Tag Archives: world cup

The U.S. Loses, Argentina Pushes On

28 Jun

Now that the United States has been knocked out of the World Cup, I suppose the vast majority of Americans will lose interest in the tournament and focus their attention back on the other sports which are always on TV. Before moving on I’ll just offer this—the World Cup occurs once every four years and you get to see nations pour their hearts and souls into each match. Maybe you could go without seeing the 80th consecutive baseball game and try to appreciate how important soccer is across the world.

After the United States lost to a team from Ghana which straight out played better, England’s disappointment led the way for the grand finale on the weekend. Argentina vs. Mexico. Many people here had doubts because Mexico’s team was nothing to brush off, yet once the game started it seemed like Argentina was in full control. I wound up watching at home alone after failing to find someone to watch with, which was a big let down. Being here during this time, I want to take advantage and see how the games affect people, so locked up in my apartment drinking mate by myself wouldn’t show anything. I needed them to win so I could selfishly try to find a friend to watch with next week.

Both teams came out strong, but Argentina quickly showed why it is always up there as one of the greatest teams. Two quick goals sent Mexico reeling, and where silence one filled the streets of Buenos Aires, as a goal was scored the city erupted into tension-producing craze. At halftime I stood outside on my balcony for a minute and heard absolutely nothing, save for a lone bus in the distance. Even in the middle of the night I’ve never heard this city so quiet. It was eerie, like someone was telling you to get back in the house and fix your eyes on the TV.

I was very nervous during the game, sweating from the armpits and rolling a piece of paper in my hands nonstop to avoid destroying my fingernails. By the end of the game the piece of paper was limp and frail, but Argentina was victorious. Hundreds if not thousands of people flooded the streets and headed to the Obelisk in the center to celebrate, as if they’d just won the whole thing. I didn’t bother going down there, yet on the news they were showing scenes from the center and from across the country. Walking outside, I saw people leaning out of cars waving the flag and honking. After such a tense game, you need to let loose in some way.

So it was a bittersweet weekend in that the U.S. lost but Argentina won, even though I always had more faith in the latter (sorry U.S.) Now we all await Saturday, July 3rd, when Argentina will face the next challenge: Germany.

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World Cup Intensity Weekend

25 Jun

This weekend is going to be packed with soccer (or as I’m used to calling it by now, fútbol). I’m sure that this isn’t news to anyone, but the U.S. is playing Ghana on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday Argentina is playing Mexico. Both games will be on at 3:30 pm Buenos Aires time. I’m thinking of going back to the bar in San Telmo where I watched the U.S./England game a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully they are doing the same deal with $25 pesos to enter, including $25 worth of whatever.

As for Sunday’s game, I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing, though I’d obviously like to be able to watch it with some Argentinians. The worst case scenario would be watching it alone at home because there’s such a better vibe and energy in watching it with people, especially from that country. Everyone is in a good mood this week and soccer is obviously the reason. There will be little else going though people’s minds this weekend as we all await Sunday. I would go out on a limb and say that 90% of the conversations taking place nowadays are World Cup related. I have to play catch up and learn as much as I can to keep up, not only in vocabulary but in the game itself. Since this isn’t information that I grew up with, I have to adjust to my sport knowledge. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for this weekend.

Argentina Beats Greece, Advances to Next Round

22 Jun

TITAN. Palermo sella el 2-0 y desata la locura en Polokwane.  (AFP)This afternoon Argentina played Greece in the World Cup, and the entire country had permission to leave the office or stop working at 3:30 pm. With my coworkers I went to Plaza San Martin near our office, following the excited crowds to where a Fan Zone and giant screen were set up. Unfortunately we left too late and by the time we got there, the crowds were out of control and we couldn’t get a spot anywhere. Through the mess we lost two from out group and had to continue without them. For some reason I was put in charge of the mate, a big responsibility on my shoulders. But as Vero said when we walked over, “You’re one of us now.” That was just the kind of compliment I needed.

Those who were left scrambled to find a place to watch, and we eventually settled on Pancho’s, a little hot dog bar inside a strip mall off of Florida Street. It wasn’t the ideal place, but at least they had HDTV and it wasn’t too packed. We crammed into the back and leaned against the bar side by side. Tension was high because winning would seal the deal and allow Argentina to advance to the elimination round, though a tie didn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

After halftime with no score, we busted out the mate, though only myself and two others were drinking it. All that work for nothing, but at least it made me feel a bit more Argentinian. Right towards the end of the game Argentina scored two goals to seal the victory. The excitement was kind of thrown off because another store was getting their feed a few seconds before us, meaning that when the goals were scored, we could hear the cheers just before we saw what happened. Still, excitement was high, and after the game ended we slowly walked back to the office for another hour of work.

It was amazing going back into the street and seeing how dead everything was. The entire country literally shuts down during these soccer games. Little leaflets coated the street and the far off sounds of honking horns and cheering crowds moving closer towards the center would alert even the most clueless of visitors that something big was going down. Argentina’s victory means that they will now advance to play Mexico on Sunday at 6:30 pm, Buenos Aires time. I kind of wish the game was during the week because it’s been really exciting to see everyone around and cheerful for the games, not to mention getting out of work for a couple of hours. With elimination being the name of the game now, I can’t wait to see just how much more intense this city can get.

Photo courtesy of Clarin

Winter In June In an Upside Down World

21 Jun

I’ve written in the past about the differences I see with seasons while living in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s no secret that I hate the winter and thus had no issues leaving it behind for the last year and, oh let’s say 10 months. I left the United States in August, 2008, arriving to Ecuador where it’s permanent fall/spring in the sierras, returned briefly to the U.S. in August, 2009, and then moved to Argentina where spring was just beginning. Now the record is crumbling away with today, June 21st, bringing the first official day of winter. Damn it.

There were only a few brief occasions throughout the last year and 10 months when I missed the winter. There’s always that first novel snowfall, when everything is coated white and beautiful before road dirt turns it to disgusting slush and brown drudge. And I will always admit that the change in seasons really makes you appreciate the better weather more. So I can’t say that it’s all bad, but here in Argentina, it’s a different beast.

Argentina rarely experiences snowfall, which is fine with me. Yet I still like that first week or two with the powder, putting a certain chill in the air that reminds you of the struggling months to come. Here, it’s simply getting colder, though it might never dip far below freezing. I won’t have to worry about black ice or snow banks, jammed doors or serious delays in getting to work because of blizzards. Yet bundling up will still be necessary, and the desire to go out and do things during the weekend will drop to a serious low. Shorter days means waking up in darkness and leaving the office the same way. It’s just depressing anyway you look at it.

At least with a bit of snow you can have a snowball fight or take advantage of skiing if you know how (I don’t). Maybe one day I can head down to Luna Park for some ice skating, though it’s been year since I tried and really only went a handful of times at that. I was able to relish my summertime fun while everyone back home was complaining about blizzards and freezing. Though I did so without gloating, karma has now bit me in the ass. I have to look on Facebook and see every friend excited about the beach, barbecues, and everything else that makes summer so nice. This day used to be so important for me, and now I see it as a building block. Tomorrow morning the sun will rise a few seconds earlier, and the next day, and the next day after that. That’s all I can think of now, at least aware that there won’t be an equivalent to February in Boston.

Simultaneously, today is 10 months since I left for Argentina. A generation of babies have already been born and figuring out the world since I’ve been here. That mark always humbles me. I’ve been here longer than them, but you know how it is. They’re more Argentinian than me. Tomorrow Argentina plays Greece at 3:30 pm, and the entire city, country that is, will take a long lunch with the boss’ OK. Gotta love the World Cup.

Soccer and Basketball in BA

18 Jun

It’s been a tiring couple of days, but I can’t just blame it on the Registro Civil. Yesterday was a big sports day for me, starting with the Argentina vs. South Korea World Cup game. The match aired in Buenos Aires at 8:30 am, which meant that I had to get up an hour earlier than normal. Our office was invited along with other travel agencies in the city to watch the game at the Four Seasons Hotel in Recoleta. Obviously when World Cup soccer is on, it takes a priority over most things. The plan was to meet up with a few co-workers at the subway stop before walking over to the hotel, and even though I got my Argentinian citizenship a day earlier, I’m still an American and showed up before anyone else.

As usual, people were late, and when we finally walked into the hotel’s function room, the game had already started. Luckily we didn’t miss anything, and were also given free Argentina soccer team hats. The room was dark with a big projection screen, couches and tables set up. A nice breakfast spread was out too, but we couldn’t get to it until halftime because the most important thing was watching the game.

The game was exciting, with Argentina striking hard and winning 4-1. Each time they scored the room erupted and people blew horns, popped balloons, and jumped around. The tension and ultimate joy there was incredible to witness—the kind of thing I’ve always wondered about. To actually be in a country that cares about soccer during the World Cup, while their team plays, is really a gift to be a part of. Each time they scored I too was excited and happy, but not just because I knew that it’s better to be on the winning side. I found myself, like I was in during the 2006 World Cup, really swept up and invested in the team.

The rest of the day went by nicely as everyone in the city seemed to be in a good mood. Aside from the fireworks going off and honking horns, it was calm and respectable as people still had to work. Later at night it was back to American sports with game 7 of the NBA Finals. I was already exhausted and fought hard to stay awake, but it was really a terrible game. Added to that the way it seemed to drag on in the second half, I just couldn’t stay awake and went to bed in the middle of the fourth quarter. Just as well I suppose since the Celtics lost anyway.

So again I find myself tired, though I found out some surprising news this morning. Monday is a holiday in honor of the creation of the flag, so at the very least I’ll be able to rest up a bit, even if it winds up being a boring weekend.

The Calm Before the Registro Storm

15 Jun

I’m like a cockroach at the Registro Civil. No matter how many times they toss me into the street, I keep coming back, seemingly more determined than before to get my DNI national ID card. If the workers there actually cared about anything, I’d have to imagine that they hate me by now. But maybe that would be a good thing, so they would be so sick of seeing me that they would just give me what I want to get rid of me. Tomorrow I’m going back to my old hangout, the Registro Civil, on Calle Uruguay. The appointment is at 1 pm and my friend Pablo said he would come with me as a back up in case they start to play tricks again.

But this time, unlike the others, I know for a FACT that I have everything I could possibly ever need to prove my Argentinian citizenship. Apart from the things listed from the supervisor at the Registro from my turn in May, I have signed and sealed documents from the Consulate General in New York, saying on my behalf that I’m a citizen and my birth has been registered in the consulate in New York. I have translated birth certificates, copies of copies, photographs, and of course the necessary $35 peso charge. The police department has vouched that I live here, and a Hague Apostille proves that my documents have international validity. In other words, if I get rejected tomorrow, I’ll never get the DNI.

Talking with my coworkers the last few days about what I’ve had to go through for this card and the bureaucratic process in this country, they all offered hopes for luck and the standard, “that’s Argentina for you” kind of response. It’s perhaps a time of unusual nationalistic pride here. Just recently we celebrated the bicentennial of the May Revolution and now the World Cup is uniting everyone in a quest to be the best in the world. Yet we still need to go through these moments where we ask ourselves why the government is so slow on things like national ID cards, or why government employees can be so rude. It goes back to a basic ideal that I grew up with, which is that the government works for the people and not vice versa. Sometimes that seems like the opposite here.

Last Friday before leaving the office we all talked about predictions for the World Cup games over the weekend. I took some heat for the United States when I said we would win 2-0 over England (really just flapping my gums for the sake of doing so). Then before walking out the door I said good luck for them and Argentina. One of my coworkers responded, “for you too.” It felt really nice that they would now consider me one of them. And if that’s not the case tomorrow afternoon, I’ll just have to go back for the 13th time in two weeks.

World Cup Weekend

13 Jun

Even though yesterday was a raw, rainy and gray day, there was excitement and fun on the horizon. The reason, of course, was the World Cup. The two big games of the day were Argentina vs. Nigeria at 11 am (Buenos Aires time) and the U.S.A. vs. England at 3:30 pm. It seems like most of the city took it easy on Friday night to wake up nice and fresh for the game in the morning. I was told that every channel would be playing the game so I made some breakfast and casually turned to channel 2. The news anchors were talking about the excitement of the game and showing fans watching in Plaza San Martin on the giant screens, so I just assumed they would cut to the game any moment.

But 10 minutes after 11 I grew worried and changed the channel, just in time to see that 5 minutes has already passed and Juan Veron was just lining up to take the shot that would be the first goal of the game. Suddenly the city exploded and noise was all around. The TV was blaring horns for the entirety of the match and during half time someone down the hall came outside to blow their horn for a few minutes. Normally that would be very inappropriate and cause complaint, but since it was World Cup time, it made total sense and no one cared.

Eventually Argentina won the game 1-0 and I prepared to head down to San Telmo. I was going to meet up with some British guys at a new bar owned by Americans called The Northside. The $25 peso cover charge came with $25 worth of drinks, so it wasn’t too bad of a deal, especially since pints cost $10. Though I was surrounded by British fans in the corner, it seemed like there were more Americans in the bar, and when the Star Spangled Banner was sung, we stood up proudly. In the meantime, the Brits and I joking trash talked back and forth, though I admittedly don’t know enough about the sport to say anything meaningful.

With the quick goal for England I took some abuse, but we all followed along on the giant screens happily. Even though most Americans don’t care about soccer, you can’t help but get excited for World Cup action and the representatives of your country. There was a really great vibe in the fully packed bar and the whole experience was fun. When the U.S. finally scored their lucky goal, the Britons moaned in anger, but things stayed tied up and the game ended 1-1. After early day drinking we all eventually filed out of the bar slowly and called it a night.

The soccer action continues today, though with much less excitement for me. Still, Germany plays today and since they always have a good team, it will be fun to watch for sure. And then of course comes the nonstop banter on the games tomorrow at work. And the next day. And the next.

Translating and World Cup Deportations

8 Jun

Some progress was made with the translator issue today. I was able to contact someone listed as a public translator and they quickly replied to me. Though the price listed was high ($184 pesos), I’m not in much of a position to negotiate, so I spent my lunch break walking down near the Registro Civil to drop off my birth certificate and Apostille. As soon as I checked my email again, however, I saw that a second translator I contacted responded with an even lower price ($114 pesos). But oh well, there’s hardly anything I can do about it now. The translation will be ready on Monday.

The big deal this morning was the news that part of the Argentinian soccer hooligans sent to South Africa to root on the team have been deported. Apparently about 80 were sent and maybe 15 were immediately deported upon arriving in South Africa. Though they weren’t even supposed to be allowed out of the country because they are criminals and have cases pending, they somehow got through customs. Once airborne, they were supposedly causing trouble on the plane, which caused the pilot to alert airport security once they landed.

Not only that, but some of these hooligans didn’t even have tickets to the games and were merely there as “support.” It’s an embarrassing situation for Argentina, and when talking with some people today they seemed genuinely disappointed in their fellow countrymen. It’s a stain on the World Cup which hasn’t even begun yet. The festivities, which kick off on Thursday, are drawing excitement here even though most people don’t have much faith.

In the office there has been talk about how we could watch games while working, and kicking around random things on the ground has increased steadily. Sometimes people ask me who I will cheer for, the U.S. or Argentina. I always say I’ll root for both, and if they somehow wind up playing each other I’ll take it from there.