Last Saturday, Costa Rica managed a miracle: Uruguay, the fourth ranked team in the world, lost to Costa Rica 3 to 1 for the first time in World Cup history.
When I first arrived in Costa Rica, I didn’t realize how deeply rooted soccer–futbol– is in the culture. Every public venue, from bars to electronics stores to parks, screened Costa Rica’s game in its entirety. Sure, there are probably a handful of people that couldn’t get off work that day or live under a rock and didn’t know the game was on, but I believe that the entire country paused their days for this game. From miles away, you could see a cloud of red jerseys and hear the impassioned reactions to referee calls. No one thought we would win, but that didn’t stop the country from watching.
I like to think that Costa Rica is an underdog. Despite all the wonderfulness the country has to offer its people and its tourists, in the magical land of futbol, Costa Rica has never seen recognition. That’s what made this moment so important: there’s three minutes left on the clock. Costa Rica is up three to one, but everyone is still nervous. This is unprecedented. This is Uruguay. This is the second time in history we have even scored two goals against them. When the clock stops– as the team runs and screams and jumps and cheers– the entire country erupted. People ran into the streets cheering, waved jerseys and flags above their heads, cars started mini parades and honked without stopping. I have never seen a mass of people so completely happy. For hours, the country celebrated the win, this almost-spiritual, definitely-magical occurrence that gave Costa Rica international recognition.
If I were in the United States, I probably wouldn’t have watched the World Cup, and I definitely wouldn’t have understood why everyone took it so seriously. I’m not even positive I would’ve known it was going on. But there’s something about being in a country like Costa Rica– a country that lives and breathes futbol– that changed my perspective. It’s hard to live in Costa Rica without loving futbol: you see how crazy everyone gets over the games, and you want to be united in that. I was yelling and jumping and screaming. I felt so happy that for a second I forgot I was foreign and that my home was thousands of miles away, and I waved my jersey in the air.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I'm Dorothy Moore, a recently-declared Geography and Education Studies major at Macalester College. I am originally from Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, so I am most comfortable in cities with public transportation, bike routes, and corner coffee shops. My favorite words are wanderlust (love of travel) and fervent (having great intensity of spirit) and I try to live with them as guiding principles. I love to read and write, and I am always looking for a new story to tell. I don't know where I'm headed, but for now, I'm happy just exploring.</span></p>