Thursday, March 8, 2012

Boca, Boca, Boca

The last time I was backpacking was a trip to the South Pacific 20 (OMG) years ago. As I experience this trip, sometimes I reflect on the differences between the present-day me and the me of 20 years ago in how I deal with the nuances of travelling.

Case in point....a trip in Buenos Aires to experience South American football. Boca Juniors versus their arch-nemesis Rafeala. Number one versus number two.

First difference between the me of then and now - now I was perfectly fine with paying $1200 Argentina pesos (about $300USD) to arrange tickets via local tour company to provide seats (or so we thought), transportation, a guide, pizza, and beer.

The first hint that maybe this was going to be a bit of an "informal" tour was being picked up an hour later than advertised. But being seasoned south american travellers, we just chalked this up to the "ish-ness" of life down here.

Once on the bus we were briefed on the match. Our "guide" told us that the teams were heated rivals (good - we'd be seeing a competitive match). We were also told that our seating location would be under another level of seats, and to not go out from under as the Rafaela fans were above us and would "throw things" (maybe not so good but highly manageable). He also shared that apparently there was some sort of rift between different factions of Boca fans, and that we should be careful both pre, during, and after the game (also highly manageable), staying close to the guide and never letting go of our ticket.

With that completed, the bus came to a stop and off we headed for the stadium. Notice the riot police in the top left of the photo. We sure did.

Once inside we got the major "a-ha" moment when my past and present selves collided. Our guides instructions on accessing the seating area were "follow me, say permissione (excuse me in spanish), push past people and we will form our own territory."

In the end zone.

I've seen enough soccer to know that if bad things are going to happen, odds are they happen there where you are immersed in the throng of singing, energetic, rabid mostly-young people. Younger me would have been all over this. Older me, especially the parent part, was immediately deeply, deeply perturbed to be spending $300 on GA end zone seats that meant I would be a standing sardine for the duration. But we stepped up to the challenge and found a little piece of real estate to call our own and took in the pre-game show

Things continued to get louder. We saw the "other" Boca group raise their game but unveiling a team flag. Young me would have been happy to be holding it up. Old(er) me was very content to see it from across the opposite end of the stadium

Then Boca actually took the field:

We watched a couple of workers try in vain to use leaf blowers to get the confetti off the field, and experienced locals (and the coke guy) try to squeeze their way past us and other to better vantage points.

Once I was able to stop thinking about how much I paid for tickets that enabled the old guy behind me to lean on me like a wall for the first half, I was able to get into the game. A quick opening goal by Boca helped a lot. Here's a sample of the action

The action really was fantastic, and I think the final ended up Boca 3, Rafaela 2.

Now it was time to wait out the "other" Boca group, find our tour leader and attempt to escape unscathed. So where better place to hang out then with some locals....

while the end zoners had their post game celebration

At last it was time to depart for the promised pizza and beer, which was great because we were starving. There were no such things as concession stands in our 'hood at the game. We ended up at a local bar, where not just our group, but every group congregated. The tour company quickly distributed the "all-u-can-drink" beer, and we patiently awaited the pizza. Yep - I was more interested in pizza then the copious bottles of cold beer (picture younger me just shaking his head at older me).

The pizza finally arrived and we reminisced about the game with some fellow (mature) travellers....and tried not to do the math on how much money the tour company must have cleared from our Argentina football experience.

But in the end I know that long after I have forgotten how much this cost, I will remember and appreciate this day

1 comment:

  1. OMG I would have been scared sh....well you know. The crowds alone would do it for me, yup I get the getting older stuff....especially the parent part.