01 July 2014

Veranillo de San Juan and the exciting World Cup

Costa Rica's "Little Dry Season" is about a week late this year. It usually shows up around the 24th of June. This is an annual phenomenon when the ITCZ actually moves north of Costa Rica, giving us a mini-summer for a couple of weeks. The ITCZ, or Intertropical Convergence Zone, known also as the doldrums, is the main focal point for showers and thunderstorms in the tropics. You can "google" it if you want more information, but suffice to say the school kids are happy "el Veranillo de San Juan" (Little Summer of Saint John) was late enough to coincide with their 2-week semester vacation and the World Cup.

World Cup Tortillas for the Ticos!
This is the time of year many families take vacation at the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. But this year finds a lot of these families glued to their flat panel TV's watching World Cup Fútbol matches.

The World Cup is played every 4 years and it has been 24 years since Costa Rica even qualified past the group matches. In 2006, Costa Rica participated in Group A, but Germany won the group competition over Ecuador, Poland and Costa Rica. This time, the "Selección," "Sele" for short, is on fire! The excitement in the country is actually palpable, and even if you've never watched a soccer match before, you'd certainly get caught up in the emotion of it all here.

Costa Rica was in Group D, referred to as the "group of death." The Ticos showed the world that they could not be eliminated in this group and blew past Uruguay and Italy to earn their place in the "Round of 16." Yes, that's right, the top 16 teams in the World.

So, Sunday found us at a neighborhood cantina packed with Ticos and Gringos in the country's red, white and blue, watching a heart-pounding game against Greece. The Ticos scored an early goal, but lost a player to a red card in the second half. This gave the Greeks the chance they needed to score a goal near the end of regulation time. In playoffs like this, overtime is allowed and they added two 15-minute periods. Neither team managed to score during this time, so we had to go to a "kick-off," which is 5-penalty kicks per side.

There isn't much a goalie can do to defend against penalty kicks, but try and outguess which way the ball will go. I had said all along if the game ever got as far as penalty kicks, Costa Rica would win because of our amazing goalkeeper, Keylor Navas. The teams remained tied, matching goal for goal, until the third penalty kicker from Greece came up to kick his penalty shot. I noted he was one of the older team mates, and I told John that this guy was just too tired and he was going to miss. I could see it in his eyes. Sure enough, Navas guessed which direction the ball would go and had time to stop it! Then the Ticos got their opening and Michael Umaña nailed the final penalty shot for Costa Rica, winning the game with a score of 5-3.

Here is a link to a local television station and the game announcers in the moment that Michael Umaña kicked the winning goal. Think he is a bit emotional? You don't even have to understand Spanish to capture the emotion. Así se celebra COSTA RICA EN CUARTOS DE FINAL 2014

This places Costa Rice in the top 8 teams in the World. Needless to say, pandemonium broke out in our little cantina and here is just a glimpse of our excited crowd.



So, this Saturday, you'll find us back with our amigos in the cantina, watching the Quarter Finals, yelling "ooeoeooeoe Ticos Ticos" with the rest of the fans.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post - enjoying the atmosphere through you.

    ReplyDelete