Thursday, March 11, 2010
When many hands make light work, everyone finishes early. When that happens in Guatemala, amigos get together for futbol.
A short walk through Santa Maria de Jesus, up ever escalating cobbled streets, is quiet and expectant after a long day of work. Stray dogs, little children, men on horseback and women in traditional dress are all moving through the streets, casting glances at our small and unfamiliar procession. Finally we arrive -- a right turn onto a dirt path that leads out onto level earth high above the city. Our field is a concrete court equipped with basketball hoops and the frames of soccer goals. Teams are chosen and the ball is quickly put into play. We have four players on each team in a game where, without nets, the ball must touch one of the posts.
Exhaustion is universal, but so is enthusiasm, and the adventure of forging new friendships. We run, we pass, we wrestle, we injure, we score, we run some more, we pant, we sweat, we play on. Often, we lose the ball. It rolls down the steep slopes of this volcanic terrain. Occasionally, the two boys playing on the court below us return the ball to us--shyly, proudly. But often, we chase after it ourselves. The lucky ones who are left on the court have a moment's pause. And in these moments, we slowly collect fans. Two little boys scaling the fence. One and then another and then another leaning into the side of the hill. Squinting, they multiply. Until seis, until we are all panting and soaked through with sweat and a hundred children appear from the path, wanting their chance on the field. We all sit together for a while, drinking water and resting - finally - after the long day. In the truck ride home, Fernando, one of our teammates gives his friendship bracelet to our teammate. So you will remember me, he says in Spanish. This connection, another goal scored.