Costa Rica played their first elimination match today in the world cup, and advanced to the quarter finals – farther than they’ve ever been before.
So today was all about the football. My host sister invited me to watch the Holland-Mexico game at a bar, and from there we went to a friend’s house to watch Costa Rica play. It was an incredible experience overall, but also an interesting reminder that though I can share this experience with my wonderful hosts, I am an outsider looking in. That’s not a bad thing at all, it’s just the way it is.
First, the Mexico game. I generally root for Mexico, because so many of the families that I work with are from there. But down here, everybody was rooting for Holland. Part of it was that my host’s friends were of dutch descent, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of love for Mexico in general. I’m sure there are a lot of nuances that I haven’t picked up on, but I can see why. To the Ticos, Mexico must be the 800 pound gorilla that gets all of the attention, even though they’ve got a lot of really great things going for themselves down here.
I mean, it’s not like there’s open hostility towards Mexico, it’s just that I think that Costa Ricans want to be recognized for who they are, and not just lumped in with “Latin America” in general. I wonder how many US tourists come down here and try to order tacos and burritos, for example.
The Costa Rica game was interesting in that it was at somebody’s house, so it was a lot more of a casual social environment than I’ve experienced since I’ve been here. I think “mae” (sort of like “dude”) was every second word spoken. And lots of fun Spanglish like “¿Dónde the fuck was esta mierda?”
I started worrying about my Spanish, and the minute I do that, it just gets worse. I’m sure I sounded like an incompetent newbie, but oh well. It was a good taste of what regular life is down here, including one point in which they talked about going to the celebration after the game to laugh at all of the foreigners with their wallets out and their big smiles and their “Pura Vida”, and then of course looked at me and said I’d be OK since I was with them.
There is a big difference in traveling with a group of people from the US, and spending all of your time with that group, compared to doing a family stay and getting as close as you can to real life down here. I’m glad that I am staying with a family, and the way that it helps me experience Costa Rica through their eyes as much as I can.
I think for most tourists, the game down here was a huge party and fun, fun, fun. At least for the group I was with, it was exciting, but also stressful. Although the interesting part was the way the group sort of helped each other keep calm. Whenever anybody would get too stressed or anxious, somebody would say something to calm things back down, and everybody would chill. I don’t think I see this so much when watching sports in the US, where groups tend to work themselves up. And maybe we need the sports with time outs to help us keep the pressure in check.
After the game, of course, everybody in the entire country rushed out of their houses and either to the Plaza de la Democracía, which is downtown, or the Fuente de la Hispanidad, which was close to where we were.
We went down the the Fuente, and it was a madhouse. I don’t have a lot of photos because I have this clunky camera with me, and I was NOT going to be the foreigner lugging my camera along to this. But I have some photos and videos that were taken there. It was a huge celebration. When we got there, some people had climbed to the top of the street sign. We started off to the side a bit, but the party grew and grew as more people came in from further out of town. People were cheering, blowing horns, playing the drums, and singing, and everybody was waving and cheering to everybody else.
It was definitely a memorable experience!