“I don’t have a horse in this race, so I really don’t care if I miss it,” I said, figuring we’d take in a museum or visit one of the beautiful churches here in Oaxaca rather than sit in some cantina watching the garish spectacle to be beamed out to the world from New Orleans.
“We have to watch the Super Bowl!” both Churpa and Gina exclaimed. As the only actual football fan among the three of us, I was surprised at the insistent tone of my travel companions.
“Do you think they’ll have it on somewhere around here?” Gina asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure any place with a television will be showing the Super Bowl. The NFL is surprisingly popular in Mexico.” Sure enough, as we wandered around Oaxaca City, we founnd a place called La Cantanita on Calle Macedonio Alcalá advertising a special on buckets of Indio and free carnes asadas.
“Kickoff is at 5:00,” I said.
“But we should probably get there by 4:30,” I added. “We don’t want to end up with a terrible view or nowhere to sit.”
Churpa and Gina scoffed at that notion, but humored me. We headed down to La Cantanita at about 4:15. At the door, we were greeted by a doorman in a red jersey for Los Cuarenta y Nueve de San Fransisco, and were shown to a table by a waitress in a purple jersey for Los Cuervos de Baltimore. A good number of the tables were reservada, and at kickoff, people were still piling in and searching for a good place to stand with a view of the game. After every touchdown, a cannon blasted a cloud of confetti onto the crowd.
As the game started, the waiters and waitresses handed out handmade foam fingers with a stenciled San Francisco logo on one side and a Baltimore logo on the other. The next wave of servers brought us bags of handmade confetti in the color of the team of your choice (Churpa and I were rooting for San Francisco, Gina was rooting for Baltimore).
As the game progressed, it was apparent that most of the twenty-something Mexicanos present were not only there for the spectacle, but understood the game and were interested in its outcome. A couple at the next table cut a scene familiar to us as he (enthusiastically rooting for Baltimore) tried to explain to his date what was going on in the game. She listened intently, but it was clear by her expressions that her interest in the game was a direct function of her interest in him.
“That’s like you and me six years ago,” I joked to Churpa, who has graciously endured seven seasons with a fan of Los Empacadores de Green Bay, but who no longer has to pretend to care about football. Except for the Super Bowl, apparently.
In the middle of the second quarter, the servers came around with cups of salsa, tortillas, and paper plates full of carnes asadas straight from the grill. We hungrily gobbled up the grilled meat, ordered another bucket of Indios and watched as Los Cuarenta y Nueve mounted an exciting, but ultimately futile, comeback against Los Cuervos.
With all due respect to the illustrious Tom Gannon, they really know how to throw a Super Bowl party here in Oaxaca!