As I walked from my hostel toward the center of Punta Arenas the other afternoon, I heard the announcer on someone’s television scream “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool” from an open window.Minutes later, everyone in town rushed to Calle Bories, a main drag that’s always pumping with eaters, shoppers and vendors selling strawberries, garlic or handmade bracelets. Most of the congregants on that day were wearing shiny polyester soccer jerseys. They circled the block in cars, honking their horns. They hung from windows, ran through the streets waving oversized flags, slapped each other on the back, yelled.
About 15 minutes into the commotion, I entered the Abu Gosch supermarket. When I emerged 45 minutes later with a bag of vegetables and some cheese, the noise and excitement were strong as ever. Here’s the story, as told by the man in front of me in line at the grocery store: The Colo-Colo soccer team won. They were playing another team. There are many soccer teams in Chile. Colo-Colo is one of them. Here’s the same story, told with slightly more flair by a man I met on the sidewalk on the way back to my hostel: The Colo-Colo soccer team beat the University of Conception 2-0 in the national championship. The Colo-Colo team is based outside of Santiago, but since Punta Arenas does not have a soccer team of its own, most here root for Colo-Colo, a team that has come to stand for the working class. The team will go on to play other countries.
So, there you have it. Colo-Colo is one of many teams in Chile. But it’s one worth keeping an eye on.