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Viva Olimpia! My entry for the 2012 scholarship, recounting an experience from when I lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [223] | Scholarship Entry

We arrived early at the Estadio Nacional in order to claim a good seat, quickly losing patience as person after person jumped the metal railings in unashamed disregarded of the queue. As four ‘gringos’ we were reluctant to try the same tack, but our irritation got the better of us and we skipped on through with a thrill of adrenaline.

Honduras, as with all Latin America, takes its football very seriously. The atmosphere before the League final in capital city, Tegucigalpa, was frenetic.

We claimed a spot in the middle of the concrete terracing with a reasonable view and no reprieve from the midday sun. The stadium filled up with red, white and blue. And up and up, crammed far beyond capacity. The final was a showdown between Tegucigalpa home team, Olimpia, and Real España of second city San Pedro Sula. Only a handful of España fans had dared make the trip, the Honduran League notorious for supporter violence.

The match kicked off and even I, far from aficionado, found the level of skill displayed underwhelming. But that mattered nothing. The season ticket stand was an inferno, chants and fists thrown to the air unceasingly. Boy vendors leapt between terraces selling beers, plantain chips, and 5 Lempira bags of water. Boisterous onlookers pelted the policemen encircling the pitch with empty cans. Occasionally they would spot a culprit and two officers would stride up the stands and eject the offender. Mexican waves did the rounds... Olimpia scored and supporters threw their hands to the sky, beers, hot dogs and all.

Ninety minutes up and with a score of 1-1, the anticipation surged on into extra time. Olimpia scored again, the crowd roared again, the final whistle blew, the crowd exulted!

Exiting the estadio, hawkers still a-hawking, we were thrilled to have witnessed like locals this celebration of our adopted city, and unimaginably relieved at the prospect of emptying bladders painfully full with the beer that had seemed so irresistible in the baking sun.

Tags: football, honduras, tegucigalpa, travel writing scholarship 2012

 

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