It was a only a matter of time before we posted about soccer, right? Well, even all of you non-fans – which I had considered myself – should enjoy this episode in our journey.
So yesterday, at 3:30 p.m., Colombia played Chile. Colombia, the underdog, needed to win or tie to qualify for the World Cup. If they qualified, it would be the first time in 16 years. Everybody watched the game. Case and I had trouble catching a taxi even an hour and a half before the game, because many taxi drivers weren’t working, and those on the streets were already driving people to wherever they were planning to watch.
We watched at a bar with one of our housemates and his friends. The place was packed before the game started, and everyone was looking for creative ways to steal and hide extra chairs for friends who would arrive late. In all, we ended up in a group of about 10 people, all of them Colombian except for Case, me and our friend Steph. Here’s a video clip of what things were like inside the bar once the game was going.
At halftime, Colombia was losing three to zero. One of our friends had already posted to facebook that there was no chance. Then this happened:
When a regular goal is scored, it’s called a gol. When a great goal is scored, it’s a Golazo! When that golazo happened, the bar we were in went nuts. People all around us were pounding the table, the walls, the ceiling. Horns were blaring, everyone was shouting, high fives and hugs everywhere. As is often the case in moments of such resounding applause, it brought tears to my eyes.
After that score, folks started cheering, “Si se puede, si se puede” – (Yes we can, yes we can). This is a chant I’ve heard shouted at numerous political rallies (Obama supporters used it in 2008), and it was made famous in the U.S. by the Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers in the 1960s. I’ve never heard it cheered at a sporting event (and I don’t think the stakes in sports are as high in the grand scheme of society), but it made me smile.
That said, there were only about 20 minutes left in the game, with Colombia still needing two scores to tie, against the favorite Chile (they had beaten Brazil earlier in the season). But then, Chile’s goalie tripped a Colombian taking a shot, earning Colombia a penalty shot. Radamel Facao, Colombia’s star, considered the third best player in the world (and a hearthrob according to Steph – Casey obviously has eyes for me only), nailed the shot. The bar went wild. Then, just minutes later, Colombia earned another penalty shot. Again Facao took it, and pounded it in. If you want to see it, here you go:
As you could see, then the celebrating began. Colombia ran out the clock on the game, sealing the tie. Here’s what that looked like in our bar.
Then we headed out into the streets, along with nearly all of the other 7 million people who live in Bogota. Cars were honking, flags were waving, and slowly but surely, everyone was buying little plastic bags of flour and bottles of spray foam… We had been warned that this was how Colombians celebrate. They throw handfuls of flour and spray foam at each other. They also buy liquor and drink it in the street. Our group was no exception to any of this. The flour and foam attacks began quickly, and soon we were passing around two bottles of whiskey. It was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures:
Just so you know, the majority of those pictures were taken between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. (This is the benefit of starting the game at 3:30!) By 10, everyone in the group was absolutely covered in flour and foam, two of the guys were having to hold each other up, we’d eaten lots of street food (hot dogs with cereal, cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayo and pink sauce (?) on them; grilled corn on the cob; and lots of chips), and Casey and I were ready to go home. So we walked until we could catch a bus, rode it back to our suburb, showered, and went to bed.
All in all, it was a golazo of a night!
PS – glasses are a great thing when everyone is throwing flour in your face. During the one moment I had mine off, to clean them, I got a fistful right in the eyes. I doubled over, eyes pinched shut and in pain. When I tried to blink I saw nothing. The second time I blinked I saw white. The third time I saw people around me, but through a thick fog. I poured water on my face and tried to get it in my eyes. They stung so bad it was hard to hold them open enough to get the water in. Eventually, after about 15 minutes of blinking, wiping and rinsing, I felt pretty normal again. But I didn’t take my glasses off the rest of the night.