If you think the world has World Cup fever, Colombia takes it to a WHOLE other level. People here eat, sleep, and breathe fútbol and the World Cup only intensifies their love of the sport. Getting to experience the World Cup here in Colombia has been one of the best parts of my service. Colombians are some of the happiest and most passionate people in the world and those qualities make for a pretty fun game watching experience!
For Colombia’s first two matches I was here in Santa Marta, the following two I was in Bogota, and the final match in the quarter finals I was back on the coast. On game day, I wake up and put on my bright yellow jersey and Colombian flag accessories and then head out into the sea of other yellow jerseys. Literally, EVERYONE is sporting their Colombia gear on game day. The streets are filled with vendors hawking tri-colored goodies from earrings and headbands to jerseys and Colombian flags. The vuvuzelas start blowing before dawn and continue their deafening drone until well after I have gone to bed. The excitement in the air is palpable.
While it is not official, school is basically canceled when Colombia plays. Sometimes, it is declared a ‘tarde civico’ which means no work so everyone can watch the game. In order to secure a seat, people begin to gather well before game time wherever they have decided to watch the game. Tiendas are the most popular viewing location, but many people watch at home, restaurants, in parks, or even at the mall! There are televisions and projector screens set up basically everywhere because once it’s game time ALL other activity is suspended. When the game starts, people join in the national anthem and then it’s basically non-stop alegria the rest of the game. When Colombia scores a goal…..I can hardly find the words to describe the madness that ensues. EVERYONE jumps out of their chairs, hugs everyone around them (whether they know them or not—we are all Colombians!), screams and yells, chants COLOMBIA, blows their vuvuzela, and any number of other random acts of excitement. I once saw a guy jump up on a chair and pick up another chair and chuck it across the room in a fit of joy. In case that’s not enough, the Colombian players do a pretty god job of celebrating too with some awesome Colombian dance moves!
After the game, whether Colombia wins or loses, the celebrations will go late into the night if not into the following morning. People drink, dance, and gozar life in a way that only Colombians know how! When Colombia lost to Brazil in the quarter finals, I expected people to be very sad and possibly even angry (many felt Colombia got robbed in that match). I was SHOCKED at the reaction people had to the game. There was a few moments of sadness (mainly while we watched a teary James walk off the field…break my heart!). Then, the entire country erupted into a huge celebration that lasted basically the entire weekend! They were so happy for their team and how far they went in the tournament. Colombia broke records and played their hearts out and their country could not be more proud of them. While there was a lot of talk about a bad referee and some dirty play on the part of Brazil, Colombia basically united as a whole and said, “Who cares, we know our team is the best and that’s all that matters!” It also helped ease their pain when Brazil got absolutely annihilated by Germany on Tuesday. Everyone is excited to see whether it will be Germany or Argentina who take the cup on Sunday!
Basically to sum up my World Cup experience here in Colombia:
1. Colombia has the best fútbol fans in the entire world.
2. Colombia is home to the happiest and most passionate people in the world.
3. I am madly in love with James Rodriguez.
Until next time…..paz y amor.
P.S. For my favorite moments from the World Cup check out the following links (yes, I am obsessed with buzzfeed):
World Cup Most Touching Moment (aka the time I almost cried watching sports)