Sunday, July 24, 2011

La Copa América

Fútbol (soccer) season is back now at the mid-point of my Peace Corps service. This year, rather than the World Cup we were all about the Copa América. Once again decked out in my Paraguay fútbol jersey, I sat excitedly in a friend's house glued to the TV for the semi-finals against Venezuela. The boys were already cheering and yelling at the screen before the game even started. I giggled inside a little, but couldn't hold back my own occasional yelp as the game went on. Two hours later, score was still 0-0 and we were in for penalty shots. Whew- because this is where Paraguay shines. Every game in the Copa this year that they've won has been in the penalty shots. Their goalie is outstanding, so it's no wonder we love the penalty rounds. Indeed, this time around we were still in an ideal position. One- two- three goals in and then... the Paraguayan goalie stops the ball! The crowd goes wild, the house is shaking with my friends' jumping around. We made it to the finals of the Copa América!!!

The next day, I make my way to national Expo to check out the business stands and celebrities. It had been raining for several days, so I'd been stuck in Asuncion due to poor road conditions. The event was good fun, complete with models, the most famous guitar player in Paraguay, a mini-pyramid from the Louvre, and carnaval rides. All that said, my favorite spectacle of the evening was actually my bus ride home. At nearly midnight we were standing on the roadside waiting for a bus to pass that would go to Ypane where I was staying with a family. Traffic packed, we were finally able to find a direct bus (amazing as usually they don't run at that hour) and piled in with loads of Ypane locals. As we waited for the bus to fill-up, people were cramming in like sardines in the aisle and three to a seat. I snuggled up with my friends for what would be a very fun ride. The back of the bus started it all: PARAGUAY//! PARAGUAY//! The front of the bus then chimed in with a stomping/clapping response. Soon we were all singing the Paraguayan fight song and shouting to onlookers outside to join in. "There's still more space! Hop on and join the party," they yelled. More people piled in, more singing and chanting ensued. An hour later, I was finally home and now dreaming the Copa América.

The final game took place today against Uruguay. Paraguayans as a rule were hesitantly hopeful. Many simply said, "Clearly, Paraguay will win." Others talked about burning the victory into the memories of their ancestors for years to come. To be fair, Paraguay hasn't won the Copa América for 32 years. Not too bad then, making it to the finals. As I settled down at my friend's house in site (the rain finally stopped long enough for me to make it back), I pulled anxiously at my Paraguay jersey as the game got started. Within the first few minutes, Uruguay makes their first goal... by the end of the first half they've gotten two past our defenses. It is not looking good for Paraguay, but there is still hope as we send out the boys for a beer and potatoes (for french fries/chips/freedom fries- whatever you call them). The second half seems to be improving, at least they are making more aggressive plays, but to no avail. Sadly, Paraguay goes into history at 0-3 against Uruguay in the 2011 Copa América. Maybe next time. For now, Paraguay is awarded best goalie and heck- number two ain't a bad place to be.


No comments:

Post a Comment