I decided a fun bonding with my new host family, who is very interested in American culture, would be treating them to some hamburgers while watching the Super Bowl. As you might imagine, American football’s popularity here is comparable with that of watching rugby or Cricket in the United States. Still, I had confidence that a cafe in downtown Cuenca, infested with retirees from the US, would be airing the game. I called ahead and was assured that they’d have it. I can’t imagine the employee’s impression of my following question, “Will there be tables available or do I need to reserve one?” He politely said that yes, there would be tables open.
About thirty minutes after kickoff, my family and I rolled in to find no foriengers and the wrong kind of football on TV. I chose to sit in the vacant upstairs thinking one of the TVs could be switched without angering too many soccer fans. This worked after about twenty minutes of bothering our waiter. I then decided to take my request a step further and ask if he could turn the sound on. The current selection blaring through the restaurant was a cut from the Magic Mike soundtrack. I like songs from movies about male strippers just as much as the next Ecuadorian soccer fan, but the commentary was vital to my family’s understanding their first football game. My host mom suggested we head up the street to a restaurant where she had seen a couple Americans watching the game.
The new location was complete with a couple retirees, a nicely sized TV, and Spanish commentary. To complete the experience, my family ordered some imitation hamburgers. These were borderline palatable, but my host mom politely assured me that all they were missing was pickles, attempting assure me she knew American food had potential. I then ordered a plate of BBQ wings which were slightly more edible.
The downside to watching the Super Bowl on an Argentinian Fox Sports channel is the absence of the US commercials. The redeeming factor was that, between the commentators and my explanations, my family had a general understanding of the game by halftime. Despite enjoying finally understanding the game they said they’d been curious about ever since they’d seen the football movie starring “El Rock,” Lady Gaga’s performance seemed to be the highlight of their experience. Both my host siblings, Justin, 12, and Leslie, 14, and I had been recovering from colds that weekend. Justin had somewhat of a relapse at the beginning of the third quarter, so it was decided we should head home and get him to bed.
The next morning, I was pretty sure the Falcons had won, but couldn’t be certain due to my lack of Wifi. Unfortunately the Ecuadorian news channel I watched during breakfast only mentioned the Super Bowl as a sideshow to a massive Lady Gaga performance that had taken place in the States (or New York as we call that country here) and didn’t disclose the final score. At about two o’clock Monday afternoon, I found some Wifi and saw that I’d received some texts along the lines of “Can you believe it?” or “What a comeback! Best game ever.” Fortunately, my Grandpa has a recording of the game waiting for me upon my return- US commercials and all.