Saturday, July 3, 2010

So Just How World Cup-Crazed Is Holland?

As many of you probably saw yesterday, Holland made a Herculean comeback against the mightiest of mighty national soccer teams in Brasil, coming back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to streak past the heavily favored Seleção in a thrilling 2-1 victory. As I've made very clear, the 7 people that read this blog aren't reading it for my World Cup analysis, so that's all I'm going to say about the match itself. More importantly were the activities going on around me before, during, and after the match.

First off, let me just say, thank God this match was on a Friday. I shudder to think what's going to happen Tuesday when the Oranje play Uruguay in the semis. I showed up to work with Hunter, I was wearing the orange NL National Team jacket and had my orange vuvuzela, Hunter had on an orange shirt, orange scarf, and orange Heineken hat. We were not the only ones, to say the least. Basically everyone in the place was wearing some form of orange, with the exception, of course, of Hunter's boss, Gerson, who is very much Brazilian. The day went by quickly, and before we knew it it was 4:00pm, starting time for the match. Hunter and I headed downstairs to the boardroom, where there were about 30 people with bowls of chips, platters of cheeses and meats, a fridge full of soft drinks, wine, and Heinekens, and a guy with an airhorn. Yeah, he had an airhorn. Like a foghorn. Anyway, so NL went down real quickly (10th minute or thereabouts) and the place sort of died as Brazil appeared to be in complete control. Early on in the 2nd half, though, Netherlands equalized, and out came the cheers, air horn, vuvuzelas, etc. The office went nuts. About 20 minutes later, Netherlands scored the go-ahead goal, and, once again, it was pandemonium. Yelling, cheering, air-horning, vuvuzela-ing, other verbs followed by -ing, etc. Absolutely huge.

Here's where it gets interesting. By this time it was around 6:00pm, so we left the office. And we basically went out into another world. There were cars honking. People yelling. Kids on motorcycles flying Dutch flags. The only thing I can really compare it to was being in Italy during Euro 2008 when Italy beat France in the final group stage match to advance to the knockouts and I was on Isola d'Ischia, which was a pretty crazy scene. But that really isn't comparable, as this is the World Cup Semifinals that Netherlands now find themselves in. The entire ride home, we encountered cars honking and people just celebrating in the streets. So as to not give away the fact that I'm in no way Dutch, any time someone honked/yelled in our direction, I'd just blow the vuvuzela rather than say anything. Fair call, I think. Anyway, we got home and immediately began planning for the evening. We were going to head into The Hague with some friends of Hunter's which we ended up doing. It was a solid atmosphere in The Hague, with people in a generally celebratory mood. We watched the extra time and PK's of the Uruguay-Ghana match in some bar in The Hague, then headed elsewhere. We went back home relatively early because it started drizzling a bit, and we wanted to get back before it started raining badly, as we were biking home. Tonight the one and only Iain McMahon is going to be in Amsterdam, should be a good one.

Work update: it's been going very well lately. Booked my airfare to Colombia the other day, so I'll be going there. Found out I need to do a write-up for ISU for this internship, unfortunate but you've got to do what you've got to do, as they say.

More later, and many thanks for reading this far.

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