We watch the Ecuador vs. Argentina soccer game at a neighborhood bar. The tickets sold out too quickly, and none of us can afford the $30 scalpers fee. It's an important game for Ecuador — they've played better than they ever have this year, especially in Quito, where the altitude makes for a homefield advantage. They want to make it to the World Cup once — once! — and they're close. The slogan this year: Al Mundial, si se puede.
But it's a losing battle from the beginning. Argentina doesn't take the ball down the field much, but when they do, they make it count: One minute the ball's on the ground, the next it's inside the net. Ecuador spends most of the game fumbling their chances — their kicks are way off or too soft. The ball rolls up to the goalie like it's asking for a favor. Argentina wins 2-0. Afterward, we all sing the fight song anyway.
Later, we go to a karaoke bar. The town is flooded with them, and I've been dying to go since my first week. It's a weird scene inside — people sing from their seats, not from the bar. And the songs are all mellow and schmalty and Spanish.
When it's my turn, I sing “Can't Take My Eyes Off of You.” It's the song everyone sang in the Internet cafe on my second day in Quito. I can't sit, so I prop up on my knees and start to work the crowd. WIthout really knowing it, I am doing some thing with my arm. It's a kind of point-and-sweep move that goes along with the music. Suddenly I notice that everybody in the bar is doing it. They are singing the song too: “I need you baby, and if it's quite all right, I need you baby.” We are all pointing and sweeping, pointing and sweeping. It's a good way to say goodbye.
(I will be traveling from August 16-Septemberish. An itinerary to come soon. Occasional updates as time and technology allow. Rock on. Rock out.)