Travel Regrets
Central America, Travel

Travel Regrets: Absolved #1

travel regrets

*All photos were taken by Shaun on our amazing Flip.*

We try to travel with no regrets but I have a regret. We spent 3 months in Mexico and I never made it to a futbol game. I watched almost every one of Mexico’s games on TV, showing my support, with all the other distractions (especially in Mexico City) it just didn’t happen. This was a mistake that I refused to make twice. Enter my travel regrets…

The moment I heard there was a Super Chivos game in Xela, I started making plans with friends to attend. I also studied up on my Spanish so I could follow the action better. From the research I did, I found that the game is called a “partido”; the players are “jugadores”; and the goalies are “guardametas”.

On the day of the game my plans started falling through. I was the only person who showed up to our designated meeting spot but I was determined to go to the game. So off I went, alone.

After buying my ticket and a bright red Super Chivos jersey, I headed into the stadium. To get to the stands I had to walk through the dirt expanse under the concrete seating. Just as the streets surrounding the arena were teeming with carts and vendors; so was this damp, unlit space. I weaved my way through the smoke-filled aisles and found a seat behind the goal.

travel regrets

As game time neared, the crowd was visibly more excited. Giant flags were being waved, chants were screamed, and fireworks exploded all over the stadium. It was hard to see the players run onto the field through the thick smoke that filled the stands, but my suspicions were confirmed by the roaring cheers that erupted and echoed in the stands.

Super Chivos game, Xela-ju

Only minutes into the game, I realized that my Spanish homework was completely useless. The players were not “jugadores”, they were “putas”. The goalie for the opposing team wasn’t a “guardameta”; he was a “burro”. Additionally, the referees were apparently the sons of the players (even though they looked quite a bit older) as they were referred to as “hijo de putas”. This explains why some of the calls they made were terrible, but we should really cut them some slack. After all, they’re only children.

Cheering Xela-ju in Guatemala

Even though the Super Chivos are known for being a fairly awful team, the game was quite exciting and had us on the edges of our seats many times. After every goal we scored, we were showered with newspaper confetti while standing and cheering for several minutes. Towards the end of the game it even looked as though we were going to win, however, a goal scored in the final minutes ended the game in a tie. Expecting the fans to become furious, I began strategizing my riot escape plans. Only, there was no riot. There was no fury. In fact, the collective attitude seemed to be “Well, at least we didn’t lose.”

And, to be honest, that was quite a miracle. Especially considering that we had to deal with a donkey-man blocking so many of our goal attempts and yellow cards being pulled by adolescents.

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You know who else is crazy about futbol? Italy! If you are looking for a posh place to hang out while watching futbol, you can always look into Tuscany Villas.
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30 thoughts on “Travel Regrets: Absolved #1”

  1. I think it’s funny how much words change among Latin American countries. In Chile the goalie is the “arquero” or “portero” – I’ve never heard “guardametas,” and I play soccer! The alternate names you discovered at the game itself for the players and ref sound about right though (although again, you won’t find anyone being called a “burro” in Chile).

  2. Oh man mi hijo, I laughed my a** off reading this. “hijo de puta” is such a common Cuban epithet. I have got to quit reading these things during meetings.

    1. @ Kent – Actually, I saw a few people doing that in the taller buildings near the stadium. That’s an awesome bonus from living nearby. 🙂

  3. I have always loved Mexican soccer games, even though I’ve only been to a couple, it’s so much fun and the game can be very complex. My team are the Guadalajara Chivas 🙂 (similar name to Chivos, jaja). Although, Portero is the usual name for the goalie, I believe. Guardametas is new to me.

    1. @ Pam – I’m still really sad that we didn’t go to any games in Mexico but this definitely goes up there on my list of favorite activities, right next to Lucha Libre.

  4. The sad thing is that I played soccer for 14 years–even went to college to play (but wound up playing NCAA tennis instead!) and played in the Olympic training program league at one point–and I have still never been to a professional match! Yet my husband who doesn’t even know what off-sides means went to several Holland games when we lived in the Netherlands–and never invited me along! Harumph.

    1. @ Federico – Yeah, Xela can get pretty chilly at night. But don’t worry, every fan had their very own Super Chivos jacket to wear over their Super Chivos shirts/jerseys. 😉

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