Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed one pattern for sure: Soccer here is everything. Across the coast of Ecuador, no matter how far away you stray from the cities, out into the open desert like land scattered with tiny towns and shacks made from palm, you will always find fans crazy for their favorite coastal football team. On the coast there are two major teams, Emelec and Barcelona, and your answer to the question, “Blue or yellow?” can make or break your first impression with people.

I’ve never really understood sports. In my family, they really aren’t important. We love to mysteriously become huge fans of Philadelphia sports teams when they make it far, but other than that, it’s just never made much sense to me.

But since I’ve been here, I’ve decided that I want to become a soccer fan. Its pretty hard for me, but I’m really really trying!

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Today I made really big gains in my goal of becoming a football fan, I went to my first Barcelona game!

Now, I haven’t been to many sports games in the US, but I’m going to make some generalizations about events like this at home during this description.

First of all, I brought nothing with me. I’m getting used to the very different definition of “street smart” that exists here in Ecuador. There are just certain places that there is a possibility that you will be robbed, and you just have to be prepared for that by bringing nothing with you that you’re willing to get stolen. That being said, I don’t have any photos from the game, but the next time I go I will bring my camera because it was a sight I certainly don’t want to forget!

The stadium I was at is considered to be one of the nicest in South America. It is big, but in regards to aesthetics it doesn’t compare to the average stadium in the US. Most college stadiums I have seen are much nicer than this one. There are no big screens, or big full scoreboard. And each section only has one concession stand that has a few sandwiches and water or soda. The field itself looked a bit rough, compared to the always-perfect looking grass in baseball fields in the US. It didn’t help that people in the stands were throwing streamers into the field the whole time, and sometimes trash.

In the stadium you have three seating options: The private suites that certain people have, the area beneath the seats where I was sitting that surround most of the field, or the section without seats that has 20 foot fencing around it with what I assume are the cheapest seats.

This last section was completely packed with people. Somewhere hidden deep in the section were people who had brought their own drums and trumpets, and everyone in this section were jumping and singing the whole time. There must be at least ten different songs they sing just about the team. People were climbing up the fences and sitting on top, running up and down the stairs in huge groups, and always singing and jumping and pumping their fists.

I don’t think there is anywhere at home where a sports game would look like this. When Barcelona made a goal, the noise was unbearable. People were throwing things in the air, they jumped up and down and screamed, and some even had sparklers lit!

Policemen lined the every section of the stadium, and at the end of the game when Barcelona won, there were policemen on the field with riot shields, and others who quickly rushed the opposing team’s fans out of the stadium.

It was completely insane, but SO MUCH FUN. I can’t wait to attend another game! I think I can officially call myself a Barcelonista!

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