A third-culture kid (TCK / 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more cultures other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture."


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Survivor: Parinacota

Parinacota, the northernmost point of Chile, is slightly off the east of the Atacama Desert. The climate remains quite arid and barren yet, due to its high altitude, the soil receives more condensation and some humidity from cloud condensation. Our base during the Cordillera operations was situated in the commune of Putre, a tiny Andean village comprised of slightly less than 2000 inhabitants (apparently the population decreased by 29% from 1992 to 2002), and located at 3,500 m. Here, a major challenge I had never before encountered managed to overcome me: altitude sickness. Most people who suffer from altitude sickness or soroche begin to display symptoms starting at 2,400 m. The air pressure is significantly lower than at sea level. In my case, my skin becomes pale, my lips take on a purple colour and breathing becomes a difficult task. These side effects are sometimes compared to a harsh flu, carbon monoxide poisoning or even a severe hangover. In a worse case scenario, prolonged exposure to high altitude pulmonary edema or high altitude cerebral edema, eventually leads to death. The Andean people combat soroche mainly chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea in order to stimulate the flow of oxygen. Another alternative to help stabilize your system is sucking on lemons or other citrus fruits. These villages are far from the luxuries of modern civilization, forcing the locals to ration food supplies, and their diet is basic. The main fauna consisted of vicuñas, alpacas and llamas. The llama was domesticated by the andinos and the animal’s meat is part of the regional cuisine. Chile had a signature sandwich called barros luco (named after the former President Ramón Barros Luco), using beef and melted cheese as the main ingredients. In Putre, the beef was substituted for llama and I thought the taste was quite exquisite. Llama sandwiches! Yummy.

The main ingredient for Andean Barros Luco
We valiantly ventured further into the mountains from Putre on day trips, travelling boldly where no Bickford had gone before. After a really slow 50 kms voyage - due to the rough terrain and limited road networks - we arrived to Lake Chungará. This lake sits comfortably at 4,517 m above sea level. You can imagine, based on the previous explanation, what colour my skin and face must have turned at this altitude. Behind the quiet idle lake stood the Parinacota volcano with an elevation of 6,348 m. I am still thankful we had no funny ideas of climbing to the top. I remember the natural beauty there but constantly felt ill due. The indigenous llamas would gallop gracefully around us yet I could barely walk a few feet. Most signs of human life we encountered along the way were living in small huts built out of rocks and straw. Locals were not accustomed to seeing people on a regular basis and would run for shelter when they would see us approaching at a distance. This made our adventures even further complicated, as we could not gather critical intelligence about our surroundings and points of interest. We had a road map but had not seen proper asphalt roads or any real settlements. Our plan was to reach the town of Visviri, a border town of 300 proud Chilean citizens sharing the area with Tripartito, Peru and Charaña, Bolivia. My Dad and Brian, having referenced the legend on our map, estimated that Visviri was not too far away and we could make it there and back to Putre long before nightfall. Our parliamentary committee weighted in and voted in favour of the aforementioned proposal, as this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How many other trips would we make to this part of the Andes in the future? Dad drove along a flat portion of land between several mounds of sand and bush, convinced that this path was now the road and would lead us to our destination. None of us learned from the early explorers who carried a compass and there were no GPS gadgets for personal use at the time. We were on the right track, bouncing around in our Samurai accompanied by the soothing sounds of Roger Whittaker serenading through our car speakers. It was a new world in the Andes for him. After an eternity of shaking and bouncing, we were relieved to see at a distance a settlement. This was our final stretch to reach Visviri but a brave nemesis blocked our path: a small stream of water.
This was by no means a regular puddle. We stopped for a moment to analyze this obstacle thoroughly, exhausting every option for tackling this roadblock and proceed to our promised land. Since there was no passing road traffic in either direction (I doubt we had even seen two motor vehicles since leaving Putre), there was no one to lead by example. My father, the most adventurous of the four, decided it was best to overtake the stream by driving off the road and through the mud. That moment was not our proudest. Our Samurai was now stuck in the mud. The first reaction from the man in charge was to find a board or rope to leverage the vehicle and increase tire traction. Boards and rope did not seem native to the region, so it would not be a simple task. To our surprise, I believe it was Brian who noticed a truck approaching. The drivers of the truck slowed down on their approach to the stream and my father pounced on the opportunity to plead for assistance. I still remember our desperation. If these fellow travellers would not help, who else would? It was not like we could call roadside assistance service. Upon receiving a complacent response from both truckers, my Dad brought out his wallet, a gringo’s deadliest weapon and declared: “I have money! Please help us!” They could have taken our money and left us forsaken in the mud there but they simply drove off. As the truck drove off toward Visviri at a distance, we began to cherish our last minutes on this Earth. Nevertheless, it seemed the Andean Gods had different plans for us and were on our side that day aside.
It seemed like an eternity since our trucker buddies had abandoned us when a Carabineros jeep made its way towards us. Perhaps the truckers feeling sorry for the foolish foreigners mentioned to the border patrol a family was stuck and sent a squad our way. The policemen secured a hook on the frame of our brave Samurai and backed their jeep pulling on the hook with a cable attached to their car. We were out of the mud! Afterwards, we were questioned about our methodology upon conducting a pointless manoeuvre. Of course we realized there was no good answer to that question. The officer proceeded to inquire on our headings and we proudly responded that we were going toward the picturesque Visviri. He suggested against this idea and proposed we begin our trek back to Putre otherwise we could be stuck somewhere in the dark. He kindly explained the quickest route back to home base, mentioning something about a road leading to a small isolated police checkpoint. Here another carabinero could give us further direction. He further recommended staying out of the mud. We graciously accepted this advice after overcoming a life-threatening experience. There would be no more major troubles until a bang caught our attention and as a result, our jeep no longer seemed to be level. My father stopped, observed the area around our red beast, and noticed a flat tire. I still get stories till this day on how hard it is to change a tire at over 4,000 m above sea level. He then proceeded to send the three of us off on a scavenger hunt with the easy task of procuring a brick or a large rock. I am not sure if he thought there were garden centres or landscaping businesses nearby, but again, not an easy assignment when bricks or large rocks are not indigenous to the area. We were able to find many pebbles. After a little while, Dad managed to get us back on our four tires and down the road, we found the carabineros outpost previously mentioned. The officer greeted us, gave us further directions and seemed to be amused at our chances of reaching Putre before dark. After our mud fiasco and the flat tire, we did not share the humour.

Lake Chungará and the Parinacota Volcano in the background
Our newfound friend recommended the route home, which we followed in turn. He instructed we stick to the road where we would reach la quebradita – a word implying a small ravine – cross a little river and continue straight to reach Putre. He warned not to go off road in order to stay a safe proximity from a military base and strategically-placed anti-personnel mines near neighbouring country to stop anybody attempting an incursion into Chilean territory. He did indicate that when we would see the army base, we would be almost back to our centre of operations. We now had a larger dose of action than we had initially bargained for. Once we reached the aforementioned tiny little ravine, it turned out to be the Chilean Grand Canyon. We followed the narrowest little path down – our Suzuki seemed to just fit on this path and we would see a huge precipice out the window – descending into the gorge. Once we were safely on a flatter surface, a tiny stream remained in our path. Maman, Brian and I instructed Dad to stay on the road straight through it this time. We did not get stuck this time, avoiding a panic attack and carried on our way praying not to uncover neighbouring mines. We were soon driving in pitch-black conditions with no idea as to whether we remained on a road or not at this point. All my father could do was guess and drive slowly between mounds of sand while the other three, prayed once again for the Andean Gods to bail us out. As luck had it, we saw the army base lit up at a distance after an eternity of darkness and, all of a sudden, our headlights found a sign indicating “Putre 5 kms”. We were on our way and we would survive to tell the tale.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is the driest on this planet. The Bickfords had a chance to venture into this natural wonder during our time in Chile. We led several brave expeditions in a relentless Suzuki Samurai, one of the stealthiest creations from Japanese automotive manufacturers. There is no greater comfort than this four-wheel beast, especially when sitting in the solid steel back seat. Most of our adventures had my father as the captain at the helm (steering wheel if you prefer), my brother as the navigator reading our detailed road map (tough job as everything just looks like one vast sand and dust pile where roads were buried) and my Maman and I in the back. Although we played a more passive role in the expedition, our bottoms absorbed a full-out attack from the myriad of bumps and holes on the road having the fluffy metal floor of the jeep as a cushion. Perhaps this vehicle is the primary reason why I suffer from motion sickness till this day. The Chileans were not cheap in infrastructure for their motorways, but who really wanted to invest in a super highway going through a desert. By its actual definition, not a whole lot of people lived out there, so the road demand was not a top priority. Why would anyone in a deserted place need reliable roads? Why would foolish diplomats even go into these lands?

The Suzuki Samurai: Road Warrior
Calama, the remote town of approximately 150,000 inhabitants, predominantly of indigenous decent, served as our HQ for one of our missions through the indomitable Atacama. The airport consisted of an airstrip and a small terminal that resembled a city bus station, surrounded by a great deal of nothing. Dry and dusty nothing. One of the major sources of employment for the town was the nearby mine of Chuquicamata. This Copper and Gold mine was the second largest open pit mine in the world and possessed a name I enjoyed repeating on a regular basis. Chuquicamata. Besides being awe-struck by the depth of this mine, I was amazed by the size of trucks used in the extraction process. These resembled a toy Tonka truck that I had grown attached to as a child. My brother and I admired this toy as we could stand on it and use it as a skateboard and it still somehow remained intact. Before heading out to continue our sightseeing, my parents had all the safety and emergency preparedness measures under control. We stocked up on food provisions, as there were no service centres or restaurants to grab a bite to eat, gas cans, in case our loyal Samurai ran out of fuel and plenty of drinking water. We had out replacement tire bolted to the back door of the boxy car, following the stylish American Jeep fashion. The Bickfords followed my 9th grade teacher’s three rules of debate: 1) be prepared, 2) be prepared and 3) be prepared. The distances on the dirt roads would make our trip longer and slower. Therefore, we needed to schedule everything in order to avoid being stranded in middle of nowhere come nightfall. My parents were experts in timing and structure, even when it came to hypothetical situations. I never understood how they managed to come out on top every time, but I like to think I inherited this fine quality. 

Once we were fully stocked and on schedule, we commenced our exploration of the region. No Las Vegas out there I can tell you that. This huge desert provided a sense of how unimportant and powerless our human race is in comparison to our mother Gaia. We paid our homage to the salares, a distant memory of what used to be lakes, reduced to pure salt, pre-Colombian fortifications of Pukará de Quibor, remains in the sands of indigenous settlements forgotten in time, such as the Aldea Tulor. Bodies of water disappeared, people migrated to the bigger cities and some fauna disappeared due to many years of continuous erosion. I felt as if we were the first ones to discover these places untouched by generations. The mighty Atacama Gods ruled these lands and decided who was welcome within the realm. Natural rock formations and sand dunes remained to share their own stories. The Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) was named after its moon-like landscapes, the Valle de la Muerte (Valley of Death), a valley replete with towering dunes and gigantic rocks and the Licancabur volcano, keeping watch over San Pedro de Atacama. We had even stumbled upon a dried out bay with exotic stone piles, which was a treasure all in itself for my brother, Brian. He had a great rock collection he had built up for years, and my Dad seized the opportunity to add to my brother’s stash. As we approached the distant yellow piles, and as we got closer, a foul egg smell engulfed our Suzuki. The first reaction of male adventurers was an accusing look to one another, visually investigating who could have been the culprit of such stench. We were then close enough for my father to notice it was a sulphur pile and no one’s bodily functions. I can tell you that I do not wish for my worst enemy to smell this corrosive odour.

We ventured into the metropolis of San Pedro de Atacama, (about 100 kms away from Calama on the dusty trail referred to as road) which could have been used in a sequel to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A national census dated from 2002 estimates the population at slightly fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. I hardly believe the population underwent a significant boom since the early 1990s, but I was under the impression there were at the most 100 people living there at the time. Our hotel was located in the downtown core (not to be confused with the affluent suburbs of the village). It was called the Hostal San Pedro de Atacama, at the time owned and managed by an Australian woman. We all stayed in the Presidential Suite that was a cosy room with hard rock floors, the smallest single beds in the world, builder’s standard wall paint dating back to the pre-Colombian era and a rough duvet as bed linen. Our shared bathroom had a trusty porcelain toilet and a shower with a great personality. The shower-head was a hose-like tube with a massage setting, similar to the common garden hose with someone stepping on it limiting the flow. At night after our adventures in the surroundings, we needed to be sure to get our dinner in and set up for bed as soon as possible, because at 10:00 pm every night it was lights out for the entire urban area. This made me appreciate the middle-class lifestyle I had grown accustomed to.

Brian, Maman and I in the Valle de la Luna
The locals attractions in town were few but priceless as a gateway to the local history. San Pedro de Atacama houses the Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, holding many artifacts dating back to the pre-Colombian era and the ancient Atacameño culture. There were also some mummies on display, and a caretaker in the museum had dubbed the best-preserved mummy as Miss San Pedro de Atacama. This was truly a highlight of the visit, as I could not believe I was admiring an actual person who had lived way before I set foot in this world. At the same time, I felt a sense of discomfort out of respect for the body, as I would not have wanted my remains on exhibit. The next attraction was the Church of San Pedro, which was actually more of a local historical monument. I had probably been locked up in order to better preserve the building, but we admired it just the same from the outside. This place of worship was constructed with adobe, a natural building material usually composed of water, sand and clay. I found it amazing that no matter where the Spaniards had gone, they managed to leave their mark by building churches. It was incredible for me to notice how civilizations have always wanted to leave a mark for future generations to see and remind them that they had been there, ensuring a sense of immortality through memory. Before arriving at the Atacama desert, my ideas about deserts were based on the various Hollywood movies about the Mojave or the Sahara and soon realized the Atacama was much more under populated than I had originally expected.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Valparaíso, The Jewel Of The Pacific

A major perk of living in Santiago is having the Pacific coast only 120 kms away. The beaches in the area are breathtaking and many Chileans as well as foreigners venture there to enjoy them. The major urban centre is called Valparaíso and served as Chile’s major port for years. This transportation hub went through its golden age before the completion of the Panama Canal, when sea traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had to pass through the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso was an ideal port to replenish supplies and rest before continuing the arduous journey. This port also served as home to a large contingent of the Chilean navy. Under the Pinochet regime, the country’s national congress was re-established there, largely to get it out of sight. The greater city area encompasses picturesque towns such as Viña del Mar, known for its world-class cultural festivals. Reñaca, a great summer destination to enjoy the beach or swim in the ice-cold ocean and Villa Alemana, a place nicknamed the city of eternal youth.
Brian and I on the balcony of the Reñaca house
During the three years we lived in Chile, we became very familiar with the region. I remember the first time we went to the coast, the route my father took driving our Citroën was on a coastal road entering through Concón. Through our windows we could see the majestic waves smashing into the rocks and sea lions resting on top of them. The noises of these beasts was similar to a dog with a cold. Their particular smell also seemed to be entrenched in the sea breeze. We followed this road southward until arriving to Reñaca, a beach town where we would usually stay. The Canadian Embassy staff rented propriety there on the side of a hill overlooking the beach. This house provided a lovely view of the bay any time of the day, but I particularly loved the nighttime lights. The cottage was definitely another major perk. The booking system seemed to be on an ad hoc first-come, first-serve basis. The beach was incredibly packed over the summer months, but afterwards, it seemed as if the entire town was ours to enjoy. It was nice to sit around the house and savour complete silence to be able to enjoy the sounds of the tides and take in the waves from afar.
It was definitely a plus to go there during the off-season, as it was much easier to visit the city’s hotspots. We would always find tables at great local restaurants and without Argentine tourists, a huge source of capital for businesses. People in the service industry were not jaded or overwhelmed when providing excellent service. One of my favourite places for quality local food was La Mia Pappa – not to be mistaken with the restaurant in Santiago that shares the same name. The menu was composed of a blend of traditional Chilean cooking and Italian dishes. The stone-oven pizzas were fabulous. This elegant restaurant was built on top of a long wooden wharf with a 180o view of the sea. The presentation and décor was immaculate giving the guest a feeling that this was the place to eat in Viña del Mar. The tables were dressed in fine white linen tablecloths and napkins, and even soft drinks were brought to the table in lavish glass decanters, giving a child the illusion they were drinking the finest fountain beverages. On one occasion, we were seated at a table where we could see the water below us through small holes in the floor. This did not take away by any means from the quality or enjoyment of the place. Most people who may not share a strong friendship with broccoli could give their evil green foe a burial at sea if they so desired.
Viña del Mar had lovely historical mansions, such as El Palacio Rioja and other "quintas" that belonged to prestigeous business families of the region. Visitors could experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous as every article decorating the homes were perfectly maintained. If there were no ropes dividing displays from the tourist. One would feel as if he was living in the 1900s. There were several parks, monuments and boardwalks, each looked after with the greatest attention to detail, particularly the floral clock, a natural city landmark. There was a boardwalk plaza - unfortunately the name escapes me - but people could rent bicycles or hire a horse-drawn coach for tours of the surrounding area. We had first ventured onto this shore side square to discover people I had never seen in my life. There were many gipsy women, dressed in typical Eastern European attire, looking for clients curious about their future and fortunes. My father had always an adventurous nature yet he and my mother seemed to avoid these ladies at any cost. They approached us on several occasions and my parents would reply "No gracias”. I was curious about these women and why we were supposed to avoid them. It wasn’t until one of these women decided to stand in our way and threatened my father: “Have you heard of the gipsy’s curse?” My father did not seem to look at her and answered: “No. But have you heard the curse of the carabinero (name for the Chilean police)?” Funny enough, after my father’s well-educated response, she seemed to retreat back to her friends and we did not seem to have more encounters with the gipsies. Keep that in mind if they still frequent this square along the coastline. It could save you and your loved ones from being cursed.
Me in front of the Naval Museum
The port area of the city of Valparaiso had its charm as well. We were frequent diners at a restaurant where we were seated on a second story balcony above the docks. This was an ideal building, run by the Chilean Lifesaving Association. There were numerous local merchants on the docks selling all kinds of knickknacks, including fish, which Brian and I liked to purchase for our aquarium back home in Santiago. There were stamp shops (great for our collections), antique stores (great to practice patience at a young age) and other fun places for people of all ages. The city transport system included funiculars – to us locals, ascensores – which allowed going up the hillside of the bay without any fuss. These funiculars were wooden and slid up the hillside on a rail-like system. We travelled on these to visit the Naval Museum, which was a historical delight. This museum was stocked with naval uniforms from the early 20th Century, model replicas of navy flagships and even a stuffed albatross. I thought the albatross was an amazing bird, particularly because of its size. We were able to visit many of the local sites, such as La Sebastiana, one of the houses of poet Pablo Neruda, the Concepcion and Alegre Historical District, and many of the local churches.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The FIFA World Cup Italia 1990

As winter approached in June 1990, attention turned away from the new president of the Republic toward Italy. The most important event in the entire universe was coming from Europe to our television screen: the FIFA World Cup 1990. This monumental event made everything else become secondary, not only in Chile, but in many countries worldwide. My friends explained their disappointment about El Mundial as la Roja - the Chilean national team - had failed to qualify. There had been dubious circumstances around their goalkeeper and national icon, Roberto El Condor Rojas in a key match against Brazil, which could have guaranteed a seed in the tournament's groups if the team could pick up at least one point. Brazil hosted Chile in the Maracaná Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, in a match Chile had to tie or win to qualify for the prestigious tournament. Chile was losing 1 - 0 at half-time and, during the second half of the match, El Condor spread his majestic wings and dove straight down to the pitch covering his face with his gloves. He claimed that a flare was hurled onto the pitch hitting him injuring him in the process. The match was suspended as the Chileans had refused to resume playing under dangerous circumstances - and insisted on scheduling a rematch in a neutral stadium. Shortly after this scandal, El Condor Rojas confessed he had deliberately injured himself using a concealed razor blade. A FIFA-established committee  then disqualified Chile from this qualifying round and the 1994 round.

FIFA World Cup Italy 1990 poster
This national catastrophe brought out the best of Chilean fans. Without La Roja to cheer for, they began supporting the South American teams from the CONMEBOL confederation that qualified, including the defending champions, Argentina. Many of my friends and my brother jumped on the Argentina bandwagon. Maradona was the man in charge of the albiceleste as they were pooled against Cameron, Romania and the Soviet Union who had all impressed during the qualifying round. Diego Armando Maradona had played a major role in Italy's football leagues when he sported the S.S.C. Napoli colours. He became a household name as he led the Neapolitans to their golden age, being the only southern Italian team to win the Serie A League and bring home the prestigious UEFA Champions League Cup. Maradona was a cultural, social and God-like personality in the region. Many admired his fighting spirit complemented with his unparalleled skills with the ball, including the famous Hand of God incident where Argentina trounced the English in Mexico '86. Some pundits often accuse Maradona of having pulled off the most beautiful goal and the most opportunistic goal in that match. Despite  harsh critics, many South Americans saw it as a major victory for the developing world against the wealth and resources of the first world. It was interesting for me to see that even football played a political role.

Argentina's World Cup campaign got off to a shocker as Roger Milla's 9-man Cameroonian Team upset the albiceleste 1 - 0  in their opening match in San Siro Stadium, Milan. This game  was  one of the major upsets in the history of the tournament. Many Argentine fans were furious that an African team had outclassed their so-called all-star team - Africans were often underrated by their opponents until Cameroon's performance. The following match, el futbol lindo was back in action setting the Soviets back in the standings by beating them 2-0. The next and final game in the group stage would be a piece of cake as they were playing in Naples, a second home for Maradona. The South Americans believed they would have a home advantage over Romania and the fans backing due to the skipper's popularity. On match day, this was hardly the case. The Italian fans created an unfavourable environment for both teams and the game ended in a 1 - 1 draw. Maradona, as was common during his career, lashed out at the press and the Italian fans, reminding them of what he had accomplished for Italy. He declared to the media that he felt betrayed by an entire nation and  that he had outgrown his welcome in Italy. He describedthe common heritage of the Southern Italians  with Argentines, noting that many Argentines originated from the poor areas of the Mezzogiorno. In future matches, some of the locals’ behaviour  changed toward the Argentine squad, something that made Maradona appear as a socio cultural leader.

In the knockout stage, there were two matches with a bittersweet feeling for me as an avid football fan. The first of these brought a certain feeling similar to a conflict of interest. Argentina was facing its fierce rival Brazil,  which had been historically responsible for memorable upsets in the albiceleste's football ambitions. I felt I owed a canarinha some loyalty, as it was the first country I had lived in. Nevertheless, it was virtually impossible to avoid being consumed by the swagger Argentina showcased on the pitch. When the match kicked off, I found myself consumed by the ebb and flow of the game and found myself with plenty of time to decide my allegiance. I had sworn my oath to Maradona but could overturn this decision as the game kept at a stalemate come half time. Sergio Goycochea, commonly known as El Goyco, was playing the game of his life in the Argentine net. The Brazilians could not seem to break the tight defense and kept solid at the back as well. No team managed to break the other down. This pace continued into the second half of play. It was not until the last ten minutes of the game that Argentina broke into a speedy counter attack led by Maradona, he passed the ball to the wide open Claudio Caniggia to his left, Caniggia kicked the ball to the back of the net and GOAL!!! My heart stopped. My first reaction to this wonderfully orchestrated maneuver was bursting into celebration as if I had released my inner demons. No more guilty conscience. Argentina was back on track from where they left off  in 86.

Argentina squad, Italy 1990
The following match toward self-discovery as a football fan was the final. The South Americans were able to fight their way past the competitive teams that they had been  pitted against. All that stood in their way to lift the coveted trophy, along with immortality were the West Germans. Lothar Matthaus and Jurgen Klinsman were as cup hungry as the Argentines and were going to fight over every inch of the field. The game was panning out in similar fashion to the Brazil match for the albiceleste. No matter how hard they pushed into the German area, they were met  by a defensive fortress. They never lost sight of their objective and just needed a short lapse of German defense to go home with the trophy. Soon, the 80th minute mark came along. The entire stadium turned into a frenzy. A penalty was awarded to the Germans under suspicious circumstances and both teams’ tempers began to brew. The Germans scored. It literally felt like I had been shot through the heart. My brother and I could no longer watch yet could not turn away either. We believed in Maradona and his skills. We knew he could pull it off. The last ten minutes carried on in a lackluster pace. Any minute now things would change. Any minute now. The referee blew into the whistle, the German players poured on to the field, and Brian and I had to accept the 1 – 0 result. Our brave warriors dropped to the ground as if their legs had been taken away and we shared the pain in our family room. That day Santiago was quieter than usual. There was nothing to celebrate, as the world's highest accolade would not return to South America. All that kept life going  was the hope that in four years, South America had a shot for redemption.