7 – It can’t get any better than this! Can it? October 23, 2012

I have come to Spain, drawn by the medieval architecture, Francisco Goya, the food, the people, the geography, and futbol. I have come to the small ancient city of Huesca, in northern Aragón, on the outskirts the ruins of its castle rising against the background of a formidable wall of mountains. It has been raining for days.  I plan to go to a second division league game here, the hometown team against Barca B, the young stars in the making for El Barca.  I find the stadium hours before the game and watch them working furiously to remove water from the field. I return later, buy the best ticket in the house (well under the roof – I am not that tough) and hang out a bit. The Barca team bus arrives. Then, a very vocal group of Barca fans also shows up, having driven for hours to get here, singing raucously, culés, as they are affectionately known.  Catalan comes from an old variation of French and so you might recognize the French for backside (or something less polite) – that’s right!  In the early days of simpler stadia, the working class would have sat on open metal-slatted seats, and from below, their culs sticking through the slats. Probably used in a derisory way originally, it is now worn with pride.  I timidly approached them, introduced myself as a culé canadiense, and asked them to sing el himno de barcelona, sung by the tens of thousands at Camp Nous at the beginning of each match. You might hear my less than dulcet tones as I joined in on the final repetition of Barca, Barca, Barca.

I took my seat, the field only had a half dozen puddles, it was once again raining, but lightly.  The players came out a half hour before the game to warm up and their routines was wonderful to watch, to see the high level of skill. But I am not exaggerating when I say that it began to rain torrentially, with high winds coming from the south. Here is a photo of the devoted end zone fans huddling under umbrellas.  It will give you some idea of their devotion and lunacy.

The few puddles that were visible when I had arrived grew almost exponentially after an hour of very heavy rain;  virtually half the field was clearly underwater.  Even earlier on, when the players were warming up, often they were splashing on what appeared to be somewhat drier puddleless grass.  The ground was absolutely waterlogged.  Throughout the area, there was serious flooding, damage and road closures.  The game was cancelled.  I did not have the chance to fully experience a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke.

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