Saturday, Papa’s Birthday
21 of September
Let me apologize again for my lackadaisical blogging evolution, but to my credit, I’ve really stuck with it amidst the ups and downs of my journey in a foreign country. The last three days that I haven’t reported on diligently have been full of juicy tidbits you may want to hear about to get a better view on how things are going with my family right now. So in order to keep it short and sweet, here’s an over cap of the events of the last couple days:
Cory, a prepa boy on the Papalote soccer team approached me about playing in a friendly with them that afternoon; Mum spoke to Carlos (the coach for Papalote) and at 4:08 I showed up to Tepeyak to compete. Unfortunately for me, Kira had chosen not to play, which made me the only girl on the field for the match. When my family and I arrived at the field, there was a match going on already, not quite through the first half, although my match was supposed to start in twenty minutes. This made me a little worried about having the correct information, and I felt awfully out of my element, until I spotted Malakai and Micah on the field in Papalote’s designated red shirts, playing with the older bracket of boys who were in the middle of their game. My inner tension eased at that, and before long, Juan, Alex, and Cory showed up, and the trio definitely helped to calm my nerves. The thing about Mexico is that women aren’t treated equally to men- which absolutely is the worst thing about the culture here, in my opinion- because I’m always used to my strong thoughts being heard and taken into careful consideration. I knew that I couldn’t screw up in the game, I had to be calm, cool, and completely, utterly confident in order to prove a small piece to the boys that girls are just as good as them. Malakai and Micah finished their match and strolled around the Tepeyak campus with me and some other team members, waiting for everyone to show up. More boys flocked to the beautiful field and soon the whole team was assembled: Derek in goal (goalie is protero in Spanish); Sal as a wing defender along with Juan; Cory as center fullback; Augustin and Isaac in the midfield; Santos and Micah sweeping the wings; and Omar and Malakai as forwards. Carlos benched me with his lackeys, two boys which are the little brothers of Santos and of Sal, and Alex, who is a great guy, but not a great soccer player. I was humiliated to be kept out of the game, when I already stuck out like a sore thumb because of my gender. I couldn’t wait to show those boys I play wellAt , and pull myself up the ladder from my underdog position while astonishing the prominent male domination that a girl can play soccer.
All throughout school that day, I had a nervous anticipation about the game nagging at my brain that I couldn’t quite shake until the second half of the game, when Carlos finally put me in. (After much begging and sideline pleading on my part during the first half; constantly telling him that I could play the wing much better than Santos was.) The second half began and the first ball was played to me, but my nerves took ahold of me and I easily lost control of the ball. As it turned out, after that first mishap, I played very well in the match and everyone was impressed. Carlos choose me to take a free kick on goal, called because of a foul, and I hit the ball in a hard, perfect arc that just touched above the net. I had the most fun playing soccer I’ve ever had I think, which is truly amazing.
Instead of kissing me goodbye like they usually do, the boys all said goodbye with a handshake and knuckles- they way that boys greet each other in Mexico. That simple gesture let me know that I’m officially one of them, no longer the gringa they sat next to in class. The only boy who kissed me goodbye was Cory, who also facebooked me that evening to talk; but in his own way, he let me know he welcomed me into the club. Lately, Kira, Mum, and I have been very vocal with each other about selecting a team to play with, and we came to the conclusion that we would attempt to hook things up with Carlos so we could play with the boys at Papalote, instead of the girls at Tepeyak with their little skills and costly expenses.
Today was one of my favorite days here in Playa, a day that also happened to be Papa’s birthday. Mum awoke everyone early to be out of the house at 7:30 because men from the company that owns our house, Gecko, were coming to fumigate the upstairs bedrooms for termites and bugs. Mum had planned the day perfectly so that we would be out of the house for a number of hours in order to let the chemicals settle and fumes dissipate. Kira and I dressed quickly for our final game with Tepeyak girls. Mum had decided that telling Hugo, the coach, in person that we weren’t staying with him would be our best option instead of just ditching the team. This lead to our potentially playing in the match, depending on what Hugo said, as a buffer to our sudden and hasty departure. Aidan also had a game that morning before our game, so we scrambled out of the house at 7:40 and piled into the car. Mum gunned the engine, but all that emerged from the hood was a God awful screech. It finally worked out that Mum got a jump start from the neighbors and drove Aidan to his game. I stayed home and babysat the kids- first I turned on a movie and then when the man came to fumigate, I lead the kids outside to activities like painting, music, drawing, and food. Mum arrived home with a victorious Aidan two hours later and told Kira and I that we would in fact be playing a game- an event I assumed would be canceled because of the car situation. But as long as Mum kept the car running, it would work from the battery jump. We loaded up our things and hopped into the car to go to Tepeyak, where Kira and I would play first, then Aidan following. Cade, Aidan and Kalin’s friend and the son of Melony, a blogger Mum came into contact with, was along with us after the match he had played with Aidan.
My sister and I rushed out of our dumpy gold minivan and doggedly ran up the stairs and down the stairs and then across the field to the place where our team had set up camp. The game was already going on, and for near five minutes Hugo didn’t pay us the slightest attention, but then he asked which girl would go in as forward. In strong unison, we replied,” I will.” In the end, against my digression, Kira went in as forward. Three minutes later, Hugo stopped his pacing and yelling to ask if I wanted to play. With a grin, I reponded that I’d love to play. The coach put me in as left wing. The match was frustrating- the other team, Interplaya, was much better than Tepeyak on account of their acute passing skills. Kira and I stormed the field, and I got three great sprints down the field with the ball, one which ended up with an all-net, soaring, upper right-hand corner ball. It was the only goal of the match for us, which concluded with a score of 1-7. I cannot quite express the agony Kira is experiencing by playing with Tepeyak- one of the main reasons we are leaving. She is so tipped off by the girls’ inability to control and pass, two of the simplest fundamentals in soccer. I think Kira must be the best female soccer player in Playa- it’s not because I think she’s God’s Gift To The World or anything- it’s just because of the past training we’ve had and how the emphasis on sports in America isn’t something the girls of Mexico deal with. Men here are surprised we can just kick a ball around- let alone juke out their sons.
After the game, Kailey, a girl on the team, and I spoke in the bathroom for a couple minutes while I cooled off with wet paper towels. I felt like I had heat stroke. We chatted about the match, about how Kira and I were leaving the team, and about ourselves. We agreed to get together soon and connect through Facebook- the biggest social network in Mexico besides What’sUp. The two of us walked over to where our mothers were talking, and after some weird, off hand comments from me, Mum suggested I find some water. I quickly agreed- my vision was fuzzy around the outsides. Not knowing exactly where I could find water on the massive campus, I almost aimlessly wandered about until I spotted, on the far side of the basketball courts, the common water dispenser with a gallon jug of Cristal water on it. I silently rejoiced and made my way under the hot sun- I flicked the tap and no savory stream of water filtered into my bottle. The jug was empty, so I trudged back to the shade across from the vast desert landscape of the asphalt. I spied two racks of the Cristal jugs that supply drinking water for the school. (Water is something that you have to be careful of in Mexico. When I brush my teeth, I’m not allowed to swallow any water accidentally; when I take a shower it’s the same; at home I drink water from a jug like the Cristal ones at Tepeyak and we can’t wash fruit or vegetables in the sink; and at restaurants you must always ask for bottled water or you can contract a virus or get worms or something.) Anyways, I looked to my left, to my right, around the corner, and behind me- then I dragged one of the jugs from the rack once I was sure no human was around to see. Next I broke the seal and liberally dumped the sweet, clean water into my sports bottles. Kailey came over, also in search of water, and I supplied her with the shimmering life source from the Cristal bottle. I debated about struggling to put the jug back- in America, if they had to drink water in the fashion we do, the unsealed bottle would be deemed unsafe for school children- anyone could have slipped something into the water. But this is rugged Mexico, and I didn’t want the water to go to waste, so I put it back exactly how and I found it- knowing that it would be used. And then Kailey and I walked off, me suckling at the lip of my water bottle as rivulets ran down my neck and stained my white shirt a skin-colored clear.
Meanwhile, Aidan’s match had finished. Diego, a student in segundo secundaria (eighth grade) and Emilio, the brother of Santos and a student in primera secundaria (seventh grade) talked to Kira and I after their game with Aidan about a party our neighbors, Carlos and Manu, were having at their house for Manu’s birthday. Kira and I raced home from Tepeyak and showered, put on our bathing suits, and walked two doors down to the booming music, ranch style home of our friends. After knocking and ringing the doorbell, the heavy iron door unlatched and let us in. Blaring music, the muted splashing of the pool, and shouting, excited voices rang throughout the courtyard. We had a fantastic time, and after an hour, we walked ten yards back home to get ready for Raya’s birthday party. Everyone walked down a couple blocks to Mickey’s house and set up camp in the spacious front patio, just like how every house has. There are four typical ways, as I see it, a house is built in Mexico. The first way is like our house- a see-through metal gate that lets you out into a relatively good sized front yard that then leads to the front door. The second way is like Carlos’ and Manu’s house- ranch style- like with a big front wall with a door that leads to a courtyard with the actual front door. The third way I’ve seen only happens if you live in a penthouse or condominium- a front door that leads to a lobby which then opens up to the separate apartments. Lastly, if you are a traditional Mayan native, you live in the jungle.
But back to Raya’s party- Kira, Aidan, and I tromped home after half an hour. I had definitely enjoyed the rockstar dress-up theme of the party though, for you fashion people: I wore my Dr. Martens, circle glasses and Beatles muscle tank I had cut, lots of earrings and rings, a tight black skirt, and my hair tossed to the side so my shave was visible. But the throngs of screaming little girls in sequined, Hannah Montana trademark teeshirts and slightly bored adults chillling with beers wasn’t as appealing as Carlos’ and Manu’s party sounded. So Kira and I hightailed it with Aidan back to their house and that was where we stayed until almost nine, when Kira dragged me out of the band room and my piano- rocking-out to go home. Luckily she did too, because not five minutes after we had closed the front door, Mum walked up with Kalin and the twins. But as a result from jamming with the boys at the party, I landed a potential spot in their band as lead singer and keyboardist. I’m giddy with excitement; getting up on the stage at the bar they play at and rocking out is basically a dream come true. But everyone has rockstar dreams, it’s unavoidable.
PS: At the party, I was attacked by a flying sandal that wrecked havoc right above my cheekbone, next to the side of my eye. It only bled a couple drops, and the bruise was pretty small, but it was an unfortunate happening. I don’t believe in karma, but for those that do, I don’t remember doing anything too wrong… maybe it’s payback for that boy I demobilized in the soccer game while trying to get the ball.
PPS: Here’s some spam Kanon and Kira filled my phone with: