Club Atlético Boca Juniors, one of the most well known clubs in the football world and I got to experience the atmosphere of the Bombonera Stadium in the La Boca region of Buenos Aires yesterday.
When i knew i was coming to Argentina i knew I had to try and see a local football clash, and as the stars aligned, the night after I arrived the Boca Juniors were at home against Arsenal, no not Arsenal the English team, Arsenal the Argentinian football league team, I didnt find that out till the meet and greet with the company organising our tickets 😉
The day started with me finding my way to the meeting spot, it wasn’t far, a half hour walk within the same suburb as I am staying (Palermo), a great way for me to see a little bit of this cool hip neighbourhood, and that it is, cobble stoned streets, trees shedding their leaves line the streets along with all the cool old well kept buildings and funky cafes, as Kramer would say, its ‘Caliente Jerry’.
Very odd street performer, stopping traffic and generally being a bit of a character.
The meeting point was in the Soho region of Palermo, in the El Universal blueish rainbowish building above, (i walked passed this place later that night and it was like a nightclub, very bohemian), we met our guides Santiago and Katie who fed us and watered us with local beers and local treats, we spent a good hour there meeting and chatting to the others coming along, seems other aussies have similar ideas 🙂
Off we went, 25 tourists bound for the Bombonera Stadium and the La Boca region, one of the most interesting things the guides told us was that all opposing team fans are banned from all levels of football in Argentina, a few years ago a shooting took place during a Boca Juniors away game where a few people where killed, its an interesting story, as you walk towards the stadium you see guys assisting people in to parking spots, these are just local car spots but run by the clubs so called ‘underworld’, they charge you to park, its a voluntary thing but lets just say if you dont pay the 50 pesos ($8) your car might not be in the same state it was when you left it, the same group run the food stalls, merchandise, ticketing, everything to do with the club basically, and as it was the shooting was not between rivals but interclub politics, apparently one fraction wanted to gain control of the black market trade and rules state (government policy) if anything happens at a clubs home ground by the home club that team will be banned for a number of games, fined and at worst could face losing their stadium which would mean a huge loss in $$, hence the shooting taking place at an away game, needless to say the interesting story didnt dampen the night nor the crawds.
As you enter the stadium the local Policia pat you down, go through your bags and confiscate weird items like toothpaste (why you would have toothpaste on you i dont know), the next step is through another check point, showing your pass, scanning it then getting finger printed, then its in to the stadium where 50,000 Boca fans are chanting rythmic tunes to excite everypme, its an amazing atmosphere even when you have no idea what they are saying, i was later told its mainly about ‘River Plate’ their biggest rivals and how they were relegated to a lower division in their history and that they are chickens, not chicken as in cowards, chickens as in the bird, very odd and the translation certainly doesn’t sound as good ;).
Crazy barbed wire fences stopping anyone jumping on the pitch.
A sea of Blue and Yellow.
Crazy Crazy, there are long lines of blue and yellow sheets that start right up the top that the people on the end hold on to and hang off for the entire match, at a guess I would say there have been quite a few accidents in the past.
As always I managed to befriend someone, a local family, a father with his two daughters, one spoke english and they were intrigued by the Go Pro on a pole 🙂 I managed to get them to take some shots of me in the stadium.
The entire experience was amazing, walking back from our meet point the Nike Shop was lit up in Red.
Today I made my way back to Palermo to finally get some real food, you can read about that in my previous blog, I also grabbed a few more shots of the area, the below shots in particular of the ‘Honky Tonk’ store was a bit of a spin out, you see my dad used to call me mum ‘Honky Tonk’ many many years ago, so I had to get a shot. Tomorrow I think I will venture in to BA CBD and maybe head to Recoleta and the famous Cemetery as well as the Puerto Madero an echological Reserve.