The journey or the destination?

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Those of you hoping for one of Mark’s journalistic masterpieces detailing the game last night are about to be disappointed. Instead, most of what  you’ll be getting is my account of our Experience, yes, with a capital “E”. Getting there was pleasant enough — we walked, got a kick out of the psychedelic painted school bus flying down the street, honking loudly, so full of baseball fans that both the front and emergency doors were opened,  revealing 5 or 6 people who seemed  to be hanging on just by their fingertips.  (Mark claims that anyone who has ridden the subway to an Eagles game can paint a mental picture of that.)  I was amused to see a man on his bike walking his horse across the main street into the stadium parking lot, but from there, we sensed there could be problems.

We arrived later than expected and there were no lines. Instead, mobs of people were circling the stadium, 20 or 25 people deep anywhere there might be an entrance. You see, the game was sold out, but apparently that’s not an obstacle for baseball fans here. While every entrance into the stadium had a guard stationed, those guards happily took $5 USD in exchange for “stealthily” opening up the gate.  Aha —  I never understood before how dangerous overcrowding situations in clubs, sports events, concert venues, etc., happened.  Getting to the official entrance required working our way through the crowd. Of course, it took us several tries to figure out which was the real entrance. There were no signs  to help us out, not in Spanish or English. Getting up to where we could even figure out what was going on meant the people 20 or 25 deep were behind us, pressing into us.  Prime territory for pickpockets, perverts and thieves — or women who get a little antsy and nervous in something as mild as a Black Friday Sale. Oh wait, that’s me. (The antsy woman, not the pickpocket, pervert  or thief.)

Once in, there was no assigned seating, not even by section, for our expensive, validly purchased,  two dollar and fifty cent seats. Since the stadium was packed, we stood in the nosebleed section with those who had snuck in, packed together, body to body like sardines in a can, jostling for position with people from a culture that has a limited sense of personal space in normal situations. Perhaps some will consider it distasteful that I mention this, but both Mark and I remarked later what a surprise it was that body odor never seems to be a problem for the Nicaraguans, even in that environment.  But, manners were a different story altogether. Yankees’ and Phillies’ fans could have taught this crowd something .  Little screechy party horns were blaring, along with things that sounded like the horns used in the soccer matches in South Africa.  Both teams brought a brass band for the stands.

They were close

The band was very close

Rivulets of sweat leaked down the sides of my face, and a pool of moisture was dripping down my back. (I am certain that Nicaraguans were not commenting on our lack of body odor.) A few feet away was a food table, piled with, among other things, fried pork rinds and  mashed yucca ( like potatoes) being fanned with banana leaves to keep off the flies

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The vigaron is a typical Nica meal — yucca, fried pork rinds and some sort of cabbage salad, perhaps with some beans thrown in.

The beer vendor couldn’t even get through — once people got her attention, she would throw them their beer can, 10 or 12 rows up into the stadium, with accuracy, and instilled enough fear in the crowd thather money was always passed down to her.  I would have loved to get something to drink, but that would have meant eventually using the bathroom, something I was determined to avoid at all     costs.

Mark could see reasonably well over other people’s heads;

Pretty decent view

Pretty decent view

I could see everything but first base, not bad really, until someone decided he wanted to stand where I was. He stepped on my (flip-flop clad) foot a few times when he was being subtle, and then decided to move his 250 pound body into my place, not easy to do, since there was no place  for me to go. My body weight alone wouldn’t have budged the big guy on my other side, but the close quarters and force of the displacement caused the whole group we were standing in to shift, like a wave, nearly toppling the fans sitting on the top of the wall. Luckily for me, my husband swooped in a strong arm and pulled me out of the throe before I was trampled. We left after 4 innings.

There are some things you do once, just to say you’ve done them — for me that means run a marathon, free fall from a plane with no instructor or static line, eat a fried chicken stomach, use a bathroom with a glass wall (I really had to go, and it was only  the outer wall of the highest building in  Nagoya, Japan)  run barefoot thorough the Bangkok night market after the person with your  purse. To that list, I am going to add Attend the Nicaraguan World Series. Ick. But perhaps Mark has a different take on things.

MARK SAYS:

Well, as Valerie so aptly described, the atmosphere surrounding Flora Cana Ballpark in Granada Tuesday evening was beyond electric and, at times, more than a little concerning.  However, unlike me, she never sat in the old 700 level at 4 PM Eagles-Giants games in Veterans Stadium.  I can’t think of better preparation for any chaotic sporting event!

The game itself was pretty much anticlimactic as the Orientales finally went quietly down in defeat to the Tigers.We witnessed most of the game’s action as Chinendaga scored one run in the first and two in the second to take an early three to nothing lead.  The Granada squad did show some of their trademark fighting spirit when they scored two runs in the bottom of the third.

Unfortunately for the home team, the contest settled into a real pitcher’s duel among both bullpens and no runs were scored in the final six innings.  Chinendaga had clinched the title by winning the best of seven series 4 games to 2

Brooklyn Dodgers fans may have initiated the famous lament “wait until next year” but it has been perfected in Philadelphia. Likewise,   “espere hasta el ano proximo” could be heard in the streets of Granada on Tuesday night.  But, when it comes to lack of championships, at least they’re not Cleveland!

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