Boatswain’s Log September 28th.
I had a big day yesterday. I woke up late after dancing and ate breakfast. Then I headed out to the internet café and spent some time updating blog and checking email and whatnot.
After that I headed over to San Pedro to play soccer with some awesome Costa Rican folks. Game started at 3PM. It was really fun, we mixed our teams pretty evenly with Ticos so things were a bit more even. If they had all played together I think we would have lost, especially considering that they all had matching jerseys with names on them. We had enough folks to make 3 teams, and the Ticos wanted to be keeper which I was okay with. I ended up playing defense and offense and even scored a goal. I was pretty pleased with that. I did just fine and enjoyed myself.
Sadly in order to get to the Clasico on time we had to leave about an hour early. That pissed me off a bit, I think at the end of the day I would have liked more soccer and less clasico, but hindsight is 20-20.
We taxied over to Matt’s house where the group met. There were about 8 of us or so. We then took a bus for a bit from El Carmen de Guadalupe to El Alto de Guadalupe. Not that far really. We then walked for about 45 minutes to get to the stadium. I don’t even understand why. Matt’s Tico brother asserted that it was the way to go. We got some food at a biggish sort of supermarket on the way and had some pleasant conversation while we walked. I am pleased that I get to live in the same house as Andrew Brauer. He is on the trip with me and the man is awesome.
Before I talk about the game you should know that Saprissa is the Costa Rican soccer team from the province of San Jose whose colors are purple and white and whose mascot is a huge purple dragon. On the other hand, La Liga is the team from Alajuela (another province). Their colors are black and red. When La Liga plays Saprissa it is called “El Clasico”. La Liga has lost the last 4 clasicos (including the one I saw last night).
Anyhow, eventually we got near the Saprissa stadium. It took just a moment to feel like I was in the 4th harry potter book when they go to the quidditch world cup. Absolute madness. People were milling around, everyone wearing purple (Saprissa colors), street vendors selling jerseys (I bought one for 6 dollars), scarves, blankets, hats, things of all sorts with the colors of the teams. Of course I would have been a fool to buy anything of a La Liga nature while in Saprissa Stadium. My family likes Saprissa, so I snagged a jersey with A. Alonso on the back. I think he is the guy who wears a headband and is really good. Him and the guy who wears green cleats. I think they are key to the team.
Stadium rules: No change, cameras, or big umbrellas (people throw crap or so I am told). We got searched as we came in. As we waited in a huge line at the entrance of the stadium there was a lot of milling about happening. I had my hand in my pocket on top of my wallet out of precaution. Wise choice on my part. I felt a hand touch my pocket and try to get in there only to find my hand blocking the path. In your face pickpocket. I looked around and saw this guy who looked really suspicious and I thought he might have been the guy, but I couldn’t be sure. He did have a handful of change, but people could have given it to him. Shortly there after, within about 30 seconds my friend Craig cursed loudly as he discovered that his wallet had been stolen. He only lost about 20$, but still. That sucks. I wondered if I should have bothered the sketchy guy to see if he had the wallet, but that might have been a good way to get stabbed. Oh well.
We got into the stadium and stood in Zona Sur. South zone. Where “La Ultra” sit. “La Ultra” are the crazy over the top saprissa fans. They wear lots of purple and cheer almost the entire game. They smoke lots of pot and no one seems to be bothered by it. I was. Also the cigarette smoke is a bit out of control. Clearly no one has done an effective “Don’t kill yourself by smoking” campaign in Costa Rica. At first sitting with La Ultra was fun. They sang team cheers (some of which were quite catchy), jumped, and surprisingly enough produced fire works at least twice during the game. Shockingly large amounts of fireworks. The songs were hard to understand, but they seemed pretty harmless. The people threw streamers on to the field and obviously hated La Liga as evidenced by the sea of middle fingers that regularly rose up at the Liga fans in the opposite corner of the stadium. They were made evident by red road flares that were going the whole game.
However, it got old. The constant disparaging remark made by La Ultra was “puta!” (or “whore!”) All the time. I tried it out a few times…not so great. There was so much in fact that it got really old. There was a cheer in which they called the goalie a whore and a coward. It was really offensive. That is not what I would call sportsmanship. Furthermore, the hour of soccer and near hour of walking made me tired and by the second half I was more or less out of it. I kept singing to keep the crazy man to my left happy. Apparently he almost got owned by some Ligistas after the game. I started to get why soccer games are so crazy. The fans. When Saprissa scored it definitely got more dangerous to be a member of the crowd. When La Liga played in a sketchy manner, the response was middle fingers, songs, and “puta”.
But I was ready to go when the game ended. Yet, in order to try and keep La Liga fans from getting owned, the folks in Zona Sur were told to wait for about a half hour until after the stadium had emptied. The Fuerza Publica backed this order with night sticks and riot gear. No one tried to leave early. Eventually we escaped, walked for about another 40 minutes to escape the traffic and then waited another half hour for an empty taxi to appear to take us back to Matt’s house. There were a bunch of horses on the road that were the result of the horse parade that had happened earlier that day. It was like a weird old west dreamland. When we got to Matt’s house he wasn’t there because we caught a taxi before he did. We waited a good half hour until he got back (so I could get my house keys out of his room) and then my friend Kayla and I caught a cab home.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense really. The whole situation with the Saprisistas and the Ligistas. If they weren’t wearing team colors and shouting “puta” at each other during (and after) the game, they would probably be very friendly with each other in the streets. I bet a saprissa fan and a La Liga fan would sit on a bus and perhaps idly chat without offending each other. But you put them in the same stadium and suddenly one side has to wait 30 minutes so the other can escape safely. Makes me wonder about things like wars. What would happen if an Afghan citizen and a US citizen met somewhere without knowing where the other came from and could speak the same language? I bet they would get along okay. Especially if there was food.
Now that I have shared. I should do homework. Sigh. These next two weeks are going to be busy. 2 presentations. A position paper due. And another test. Not to mention trying to experience Costa Rica in the process.