Tag: chile

Chronicle of Two World Cup Qualifiers

World Cup qualifiers are special matches. In South America, there are only 16 meaningful matches over four years to decide which 5 soccer mad countries make it to the World Cup. In North America, there are only 10.

Each game is a grinder. The pressure is high. Any screw up can mean dropped points and the potential to miss the World Cup. In most countries outside of the US, the entire country stops for each match. On match day, Chileans gather round their tvs to watch the game, accompanied by friends and family, piscola, beer and sometimes day long asados. The national mood rides on the result: a win national ecstasy, a loss, national depression, followed by assigning blame and national soul searching.

Last week, Chile sat in 6th place, on the outside looking in after 9 matches. On Tuesday they lost a hard fought away game to bottom feeder Peru 1-0 where they should have drawn and the entire country went into depression.

Next up was Uruguay, probably the best per capita soccer team in the world and a team Chile hadn’t beaten in something like 25 years. At 3.8m people, Uruguay are the reigning South American champs and took 4th place in the last World Cup. Chile needed a home win or else they would be in deep trouble and were at risk to miss the first South American World Cup since Argentina ’78.

My friends Mike (visiting from the US), David, Pepe and I got tickets to go to the match. It was my first South American World Cup Qualifier, though I’ve been to US qualifiers and World Cup games in Germany and South Africa. We met up in my apartment to have a few beers, then took a taxi to Chile’s Estadio Nacional. We got there just in time to hear the national anthems.

Estadio Nacional, Chile/Uruguay
Estadio Nacional, Chile/Uruguay

Our tickets were for a general admission section in the corner and it was really full, but we ended up with seats low down, but still with a good view. The crowd was electric, willing Chile to score. Chile obliged in the 11th minute, scoring right in front of us. The crowd went nuts. Chileans really believe they could win. The crowd was on Uruguay’s striker Luis Suarez the entire game, especially after he punched a Chilean defender in the face and got away with it.

Uruguay pushed back from the start of the second half and Chilean fans were suffering badly. Fans cursed players and screamed abuse at Uruguayan players and refs, while singing songs to support the team. Our section had a significant number of families attending together. Fathers attending with their young daughters all screamed as if they were alone with their best friends. Chile scored again in the 77th minute and the party was on. Uruguay brought on Diego Forlan who had a few close chances, but it wasn’t enough. Chile had won. Everyone left the stadium happy. Everyone was together, something that doesn’t happen very often in Chile. Chile was back on track, moving up to a tie for 4th.

We walked a bit, then caught a cab to watch the US take on Mexico in Mexico City, a place the US has only won once in 75 years. We watched surrounded by dejected Mexican fans as the US got its second away point in Mexico in World Cup qualifying and solidifying their road to the world cup. Although the US still doesn’t have the passion for soccer that much of the world does, the vocal US crowd in Denver in a driving snow storm for the victory over Costa Rica and the over 7m tv viewers for USA/Mexico shows that soccer is growing and gaining popularity. At 60% of a typical monday night football game, that’s huge progress.  If you get a chance to see a world cup qualifier even if you’re not a big fan, take it.

My 2011

My year end review is always one of my favorite posts to write each year (2009, 2010, 2000-2010).  So without further ado, here’s what I did in 2011.

2011 was an amazing yet tumultuous year.  I rung in 2011 in Pasadena, CA at the Rose Bowl with my family and friends.  Although the Badgers lost, I got to see a friend I hadn’t seen in three years and had a great time.  The next week, I did an hour long interview for NPR for the first time while San Francisco for Entrustet.  I returned to Chile with Jesse to continue working on Entrustet in the Startup Chile program.  As 2011 rolled on, I got closer to my new friends from Startup Chile and now consider them some of my closest friends in the world.

Salar de Uyuni

I continued to travel, going all over Chile and into Bolivia.  The Salar de Uyuni still is the most beautiful place I’ve seen on earth, closely followed by Torres del Paine in Patagonia, which I visited with my brother and one of my best friends.  My parents made the trip to visit me in Chile and we explored Pucon and the lakes region.  Two of my best friends from Wisconsin came to visit and we went to La Serena and Valle del Elqui.  I got to Mendoza, Pichilemu, San Pedro de Atacama, Buenos Aires, Hawaii, Austin, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

2011 was a banner year for Wisconsin sports.  Although the Badgers lost in the Rose Bowl to start the year, they were in the National Title hunt for most of 2011 and I find myself going back to Cali (Cali), for another new year.  The Packers went on an improbable run to win the Super Bowl from the sixth seed.  I watched with an international group of friends in Santiago as the mostly pro steelers crowd changed “roth-leeees-bour-geeer” over and over.  The Brewers had their best regular season ever, winning 96 games and getting within two games of the World Series.  The Packers are 14-1 and are favorites to repeat for the Super Bowl.  2011 might well be the golden year for Wisconsin sports.

Entrustet continued to grow, but slowly.  We continued to get press and were mentioned in over 125 publications in 2011.  We continued to sign up lawyers and work with insurance companies to try to help people protect their digital assets.  Jesse presented at South by Southwest and I moderated at panel on the Chilean Startup Scene.  We even had our first user pass away, proving that our system really works.

Friendsgiving 2011

On a personal level, I learned Spanish, made some amazing new friends and really grew a ton living outside my comfort zone abroad.  I have a new appreciation for the simple things in life like being able to coast through mundane life situations and watching as things come easily for me.  I  traveled back for Friendsgiving, the annual gathering of my best friends from college.  It was amazing to see all my friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  I saw some great music in 2011, going to Lollapalooza Chile, South by Southwest in Austin and many others and I ended my time with Startup Chile by giving a speech to the President of Chile, completely in Spanish.

Looking back, 2011 has been the year of big changes.  I left Madison, traveled all over, continued to be an entrepreneur, found myself growing and changing, loving, making new friends.  If 2012 can match how much I enjoyed 2011, I know I’m doing something right.  I have no doubt it will.

Favorite Posts

A Tribute  – My favorite post of the year

How to Live Before you Die: What I Learned From Running Entrustet

How to Talk to the Media and Get Quoted in Press


The Customer is not Always Right: Sometimes He’s an Asshole


Overcoming Self Deception

A Reflection on Living Abroad

A Quick Trip to Viña del Mar

Viña del Mar is the closest beach to Santiago, so we decided to take a trip.  I went with a few of friends from Startup Chile, including Tiago (Portugal), Raj (UK), Hank (US) and Jesse.  We took the $5 bus through the hills and ended up in Viña about 1.5 hours later.  They played a movie with no sound, but with Spanish subtitles, so it was a good way to practice.

We got to Viña at about 2pm and walked around.  Viña is right next to Valpariaso, which used to be one of the most important shipping cities in the entire world.  After the Panama Canal was built, Valpo wasn’t as necessary anymore.  Our hostel was located about 4 blocks from the ocean, atop a huge hill.  We had great views of the city.

We walked all over Viña to get the lay of the land and found a cool boardwalk and a bunch of bars/restaurants.  Many of the restaurants were your typical tourist trap, but we found some good ones by asking out hostel owner which were good and worth going to.  We spent some time on the beach and then went out to a few bars.  It’s much cooler in Viña compared to Santiago, especially at night and we happened to be there during an extraordiarialy windy time, but it was still really fun.  We spent most of the day Sunday on the beach, then took the bus back to Santiago.

We were only there for about 36 hours, but it was great to get out of Santiago and go to the beach with some new friends.  We’ll be back over the next few weeks and I’ll write an in depth blog post about where to go, what to do and where to eat next time.  For now, here’s a few pictures:

Futbolito, Facebook and other Observations from Chile


I played pickup soccer last Thursday with Enrique, one of the other Startup Chile entrepreneurs and Cristóbal, a Chilean I knew from UW.  We played 8v8 (futbolito) on a small field at San Carlos de Aponquindo, which is Universidad Católica’s soccer complex.  It was a really cool setup on the far east side of Santiago, in an area called Las Condes, which is the foothills of the mountains.  We played at 9pm, so we got a great view of the city from the field.

In addition to the main stadium and fields for plenty of other sports, there are at least 12 small sided soccer fields with artificial turf, lights, goals and everything you’d need to play a game.  You can rent the fields and play with your friends.  Enrique’s friends had rented the field and needed extra players so I got to come.

The level of play was like good high school with a few D3 college players thrown in and there were some fun differences from pickup games that I’m used to in the US.  We played with throw ins when the ball went out and in the US, we normally just pass it in and get the ball moving again.  Chilean pickup games include slide tackling, but they’re good at it, so there weren’t any bad challenges.  Chileans play a technical style, with lots of small passes and quick footwork, but it’s not just one guy dribbling all the time.  You don’t have to run nearly as much.  Chileans would rather score with a bunch of small passes leading to an open goal, rather than take long, hard shots.  Sort of like Arsenal’s style.

On defense, you are supposed to go in and make tackles, no matter where you are on the field.  I’ve always been trained to drop, give ground and force the attacker to make a mistake, until they get close to the attacking third, so they were always urging me to jump in and make a tackle.  My style worked most of the time, because they weren’t used to it.  We also played with goalkeepers, which was much more fun than not, like we normally do in the US.  I’m used to talking all the time on the soccer field, but I didn’t know any of the slang for man on, tackle him, you take him etc, so it was hard from time to time.  I’m hoping to figure out a way to play at least once a week while I’m in Chile.


It seems to me that Facebook is basically a dating site in Chile.  People friend each other much more quickly here than they do in the US and use Facebook chat all the time.  According to a few different Chileans, it’s normal to friend someone, then start chatting with them using Facebook chat, right away.  I’ve been on the receiving end a few times and it’s quite different from what I’m used to.  Most people don’t seem to use any of the privacy settings either.  Apparently MSN messenger is really popular here too.

In the US, I use Facebook mostly to stay in touch with close friends, not meet new people.  I rarely friend someone I just met and have my privacy setting up really high.  I also rarely use facebook chat, in favor of gchat with my friends that I actually email.  I also use Facebook to share blog posts and interesting links.  Here, it seems different.


If you’re young and don’t like to dance, you probably won’t have much fun here.  It’s quite the contrast to Madison, where most of the bars are consist of loud music and people just standing around.  Here, there’s live music, djs and people love to dance.  As any large capital city, there’s lots of great bands that come through Santiago, so we’ve seen Girl Talk and a few other bands.  Lollapalooza just announced that they’re expanding from Chicago to Santiago while we’ll be here, too.


The only liquor I’ve had since I’ve been here is pisco, which comes from grapes.  It’s really good and we normally mix it with coke or sprite to make piscola or piscola blanca.  It’s either 35 or 40% alcohol and really cheap.  A 750ml bottle of really good stuff is about $10 and many times comes with a bottle of coke/sprite.


I think I’ve seen some sort of protest just about every day I’ve been here.  Most are very small, but there was a larger one a few days ago about the government’s attempt to cut government worker wages.  I’ve seen people protesting animal rights, public workers and a few that I couldn’t figure out.  The metro isn’t working today because the drivers are on strike, which isn’t a big deal since it’s Sunday.

So far, I’m really enjoying being in Chile.  The people are nice, the weather is beautiful and business is going good.  I have a few longer posts written that I’ll be publishing over the next few days, so be sure to check back.