El Centro is the busiest piece of real estate in San Pedro. It´s in front of the municipal building, behind the market. By day it´s a school yard and by night it´s the hottest b-ball court in town. We´re talking DJ with boss speakers, vendors, and mayhem, lots of mayhem. The teams are from local school and churches; from what I understand, which is probably not that accurate, there are championship games in town and amongst the surrounding pueblos.
The games I´ve seen seem to be Catholic vs. Evangelical. They´re rough, as if the final proof of righteousness is at stake.
First the men´s teams play. When the action is at one end of the court, kids wander out on the opposite end to shoot hoops. During time outs, the kids swarm the court, playing basketball and soccer, teasing and fighting. All ages together. There is a lot of scoring and aggressive defense. Remember that these are not a tall people — I have more height than most of the women, and some men.
Next come the women´s teams. Last night Maria, the mother in my host family, was here because their church team was playing. During the game she couldn´t stop laughing: fights amongst the players, missed balls, scores, and brutal falls, especially the later, caused her and her friend to double over with laughter. The DJ plays loud music the entire evening (the students who live in this area love it, simply adore it), mostly disco, with miscellaneous songs thrown in for good measure. Ghostbusters is playing now. He interrupts the music for spurts of play-by-play announcements, but only during the women´s games. It´s hilarious, and the crowd loves it.
YMCA just came on! I´m using all of my willpower to avoid dancing right now. People are singing along!
The standard of living here is pretty basic. I live with a middle-class family, and it took some getting used to. Many families here tonight live in shacks with a dirt floor and walls that don´t meet the floor or each other. Holes in the roof. Two small rooms for 7 or 8 people. Get the idea?
You´d never know it by being here. You can judge the economic conditions, but there is a wealth of community that I´ve never seen in the US. Most of the people here will live their entire lives together, watch out for each other, keep an eye on the kids (no such thing as a babysitter here), help out if it´s needed, and laugh together on b-ball nights. I´m kind of jealous.