It’s 8:00 P.M. on a Monday in Teleman, and we have exactly one hour for adventure before our hotel locks for the night. The city is dark, and it’s loud, and it’s busy, with quorums of solemn drinkers congregating on street corners and three-man taxis tearing up the cobblestones. A few from our group speak Spanish. None speak Kekchi. We buy some water for the next morning and head of into the street to see what’s out there.
Down the road from the hotel, we find a sports court. Basketball hoops welded atop soccer goal frames. Two sets of bleachers on either side, and large, bright streetlights spilling light over the court. We walk in on a game already in progress – two teams of twelve-year old boys. Number ten on the blue team played without shoes. It wasn’t much of a game – kick, miss, kick, miss, whistle, and repeat. Still, we had a good time.
When the court cleared out, a couple of the more adventurous from our group ran out to see if they could join in on a pickup game. I think they were anxious to get active, although I imagine they might have just wanted to get out of the rain of bird droppings that had been steadily falling since we arrived. So there were nine of them, out on the court, dividing into two teams, and they needed one more.
So that’s how I wound up playing soccer in Teleman.
…not, mind you, that I played very well.