Hey, guys. This is the first in a series of, like, frequently asked questions, pertaining to things we have done recently but have been too lazy to write about. I’ll send them a couple days apart so that you don’t get tired of reading about our asinine trip and still think that we’re cool, and don’t spend all day on the computer writing messages to make you think we’re cool. Here goes:
Q: What is an argentine fútbol game like?
A: Everything Latin American sports should be. The game we went to was between Bolivia and the most popular Argentine team, Boca Jrs. For those of you that are familiar with UT football, imagine a team a thousand times more popular than the Vols (fully a third of the country claim to be die-hard fans), with twice the attendance per game, but playing in a stadium half the size. What could that possibly add up to but the Most Fun Ever? Anna and I opted for the cheap tickets in the notorious home-team section in spite of the dire warnings in the guide books (which I admit I’m getting a little tired of), and arrived two hours before the game, in the driving rain (which never stopped, but somehow didn’t seem to discourage people), with a little trepidation and only enough money on us for the bus ride home to prevent the (also notorious) possibility of getting robbed outside the stadium. The stands are built, unlike in our pansy north american stadiums, at a kind of frightening 45 degree or greater angle and were already packed by the time we got there. The only open spot we could squeeze into was behind one of those thick metal barricade things that they place at frequent intervals to prevent the people in front from getting squashed, and under a series of strings, sort of like seat belts, that run from the top of the stands to the bottom and are about six feet apart. These, it turns out, are for support: half an hour before the start of the game hundreds of the more hardcore fans stand up (!?!) on the metal barricades, using the seatbelt-things for support, and summon an impromptu band of other fans who have brought drums and trumpets to begin playing. At this point everyone starts singing and chanting a litany of perhaps twenty catchy pep songs. The singing will continue, uninterrupted, until well after the game, with only a short break at halftime so that everyone can smoke pot. (there is no drinking at fútbol games, for whatever reason this seems to be frowned upon, but the air is thick, so thick, with smoke.)
But there is no pausing during the game. There is music, there are fireworks (In the stands. People just bring flares and rockets and stuff and set them off in the stands...) There is no room to move; the only exception being for newbie foreigners such as ourselves. When it was determined that we didn’t, in fact, have a clue, we were made to swear the appropriate allegiance (“Boca rules!!! River fans are putas!!!”) and a spot, however small but with a view of the action, magically opened. It was amazing in its scope, what with there not even being room to breath, and henceforth friendly people explained to us at every step what was going on. Apparently the people on the barricades have some sort of voodoo power.
During the game it is electric, the energy; we jump up and down as the crowd jumps up and down because our arms are on the shoulders of the people in front of us, and theirs on the shoulders in front of them. We chant the words that we are taught, and are hugged by our neighbors when a goal is scored; we shake our fists at the other team and cry for former Boca superstar Maradona, who is in the hospital after a drug overdose. We duck for cover, wide eyed and frightened, as the entire section next to us tumbles down the stands in a mudslide of arms and faces because their seatbelt-thing has come untied at the top, but still the music hasn’t stopped, and won’t, until a good half-hour after the game as we are finally leaving and dancing in the streets because Boca has won! and, of course, we have been and always will be Boca fans.
Q: Will you go again?
A: There’s a game between Boca and their arch-rival River Plate (from our neighborhood, also supported by a good third of the country) on the 16th. These “superclasicos” have to be approved by the federal courts because of the potential for post-game riots. We’re trying to get tickets.
randy and anna