El Clásico Unites Nicaragua

El clásico, Nicaragua, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Managua

I took a couple of days off from writing because I was traveling back to Nicaragua for the closing on the house in León. The closing has been delayed, again, for another four days. The Libertad de Gravaman (document proving a lien-free property), has been stalling the closing. I cancelled my reservations and the rental car. I am staying with friends, and my couple of days have been filled with laughter, music, food, and drink.

I don’t like Managua in general. It is loud, congested, and chaotic. Poverty is more than apparent. Street performers in tattered clothing, the disabled begging, and small children washing windshields clog most intersections. It saddened me to watch from an air-conditioned SUV with darkly tinted windows. This weekend had a different vibe. There was a sense of unity between the economic classes throughout Managua.

Sunday, everything revolved around El Clasico. It is the most watched game of the year, when Barcelona plays Real Madrid. Fans on all continents gather to watch. The Nicaraguan government sets up a huge screen in a plaza in Managua and broadcasts the game live. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, street performers and vendors all wore their jerseys to show support.

We got up early, had breakfast, showered, and headed to a bar to save our seats. I sensed the excitement from the moment I walked in. I grew up a Barça fan, it was nice to see that most of the tables seated next to us were as well. It was amazing to be able to watch the game in an atmosphere where everyone was there for the game, in the States, this is a rare occurrence. Every seat was taken, people were standing in the aisles, there were people standing in the driveway and on the sidewalk (in over 100F degree heat) trying to catch a glance.

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The game was exciting. My voice is hoarse to prove it. In the last seconds, Barcelona scored the winning goal. The whole place erupted, most in excitement, others in agony. My whole left side was drenched in beer as a fight broke out with the guys seated at the same table. It may have been in jest, but beer was wasted and I was wet.

As much as I enjoyed the game, the most important thing was spending time with friends. Nicaraguans are a very giving and caring people. It was amazing how a simple soccer game united the masses. The poor and the wealthy were on level ground for ninety minutes.

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