Monday, November 9, 2009

Futbol and Fiesta

I need to first apologize to all of you who are tiring of my posts about futbol (soccer) but thus far my life here in site has pretty much revolved around the sport. So once again this entry will too.

Not a day went by this week without rain. Hurricane turned tropical storm Ida passed through my town and kept everyone indoors for either the first or second half of every day. I was pleased to learn that rain had also canceled the woman’s soccer game the previous weekend permitting me the opportunity to play with the team in the semi-final game rescheduled for the next sunny Saturday.

On Tuesday afternoon, there was a break in the rainfall and at 3PM I went to the soccer field ready for practice. When I arrived there was a mass of people gathered at one of the cinderblock homes that surrounds the field. As I got closer I noticed a casket was at the front of the sea of people in plastic chairs and it dawned on me that I was passing through a funeral. I tried to walk past the crowd respectfully and as inconspicuously as possible but, lets be honest, thats just impossible for me to do here. So of course, as I made my way to half field everyone just stared at me. In a town of 3,000, when someone passes its very likely that about 80% of the town is either a relative or friend of the deceased and therefore, I figured just about the same percentage of my soccer team was probably sitting there in those plastic chairs. As I continued walking with all those eyes on me, I thought to myself, “what are you doing here, there is no way we have soccer practice today”. And I was right. Two minutes after I sat down under the oak tree at half field Ingrid, the team captain, came walking over in her street clothes. She didn’t even have to say anything, I got up and said, “No practice today right”. She confirmed my assumption and told me practice was rescheduled for Wednesday.

Luckily Wednesday the rain seemed to know our training schedule and didn’t come until around 6PM so we were able to get a full two hours of practice in. Thursday we weren’t so lucky. Sad but true fact: the Casas Viejas women’s soccer team is less dedicated to training than my 1st grade Mighty Marigolds AYSO team. A team for which I played “defense” but really just picked flowers on the field during games (or so my mom tells me). To demonstrate this fact: our soccer team carries about 16 players, on average 9 show up to practice. I can’t wait for our first game so I can actually meet the other half of the team. I say this without malice because I am pretty sure there is a good reason why the other girls are absent. For all I know they live 15 KM and 3 lancha rides away from the center of town and it would be absurd to expect them at every practice. OK, so back to Thursday. Knowing the commitment level of my team, I was pretty confident that any level of moisture in the air greater than Santa Rosa’s standard tropical humidity would be grounds for canceling practice. And since I could see the rain clouds moving in on my way to the field I thought Thursday’s practice would for sure be canceled. I was wrong. Imminent rainfall didn’t stop us from training, it just decreased the number of girls that showed up from the usual 9 suspects to just 5. And the rain did fall. It began during our warmup and was still falling an hour and a half later when we were taking shots on goal (the goalie was one of the five that showed up). I was utterly impressed with the girls that did come, no complaints and we didn’t even break for water (our coach said to just open our mouths instead). Despite the rain we still had about 10 townspeople watching us practice. I’m not sure if they came because they like to watch us train or just wanted to watch us get muddy and wet.

After practice our coach, Faviola, told me that the trainer, the one without his front teeth, would decide my position on Saturday. Everyone I talk to about the team asks me my position. Legit question right? And every time I have to respond with, “I don’t know yet.” I feel as if they think I'm the kid on the team that the coach doesn’t know what to do with so just sticks em in goal except the girls team already has a goalie so even that spots taken.

Saturday morning I woke up to pounding rain on my tin roof. Ida reared its ugly head again and I got word that the game was canceled. So another week until I meet the rest of the team.

For a change, Sunday was just that, very sunny. A good thing too because the Casas Viejas men’s team had a home game against the neighboring town of Casias. The entire town came out for the game, the sidelines were packed with people and papas fritas and snow cone vendors. There was even a guy walking around selling frozen jocotes for Q2 and when asked why they were so expensive he said they were “Colombiano”. Dona Arceli, whom I now familiarly call Seño Lili, and I settled into a spot right behind the play-by-play announcer who was wearing a shirt that said, “I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?” and right in front of the speakers hooked to his microphone. It was the only shady spot left and yes my ears are still ringing. The game was a true social event. I know this because I could smell cologne in the air and Seño Lili wore her hot pink strappy sandals.

During the first half of the game the most excitement came not from a play, but rather from a stray pig that ran on the field followed closely by its slightly overweight owner trying to chase it off. Luckily the second half proved to be more exciting and yielded three goals. Ten minutes into the second half Casas Viejas scored the first goal. At the exact same moment a black chucho (dog) was taking a crap right outside the 18 yard box. When the crowd cheered for the goal I wondered if the dog thought they were cheering for him. Casas Viejas scored two more goals and the other team decided to call the game 6 minutes before the official time. It was a solid victory for the town.

After the game I went to a birthday party that I had been invited to on Tuesday. The party was for a little girl named Jasmine (turning 3) that I had met along with her mother and 6 year old sister Melissa at the Coop during my site visit. Their mother (who can’t be more than 24) told me that ever since I left Casas Viejas three weeks ago Jasmine had been asking, “where is the blanquita” (a nicer way of saying gringa). I was excited to have been invited and even more excited that they were going to have not one, but two piñatas. The party was hilarious but I feel I should leave you all with a movie clip from the festivities instead of trying to describe it in writing.

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