2014 was my first (soccer) World Cup abroad – I’m French – and yes I’ll remember it for long! I have to admit I’ve got quite lucky on that one since Colombia hadn’t made it that far for years. Plus I didn’t plan traveling to Colombia for that special occasion (it turns out I was living there at that time) but both my nation and Colombia played well.
I know what most of you must be thinking: “Hell, Colombia, why the heck would you choose that destination man?!”
Well, it’s pretty simple, it’s a geographical and natural wonder: Caribbean Sea, Amazons, Pacific Ocean, the Andes Mountains (Bogotá is about 2600m high), different kinds of weather, etc. Moreover, life is pretty cheap, food is good and gorgeous women beautifully speak Spanish here. And the guerrilla is now a minor problem if you compare it to the 80’s/90’s. I spent years in total in this country and I have noticed an increase in tourist frequenting over time. So yes, I thought it would be a smart destination to spend some great time… and I did enjoy myself very much!
Anyway, in Colombia, football is maybe as important as religion (like in Brazil) and it is safe to say people LOVE the game! During the event, people were allowed not to work on game days, and of course everybody was proudly wearing their colors (even pets), vuvuzela around their neck, sometimes a beer or an Aguardiente bottle in the hand. This last point I mentioned is interesting (and flawed) because, seeing that violence was gaining ground with liquors, the government chose to implement a “dry law” (ley seca) to prohibit alcohol sales during game days (but also elections or any important event).
During soccer/football games, it is a tradition to throw flour at each other’s face, smile, scream, hug, drink, laugh, etc. – everything I love about this country! Whether you like soccer or not, it is a great show to attend and people will make sure you have the time of your life with them. It is also funny to see that all generations are here together to support their team; what makes the strength of this country is the passion people have for their land. No matter your social status or convictions, when it comes to Colombia, everybody stands up and raises his voice.
For the anecdote, I have to specify that I’m a tall, blond & blue-eyed guy, not the typical Colombiano, so when I attended those games (or even on the day-to-day life), lots of people were staring at me (or asking for pictures sometimes) and TV was often around the corner to interview. It really feels like you’re being a star for a moment of your life, interesting to live 😉
This World Cup has been a blast, James Rodriguez is now one of the world top players, Colombia is getting better at growing and I hope it gets more and more recognition for its talent and scenery.