47. Missing Sports

May 14th, 2011

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Whenever I’m traveling, I tell myself it’s good to be disconnected from home. And it many ways, it is. More often than not, backpackers are excited to escape from home — school, a former job, a breakup, whatever — so being overseas (in some cases where you can’t even speak the local language) is refreshing. (See 44. Finishing school/Quitting your job.) Not for sports, though.

Missing sports makes me homesick.

I realize my opinion has been colored by the following:

  • I’m North American and apart from basketball, the professional sports I like to follow are not widely played overseas.
  • I’m not a hard-core soccer fan and don’t pretend to be (see 41. Soccer)
  • I’m not a holier-than-thou hippie who strums his guitar pretending he doesn’t care about sports, to pick up girls (see 18. Guitar)
  • I’m back home, living in a city whose team is on a Stanley Cup run.
  • I went and saw the Heat-Blazers game in January, which the Heat (currently the Vegas favorites to win the NBA title) won in OT. Beenou.
  • The NBA Playoffs are fantastic this year.
  • I didn’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. local time to watch the Super Bowl in Spanish this year. And I wasn’t in Vietnam drinking by myself when the Riders were in the Grey Cup (which I wasn’t able to watch anywhere) either this year.
  • I watched basically all the March Madness games and went to Vegas to watch the Final Four, in what was one of the best tournaments of all time. Or did it just seem that way because I was actually home to watch the whole thing? I dunno. Beenou.
  • I just slept in, made breakfast and watched a wicked E:60 piece on Carl Crawford. Found out he’s a stud all-around athlete from Fifth Ward Houston. I wouldn’t be able to watch that in Paris. I mean, I’d be in Paris… Yeah, I wouldn’t have seen it, nor would the MLB standings mean anything to me there.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, it’s good to be home and watch sports. Friends, family and 1st-world infrastructure are all right too, I guess.

All of that said, I can’t wait to go on another trip.

Share Button

Backpacking in the News

April 14th, 2011

Link to article: Residents of Berlin’s hippest district lash out  at backpacker influx

Dunno if I'd want these hipsters eating watermelon off my doorstep, either.

Dunno if I'd want these hipsters eating watermelon near my doorstep, either.

A recent report by The Independent‘s Tony Paterson reveals how residents of the Kreuzberg district of Berlin are fed up with the scores of young, budget backpackers invading their neighbourhood.

“The culprits are mostly young British, Scandinavian and Italian tourists coming to the city via easyJet and other budget airlines for mini-break holidays,” he writes. “They are accused of rowdy all-night partying, and offensive drunken behaviour such as leaving trails of broken bottles and vomit in their wake.”

Sounds pretty standard to me.

Also standard: Guidebooks leading them to the promised land. “At night they flock to (Kreuzberg’s) trendy all-night bars, which are advertised in guide books as a ‘must for party animals,'” adds Paterson.

As if it weren’t bad enough, these traveling degenerates have allegedly been playing loud techno music until the early hours of the morning. Oh my.

Official tourism statistics indicate the number of visitors to Berlin has risen dramatically in recent years due to increased flight traffic via easyJet and Ryanair.

In the end, it seems to be a classic case of old hipsters complaining about young hipsters trespassing on their turf. Boo-hoo. Burkard Kieker, director of Berlin’s tourist marketing agency, effectively told residents to suck it up. “Berlin is becoming a world city again,” he said. “We have to get used to that.”

Share Button

46. Rolling Solo

January 27th, 2011

Six years ago, it was my first time backpacking on my own and I thought I would like it. I was visiting my brother in Manila and since he was busy with work for a couple weeks, he spotted me some cash so I could venture out and explore the Visayan Islands by myself.

“Ooh yes, this will be a great way to see more of the Philippines, get in touch with my inner self, keep a journal and do a bunch of reading,” I thought. Indeed, it ended up being all of those things, but it wasn’t the same. I was lonely.

I just dug up an old e-mail I sent my friends on that trip. It read:

I’m in Cebu City right now in between island hops and not getting laid. Haven’t yet met many tourists, even at the resorts. Just disgusting old men, strolling the beaches with young Filipinas who wouldn’t normally be caught dead with these scumbags. I’ve heard Thailand is even worse for this. But the Visayan Islands are awesome and I’m thoroughly enjoying the last bit of my vacation/lazy-bum-stuck-between-finishing-school-and-finding-a-real-job-and-getting-a-life stage (see 44. Gap Year).

I always thought traveling alone would be a fun exercise in self-discovery, or some cliché shit like that. Some people actually prefer traveling alone. After about a week of doing so, I’m convinced I’m not one of those people. I find myself taking in awe-inspiring landscapes and gorgeous sunsets by myself, without anybody to appreciate them with me, nobody to simply look over and say, “Fuck, is that ever beautiful.” Instead, I’m smoking a lot of Marlboro Lights.

Was I bitter that fat old sexpats were clearly getting more tail than I was? Certainly. But there was more to it than that.

Here are a few reasons why rolling solo isn’t for me:

  • I’m socially dependent. It’s who I am. I’m not the quiet guy brooding in the corner. I’m not wired like that. I’m drawn to people and people are drawn to me (beenou). Even when I set off on my own to travel Southeast Asia a couple years later, I made it a total of four days before latching onto a group of Chilean dudes, two of whom I proceeded to travel with for six fun-filled weeks. My Visayan trip was different because I really didn’t meet ANY other backpackers. I suspect it’s different now and more young people are traveling to the Phils, but it’ll never get the kind of traffic that Thailand gets, which is kinda nice.
  • I’m always on a tight budget. Hopefully that will change in the future, but on all my overseas trips to date, I’ve been scraping by day to day. That’s not to say you can’t have fun if you don’t have money. But had I a bit more cash to work with, I could have done more than simply reading in my nipa hut, tanning on the beach or smoking cigarettes. I could have learned how to scuba dive (more on that in a later post), gone on a group tour/jungle trek or gone zip-lining. More importantly: activities like these are ways to meet people.
  • Great experiences are worth sharing. Like I said, I’m a socially dependent person. Still, having seen and experienced some unforgettable things by myself and with friends, the with-friends memories are better. The food tastes better, the music sounds better, the sporting event is more exciting, the sunset is more breathtaking. And the next time you see that co-traveler, you have something to remember together. Looking back, the disasters are funnier and the redemptions are sweeter.
  • Safety. Do people go camping or go on remote hikes by themselves? No, because it’s just plain dangerous. Unless you’re a complete nutjob like Grizzly Man or the dude on Into The Wild. Neither story ends well.
  • Keeping up appearances. Try going to a bar by yourself some time. It’s terrible and you look like a total loser. But at least it’s introspective.
Share Button

Backpacking in the News

December 21st, 2010

Link to article: Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as applications like Skype, are allowing backpackers to connect with family and friends more easily than ever before, wrote Natalie Armstrong of Reuters (Dec. 7).

Armstrong describes Canadian traveler Dave Arnold, who is on a one-year trip after taking a buyout from his telecom employer (see 44. Quitting your job). Carrying about $9,000 worth of electronic devices, Arnold is a walking Price Is Right Showcase for third-world muggers. He’s also an example of what’s become known as a “flashpacker” (see Backpacker Types, by Nomadic Matt).

It appears the folks over at the L.P. finally heard our call (see 8. The Lonely Planet; and The L.P. on iTunes), making their guidebooks downloadable to iPods and iPhones. Arnold has 100 downloaded guidebooks on his iPod, plus 10 books and his entire music collection.

In fact, Armstrong also writes about a South Korean girl who used her iPhone 4 for everything old fogeys like I used to use the L.P. for: maps, hostels, and information on local sights, food, etc.

All this is fine and dandy, just as long as you don’t slip and fall into a swimming pool or something while carrying all your gear.

Share Button

45. Bedbugs

November 19th, 2010

Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times

Photo: Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times

Recent reports of bedbug issues in major cities (New York, Toronto, Montreal, Prince Albert — you know, big cities — etc.), stirred a faint but disturbing memory of my first run-in with the aptly named bloodsucking pests, which are as familiar to globetrotting backpackers as communal bathrooms.

It was in Amsterdam, on the last night of my buddy Mitch’s and my first backpacking trip to Europe (beenou). We were set to fly home to Canada. We’d wanted to stay at the Flying Pig Hostel ‘cuz it was recommended by an English dude we met in Prague as “the best party hostel in Amstahdaahm,” but given its bacchanal reputation, it was full. So we picked the cheapest place(1) down the street, and it was a little grimy(2), but would have to do.

Of course, we partied like rock stars that night and passed out in a fog, in our 16-bunk dorm room(1). I vaguely remember a burly, hairy orc of a man(3) drunkenly opening the dorm door to the bright hallway lights, stumbling in with a giggling wench(3) literally carrying her over his shoulder, caveman-style. Our cohabitants sneered at the light like vampires, rolled over and went back to sleep. He grunted and tossed her onto his bed, incidentally the bunk below Mitch’s. He proceeded to make it with her(3), beneath Mitch (a light sleeper to begin with), who was tossing and turning, kicking the creaky aluminum bed frame out of sheer frustration.

As white Greg Oden thrusted away, I lied there on the hostel sheet thinking: a) I hope they fucking wash these sheets well, and b) THIS is why you bring a sleep sheet — what if there are bedbugs in these mattresses?

We eventually fell back asleep, awakened by the alarm, the sunlight coming in and the disgusting stench(2) of 17 drunk people’s unconscious breathing. Always running late, we didn’t have time to shower(3); we simply grabbed our bags and rushed to the airport. On the train to the airport, I felt itchy under my t-shirt. Really itchy. I peeled back my shirt to find red little welts all over my chest. Bedbug bites. Just as I was coming home. Perfect. These were itchier than mosquito bites. It was terrible. I didn’t want to scratch them, ‘cuz I would’ve easily scratched ’til the skin broke, so I remember slapping myself constantly while checking in and going through customs.

But then on the plane, my face got mumpy and flushed. My cheeks were hot to touch. Mitch got worried, saying, “Dude, drink some water or something. You look terrible. They’re gonna think you’re an OD’ing drug mule.” It was unbearable. I asked the flight attendant for some anti-histamines(4), which she promptly brought me. I kept slapping away at my chest, arms and behind my knees. Then, my face cleared.

“Oh, the anti-histamines must be working. You look better,” Mitch said. I peeled back my shirt and my whole chest was mumpy and flushed — the rash was just moving downward. Mitch was laughing his ass off. “Sorry to laugh, man. It’s just so funny.”

Mitch later wrote, in an e-mail: “This bedbug thing is true. On our way home, Al developed some strange rash from what we think are bedbug bites, making his skin swollen and red. He looked like Woogie from Something About Mary. I was also covered in tiny bites but didn’t develop quite as painful a rash.”

In closing, I’ve compiled a list of reasons/red flags/considerations for possible bedbug encounters while backpacking:
1. Low budget
2. Second-rate hostel hygiene
3. Second-rate guest hygiene
4. Allergic reactions

– Nov. 22: It seems for some people, hostels aren’t all “dirty, noisy (or) packed with party hounds.” Jane E. Fraser of the Sydney Morning Herald explains: Youth hostels: how the dorm became the norm

Share Button

Backpacking in the News

November 2nd, 2010

Link to article: 12 months, countless countries, one bag

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Canadian traveler Roberto Rocha put together a sound list of things to bring and not to bring on a long backpacking trip. “No room for dead weight,” he writes. “Lose the long pants and travel gadgets, but hang onto the camera and Swiss Army knife.”

I concur: I’m all about the camera and Swiss Army knife. Laptop, however? Not so much. I never backpack with a laptop; I opt for Internet cafes (see 9. Lost e-mails).

What to pack: Thai fisherman’s pants, shirts made of light material, travel-size toiletries, three must-haves (Swiss Army knife, camera and MacBook).

What to ditch: long pants, towel (they come with rooms everywhere), travel gadgets (e.g. flexible silicon bowls, foldable water bottle, waterproof wallet bag).

Oh, and like me (see 16. iPod Thieves), Roberto’s had his iPod stolen. Go figure.

For more on this topic, check out What not to bring backpacking: 10 things to leave at home.

Share Button

44. Finishing school/Quitting your job

October 29th, 2010
Oh, what to do with my life...?

"Oh, what to do with my life...?"

Taking a gap year, whatever you call it. People of my generation love not knowing what to do with our lives. A buddy of mine said to me the other day, “We’re so different from our parents, man. It’s like we’re too distracted. It’s sensory overload.” Well put. We are too distracted.

I just spent an hour watching Zach Galafianakis’ hilarious Absolut Vodka ads/videos on YouTube**, when I probably should have been sleeping, ‘cuz I have to go to work tomorrow. But NOOOOOO, I simply had to watch fat, bearded Zach in all his ridiculous, awkward, spazzing, infantile glory. (They are awesome, by the way, and I can’t

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

believe they’d been posted since 2008 and I just saw them for the first time tonight. Goddammit! So much media to consume, so little time.) This is the kind of shit I’m talking about. We’re posting/creeping on Facebook, tweeting, fiddling with our smartphones until we basically walk into each other like imbeciles (I love how the new Windows Phone 7 ad shows an old man who drove into a lamppost ‘cuz he was presumably so engrossed by his smartphone that he could no longer drive in a straight line, while [on the TV version] “This is a dramatization” pops up in fine print at the bottom of the screen. It’s not fake. Oprah is on a big campaign about this. People are dead because of this. Still kinda clever marketing, though, ‘cuz it’s true… See what I mean? I can’t even focus for five minutes to write this post.)

gap-year-02

"Having no responsibilities is awesome."

I have ADHD. Everybody does (see recent Globe and Mail article).

Our parents didn’t have these distractions. They got a job (“not a career, a job — there’s a difference” according to Chris Rock). They got married. They had kids before they turned 25. (Are you kidding me? I was on my third or fourth backpacking trip by 25, beenou, and with no offspring in sight.) They accepted responsibility. My generation, the Millennial Generation, as we’re often called, is allergic to responsibility.

We consume everything. We’ll do anything short of tattooing a fricken barcode on the backs of our necks to not miss out on the exciting digital information and sensory experiences out there waiting for us. We stay up late, we eat out, we party, we spend all our money and max out our credit cards, we travel and we never, ever grow up.

We are useless. Comedian Louis C.K. nailed it with a bit he did on Conan O’Brien, saying (about how people take technology for granted): “We live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that don’t care.”

gap-year-03

"And now to find me an obnoxious Aussie guy."

We have no discipline. Haven’t we all heard that before? And kids are getting worse (imagine that). Talk to any public school teacher you know. The kids are monsters, they have ADHD and you can’t use the strap on them or fail them, so they don’t listen to teachers anymore.

Somebody wrote all this about kids in the ’60s, granted, but they didn’t have PVR, wikipedia, Wired magazine or YouTube back then. They weren’t watching Mad Men and sitting there astonished at the idea of smoking in an office building. They also didn’t have 1,733 airlines worldwide at their fingertips. (They didn’t have Google either. I just googled that airline stat.) And they certainly didn’t go backpacking around the world. (The Lonely Planet wasn’t founded until 1972.)

We live in a globalized society. We see stuff on TV, or we read Eat Pray Love (ick), or watch The Bourne Identity, whatever, anything nowadays, and we think, “Man, I gotta get outta here.” Anthony Bourdain eats something somewhere and you can’t stand the thought of that smug prick having one on you, so you vow to go there one day and eat that.

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

I started writing this post about how when you go backpacking, everybody you meet has either a) just finished school or b) quit their job because there’s no other way (unless you won the lottery or are born rich and have zero responsibility) you could simply fuck off for six months to a year. Or more. But I ended up writing about how my generation doesn’t want to grow up and why. For all of those reasons, we backpack.

Maybe (before you finished school and came on this trip) you went back to school because you didn’t know what to do with

One more time now, into the sunset.

One more time now, into the sunset.

your life. Maybe (you’re here traveling to take a break from where) you’re teaching English overseas. Maybe you’re reading this blog because you posted “FML” as your Facebook status today, googled “backpacking” and by some twist of fate you found this blog. And you couldn’t leave. And you told your friends how great this blog was and made me famous and rich, so I could quit my job and go backpacking.

*Note: Every photo in this post was found on Google, upon searching “gap year.”

**OK Go music videos on YouTube kept me at the office late today (Nov. 2). There is no escape.

Nov. 10: Upon reading this post, my buddy Dan sent me a link to this hilarious video. Check it out: Gap Yah***.

Nov. 10: My fellow young travel blogger, Lil’ Fel, sent me a link to a NY Times article about our generation’s inability to grow up: What Is It About 20-Somethings?

***Dec. 15: Guy Stagg of The Telegraph, writes that the YouTube film ‘Gap Yah’ is a comedy phenomenon, but it’s also an important lesson in how not to behave on a gap year.

Share Button

43. Reading the book about the place

August 2nd, 2010

alex-garlands-the-beachBackpackers are a pretentious lot. Actually, people who travel, in general, are full of shit. Some will tell you they’ve lived somewhere, but they were really just visiting. Or they’ve been to a place, but were actually just on a layover there, and didn’t leave the airport. These types of people insist they are into photography, global culture, art, film, music, and of course literature.

They’re remarkably insecure, which is why they constantly attempt to reaffirm their sense of enlightenment on all topics. “Have you see that movie?” Oh yeah, it’s fantastic. “Have you been to…” Yes, three times. “Have you seen Buddha?” Mm-hmm, when I was in Cambodia. “Are you better than me?” (Unspoken: Yes.)

Just as they will refuse to see the movie before they read the book, they won’t travel somewhere without having read THE book about it. Some will be leafing through the book while on the plane, train or bus en route to the place. But make no mistake, there is only ONE BOOK you simply must read before you go somewhere. Some examples:

Thailand: The Beach
No book has tickled the global backpacker imagination as much as this Alex Garland neo-classic, and the Leo DiCaprio movie didn’t hurt either. Poignant use of Nintendo metaphors amid differing interpretations of “paradise” and the “parasites” trying to find it ring true for anybody born after 1970. Ko Phi Phi has the movie to thank for the millions of parasites that descend upon it every year.

Spain: The Sun Also Rises
What Garland has done for Generation X, Hemingway did for young people in the 20s and 30s, members of the “Lost Generation.” His book is still doing it today. After all, the book is about love, partying and living overseas in France and Spain, so it should come as no surprise that it inspires countless readers to pack up and give it a go. Just as DiCaprio put Ko Phi Phi on the map, Hemingway informed the world of Pamplona’s frenzied San Fermin Festival.

India: Midnight’s Children
I tried reading this a few years ago and couldn’t get past the first 70 pages. If Rushdie were employing his own version of “magical realism,” I wish he would have used less magic and more realism. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. It was convoluted and senseless. Maybe if I finally get to India, it will all become clear… or at least I could find some enlightened backpackers who would be able explain it to me.

South America: 100 Years of Solitude
This book confirmed it for me: I’m not a huge fan of magical realism. Too much extraneous detail. But just like you have to try the chicken feet at the dim sum restaurant, you have to read Marquez if you want to do right by South American literature. Thankfully, the copy I bought didn’t have the Oprah’s Book Club logo on it. I’m pretentious like that.

Vietnam: The Quiet American
Like Hemingway and Orwell, Greene is a foreign correspondent-turned author who likes the sauce and in this case, opium. F.E.T. enthusiasts (i.e. white guys who like Asian chicks) will dig the protagonist, who locks down a primo local gal and enjoys the spoils of expat life and moral superiority during Vietnam’s French colonial war in the early 1950s.

The United States: On The Road
Garland to Generation X = Hemingway to Lost Generation = Kerouac to Beat Generation. The underlying theme to this wanderer’s journal is that it’s fun to hang with arty rich kids who drink booze like it’s water, listen to black music and drive wildly down the open highway. Sounds a lot like the backpacking scene to me. Oh and that San Francisco was the shit in the 50s. Still is today.

Any other geographically-specific books you’ve seen while traveling? There are tons. Please post comments to let me know which ones you’ve run into.

Share Button

42. Facebook

July 29th, 2010

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy, but not too busy to write. It seems I’ve been preoccupied: I bit the bullet and joined Facebook. I know, I know. I’ve long been an outspoken Facebook detractor and have gone as far as calling it gay, self-indulgent (see 4. Nobody Gives a S#%&) and downright unnecessary. Which it is.

Ashamed, I even tried sneaking a Facebook reference into my previous post (see Par. 2), meekly justifying it as a means of staying informed and feeding my journalistic appetite.

There were reasons for feeling defeated:

  • I worried that joining Facebook and shooting my creative load through daily status updates and random witticisms would be detrimental to my blog productivity, and I was right.
  • Facebook is for people who love the sound of their own voice. I knew it would consume me.
  • On the flip side, Facebook is terribly invasive. If curiosity killed the cat, then Facebook is the Cat Auschwitz of the Internet. Again, I knew it would consume me.
  • For the longest time, I argued: “Facebook opened an ethical can of worms, which allows people you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with to get in touch with you. And you can’t ignore their friend request because next time they see you in public, they will know you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with them, for a second time. That’s insulting and before Facebook, it didn’t have to be.” I am weak and I accept everybody now.
  • There are obvious benefits to be being on Facebook, but I’m not going to get into them because this blog is all about tearing shit down. Facebook is successful because of these benefits. Let’s leave it at that.

So, the following are things that truly annoy me, a late adopter, about Facebook:

  • Rampant beenouing.
  • Bad spelling. Examples: “To funny. Its awesome. Definately! Your so right.”
  • People trying to be photographers (see 7. “Into Photography”).
  • People trying to be models. The faux photographers are 50 percent to blame for the emergence of 50 percent of faux models. “Come, let me shoot you and we’ll add the shots to both of our portfolios.”
  • Girls taking photos of themselves blowing kisses. And especially taking such photos in front of the bathroom mirror after finishing their hair and makeup before going out.
  • Commenting on something just to be nice and being subsequently notified about everybody else’s lame comments. I was trying to be nice, but I don’t give two shits about what some stranger has to say about your new haircut.

How is any of this relevant on a blog about backpacking? Because all anybody does on hostel computers or in foreign Internet cafes now, is go on Facebook. Facebook is the world. They’re making a movie about Mark Zuckerberg, for chrissakes. My ninth post has quickly become obsolete.

While on the road last month, I realized that I wasn’t asking anybody for their e-mail address anymore. I was asking new acquaintances what their last names were. Kinda creepy. But not as creepy as I thought it would be. Most people readily told me their last names; some even spelled them out for me, with the knowledge that I was gonna add them on Facebook. There’s an unspoken understanding now, when you ask somebody what their last name is.

The sun is setting on the day when two travelers meet, have a good time and exchange e-mail addresses. Or maybe I just got here in time to catch the last few flickers of light before it disappears behind the horizon.

Either way, I hate it.

Share Button

41. Not knowing a thing about soccer

June 20th, 2010
This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

I am sitting in the Kabul Hostel (which is a party-animal zoo, but that’s for another post)  bar in Barcelona right now, watching the Brazil-Côte d’Ivoire game and the place is packed with Brazilian backpackers, along with other travelers watching the game. Brazil scored to go up 1-0 about 15 minutes ago and people were having fits. I mean, once the ball hit the back of the net, these Brazilians were screaming, jumping up and down, waving flags and doing everything short of having a seizure. The frenetic display lasted four minutes*.

It’s clear I’m not a die-hard soccer fan because I’m sitting here on the Internet while this whale of a match is being played, just glancing over at the screen instead of giving it my full attention. I don’t even know what that says about me. I suppose I’m pretty self-absorbed. No wait, I’m chanelling my inner journalist; I like to stay informed about world events and my friends’ business on Facebook. Yeah, that’s what it means.

As a Canadian who doesn’t even watch much hockey — I’m more of a basketball guy — I know next to nothing about soccer. Sure, I played it as a kid, but so did everybody in North America who knows as little or less about soccer than I do. We call it “soccer” for chrissakes. It’s pretty obvious we know dick about soccer. That said, I hate when North Americans pretend they’re hardcore into soccer. Fine if you’re an immigrant kid or you played mad soccer your whole life. No, I’m talking about people who go traveling or live abroad and come home pretending they’re absolutely mad about international football. It’s a joke, like coming home and using UK slang with your buddies in Buffalo (see 19. Coming Home with a Lame Accent).

Christian Lander writes,

“Most white people choose a favorite soccer team based on either a study abroad experience or a particularly long vacation to Europe or South America. When they return, they like to tell their friends about how great ‘football’ is and that they are committed to ‘getting more into’ now that they have returned home.

“Some white people take this charade so far as to actually play in adult soccer leagues or attend a local professional match.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, upon going back to reference the above post, I found that Lander’s most recent post is about the World Cup. So to not inform the rest of this post as I’m writing it, I haven’t read his last one yet.

So what more can I say? Well, sitting here watching these people take in the game makes me wish I had an appreciation for the lack of scoring in soccer. I’ve often felt that watching soccer is like constipation. You’re rocking back and forth on your seat, trying to squeeze a long hard deuce out and it just refuses to come out, or in the case of the ball: it refuses to go in the fucking net. Go in the net. It’s your home, ball. Go to your home.

How can a game end 0-0? Riddle me that. That’s not a game. That’s a two-team aerobic workout. I don’t buy tickets to a sporting event to see nothing happen, with no clear winner determined. Unbelievable, these people.

I wish I had the appreciation internationals have for the “beautiful game”: its precision, its finesse, its teamwork, its short bursts of speed and athleticism… its flopping theatrics. As a fan of the NBA, and more specifically of the San Antonio Spurs, I’ve tried very hard to find joy in seeing players dive to the ground when somebody gently  brushes by them. I just don’t like it. That’s not sports to me.

Those are really the only two beefs I have with soccer. Not enough scoring and the diving is gay**. The rest is pretty sweet. I’m having fun witnessing this cultural international soccer experience in this here hostel. In fact, I’m gonna log off this wretched computer right now. What the hell am I doing? I’d better grab a beer and really immerse myself in this live phenomenon. I’m gonna damn well enjoy myself. But let’s get one thing clear: I’m not gonna come home and tell everybody I’m so into soccer. Like I said, I know nothing about it.

*Here’s a random social observation for you: Among the 50-odd Brazilians (aged 20-30) in this room, not a single one is a black Brazilian. All of European descent. What does that tell you about their poverty gap?

From Wikipedia.org: “Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa with, in 2008, 6.84% classifying themselves as preto (Black) and 43.80% as pardo (Brown)[7], for a total of 50.64%.”

**Two main features of San Antonio Spurs basketball, coincidentally.

Share Button