Sunday, January 28, 2007

Goodbye Guatemala

I’m home from Guatemala now, happy to see my family, but sad that our fine group of sojourners is now dissipating into our individual lives again. I already miss our morning comparisons of sleep and bowel movement patterns and meals just aren’t the same without a stack of tortillas and some kind of interesting and tasty (but unrecognizable) fruit juice. On the other hand, even though it is cold here, the forecast calls for much less oppression and injustice.

But it wasn’t all oppression and injustice while we were there. I will end the "Dan's Blog Gets Hijacked by Guatemala" series with some pictures from a soccer game we attended during our stay. The Municipal Rojos (Guatemala City’s team, the Reds) played some other team that they trounced 4-0.

Here’s our happy group at the game:

Here’s a goal that was scored:

Well, to be strictly correct (and honest), a goal was not scored on this play. It is very hard to get a picture of goal in soccer. This play probably ended the way most plays do, with some player flopping on the ground in agony until a foul is called, wherein he quickly gets up and starts running again.

I must say I was a bit disappointed that there were no riots or hooliganism. As a Mennonite, I must get my violence vicariously through others. My Irish friend Ken Humphrey had entertained me all last semester with stories about the danger and excitement of attending an Irish league game, and I assumed Latin American soccer was similar. I’m told that in general it is, but this particular game featured about 10 fans for the away team and they were cordoned off in their own section, where they had nothing to cheer about for 90 minutes.

The crowd in the cheap seats across the way was trying to rile things up, though:

They were singing a song in Spanish that I couldn't quite catch the words of:

Something! Some, Something!
Some Something Something (vous?) Madre!

Enrique, a Spanish language instructor at the seminary who came with us to the game, pretended he didn’t know what they were chanting, and wouldn’t translate it for us. It seemed directed at the mothers of opposing players. I imagine it was some kind of lullaby or love song, singing the praises of all mothers of soccer players, unifying women and men in a spiritual and universal bond of motherhood and brotherhood. The tune wasn’t much of a lullaby, but remember that this is a very machismo culture, and they may have been overcompensating for their overly tender lyrics. That’s probably why Enrique was so embarrassed.

Enrique was a lot of fun though. At one point, two of the younger women in our group got up to go the bathroom and chose one that was halfway across the stadium. The suggestion came up that perhaps they wanted a better look at some of many fine looking machismos attending the game. I happened to use the phrase “on the prowl,” merely as an educational opportunity for teaching colloquialisms. Sure enough, Enrique was confused by this phrase, so I added, in Spanish, “como un Tigre.” The lights suddenly came on, and he understood how the phrase worked. In fact, he was quite enthusiastic and liberal in his use of it for the next week or so. If I accomplished nothing else in Guatemala, I was at least able to teach an extremely cool Spanish language instructor a new and apparently useful phrase, thus bridging some small part of the gap of understanding between our vastly different cultures. My work here is done.

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