Day 14 - (The World Cup Final) (and Jack's Birthday)

The main events of the day are clearly stated in the title. I couldn’t decide which was more important. I was either going to say “The World Cup Final (and Jack’s Birthday)” or “Jack’s Birthday (and The World Cup Final).” I had to decide which was more menacing: the wrath of Jack or the entire world. In the end I compromised and put both in parentheses so everyone is happy. Since its Jack’s birthday I gave in and told him he could write the blog. However, when I gave him the computer, he promptly erased all of this that I have typed so far and started it over with the title “Day 14 - Just Another Day and Jack’s Birthday” then said he didn’t want to write it. I will be writing it after all.

Breakfast at Hotel Con Corazon was at 9:30 this morning, earlier than anyone wanted to get up (especially Jack, so he slept in until 11 and skipped breakfast), but it was good food. Nothing really happened in the morning except logistics on how we were going to see the World Cup Final. After 2 hours of discussing, I was literally twitching with anticipation and forced them to hurry up. At 11:15 we left in 2 groups of 6 (Peter was sick with a fever but no stomach problems and Jackie was still resting). We were told to find a place to watch the game on our own and that there was possibly a giant screen being set up in the square.

A few of us decided it would be fun to run around the town really fast to find paraphernalia to wear during the game. Since I have been rooting for Spain since the beginning I convinced my group (apart from Abe who is already an avid supporter) to root for Spain with me. Upon running into some Holland supporters in the main square, we asked them where they got their jerseys. They directed us and we proceeded to look where they had advised. The store only had one jersey left and it was a Holland jersey. A worker there led us to another store which had kid’s Spain jerseys. Luckily for us, the jerseys were popular among toddlers and there were only 3 left and they were all size XXXL (no joke). Hannah, Madeleine, and I bought the full Spain kits (shorts included) for 7 dollars each (you need to make sure you see the pictures when we get back because we looked awesome). We suited up and headed out. Ben decided he wanted to go back and get the last Holland jersey the first store was selling so we did. Now here’s the scene: six white Americans walking through a Nicaraguan city, three of them wearing full Spain kits, one in Holland clothes, one with an extremely expensive camera around his neck and a money belt (Abe), and one with bright red hair (Izzy). One might say we were the most obvious group of tourists Nicaragua had ever seen.

We searched for a while and didn’t find the giant TV Bob had talked about. We asked someone and they said there was no such thing but pointed us to a street where there were places playing the game. The place we picked was a nice outdoor café with three large flat screen TV’s and lots of people ready for some football. Seated next to us were a group of 10 Dutch supporters who, by kickoff, had consumed at least 10 beers and were still ordering more. For the next few hours we sat watching the game and cheering and chanting “ESPANA! ESPANA!” with our fellow Spain supporters. It’s hard to describe but overall it was probably the most fun I have ever had watching a sporting event on TV. The atmosphere was amazing with the competing sections (Holland and Spain) and the game was extremely competitive and exciting. There were probably too many yellow-cards and definitely some chances that should have been put away early on in the game, but it was still thoroughly entertaining. When Spain finally scored in the 116th minute, the whole place erupted in cheers. I got up and started hugging all the Nicaraguans in our section who, by this point in the game, I had become close with even though I didn’t speak any Spanish but just simply through our common love of soccer. It was unbelievable.

When the scene had finally simmered down at our venue, the group headed out to find the other group of 6. We found them at a different café only a few blocks away. This place was much more hectic in celebration than ours was. We walked in to find members of our group dancing on the tables along with other tourists and Nicaraguans in both Spain and Holland jerseys. For the next hour or so everyone we (especially Hannah, Madeleine and I because of our amazing jerseys) passed, we screamed “ESPANA!” To which we received loud honks from the passing cars. Dancers took to the streets and that song that Bob made us listen to before we left (Waving Flag by Knaan) could be heard coming out of every building. Overall, it was an unreal experience. Best game ever. GO SPAIN! But Holland is really good too. They played so well and Arjen Robben is one of the best players in the world.

Just after 4 everyone arrived back at the hotel completely exhausted. Skylar and I both had lost our voices from screaming (there will be less singing at the hotel tonight; only Jack will be able to). Sweat drenched our bodies and we decided to take a swim. The water cooled us down and was so refreshing. For the next 2 hours everyone just relaxed and took showers. Laundry was done last night so everyone is in clean clothes and should be for the next few days.

We just got back from dinner at Don Luca’s Pizzeria. The pizza (which is obviously what we had) was really good. There were these two young Nicaraguan street venders (younger than us) who started pestering us. Their pestering quickly turned to chatter which turned to conversation which turned to arm-wrestling. These kids who were much younger than us turned out to be surprisingly strong for their age (although, of the TSC members they wrestled, they only managed to beat Punneh). My shoulder is still pretty sore because one of the kids claimed I was cheating every time I beat him and insisted on rematches (four of them).

To celebrate Jack’s birthday, apart from the card Madeleine made him in the morning, a mariachi band sang him happy birthday in Spanish and we sang it to him in English. Across the street was an ice cream parlor and Bob treated us all to a scoop of ice cream. On the walk back we saw break dancers, skateboarders, and lots of drunk people. As Abe explained to me after I commented on all the drunks, “Today is probably the single biggest day for drinking around the world.”

So, before I go, I’ll tell you about Peter. He stopped feeling well at dinner last night and went to bed early. He woke up with a slight fever and stayed in bed all day. Mike was NOT happy and is blaming how late everyone is going to bed (which is reasonable). However, curfew remains at midnight. Tomorrow we do have to get up pretty early because we are going to the market at Masaya. That should be fun.

I hope everyone enjoyed the World Cup today because we certainly did. Oh, and happy birthday Jack,