Category Archives: Sports & Leisure

(Friday Fotos) World Cup Hootenanny – It’s Game Day!

Let me set the scene. At this very moment, I’m sitting at my desk in my fourth floor apartment a half block away from one of the most happening streets in the city, which has now been closed to car traffic. The intersection that I can see is filled with people in bright yellow T-shirts, and more are approaching from all sides. Never mind the storm clouds that are also gathering. Yellow, red, and blue Colombian flags stream from every building, and music pounds from monster speakers. This is Colombia, and this is all about the World Cup.

A local taste of what the World Cup is about to bring - and what B'quilla will bring to the World Cup!

A local taste of what the World Cup is about to bring – and what B’quilla will bring to the World Cup!

We’re in the middle of the “Selección” — the series of games that countries worldwide play in order to secure a spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. As you know from the post Fútbol, not Football, Colombia chooses to play its home qualifiers right here in Killa. The last time Colombia made it to the Copa Mundial, they played the home games in Barranquilla, so our fair city is considered good luck. Plus, rumor has it that the visiting teams can’t take the heat (literally).

I’m convinced the decision to play here also has to do with Barranquilleros’ extreme love of fútbol. Even in Colombia, a country with no shortage of fútbol aficionados, Barranquilleros rank at the top on the scale of devotion. For example, at all games of the national league, the  División Mayor del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano (Dimayor), the home team has a “barra” in the stadium end zone where the most die hard fans congregate. Barranquilla’s club, which is called Junior for reasons that nobody can explain to me, is the only team in Colombia that has two barras — one in each end zone. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the photos that follow. Continue reading

Speaking of Coffee and Salsa Dancing… Thoughts on CNN’s “10 Things to Know Before Visiting Colombia”

I haven’t yet had a chance to see the Colombia special that aired yesterday on CNN as part of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. I did, however, read the partial coverage provided by the CNN article, 10 Things to know before visiting Colombia, by Justin Calderon. I liked the article very much, but found that as a Barranquillera (however new I may be!), coffee lover, and salsa dancer, a few things need to be clarified.

While I’m definitely in my comfort zone in talking about coffee and salsa, I can’t speak to the cultures of any city in Colombia other than Barranquilla, and even then I still have a lot to learn. As the author rightly points out, Colombia’s climates vary wildly – and I would add that so do the cultures of this vast and diverse country. With that caveat, below are a few things that came to mind from the Barranquilla perspective after reading the CNN article. Continue reading

Life, Liberty, and the Boston Marathon: Why Road Races Matter in the Pursuit of Happiness

Hearts around the world ached upon hearing the news of the lives lost or forever changed by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The assaults were an attack on our humanity, an affront to our collective conscience. To hurt for the victims and to feel revulsion for the killers required neither U.S. citizenship nor personal experience with terrorism, and it certainly didn’t require one to be a marathon runner. And yet, for me, the fact that the bombings occurred so close to the finish line of such a revered and enduring road race – one that I’ve aspired to run one day – made the tragedy feel awfully close to home.

I’m a lifelong runner and have finished three marathons – far fewer than many people I know. Yet each of those three 26.2 mile / 40 kilometer events has been a point of extreme happiness in my life. Continue reading

Fútbol, not Football

IMG_0784As the United States gears up for Super Bowl Sunday, I thought it would be a good time to provide a little taste of Colombia’s sport of choice – fútbol. We’re talking “fútbol,” the game with the round ball that you kick with your feet, as opposed to American “football,” the one with the pointy pigskin thing (is it really even a ball?) that you mostly touch with your hands, despite the name of the game (honestly, I have been confused by that ever since I was a kid).

Colombia is crazy for fútbol, and perhaps nowhere more so than Barranquilla. Continue reading

I Should Be in a Nike Commercial

Okay, no, I am actually not that vain! Or that deluded. I have neither the level of fitness nor the physique, even at its worked-out best, to warrant a Nike commercial. (And I’m not sure that I could in good conscience advertise for them, although geez, I do like their running clothes….)

At the finish line of the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland, 2009 (I think).

But that is how running often makes me feel: self-delusional in a good way – the kind of way that makes you get more done, act confidently, and generally avoid being a neurotic stress case. After years of running (and almost 1,400 miles logged on that Nike+ tracker thing), I can tell you with absolute certainty that the “runner’s high” is real.

So it’s no surprise, then, that one of the first things I asked Gio after his April scouting trip to Barranquilla was, “Can I run there?” Continue reading

Uh, which movie is that? And you wanna sit where?

Movie theater at the Buena Vista shopping center.

This past Tuesday, August 7th, was a “día feriado” – a holiday – and so Gio and I headed for a late afternoon movie. Here are a few things we learned from our first Colombian movie experience: Continue reading