As I’ve mentioned before, I started playing rugby since arriving at my site. I started around the same time that a group of high school girls started playing, most of whom had never played an organized sport before. Since the beginning, we have been practicing in the afternoons on the beach – the only open space at that time, and the only time when all of the girls are both free and allowed out like that. The problem, as we learned at our first game on a big field, is that the beach doesn’t allow us the full width and length that a field does. As a result, it was a really tough physical adjustment to the field.
After the coaches spent days looking for field options for afternoon practice, there was really only one. It’s a bus ride up the hill from the main town (setback 1) and covered in weeds (setback 2). Setback 1 is just annoying because it costs more and takes more time, but we had to take care of setback 2. So one day we headed up to the field with 3 machetes, a pair of gloves, and lots of water.
If anyone had ever said, “one day you will mow a field with machetes,” I never would have believed them. I’m still not sure I can really say I’ve done it, since I mostly pulled up weeds by hand rather than wielding the machete, but regardless, this field was indeed mowed by machete.
Unfortunately, this field is still covered in burs, which means that we can’t tackle there. It makes a good space to get in physical conditioning and practice lines, defense, and scrums, but we will need to continue to practice on the beach sometimes to practice fully physical games. This means that the next time we have a field game, we still will not have properly practiced for it.
— brianna hope (@thisbriannahope) July 15, 2016
Aside from the whole lack-of-support-from-the-community-for-rugby thing or the whole lack-of-public-fields thing (most parks here are concrete-based), an important cultural note is definitely in regards to the machetes. Since I live basically in the city, they’re not quite as common as in the real pueblos, but it’s still true that tons of homes have them. One of the girls even brought hers in an awesome leather carrying case that’s wearable around the waist, which of course I had fun with.
And for a totally random closing paragraph, we also found this really cool grasshopper while cleaning. In Spanish, grasshopper is saltamontes – weedjumper. He and I became old pals (he didn’t even jump in my mouth!), and I decided he could be our mascot, even though our team is called Minokawas.