Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fútbol y Español

Anyone not remotely interested in football should concentrate purely on the central portion of this blog, as the start and end are related to the world's greatest sport. Just to let you know.

Last Saturday night myself and mis dos amigos went to the Estadio Mario Camposeco in the fair (well, alright, extremely rainy, as tis the season for precipitation and we're in the mountains) city of Quetzeltenango, called Xela (pronounced Shay-la) by pretty much everyone, a shortened form of it's Mayan name. Our purpose? To watch Xela FC play table-topping Guatemala City side Municipales (booo!).

With only a couple of games to go in the second half of the supremely confusing Guatemalan league, Xela were third. If they beat Municipales and results went their way, they could go up to second and thus be more likely to get in to the semi-finals of the play off system. Or something. Told you it was confusing. Anyway, the bottom line was that Xela needed to win.

When we got to the stadium it was absolutely sheeting down with rain. It remained pretty wet throughout the evening, lightening up as the night drew in, but still spotting from time to time. Good job I brought a raincoat!

The ground itself was a reasonably small affair, not one of those enormous Latin Amrican Hyperdromes you see on TV. For that I shall have to wait until Mexico City, where I may go to see the Estadio Azteca. Ths was a different kettle of fish. In terms of how built up it was it reminded me of a non-league English ground. There were no facilities, just pitch, and stands. Oh, and I mean stands. This was not a stadium that would have passed the Taylor report. The terraces consisted of a series of concrete steps, each large enough to sit on. There were thus four or five rows, reaching down to the front row, in front of which was a wire mesh topped with barbed wire. Between that and the fireworks thrown around the place, it was exactly how you'd imagine it to be - kind of like Football Italia, but without the ultras (thank goodness).

I'd be lying if I claimed that the match itself was agreat spectacle from the point of view of the footballing purist in me. Conditions (never have I seen a pitch so waterlogged) and a general lack of skill prevented that from being the case. But it was a great display when it came to that other important aspect of football, passion. The players ran their hearts out.

Xela went 1-0 up to furious cheers from the home fans (otherwise known as all the fans, there being no Municipales presence that I saw) after about twenty minutes courtesy of a delightful free kick from their best player: a class act, the captain and central defensive midfielder, wearing number 8.

Ten minutes later, though, things went sour - Xela's lazy playmaker number 10 was sent off for stamping on an opponent. That left seventy minutes for los chivos (Xela's nickname: the goats) to hold on against opposition superior in both numbers and skill. There followed a display of guts and giving the ball away reminiscent of a certain national team dear to my heart, as a brave rearguard action came in to play.

An hour and something later, and the local side had done what England failed to in the quarterfinals of the last major international tournament, and held on to a one nil lead. Victory! Great stuff...

And now for something completely different...

As you may or may not already know, I am currently staying with a Guatemalan family in Quezteltenango and participating in an intensive Spanish course. Five hours of one on one tuition a day, and I still can't conjugate verbs quickly enough...

The family stay is less exciting than it sounds. My house is inhabited only by a grouchy old woman who rarely speaks. She told me off yesterday for drinking too much tea, in reply to which I very nearly launched in to an explanation of my nationality and the rights thereof, but decided against it. Besides which my spanish wouldn't have been equal to the task! Anyway, at least the old dear cooks great food, and at least I'm not alone in the house with her ' there are also a couple of other honkies staying there, so it's pretty good. Unlike mi español...

We now return to our regular scheduled talk about football...

I've spent an enormous amount of time looking, and it appears that I am going to be unable to watch this year's FA Cup Final here in Guatemala. This means an event traditionally nerve-racking enough anyway will this time be even worse because I think I'm going to have to keep up to date with it via that most hellish of media, the live internet text update. Aaaaaargh! So spare a thought for me on Saturday...


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