¡Vamos al Mundial! ¡Vamos los Ticos!
For the many Americans who don’t know, there were three international soccer games on last night. Honduras v Panama. USA v Mexico. Costa Rica v Jamaica. These three games were qualifying matches for the World Cup in Brazil next year. Costa Rica has only been three times, the last in 2006. USA won last night 2-0. Honduras tied Panama and Costa Rica tied Jamaica. However, both the USA and Costa Rica clinched spots in Brazil. No matter what happens in each teams final two qualifying matches, Costa Rica and the USA will both be going to the World Cup.
You may not know this, but futbol is a big deal in Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, pretty much anywhere not the US. To the people of Costa Rica, getting to the World Cup is like winning the Superbowl or the World Series is for individual cities in the states. The people went crazy. All the flags flying was very fitting, it’s Costa Rica’s Independence Day on Sunday.
Following the games (had to wait for Honduras v Panama to finish to know the spot was clinched) the citizens of Costa Rica piled into the streets. I watched the game at home with my family rather than at a bar. I assure you there was just as much yelling and cheering and groaning with my 4 family members as if we had been in a bar with 100 people. My host brother than grabbed his new flag and dragged us all out to the car, we were off to join the celebrations. After stopping to pick up a cousin we headed towards central Heredia.
The entire time horns were blaring, everyone we passed was cheering, flags were waving, shirts came off to be circled through the air. When we made it to downtown, we hit the traffic, everyone was out to celebrate. We finally made it to the real source of the slowdown. At least 200 people crowded into one intersection slowly letting cars through one at a time. Before we got there we were warned to tie down the flag, the crowd had been grabbing flags out of cars as they went through. We made it out the other side after much cheering and high-fiving. Then we circled around to make another pass. There were crowds on other streets too, none as big, the cheering, flag waving, and celebrating continued. As we approached the main crowd for round two things got interesting. It had been at least 20 minutes if not 30 since our initial pass, everyone had been drinking. Prior to the crowd, me, my host sister, and my host cousin had all been hanging out windows holding our flag above the car, we slid back in when we saw the rowdiness had grown. Two cars ahead of us the crowd stopped a car, and then it started rocking, a lot. When they finally let it go the car behind it powered through, refusing to stop even for the people jumping out in front of it. We followed there lead and made it through without incident.
Costa Rica sure knows how to celebrate! Congratulations Ticos, you’re going to the World Cup!