Well, looks like Nicaragua, like all of Latin America is caught up in World Cup madness – or Copa Mundial as they say here. I guess I’m a typical American – I did play soccer in elementary school, but don’t know much about the sport currently. While studying in Spain I had my first introduction to soccer and its large fan base – I remember walking home from classes in the evening and seeing old Spanish men in stylish hats smoking cigarettes and drinking vino as they watched Real Madrid or FC Barcelona play, cheers erupting from bars all over the city when goals were scored.
My site-mate Kristen is quite a soccer fan and she’s been filling me in on the basics and on the likelihood of each team’s success. Through her I learned what the little yellow flags mean, what the hottest players names are, and all about the French team’s dramatic meltdown.
Since the Copa has begun, Nicaraguans have temporarily forgotten their loyalty to baseball (it’s more popular here than soccer), and during important games, almost everyone can be found glued to their (or their neighbor’s) television or radio. Little boys have put down their bats and baseball mitts and instead can be seen kicking around worn balls on the dirt streets. Coca-Cola and various other businesses have posters featuring professional soccer players up at every corner store. On the radio, the FIFA theme songs that feature Spanish singers have been playing almost hourly, and I hear young children and adults humming the tunes mindlessly as they ride their bikes and wash laundry. Everyone has the Copa on their mind. Is it like this in the U.S.? Below a photo of Nicaraguans watching a game at a Managuan bus station. Honduras, the only Central American country to make the FIFA World Cup had the support of almost every Nicaraguan. In the finals, everyone was rooting for Uruguay (“they’re representing Latin America!”). Tomorrow’s final game between Holland and Spain however will be more controversial. I was listening to the radio today and heard the commentator say, “Now, I hear that some people are being very rude to Spain and don’t want to cheer for them tomorrow. Some people still carry a grudge against the conquistadors, but look at it this way: if they had never come over here, well then, you and I wouldn’t be here, right?” So, it seems support will be divided in tomorrow’s game. I however will be rooting for España!
Some other noteworthy things:
-I had my third intestinal bacterial infection last week. (I also read in the paper that Bolivian President Evo Morales did as well), however I did not have to be hospitalized like he did. I did feel like I was going to die and had a fever, horrible stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. Thank God for Cipro – as soon as I started taking antibiotics I improved greatly. I always have to watch what I eat, especially things that contain unpurified water or milk products.
-My parents and sister arrive in Nicaragua on August 3rd for a two week visit! These will be my first official visitors and I am very excited to show them my town, my house, and the highlights of Nicaragua. I’ll be writing blog updates on our travels - wish us luck!
-I got to go to the U.S. Embassy 4th of July party that was held on Embassy grounds. It was amazing! The U.S. Embassy is really like a little piece of America here: there are toilets you can actually flush the toilet paper down, a pool and a baseball field! I’ve also heard rumors that some deer were imported from the U.S. and roam the Embassy grounds… just for kicks. Eleven other Peace Corps volunteers and I got to enjoy the great BBQ, live music and fireworks! Below is a photo of the Ambassador Robert Callahan and me (note my great headwear and his cigar, dangerously close to my face :)