What a time to celebrate: Costa Rica is preparing for its fifth World Cup. On this occasion, scheduling may damper the celebrations somewhat – two of the first-round matches (Serbia, June 17, and Brazil, June 22) are at 6 am Costa Rica time – but passionate fans will make the best of it, and will surely enjoy the one midday match in the first round, 12 pm against Switzerland on June 27.
Since you’ll have to get up early in order to watch La Sele’s matches and wait to see if the dream team from 2014 recaptures its glory, preparation will be key. Here’s our guide to watching the 2018 World Cup in Costa Rica.
Step 1. Line up your props
First and foremost: don’t forget to wear La Sele’s jersey. If you don’t own one, you can simply wear a red shirt.
If you’re one of those people who likes face painting, go on and paint little Costa Rican flags on your cheeks. Fortunately, the tricolor is fairly simple and easy to recreate.
Finally, don’t forget your Costa Rican flag, now on sale in all sizes on street corners around the country. You might want a big one made out of cloth to wear as a cape, if you see yourself as a hero, or you might just simply want a small one to place on your car window to celebrate with La Sele.
Step 2. Prepare some gallo pinto
For those early-morning games, some gallo pinto will be must. There’s nothing more tico than a serving of the simple rice-and-beans combo accompanied by eggs (scrambled, fried, or even in an omelet), toast, sour cream, sausage, plátanos maduros (plaintains) and a good cup of coffee.
Everyone’s gallo pinto recipe is a little different, but if you’re a newbie, here’s a simple recipe for you to try. First, heat a little oil in a frying pan. Chop one-fourth cup each of onions, green pepper and cilantro, and place in the pan. Add two cups of cooked rice and one cup of cooked red or black beans; add Salsa Lizano, salt and pepper to your taste. Combine well, heat through, add your desired sides, and devour.
Step 3. Crank some Costa Rican tunes to awaken your love for La Sele
While you cook your gallo pinto, listen to various songs dedicated to La Sele, including Gandhi’s “El otro gol” (The other goal), La Nota’s “Agárrense de las manos” (Hold hands; probably the most famous soccer song in Costa Rica), Alonso Solís and Gonín’s “Playa, Montaña y gol” (Beach, Mountain and goal), and off course, La Banda and Italy 90’s La Sele team singing “Lo daremos todo” (We’ll give it all [on the field]). Feel free to make these songs your alarm clock for the month of June, your ringtone, your mantra… you get the picture.
Step 4. Bring on the cheers
Now that you’ve prepared your breakfast while singing, you’re ready to sit down in front of the TV and, well, shout. First, you must cheer La Sele by simply singing: “oe, oe, oe, oe, oe, ticos, ticos!”
If things go down the drain, you’ll probably find yourself shouting at the screen about an incompetent ref or an opposing team not allowing La Sele to find its glory. But if the country’s soccer dreams come true, you’ll have a chance to say “¡Llore conmigo Papi!” (“Cry with me, daddy”), which sounds quite odd in English, but commemorates La Sele’s incredible performance at the 2014 World Cup when Michael Umaña scored the last penalty against Greece and Costa Rica headed to the quarterfinals. Soccer player Waylon Francis famously said these words to teammate José Miguel Cubero in celebration of La Sele’s victory, and it became a national catchphrase of sorts.
If you’d also like to pray, that’s another option, given that goalie Keylor Navas’s outstanding performance in the World Cup and now with Real Madrid have basically transformed him into a holy figure for ticos. You can pray to “San Keylor” to guide La Sele (not that the famously devout Navas would endorse such a thing).
Last but not least, don’t forget to call La Sele grande or big. Grande La Sele. Even if we’re a small country, we’ve got no limitations into dreaming to make things happen in a big way under the world’s reflectors.
Step 5. Take to the streets (we hope!)
If La Sele wins, the point of gathering will always be the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Pedro, just east of downtown San José – so if you’re anywhere near that area and Costa Rica claims victory, don’t miss out on going to the fountain, in the roundabout in front of the Mall San Pedro. It’s an ongoing party down there: a mass of red, white and blue, people shouting with glee, people hugging each other even if they’ve never met before. If you like to join the sweaty, joyful masses, this is just the right place for you. Otherwise, just throw open your windows and follow the sounds of honking horns and gleeful shouts to find the impromptu gathering nearest you.