Unless you live in a Yucatan cave (sacred or otherwise) – or the United States of America – you will probably have noticed that the World Cup is on and the world is watching.
There are many options to watch the matches (also called games) both at home and in the city of Merida itself. Here are some of those options, along with the pros and cons.
If you have Sky or Dish you are all set to watch the World Cup at home. But if you are like me, you don’t have the fantastic television offerings (sarcasm) of the aforementioned satellite networks and have to resort to watching games on the computer via some live streaming feed on the ‘net with sleep-inducing British announcers that give you the play-by-play from their sofa where they are lying in some sort of tea-and-scone-induced coma. It’s akin to watching a Golf Channel transmission; it’s that exciting. The video quality of these streaming feeds is so low that the players look like Lego pieces chip-chopping along a green background, like an old Nintendo game from the Pleistocene era. Then, when your team is about to score a goal, the screen freezes altogether and the sound cuts out as well.
If you are watching on the afore-mentioned television networks, you are going to have to make sure to avoid the pre and post game commentary which runs the gamut from childishly clownlike to Beavis and Butthead teen toilet humor to Dumb and Dumber a la mexicana. Soap opera commercials will leave you breathless with anticipation as you wonder how close the camera will get on that teardrop crawling down the poor (but pretty) servant girl’s only slightly brown face (she can’t be all that pretty if she is too obviously of indigenous descent – Mexican television rule number 18)
Merida Restaurants and Bars and other Venues
Stars are awarded in each category as follows:
* Horrible, stay away
** Not quite as bad as horrible, but not worth the drive. If you’re in the neighborhood…
*** Average – hit or miss, meh
**** Pretty darn good, make an effort.
***** Worth driving to and find parking for
The first match I watched in a restaurant/bar was USA vs Portugal, at Boston’s Pizza’s Gran Plaza location, with Better Half. Boston’s Pizza so far leads in the unofficial survey of Great Places to Watch a Sports Event like the World Cup (GPTWASELTWC por sus siglas en inglés, as the Diario would say).
1. Screen quality and location: *****
Boston’s has a lot of screens and you can be sitting anywhere and see the game. And hear it. They pipe the audio in to the restaurant’s sound system and so you won’t miss a thing. Video quality is clear and sharp and the screens are large.
2. Air conditioning: *****
Excellent and you will be able to fist pump the air without the potential embarrassment of underarm sweat stains grossing out your date or fellow game watchers who might care about such things
3. Service: ****
Fast and more or less attentive. They will keep you plied with drinks and enough food if you are willing. Could have a sense of humor, but then again, these are all just kids barely out of high school.
4. Food: ****
Good, fatty bar food and pizza that is really excellent. Try the Mama Meata (lots of carne) and notice the wait person say Mama Miata as in the car.
5. Prices: *****
Excellent prices, for them. Boston’s is not cheap but it is probably worth it if an important game is on.
6. Ambience: Chill. No one is going nuts, unless a goal by the favorite team is scored, then there is a lot of yelling and shouting. But the mood is somewhat on the civilized side as the game progresses. The usual oohs and aaaahs as goalposts are struck by errant balls projected from unbelievable angles by various body parts.
The second match was Mexico vs Croacia, at Eladio’s in Altabrisa again with Better Half but with an additional 13 people as well. We all sat at one long table in their small-ish salon con aire acondicionado. That’s right, Eladio’s doesn’t enjoy A/C in the main room, preferring to keep it more on the al fresco end of the temperature spectrum, an interesting choice since they are only open mid-day, the hottest time of the year. The World Cup is on in June this year and it is only somewhat warm (more sarcasm)
1. Screen quality and location: **
The screens at Eladio’s seem improvised and were installed specifically for this, it would seem. They are smallish and the color is off on a few of them, rendering them fluorescent and difficult to watch if you are epileptic. Sounds is muddled and piped in through a KBR sound system. You’ve seen the KBR speakers: they are the cheap, Asian version of JBL speakers complete with the same style of red letter logo on the front. It’s the audio equivalent of trying to get a throaty 427 V8 hemi sound out of your six-cylinder 1974 Dodge Dart. Uh uh; ain’t gonna happen.
2. Air conditioning: **
No fist-pumping the air hear – your underarms will show that the A/C in this room is not keeping up with the amount of warm bodies inside. Plus the giant sliding glass doors that open and close constantly as waiters and busboys enter and leave, more or less negate what those poor compressors are trying to do. Think sticky.
3. Service: *****
Fast and furious. As in right on it. They are super fast with both drinks and botana and if the game sucks, the highlight of the visit might be seeing those waiters and busboys carry in a tray-load of botana plates for a large table of 15, stacked impossibly on top of one another. Waiters are fun and have a great sense of humor
4. Food: ****
It’s all Yucatecan and for the most part pretty good. To me, it’s a little on the bland side, but it is rich and heavy the way Yucatecan food should be and you will leave with a solid distension of abdomen that will go away in about 24 hours. Added bonus: no pickled pig ears. No worries.
5. Prices: ****
Stick to beer and botana and you won’t be spending that much. You will get to sample most of the menu without even looking at it. Just keep drinking.
6. Ambience: *****
It’s raucous. Here you will enjoy live renditions of the Mexican “PUTOOO” chant, in all it’s expletive glory. Don’t even think about complaining; you’ll be the object of that chant faster than you can grind some pepita seeds on your dzotobichay. When there is a goal from the favorite team, the place will go batshit. Chairs will fall over, drinks will be spilled and much fist pumping, clapping, yelling and back slapping will ensue. Go batshit with everyone else and enjoy a true Mexican moment. Also, when Mexico plays and the pre-game national anthem comes on and people in the restaurant stand, go ahead and stand with them. Don’t be sitting there like a puu… You get the idea.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more reviews as the World Cup continues!