Return to Central America - Winter 2011

The Super Bowl in Spanish

Laguna de Alegria

I’m currently in the small town of Alegria, El Salvador. It is my last stop in El Salvador before heading to Nicaragua and it’s famous for its nearby thermal lagoon (pictured above) and the fact that it is the highest city in El Salvador. It is, however, not famous for its sports bars, or should I say sports bar.

To be totally honest, when I arrived in Alegria my first thought was that I was going to be doing quite a lot of sitting around and planning for the next leg of my trip because there didn’t look like much else to do except visit the lake, but that is really a one time thing unless you are very bored. As usual though, the Salvadorian people have completely surprised me and I’ve had an absolutely amazing time here meeting and talking with the locals and other travelers alike.

My first night was Super Bowl Sunday. On the bus ride to Alegria the only thought running through my head was “Did I seriously just get on a bus to a tiny little town in the mountains on Super Bowl Sunday…” I thought I was going to miss everything or have to spend another night watching the play by play on Yahoo slowly update every 30 seconds like I’ve been doing for basketball games. I arrived in town, and the owner of the hostel I was staying in told me to check the TV in my room (first TV of the trip by the way! Perfect timing!) to see if they had it.

They did! There it was, fox sports, en Espanol. Crap… No Super Bowl commercials for me.

After discovering I could watch the game in my room I got a little greedy. This is the Super Bowl! I don’t want to sit in my room and watch it, I want to be at a bar with lots of other people! There has to be some people from the U.S. going out to enjoy the game. I found out where the only bar in town (thanks to my hostel owner) that had a TV was, and 20 minutes before kick off, I made my way towards what was sure to be a slammed bar where I’d be able to watch the game with fellow Football lovers!

I was the only person in the bar. Ok, the owner and a worker were there. But I was the only customer in the bar. No joke. Not a single other person showed up until 5 minutes before half time, and they looked at the TV like “What the hell is this crap?” Apparently there weren’t any other lovers of American Football in the tiny town of Alegria that night. That or they had just stayed in their hotel rooms.

The owner and bartender though were very interested in the game. They would come and sit and ask me 100 questions. “What does that signal mean? Why does this game take so long? What the hell is wrong with these Black Peas people?” It reminded me of watching the NCAA Football National Championship a month ago in Monterrico, Guatemala. My friend Daniel and I were explaining the rules to almost everyone else there. Tonight though, I was on my own.

They started to close up around halftime, so I headed to my hostel to watch the rest of the game. What started as a potentially disappointing night ended up being one of the most memorable Super Bowl “parties” I’ve ever been to. Not many people watch the big game the way I did. Next year though, I think I’ll aim for an town with two bars.

  1. John in France

    Good story. I once took a bus load of Americans to a rugby match in NZ – it was a bit like you with the locals at the bar – “why do they do that?”

    1. Matt

      Haha, I’m sure at a rugby game I’d be asking quite a few questions as well. I’ll have to attend one sometime soon!

  2. Jillian

    The 2011 Superbowl will probably be the most memorable one of your life, the day you explained American Football to Central American’s!

    This was the first year in a while that we’ve gotten to watch superbowl commericals. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything, they weren’t that great.

    Great post Matt.

    1. Matt

      Thanks! I actually spent part of yesterday watching the “best” commercials and I wasn’t overly impressed. However, there were a few pretty good ones!

      “I didn’t even know this town had a volcano!”

  3. The NVR GUys

    Would that be “El Super Bowl?”

    We watched an american football game at an expat bar in BsAs. It was very lonely and not nearly as much fun as I had imagined it would be. As far as I am concerned, football is best watched in your pajamas, on the couch, in HD, with enough simple carbohydrates to kill a small mammal.

    1. Matt

      Si! El Super Bowl! I’m more of a sports bar kinda guy. I love being able to yell at people cheering for the other team when my team is winning, and being able to drink away my misery when I am losing. True American huh?

  4. Kelly

    Haha what an awesome story! I love random things like this. I spent Easter morning at a gas station in Chile once, at 5 am, and they took care of me and gave me sandwiches until the sun came up.

    And, I would much rather watch the superbowl this way than in the crazy, american, eat everything fried, kind of way!

    1. Matt

      Wellllll, I did miss the “eating everything fried” I’m all about traditions what can I say? Easter in a gas station though? Sounds like an interesting start to a day.

  5. Cathy Sweeney

    I’m laughing here! Nice story. I especially like the “What the hell is wrong with these Black Peas people?” comment. Good for you, Matt — educating people worldwide about American football.

    1. Matt

      Haha, glad you enjoyed it! I’m doing my best to spread the gospel of Football de Americano, but I must be honest…. Most people aren’t interested….

  6. Norbert

    Yikes, you had quite a “unique” Super Bowl Night… lol I can’t imagine myself listening to a translated game… they are usually awful.

    1. Matt

      Well, it was all in Spanish, and my Spanish sucks… so I couldn’t understand anything they were saying and whether or not it was right or wrong. So it all worked out for me!

  7. The Dropout

    Hahahaha! As a non-American I’m with the El Salvadoreans here. What is all the fuss about American football? Why does the play keep stopping and starting. It’s so incredibly boring to watch.
    But I like the way the locals were so friendly. And I love the way the game is now a beautiful travel story.
    I am not a sports fan and I find it very strange how some expats simply MUST watch sports from home. Having said that, I still follow Australian politics very closely. Maybe I am a sports fan after all.

    1. Matt

      Anon, because it is the best sport in the world!!! But in all seriousness. American Football is more like a game of strategy. In my opinion it could easily be compared to chess, or, maybe even war! You are constantly trying to outsmart your opponent and what they think you might do. With this it is no longer becomes a game of only athletic ability, it becomes a game of wits, which makes it all the more interesting to me. And I will forever and ever keep up with every single game from home that I possible can. I won’t be running to every TV I see while I travel, but I’ll definitely make time for the big games. Hell, some of my favorite times traveling have been watching U.S. sports abroad!

  8. ayngelina

    I’m in Cusco and as I was in reception an American came to inquire whether the hostel was having a Super Bowl party. When the girl left disappointed that it would not the guy asked me in Spanish – what’s the Super Bowl? some American football game, right?

    1. Matt

      Haha, yea… not really “American” football if you go by the proper use of American.

  9. Andrea

    It is fun to watch it in other countries…we saw it in NZ with only a couple of Americans and quite a few Canadians. Not quite so foreign but still a good time!

    1. Matt

      Yea, seeing it abroad anywhere I can imagine would be fun! We are destined to always be explaining rules!

  10. Amy

    I love unexpected surprises (the good kind!) when traveling. And it’s always nice to have a little bit of home while on the road.

  11. Ted Nelson

    I watched the 2005 Super Bowl in Bangkok, Thailand. I had a similar, but completely different experience than yours. Similar in the fact that it was different watching this iconic American event in a foreign country, but my experience was completely different.

    Different in the fact that I did find a bar that was crowded with Americans watching the game; however, the game started at 7am in Thailand. It was really odd when I started watching the game and looked around the room and people were eating omelets and drinking coffee. Finally, one dude got up and yelled “I am having a beer, who wants one,” at about 7:30 am. We ended up getting completly hammered by the end of the game.

    Great post as I enjoyed a different perspective of the game. You may not have had as much fun as I did, but you definitely have an interesting story to tell.

    1. Matt

      Hahaha, I love the guy breaking the ice and starting drinking. That is pretty damn funny and I would have loved to have seen that.

  12. Amy

    I love hearing everyone’s Super Bowl stories – not the same as being at home, but definitely a memorable way to watch the game! I love that you had to explain it to the locals; we were in Vietnam for the game, so we watched it with probably all of the Americans in Saigon. Being from Pittsburgh, and of course, die-hard Steelers fans (let’s not discuss the whole loss thing) it was imperative for my husband and I to plan our travels around the Super Bowl. We couldn’t take any chances with small towns, so we made sure we were in Saigon for the game. We watch almost every game with our friends at our (former) house, so it is weird to be watching it in a bar with fans other than Steelers fans, not to mention the fact that it is the crack of dawn. I really missed the commercials this year; Asian Sports Network replays the same two commercials OVER and OVER, – a promo for their channel and a random one with Joe Montana promoting Sketchers. I’m American, dammit, I need variety and multi-million dollar ads.

  13. Matt

    Hahaha, sounds like a good time Amy. The crack of dawn thing would throw me off a bit but like Ted posted above, no reason you can’t still enjoy the traditions! I’ve seen a few of the commercials online since the game and I don’t think we missed anything incredible. Definitely better than the commercials you saw, but nothing special.

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