Guy(ana) Walks In To a Bar

I may have celebrated a little bit too much last night. Today I’m in a meeting at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, still giddy over the Patriots’ incredible Super Bowl victory last night over the Seattle Seahawks. And for the first time, I watched a Super Bowl - let alone a Super Bowl featuring my team - with complete strangers, some of whom are not fully sure what the Super Bowl is.

I’m on an extended road trip right now centered on two events. Last week I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, presenting at an energy conference more geared toward the financial side of renewable energy development. I presented results from our ongoing research at Worldwatch and immediately after it ended, I boarded a plane for South America to participate in an energy-focused meeting of the Council on Trade and Economic Development for the Caribbean Community Secretariat; a COTED for CARICOM. (These circles would be nothing without acronyms.)

Since 2013 Worldwatch has been helping the CARICOM Energy Unit strategize the first phase of its Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Roadmap Strategy (C-SERMS). I attended an energy COTED in Trinidad in 2013 where the Energy Ministers from member countries agreed to the long-term renewable energy target we suggested the region aim for. It was a slightly contentious conference bogged down in technicalities, procedures, and arguments for and against the idea of targets. One country’s energy target can be another’s annoying responsibility, especially when it comes to fossil fuel-rich Trinidad or larger islands with proximity to the United States that are jockeying to be natural gas distribution hubs for the region.

But that is neither here nor there for the purposes of this entry. The main issue right now is I watched the Super Bowl in a bar in Guyana with two other Americans, one of whom was a Giants fan and the other a Broncos fan. Great company to be in if you’re rooting for New England.

As you’d imagine, there aren’t too many sports bars here, and those that are here are more likely to have a television tuned to a soccer match. Fortunately for me, the Grand Coastal Hotel has a bar with a television and a connection to network signals out of Miami. I learned all of this last night when I checked in terribly late after an all-day venture that started in Miami. The hotel staff assured me I would be able to watch the game and after a good night’s sleep, I spent the day at the hotel, settling in for my week’s visit, preparing for upcoming meetings, talking with staff about things to do in Guyana, and getting to know folks working at the bar who could make or break this visit for me. As far as I was concerned, these folks had the keys to the kingdom. One slip up and I might be stuck watching fútbol instead of football.

I was a slightly nervous wreck yesterday. As I worked on my Powerpoint presentation and other meeting prep, I noticed I had more nervous energy than usual. Both legs were bouncing up and down as I sat at my desk and my hands were perpetually sweaty. Keeping my mind off the game was a lesson in futility. I’ve been keeping an eye on the reports Brady may have had a cold, Marshawn Lynch’s discontent with mandatory press conferences, and the fact that Seattle’s defense was on a mission to make sure they shut down every aspect of New England’s offense. I was not feeling good about things and did what I could to focus on work instead.

I ate early and made my way to the bar with enough time to catch the end of the pre-game hype. I met two other Americans whose names I can’t even remember now. One was on a business trip of his own, the other lives here. When we met, they saw I was rooting for New England and quickly let me know their respective team affiliations and their mock sorrow that they were each rooting for Seattle.

I’m not going to recap the game, there are plenty of sources taking care of that today. Like here, here, and here. But let’s hit a couple of highlights, shall we? (For the record, I’m reeeeaaallly kicking myself for not keeping some sort of diary during the game.)

  • Let’s Run It Again: I love that the Pats ran the exact same pass play in the end zone that the tried on the previous drive. It was as if Brady knew something about how that play unfolded that didn’t go quite right and he knew they could pull it off if they just tried it again. It was almost surgical.

  • Gronk’s Touchdown: Let this be a lesson to everyone in the NFL -- bump-and-run single coverage on Gronk will burn you every time. Every. Time.

  • Richard Sherman Gloating for the Camera: When he flashed a 2 and a 4 with his fingers after the touchdown made possible by a referee coming between Darrelle Revis and Doug Baldwin.

  • Richard Sherman Crying in Disbelief At the End: Cosmic Justice. Already I’ve seen memes of his holding up four fingers with captions asking, “How many Super Bowl trophies does New England have?”

  • Kearse’s catch: For once, I want an impossible catch to go our way in the Super Bowl. When Kearse caught the ball while lying on his back after Malcolm Butler seemingly disrupted the entire play, the Giants fan turned to me and say, “Oops. It’s David Tyree all over again!” I was not happy. I almost acted rashly. Thankfully, I did not. I did not want to have to call RayRay and ask her to contact the Consular section here to visit me in a Guyana prison.

  • 2nd and Goal: The question of the day is “why did Seattle not give the ball to Marshawn Lynch two yards away from the goal line!?” There HAS to be a reason but I sure as hell don’t know what it is. That might go down as the worst play call in the history of the Super Bowl.

  • Malcolm Butler: As soon as he fell to the ground I began jumping around the bar like an uncaged chimpanzee. I screamed all manner of things I don’t currently recall. But I do remember Giants fanboy not being too happy. I bought a round for the entire place.

So yes, I’m happy today. I’m focused enough to do what I came to do, but there are a few moments here and there requiring next-to-nothing from me and I’m spending them thoroughly engrossed in coverage of a Super Bowl that saw the largest deficit ever overcome to win the game. I’m reading all manner of analysis regarding two incredible marches down the field that could not have been executed more perfectly. I’m reading about the most improbable interception and how, apparently, the Pats saw that exact same play in game film and practiced for it. I’ll be dining out on this game for some time to come.

I wish I could tell you more about Guyana, its rich history, lush junglescapes, brown oceanfront due to crazy currents off the northeast coast of the continent, etc. Sadly I won’t be here long enough to see much beyond my meetings and the game. Guess I’ll just have to come back. Just not during the Super Bowl.