ Universidad de Chile.
‘What about Colo-Colo?’ I asked, sitting down.
‘Nooooooooo man! Nooooooo, Colo-Colo doesn’ fuckin’ exist! Universidad de Chile, forever!! The heart of Chile! There is no such thing as a fuckin’ Colo-Colo! ¡Chi chi chi! ¡Le le le! ¡U-ni-ver-si-dad de Chi-le!‘
‘But you, man!’ said one of the guys, ‘You look like Seymour! Like, just like him! Your eyes, and your hair, and your beard, man! Oh, dude!’ he said to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. ‘Dude, can I take a photo with you? For Facebook? Everybody will think I met Filipe fuckin’ Seymour, holy shit, man! Can we take a photo? Please?’
‘Well, yeah, sure!’ I said, happy with all the attention I was getting.
‘All right, awesome man! Awesome! Now, look, you gotta do the sign, for Universidad de Chile. You gotta make your hand like this,’ he made what you would call in Texas the ‘hook ’em horns’ sign, in this case representing the “U” in “Universidad de Chile.” ‘And then, you gotta, like, make a line and put it over your heart,’ he demonstrated. I did a vague imitation, and everybody freaked!
‘Oooooooohhhh man! It’s just like Seymour, man, just like Seymour, I can’t fucking belive it! Here, here…here, here! I’m gonna take the picture now, do the sign again! Do it! Here! Here, hang on, hang on, this phone is a piece of shit…Oh! Okay! Okay, wait…Okay it’s ready, go, go, do the sign, do the sign, Seymour! Ha ha haaa!’
One by one they all took photos with me. ‘You’re famous on Facebook now, man,’ said one of them, patting me on the back. ‘We’re gonna tell everybody that you’re Seymour, and that we met you at this party, and they’re gonna be really pissed that they stayed home tonight, ha ha haaa…‘ He looked at the photo again. ‘Fuckin’ Seymour, man, I can’t belive it!’
————————————— What do you guys think? Long lost brothers?
While all the amigos de Universidad de Chile were oohing and ahhing at their photos with ‘Felipe Seymour,’ Jorge and the Colo-Colo boys were seething in the corner and telling me, ‘No, no, man! Don’t listen to those faggots! Colo-Colo, eternal champions! They’ve won way more times then Universidad de Chile! Don’t do the sign, man! Don’t do it!’
I hoped I was setting a good example for my country; not only did I look like ‘Seymoooour!’ but I was a foreigner, from ‘Unaiiii Staaaayyy!’
I wasn’t used to having such celebrity status. This must be how Robert Dowery Jr. feels everywhere he goes; all these people all want to talk to you, and they all think that you’re just the bees’ knees, even though you’re just some guy. I felt kind of bad sometimes, because when one person would start talking to me about something boring and I would kind of start drifting off and just doing the “‘Yeah. Yeah. Uh huh. Oh, really?'” sort of thing, and then they would say something like, “‘Oh, man, I can’t belive I’m sitting here talking to you, man! I’m so excited!'”
What am I supposed to say to that? “‘Oh, really? ‘Cause I thought you were pretty boring…'” ? No, I would immidetly feel bad for not paying attention and say something like, “‘Aw, yeah, yeah man! It was awesome to meet you too, bro!'” I was famous for one night at a party in rural Chile; I can’t imagine how the people who are actually famous must feel.
The next day all of us in Quinahue traveled ten kilometres east to Chepica for a ‘friendly’ Halloween soccer tournament, ‘friendly’ being a very generous term. There were five games, and the last one was to decide who was the ‘champion of the entire world forever and ever.’
‘We play to die!’ said one Quinahue fan. ‘We will win or lie dead on the field! We won last year, and the year before, and we WILL WIN THIS YEAR! Kill those motherfuckers from Chepica! KILL KILL KILL KILLLLLL! GAAAA!’ As you can see Chileans are very competitive, even when their opponents are only from six miles away.
The first game was not too intense; the families played and it was pretty peaceful, with just one yellow card and no red cards. The second and third games were similar, but during the fourth game, things started to heat up. Three yellow cards (two for Quinahue, one for Chepica) and a red card (Chepica, for kicking the striker in the face). The end result was a Chepica victory; that left Quinahue with two victories and Chepica with two victories; the winner of the last match would take the cake.
Right before the final, you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. The entire town of Quinahue sat on one side of the field while the mass of Chepica sat on the other. As soon as the starting whistle blew, both sides exploded with shouts and catcalls. Chepica had the ball first and was pressuring the Quianhue goalie.
‘Get it outta there, assholes! Get it the fuck outta there! What the fuck are you doing? Pull yourselves together! Kick it! Kick it! Kick it!!‘ The ball sailed to the other side of the field after a vicious header from Quinahue.
‘Thaaaat’s it, that’s it, Pressure ’em! Pressure pressure pressure pressure!‘ Quinahue had the ball bouncing around near Chepica’s goal; the goalie shuffled back and forth, defending with all his might.
‘Hey, hey look, goalie! Hey! Hey! It’s comin’ from the left, no, no, the right! No straight! Ha ha haa!! Look at ’em, man! Look at ’em! He can’t fucking do anything, what a shit fuckin’ goalie! Ha ha haaa!’
A shot from Quinahue, blocked by the goalie.
‘Noooooooo!!’ Despair from Quinahue, celebration from Chepica.
‘No!! Hey, though, hey! It’s all right guys, it’s all right, get it back over here, no problem, no problem! Just makin’ him tired, eh? Fuck you, Chepica goalie, motherfucker! We gonna murder you!’
Everyone joined in on the catcalls, even Marcello, Jorge’s brother, who isn’t even a violent guy and is always smiling.
‘Yeah, fuck you, goalie!’ shouted Marcello without taking off his happy smile. He looked back at me and gave a little giggle, as if to say, ‘Ha ha, look how bad we’re being on Halloween!’
The game went on; Two yellow cards, both for Quinahue, and a red card as well (for tripping a Chepica player and then ‘accidently’ kicking him on the forehead as he ran by).
Goal Chepica. Absolute, crushing despair from Quianhue and wild, unconstrained celebration from Chepica. I saw a grown man cry on both sides, one from despair and one from happiness. The game went on…
Red card, Chepica (elbow to the face) two yellow cards, Chepica, and…!
The foul whistle blew just as Quinahue appeared to have scored a goal. Offsides. The Quianhue players disagreed, and very strongly at that. Shouts, pushing at the Chepica players…
‘That’s fuckin’ bullshit, man, offsides my ass!’
‘It was offsides, obviously!’
‘Shut the fuck up, man, it wasn’t fucking offsides!
‘Ref, what the fuck is this? This guy’s trying to fuckin’ cheat!‘
‘Don’t fucking call me a fuckin’ cheater, fag! You’re the one whose fuckin’ cheating!’
‘Hey man, fuck you!‘
And then, finally, what everyone had been waiting for: one of the Chepica players punched the Quinahue striker full on in the face.
After that, everything went to hell. The Quinahue players decended on the Chepica team, then the Chepica fans sprinted out on to the field to defend their players, followed soon by the Quinahue fans. Soon, the entire right side of the pitch was a free-for-all meleé; Beer bottles rocketed from side to side, some of them still full, raining the mob with booze and crashing down into the brawl.
The mob slowly morphed its way towards the fence; to one side came more people from Chepica, and onto the field arrived more Quinahue fighters. Soon, it was Quianhue vs. Chepica, with the pitch fence caught in the middle. After twenty minutes of serious soccer rioting, some of the more peaceful Chepica citizens had managed to subdue the rowdiest of their fellow townsmen; this, however, was far from the end of it. As the Chepica fighters were dragged bodily away from the fight by the peacemakers, the Quinahue fans stood on the other side of the fence and waved tantalizingly.
‘Buh byyye, sweethearts!!! Byyyyyye! Muwah! We’ll see you next year, faggots!’
‘Motherfuckers, I’ll kill you!’ one of the Chepica fighters tried to break free, but was restrained once more.
‘Ha haaa, awwwwwwwww, lookit him, he so angweeeeee!!’
That did it. With a howl, the Chepica fighter broke away, grabbed a nearly full beer from the hands of a spectator and hurled it towards the Quinahue mob with all his might. It sailed across the battlefield and smashed into pieces onto the fence, soaking the Quinahue people with beer. The Quianhue players rumbled and started throwing more bottles, causing the peacekeepers run for cover; and so the mob clashed once more.
Jorge and I watched the fight from a short distance. He took a sip of his beer and passed it to me. ‘Well man, what do you think?’
I ducked as a beer bottle rocketed towards me and smashed into the goalpost; a grin.
‘Best. Halloween. Ever.’
After the fight was eventually over, everyone returned to their respective sides to lick their wounds and curse the name Chepica/Quinahue. The pitch fence lay in ruins with even the posts having been uprooted, presumably to be used as a baseball bat on some unfortunate persons’ face. Despite all this, everyone still seemed in a very good mood; the men returned to their families, bounced their babies on their knees and drank more beer.
‘It ain’t Halloween if we don’t beat the crap outta Chepica!’ one man told me, grinning as blood ran down his face from a cut near his eye. He pushed his young son around on his bicycle and shrugged dismissively. ‘We lost the match, but we sure as hell won the fight!’ He turned and shouted back at Chepica. ‘See you fags next year!’
‘Fuck you!’ came the distant rebuttle.
The bus back to Quinahue arrived from the back of the field; those stupid enough to try and exit through the main entrance were captured by Chepica fans and tossed bodily from group to group.
‘One, two, three, four, five, six…!’ counted the Chepica hooligans, a number for each time the unfortunate Quinahuean sailed, kicking and screaming, from one group to the other. I think they were at about forty-five when the bus to Quinahue rolled off down the dirt road, headed back west for Halloween night.
That evening all the little Quinahuean children dressed up in costumes, ran from house to house and shouted ‘¡Dulce travesura!’ (candy trip!), just like all the little kids in the States. I handed out sweets and sipped fine Chilean wine while gazing at the stars.
Best. Weekend. Ever.
The Modern Nomad
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