June 14, 2014
Today was an off day- we had time to relax. We went for a hike to see a quarry from which they were mining smooth sand to make cinder blocks and cement. They had carved down from a high mountain down to a canyon using minimal heavy machinery. Dump trucks which were used before in the US trafficked back and forth through the unpaved, bumpy paths. When we came back I found a kid with a soccer ball. We played for about an hour passing the ball back and forth. An older kid- perhaps in his late teens- came up and wanted to play. He challenged me to a dribble contest. We dribbled for about 15 minutes against each other- he was very good, like street kids in most of Latin America. It was great and I enjoyed every minute- but I soon realized how much older I had become since my soccer days, when my heart started panting faster. I came back and finished off 2 bottles of water and a cup of Gatorade, before polishing off a granola bar and one hour later, lunch. Hypoglycemia- I need to refuel fast in these situations.
Others from our team went for a longer hike up the mountain. They came back and let us know they’d seen big, beautiful homes like the ones you see in Grosse Pointe. Owned by wealthy Haitians. Makes one wonder. Injustice in the third world works that way. A narrow band of the wealthy and powerful lords it over the poorest people in the world, all the while denying their claims to public wealth and restoration. Something I know only too well in India, and even in the US. Wealthy Haitians are mainly government employees. Many of them got wealthier after the earthquake in 2010 by getting checks from the government for the damages they sustained, and now they are living it up.
In the evening there was another soccer game, but I was worn out and didn’t play. It was very good, though short on strategy. Reminds me of street kids in Kerala who are good at the game. I think this is the root of the Latin American prowess in soccer- individualism and flair, as opposed to strategy, technique, method, etc in Europe. Of course, I’m generalizing, but these countries have been known for fielding one or two star players who carry the game on their shoulders, the most famous of course being Diego Maradona in Mexico 86. Everyone thought it was crazy to assume that one player could help Argentina get to the top, but he did and they did. Compare that to 1990 Germany whose captain Jürgen Klinsmann, now US coach, led them to the cup. The team was a symbol of German precision engineering. Both great styles, and both work for the teams that field them.