Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…
Friday, July 4, 2014
Orange in Guatemala
want a bag for that?” the guy at the counter asks routinely without making eye
thanks, I’m good.” I answer, not overly polite either.
from the US?”
he asks while packing my groceries anyway.
guy looks up with a big smile and sparkling eyes.
play really well this Cup!”
there I made yet another best friend solely based on football and my
were they last Sunday when I needed them?
Holland – Mexico. It was the first match I
was going to watch in public and I was looking forward to it. None of my orange
garments survived my last move, which was okay. It was after all my first game
out, all by myself and, -what if we lose??? So I subtly opted for a pair of
jeans with a red and white border (the Dutch flag, from my upside-down point of
view) and a pair of sneakers you can call sort of orange. I avoided the most
popular sports bar (too loud, too big, too Mexican) and went instead to a
family run restaurant with great breakfasts. It was, after all, a Sunday and
home to watch the game turned out to be a good decision, because as it happened
there was no cable service in the whole of Antigua.
But Guatemalans are as creative as Copanecos when it comes to wanting to watch
a game (oh, the many times we climbed mountains, crossed municipal and even
international borders whenever there was no electricity or cable signal…). In
this case the problem was solved with two good old-fashioned antennas quickly
bought at the hardware store and attached with tape to both widescreen
super-duper HD flat screens. I don’t know why we couldn’t watch the live
internet broadcast that was on for a few minutes, although I admit it looked
more like a video game than real football and made me feel like pushing a
button and blowing Ochoa’s head off. But after some fussing and fondling with
the antennas for the first ten minutes of the game, we were ready to go,
getting the overhand on a screen as snowy as my own little TV at home.
problem was…. I turned out to be the only Dutch citizen in the whole place.
Worse, I seemed to be the only person rooting for Holland in a restaurant that was quickly
filling up with Guatemalan families supporting anything Latin rather than
half time I considered going to a place a bit more orangey, but what if other
bars were without cable and antennas?
So I stayed put and changed coffee for beer. Even when the cable signal finally
came back in the 51st minute and the screen suddenly turned a
crisply clear green. But with a 0-1 hanging over our heads, I wasn’t going
for those of you who watched the game, you know how it ended, and for those who
don’t care, you probably know too, so no need to describe the rest of the
agony. I was sure we were going to lose… I was already thinking of replacing my
crazy supporter profile pic on Facebook for a mourning Mexican llorona.
all of a sudden the game was over and Holland
had won. Not very gracefully in my opinion, but we were through! And how weird
to cheer for that among a crowd of disappointed Latinos who saw yet another
Latin country make way for those Europeans… Yes, I too felt bad for Mexico. But not
didn’t linger much (I’m such a good sport, I don’t glee) and rode my bike back
home, feeling oddly detached from Guatemala and the rest of the
planet. All of a sudden loud honks sounded from behind and a cheering blur of
red, white blue and orange flew by on a scooter. It took me a second to realize
it was Alejandro, a Guatemalan from my neighbourhood who’s married to a Dutch
woman and hence a fierce supporter of La
Naranja Mecánica. His neon orange fluffy clogs brought a big smile to my
tomorrow I’m better prepared. I’m going to watch the game in company of quite a
group of Dutch ex-pats and beforehand I’ll go by a Dutch friend to dress up
with some of the orange stuff she has accumulated over the years. Hats, crowns,
scarves, shirts, wigs and more stuff that’s been multiplying in a far corner of
her storage room, surviving spring cleanings and yard sales. After all, you
can’t really donate a bunch of orange wigs to the poor, homeless or needy.