[John] The sun is shining and it’s Saturday in Santiago – what better way to spend it than at a random football game in the Chilean capital. After some quick research, I found that our choices were limited with it being the Easter weekend. Luckily we found one game that sounded interesting and so Craig and I took the short ride on the metro to see Club Deportivo Palestino vs Deporte Iquique. This game would see the 5th and 6th placed sides squaring off, and with only one game left to follow in the regular season, both needed the points to stay in contention for the finals.
Club Palestino has Palestinean heritage, with Chile being home to one of the largest Palestinian communities outside the Middle East. And if the name sounds familiar it may be due to the controversy the team caused at beginning of 2014. Here’s an example of a headline from the time: ‘The Chilean football federation has banned a top division team from using a new shirt that has the number one shaped as the map of Palestine before the creation of Israel. – BBC’.
We arrived for the 12:30pm kick off and wondered if we’d made a mistake. The ground was pretty much empty, apart from a few locals in Palestino colours. A little while later a large group of loud Iquique fans arrived so we knew we were in the right place.
The sun was shining and it was over 30c, so we picked up some food and found seats in a shaded part of the stand. I didn’t envy the players having too run about in these conditions.
I was slightly torn about which team to support as Iquique were playing in the same colours as Sydney FC, and even call themselves the sky blue dragons. But we had made the decision that Club Deportivo Palestino would be our Chilean top flight side, so on this occasion, politics won out over team colour.
As the pre-game music blared out, we started to feel as if we were in the Middle East and not Chile. I’m not 100% sure, but the Palestinian national anthem might have been played before the teams took to the pitch.
Despite the hot conditions and the small crowd, we were treated to a really good game. Iquique used all the tricks in the book to disrupt and slow down the game, this only increasing once they took the lead in the first half. The referee and linesman were getting abuse in both Spanish and Arabic from the home fans, as the whistle below for another dubious tumble or fall from an Iquique player. Palestino controlled long spells of the second half, with wave after wave of attack on the away goal, yet they were stopped by the team in sky blue.
Sadly it wasn’t Palestino’s day, as despite their best efforts, it was the Iquique fans singing the loudest at the final whistle as they held on for an unjust 1-0 victory.
[Kristen] We were splitting up today. The boys were going to see a football match, so Erin and I decided exercise was in order. We were going to climb Cerro San Cristobel for the views across Santiago, and to see the 14m statue of Virgin de la Inmaculada Concepcion.
It was a beautiful, warm day as we set out across town to the base of the hill. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but as we started walking up the dusty switchbacks, it was busy, with more people than usual making the pilgrimage to the top due to the Easter weekend.
After a long hot walk we reached the top where we were rewarded with views across Santiago and the mountains behind.
The Virgin de la Inmaculada Concepcion statue was impressive at 22m (if you include the base). We sat below her for a while and enjoyed the views.
It was slightly bizarre at the top of the hill, where, as well as religious area with the statue of the Virgin, a chapel and some other random statues of catholic icons, there was also a workout area with weights machines, spin cycles and an area for stretching out, playing really loud and pumping workout music. Nice that both religious and health needs were being served.
Going down the hill was much easier. And about half way down we came across this guy.
It looks kind of cute and furry in the photos, but in real life – it looked scary. By far the biggest spider I’d ever seen. Eventually someone came down behind us and said it wasn’t poisonous and picked the spider up, holding it on his hand. Thanks but no thanks.
It was a hot walk back down, so a snack and our first proper pisco sour was in order.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Bella Vista area of Santiago, admiring the colourful houses before heading home to make sure the boys made it back safe and sound from the football.