Chivas | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Chivas

While we were in Guadalajara last Sunday, the national championship soccer game was held. Club Deportivo Guadalajara (wiki), the city's professional soccer team, was playing Deportivo Toluca Futbol Club (wiki). The game was the only thing anyone would talk about during our visit.

The Guadalajara team is nicknamed Chivas. Yep. The mighty goats. A modern franchise might pick a more punchy name, but the team was founded 100 years ago, and goats must have had a stronger image in those simpler times.

When the game started, everything in the city ground to a halt. People clustered in front of stores and bars to watch TV.

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Walking down the great pedestrian mall in the city center, I suddenly heard an enormous cry: "AAYYY." It was as if all of Guadalajara had spoken in one great, swelling tide. The Toluca Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) had scored.

The Chivas had not won a national championship in 19 years. Tapatios (Guadalajara residents) were hungry for an overdue championship. In fact, all of Mexico was rooting for the Chivas, Mexico's favorite team, which boasts 80 million fans. And now at last, Guadalajara was in the finals, one game away from capturing the title.

The Diablos Rojos were not going to be pushovers, though. They were the defending champions and had been the top team in five out of the last ten years. The tension in the city was palpable.

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When in Rome...

I joined a group of tough-looking juvenile delinquents who were peering past the Barbies at a television that had been set up in a toy stall. Suddenly a gigantic shout blew my heart out through my mouth. The Chivas scored! Immediately I found myself being hugged and patted on the back by guys I would have called the cops on if I'd ever seen them hanging out near my house. They grinned and laughed with joy, which I found irresistably contagious.

Instantly I became a sworn Chivas fan. Trading shoulder punches and those curious Mexican handshakes with my new-found brothers, I settled in to watch the rest of the game.

A few minutes later, Guadalajara scored again. Four million people shouted:




¡GOL!





The city-wide roar shook the buildings. In an area of a hundred square miles, only one sound was heard: ¡GOOOOOOOOOOOAL! I've never heard anything like it in my life. Not even when we lived two miles from Stanford Stadium, listening to the roar of the crowd as the San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl there.

The game ended, the Chivas won their eleventh national championship, and in the city of Guadalajara all hell broke loose.

Traffic around the zocalo (the main square) ground to a halt as people filled the streets. Cars and trucks sped up and down the main east-west arteries, people leaning out of windows waving huge flags, clinging to bumpers, lying on the hoods of cars oblivious to their fates should the driver apply the brakes.

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Every time I pointed my camera at passing fans, they turned to face me and cheered and waved. By photographing their moment of victory, I was doing incalculable improvement to Mexican-American relations.

As I walked away from the center, I got high-fives from passing fans.

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And everywhere I went, I heard horns honking in an odd, syncopated rhythm.


The honking literally went on all night long:

Beep—Beep
BeepBeepBeep

Beep—Beep
BeepBeepBeep


Fortunately, as an old Mexico hand (well, as an old Mexico hand wannabe, anyway), I was able to sleep through the noisy night. In my dreams, my mind chewed on the possible meaning of this rhythm, which by now was etched into my brain:

Beep—Beep
BeepBeepBeep

Beep—Beep
BeepBeepBeep


The honking was still reverberating in my ears at breakfast when the answer finally came:

Gua—Da
LaHaRa

Gua—Da
LaHaRa

Of course! How obvious! Fans were tapping out the syllables of the name of their city. Gua—da—lahara! Guadalajara!

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How sweet. How playful. How innocent, these high-spirited Mexicans.

Gua—Da
LaHaRa

Gua—Da
LaHaRa

Inordinately proud of myself for having deduced all this, I told the story to my Mexicana friend Patty. She gave me a look like I was some kind of idiot, grinned and shook her head.

"That's not what they're saying."

"No?"

"No they're not, John"

"Well, then what are they saying?"

"They're saying:

Chin—Ga
TuMadre

Chin—Ga
TuMadre"

"Oh."

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