Friday, July 9, 2010


(On a return trip to Spain. San Sebastian, 2001.)
When I was 21, I moved to Spain. My Spanish professor arranged a teaching position for me in a small school in the city of Zaragoza. Because it was a volunteer position, I had quite a few 'less than desirable' responsibilities, one of them being recess patrol (less desirable because of the conditions, not because of the students). The school/church property occupied a four story building on a curved city block. Because the school didn't own any green space, at recess time (when the weather was fair), I would lead the kids up to the rooftop playground. When the weather wasn't fair, the kids played in the basement. No matter the weather, the game ALL the students played was...FUTBOL. Futbol is a national pastime. Every Spaniard has a favorite player, team and knows intricate details and stats as well as technique in playing. Basically everyone is an expert. Rivalries run deep-for example, I once rented a car in Zaragoza with Barcelona plates. Friends were deeply concerned upon hearing my plans for driving said car to Madrid for the weekend. Most were certain the car would be stolen, others knew I'd find the tires slashed. The car ended up back in Zaragoza, untouched by passionate Madrilenos. In my experience (limited as it is), only one futbol event can unite Spaniards-The World Cup. And guess who made it to the finals. This Sunday I will be watching Spain vs. The Netherlands in what I imagine will be a very exciting, intense game. I can't wait to see the flamboyant flops and fancy footwork each team will undoubtedly parade for it's loyal fans. I am, of course, crossing my fingers and uniting with my Spanish friends in hopes that Spain pulls through and wins.

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