15 Lessons Learned at the World Cup Qualifying Match in Barranquilla

Post-game celebratory confetti after beating Ecuador 1-0
Post-game celebratory confetti after beating Ecuador 1-0

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the world cup qualifying game of Colombia vs. Ecuador in Barranquilla.

My friend’s work colleague’s brother works for the soccer organization in Colombia and was able to get us tickets before they went on sale.

I had been planning this trip all summer and was really looking forward to it.

We ended up having a good time, although it turned out to be a much more of an endurance event than I expected.

On the way back to Santa Marta from Barranquilla, my friends and I jotted down a few lessons we learned.

Decked out in team spirit
Decked out in team spirit

1. There is nothing that can’t be made in yellow, red and blue.

By the time I got to the game I had on the team jersey, blue shorts, a red scrunchy, blue and yellow fake flower-feather things in my hair, a yellow-red-blue mani-pedi and some red-yellow-blue bracelets that said things like “que linda eres!!!” and also for some reason also had marijuana leaves drawn on them.

I had to use all my strength to avoid buying the headband, the braided thing you wear around your head, and a yellow horn.

Oddly, there were no earrings, which I totally would have bought.

2. Don’t wear a belt.

Unless it is a cute, girly one.

Otherwise you will have to give it to the lady holding 12,000 belts belonging to other people, and then try to find her and claim it after the game.

Lots of people in yellow.
Lots of belt-free people in yellow.

3. Get to your seats EARLY.

No matter what, even if it is pouring down rain. In fact, especially if it is pouring down rain.

This is in order to avoid a group of five men drunk on aguardiente stealing your seats that you paid 120,000 pesos ($60) for.

4. In the event that you need the help of a policeman, send the cutest girl who speaks the least Spanish.

She managed to round-up three policemen to try to help us reclaim our seats just by looking cute and saying ayuda (help).

The stadium was supposedly built for just 9 million dollars.
The stadium was supposedly built for just 9 million dollars.

5. Policemen are useless as are anyone else in a uniform.

Therefore, refer to rule number three.

6. Ten people can fit into five seats.

After being insulted by the five drunk guys, I then had the pleasure of sharing my seat with one of them.

7. Drunk men disappear at half time and get replaced by nice sober ones!

Yay! They disappeared and we ended up having our seats all to ourselves for the second half, with the added bonus of two very nice boys from Cali sitting next to us who taught us what to scream at a soccer game.

Colombia kicking culo.
Colombia kicking culo.

8. Things to scream at a soccer game:

  • Dale! 
  • Vamos!
  • Duro!
  • Pegale!

7. Go number 10!

One guy near me was very excited whenever player number 10 touched the ball so I decided to scream “Oh my God it’s number 10!!!” every time he touched the ball, which got me some weird looks.

9. Don’t blow your yellow, red and blue horn into the guy in front of you’s ear. He will want to fight you.

10. Do blow your yellow, red and blue horn as much as possible before the game, especially if you are in a cafe with sober people.

11. Nail painting stands in the stadium don’t work, or need better marketing.

I brought my red, yellow and blue nail polish thinking I would start a very successful business. Not the case.

Giant jerseys hanging out pre-game.
Giant jerseys hanging out pre-game.

12. Book your transport to and from the game ahead of time.

We stayed in Santa Marta and booked a private taxi to take us to the game, wait for us all day and then take us back to Santa Marta.

It cost us $8 more than a collectivo bus would have cost and we did not have to fight through 35,000 people to find transport in a city we were not familiar with in the pouring down rain.

13. Wear sneakers. Bring snacks and water. Remember- endurance event.

14. Be prepared for disgusting bathrooms. Bring a water-proof bag with TP, face or hand wipes, soap and a mini towel.

This will serve for drying your hands in the bathroom, but also if it pours down rain, as it did on us.

Guy with awesome hat painting his face before the game.
Guy with awesome hat painting his face before the game.

15. Take lots of pictures.

Because even if you are suffering in the moment, sharing a seat with a belligerent man who wants to fight you, the pictures of everyone in yellow will look really cool on Instagram!

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