How An American Learned to Love the World Cup

Watching the World Cup brings back so many memories of visiting my family and being exposed to new cultures. I was in Central America for the ’98 and ’02 tournaments. Growing up as an American we knew about the World Cup, but experiencing it was something completely different.

In 1998, I was in Panama and every business that you walked into had a game on. The broadcasters were so energetic and would scream GOAL until they ran out of breath, and then do it again. I remember watching the days replays and being blown away with the incredible goals that were scored.

I returned home before the end of the tournament and was shocked to find that the American stations were not showing the games. Thankfully the finals were broadcast, but even then the atmosphere was completely different. I was at Lacrosse camp and watched with all the other American teenagers attending. I felt like we were watching it just because it was the World Cup, not because we loved the game. It would take another four years before I learned how to really watch a soccer game .

In 2002, I was in Costa Rica and they had made it into the World Cup. It seemed like the entire country had World Cup fever. On every conner, street vendors had carts stuffed full of Costa Rican flags, shirts, hats, wrist bands, whistles, horns, and anything else they could print the flag on. That year the Costa Ricans were facing the extremely dangerous Brazil. My sister invited a couple of friends over to watch the game.

The “Ticos” where not favored to win, but you couldn’t tell that from the way they cheered. Every time the ball was on the Brazilian side they screamed at the TV, trying to will the ball into the goal. Brazil went up 3-0 and things didn’t look good. Then out of no where Costa Rica scored two. The country went crazy. You could hear everyone cheering, cars honking in the street and fireworks in the distance. They ended up being eliminated, but seeing how they got so into the game left a lasting impression on me.

Today I have a new appreciation and love for the game. I admire the skill and artistry the world’s best players bring to this tournament. I love the way each country gets so into it. I wish that Americans could experience the game the same way I did. We would be great fans. If we brought the same passion and intensity that we have for American Football to Soccer, we would go far.

Switching sides: Eva Interviews Me About My Plans For the Future

Here is an interview Eva did with me right before I left Costa Rica the other week. I had to break it into two parts because it went over the youtube time limit and I didn’t want to cut anything out.

We talk about what it was like for me growing up in America and some of my plans for the future. The audio quality isn’t the greatest but it’s still a really great interview.

The way He works – by Eva

Have you ever thought about your purpose in life? Have you ever thought about the mission you have and the reason why you are here today?

Day by day I live thinking about the reasons that brought me here where I am. Day by day I try to think what makes me be the woman I am nowadays. Sometimes I go back long time ago and start thinking about everything what had happened to me and my family, and sometimes I just happen to think about what is coming next…

Whatever I think gets me to one point: God’s will, and watching today at the video of the interview my brother made, makes me be even surer about that. What a wonderful opportunity this interview was to tell others the story.

But also I was thinking to myself, what a great opportunity we had to meet Amanda, Mr. and Mrs. Gross and Cristina that nice Saturday here in Costa Rica. I have to say at the beginning I thought they seem to be very nice people, but then as long as I got to know them I thought to myself they happen to be not only nice people but really wonderful people. As the conversation went on, I found they are a wonderful family and I was so glad to get to know them. Once we went for lunch somehow we started to talk about our story very naturally, one thing brought to another and then we found ourselves talking about what had happened to our family. And there we were, my brother trying to tell the story in a logical way so they could understand, and me, trying to explain with my lack of English how does it feel to have him back. Someway words just went out and it was really nice to see them immerse in it and trying to understand.

After that the idea of the interview came, and it was done….

Telling the story not only identify ourselves as the persons we are, but also it goes further than that. And today watching at the video I thought how the testimony is allowed to be spread out for more people. And then I wonder again: is that one of our purposes in life? We have to talk about what happened to us, and point the good in it, our story is filled of sad episodes but also it is flowed of happiness and hope, and miracles and blessings!

How wonderful is to tell that in the end, there was something for my brother and I that made us even closer; I guess the story touched hearts.

How wonderful is God who speaks and works in so many ways. There is always a message to give, a message to receive and a message to share! Maybe that is one of our missions now, to touch as much hearts as we can…

Thank you Amanda, Mr. and Mrs. Gross! I am very happy that we get to know you all that beautiful Saturday, and I am sure that was not just a matter of luck, because you know…God is working around…

Sunny Side of the Street Interview

In October during my visit to Costa Rica I met up with a friend from the states. My sister and I met with her and her parents and we shared our story. Her father has a TV show on the local cable network. He invited me to come on the show and at the beginning of November and I took him up on the offer.

It was an interesting experience. I think I was a little nervous to start, but I think it turned out very nicely.

Let me know what you think!

Traveling Woes

Its been a busy week here in Panama. I’ve been working with my family to help them set up their computer network. I finally have some free time, so I thought I would write about what had to be one of the worst traveling experiences in my 10 years of going to Central America.

It all started last Friday morning at 4am in Boston. That’s when I had to get up for my 6am flight. I’m not a big fan of early flights, but it helps in case you miss a connection or something. Anyway, I arrived in North Carolina around 8:30. On my way to my next flight I passed one of the monitors only to see that my flight was canceled.

Canceled? I’ve never had a canceled flight before. Epically ON THE DAY OF THE FLIGHT. When I get to the “would be” gate no one is there. I guess I was supposed to know what to do on my own. I found an agent at another gate and she told me to go to the service desk.

The service desk was moving very slowly…of course. Thankfully when it was my turn the agent tells me they are putting me on a 7pm flight out of Miami. I thought, “This isn’t too bad. At least I will be there tonight.”

I arrived in Miami around 2:30 in the afternoon. I signed up to use the internet and settled in for a 5 hour wait before my next flight. As 7 drew closer they made an announcement that there was something wrong with my plane and that we could not take it. Perfect. However, they did have another plane and they assured us it would only be a 45 minute delay.

We finally start boarding the plane AT 7:45. Around 8:10 we were all on and just sitting there. The captain informed us that we are waiting for catering. This turns into another 20 minute wait. Then it starts to rain and they close down a runway. We finally get out of there around 9.

Oh, and the catering we were waiting all that time for, is just drinks. They didn’t even feed us.

Once we landed I got out only to find an hour and half line for customs in front of me. Luckily they didn’t lose my bags, and my sister was there waiting for me.

We finally got home around 2am my time. By this time I had been up for 22 hours.

I think the only good part of the day was the car ride to my sister’s house. My niece and I were sitting in the back seat falling asleep on each other. I had this feeling like: This is the reason I put up with all the headaches of traveling. To be here in this car with my family. Somehow, in that moment, it all seemed worth it.

Off to Central America

I’ve been running around all day getting ready for my trip to Costa Rica and Panama. I leave tomorrow morning bright and early. This is going to be a business trip of sorts.

I’m working on a project with my family in Panama. My father Luis has an embroidery business that he has been running in Panama for almost 20 years now. (After he left the revolution in the mid 80s he moved to Panama to rebuild his life. I may add a post about this part of the story.)

I’m working to help them create an order tracking system. I would like this to be a pilot for a bigger project of creating an open-sourced business resource for Central America. I’ll probably put a post up about that when I have a better idea what it is going to be all about.

In the mean time I am planning to do some more video interviews with various family members. Keep an eye out for those sometime next week!