I had heard about the title for the Casco Viejo association football conference for a few years and decided to do a cameo as the lone gringo in the joint: an enactment I have got go quite affectionate of in Panama. The field sat on the suntan coast of the Old Quarter, overlooking the thenar tree-studded Causeway and sparkling Bridge of the Americas. The experience was a riot, both literally and figuratively.
It was far more than organized (at the beginning) than I anticipated. Two referees, matching uniforms, and even official small ball male children who raced after errant shots as if they were hunting down pieces of association football gold. Everyone on the beach was imbibing suds and feeding smoked sausages: large ice chests and improvised grillrooms almost everywhere you looked.
The vibe of the bowl though, if you wanna phone call it that, was overpowering at first. Take your equivalent of a community from the hood, throw them on a beach, and state them that their life depends on whether or not they can set a ball in a net. Girls dressed in ghettowear to the nines; things like hot pinkish spandex and bling bling wall hanging from their clearly exposed breasts. Guys stood all tough, with their shirts off telling chiseled forearms that could probably strike hard me out devoid of even physical contact.
Once the games were underway and the Casconians got over the fact that a gringo could talk Spanish, things settled down. I spoke with one man, his tegument unsmooth and suntanned like a billfold I used to own. When I asked who was playing he told me France. OK, I figured, now we're talking. I love the Gallic national team. When asked the name of the other team, the same old adult male shrugged and said Green. There were no telecasting photographic cameras or radiocommunication announcers: hell, the guard keeping fans off the field was no aged than nine, his finger lodged indeterminately in his right ear.
The game itself was fast and heated: much more than physical military unit than finesse. The existent safety of the participants became compromised when people started throwing sand-logged suds tins onto the pitch. But for the most part, it was a just and even match.
At one point, a shot was taken far off mark and the ball sailed over the goal. For the lucky of us fans who followed where the ball ended up, you could see this mediocre small miss meandering along-probably picking up sea shells or something. The ball came flying in like a heat-seeker and amazed the miss in the head-her simple organic structure toppling over like a kid bowling pin.
The game ended 5-5 which meant penalties. The full crowd, at this point fully drunk with local suds and drained by the Pacific Ocean sun, gathered around the end country forming a street fight-like atmosphere. French Republic on one side, Green on the other. Each shot ended with sprayed suds and flying sand hurled in the air by supporters. It wasn't the safest topographic point for me to be, at one point witnessing a little public violence between respective children of the concerted age fifteen, but it was just so hilarious. At one point I went to high five a friend, and his smack was so enthusiastic it left a dent on my palm.
One of the squads won, I'm not even certain which. And there were jubilations that lasted long into the evening. But at that point, everyone was drunk-so no 1 cared. By the last punishment shot, people were running everywhere, screaming, laughing, and interfering with the refs. By the clip the sun was starting to put and everyone, including women and children, danced around the beach under the argus-eyed oculus of vicinity police force who had been brought in to maintain isolated domestic dogs off the field. It was a true Casco moment, not anything like I've experienced in the cathedral or at the tabular array of Don Manolo Caracol. I'd make it again in a heartbeat, but the sunshine was really strong, I've gotta retrieve to convey my visor.