Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Photos from El Superclasico, Boca v. River

10 days ago Sunday was the annual Superclasico -- Boca Juniors vs. las gallinas River Plate -- in La Bombonera, Boca's stadium.

Some lists have just seeing any home game at La Bombonera as one of the sporting events you have to experience before you die. Or, in others, seeing Boca River at La Bombanera is simply #1 on the list. Boca River happens once a year in Boca's stadium, once in River's stadium. Although I haven't been to the Superclassico in River's stadium, after 2 games at River Plate's stadium I can tell you that any experience in the Bombanera is probably more intense than in River's stadium.

We woke up to sun shining in our window. As we left for church, it started to rain. But it didn't look threatening. I left church early and headed onto the train. And it stayed grey. Not a good sign.

The view where I normally go underneath la Doce (the 12), which is the crazy fans/hooligans. We are a little more laidback where I am. This is a few of La Bombonera 2 hours before gametime. I wanted to make sure I got a decent place to stand. As you can see, they were starting to put up the banners. Notice that there are already plenty of people there, and luckily for me, I arrived just in time to get a sheltered spot -- because as you can notice in the top of the photo, there is concrete above me.

This is 2 hours or an hour and a half before game time, I don't remember. The top deck away is always the visiting section of the stands. Yeah, there were already alot of River fans there.

Notice that you can see the line of the 18 yard box on the field.

Not really sure what happened here.

30 minutes before the game. Do you see lines on the field?

So, eventually started after 2 hours of standing, waiting for the game to start. It was a pretty miserable 2 hours, I'm not going to lie. Everyone was packed in the covered area and with people smoking and sweating it was pretty miserable. I felt like I was suffocating.

In the end, I traveled about 4 hours for this game, waited 2 hours standing, and then after 9 minutes they cancelled the game because the field was so wet it was simply unplayable. Of those 9 minutes, I couldn't see a thing for 5 of them because the doce above had covered us with a flag. When the game started and we couldn't see, I thought there might be a riot.

When I left the game, the police wouldn't let me get on the train because they thought (incorrectly) that the hooligans were right behind me. I had only brought my Boca jersey, and they didn't want me to get on the train. I'm pretty sure I could have actually gotten on the train, but while they were arguing with me that the hooligans would arrive in 10 minutes, the train that was going to leave in 2 minutes...left. Gee, thanks.

I left the train station and took the subway to a different train. It probably only cost me 20 minutes extra or so.

The game was rescheduled for Thursday at 3:45. I figured that I could safely arrive much later and still be able to get in since lots of people would be working. I didn't necessarily intend to arrive at 3:42 like I did, but whatever. I got into the stadium, pushed my way into the crowd, and voila. Here I am. Same section, but on the other side of the goal. You'll notice that my vision isn't that good yet, as I have yet to really start pushing my way into a good line of vision.

Diego Maradona didn't go to the game on Sunday, but he showed up on Thursday for the replay, which is the first time he had dared to do so in over a year. Having induced Riquelme to quit, Boca fans had -- shock! -- sided with Riquelme over Maradona. And so it was again, because whenever people tried to start the Diego Maradona song, the crowd drowned it out with "RIQUELME! RIQUELME! RIQUELME!" I obviously was one of the Riquelme screamers.

This picture really doesn't do justice to how much stuff we throw when the team comes out against River. Also, the picture doesn't seem to capture how much it was glittering in the sun. It was a gorgeous day for football. I wish I'd seen Carlos Tevez play here, but at least I get to see Riquelme.

The two above must've been halftime, at which point it was 1-0. The goal happened when Juan Roman Riquelme took a free kick from just outside the box in this photo, near the corner of the box. He passed it around the wall to Gary Medel, who slid in front of the keeper to toepoke it in. Great vision from Riquelme.

If you look in the top right you'll see that there are empty seats. That's mandatory, to prevent riots between the visiting fans and the home fans. If you click on the picture and get it in full form, you'll see that there are policemen lining that wall.

We ended up winning 2-0, on another goal by Medel. Pretty sweet finish, you could totally see the sweet curve he put on his shot. My voice was pretty much shot from screaming/singing/whatever the whole time and my legs were tired from all the jumping. Awesome.

I took the photo above because it shows that the police (in fullon riot gear, I imagine) were pushing the River fans to leave. Although they wouldn't let us leave for 15 minutes or so, this picture is from right before the police finally let us leave.

The River fans kept on singing after the game was over, of course. When they didn't, we sang "and now, a moment of silence for the dead hens." (gallina, their nickname) And a stadium of almost 70,000 people was silent for 15 seconds, after 3 hours of crazy shouting. Pretty intense.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The joys of living outside the US

I'm drinking a Coke with sugar right now. Much better tasting, much less bad for you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vamos los xeneizes a ganar!

This image is appearing in flyers around Buenos Aires today.

We beat River yesterday in el Superclasico. Loosely translated, the flyer means "Without winning in the Superclasico, you aren't going to remain. In the 2nd division, the club Boca Unidos waits for you."

River probably really isn't going to be relegated, but we're going to make fun of them for it either way.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A story

I've been waiting to post this story because I wanted to get a picture of the scene off the wife's cell phone. But I still haven't done it, so I'll just post it.

About two months ago, our power went off. After a couple hours, we went off to the in-laws house. When we returned, the telephone poll outside our house formed a 90 degree angle, instead of the normal 180. Yes, someone had obviously crashed into our telephone poll.

I'm probably significantly less paranoid about safety than your average American, but telephone wires are not an area where I like to take risks. We went in the house, got our things, and returned to the in-laws house. At the in-laws house, the wife and I have a mild tiff over whether to call 911. Finally I prevailed.

She called 911. After 10 minutes of waiting for someone to answer her call, she gave up. We woke up the next morning and went back to our house. It was kinda windy, and the telephone poll was only still upright with some support from the wires themselves.

So she called 911 when we got home at about 10am. A few hours later, she went outside and found out from neighbors that a dumptruck had hit the telephone post and then ran off. Still no sign of anyone. She says that the neighbors had also called it in.

2pm. A guy who works for the power company knocks on our door, a litle frantic. "I just happened to be driving by your house...did you know there's a telephone poll that's about to fall? That's extremely dangerous!"
2:10 I learn that the wife called the city, not 911. All the neighbors also called the city. I am incredulous.
2:15 Power company employee has put danger signs up, blocking the street off from access. He tells us that we have to call in the emergency. Employees are not allowed. Seriously? Ok. We call the power company and explain what happened.

No one shows up that day.

The next morning, we wake up and find out that some of our neighbors have unblocked the street and taken down the warning signs. That's right, a telephone poll with electricity wires about to fall just doesn't seem that dangerous to them.

The wife calls again, trying to make the power company understand that this is really an emergency. At about 3pm, they finally come fix it. By some miracle, the thing never fell.

All of this just left me dumbfounded. No one thought it live electric wires falling imminently to be something worth calling 911 for.

Monday, March 15, 2010

11 v 100

Via Rudy, I found this video of a Japanese soccer team against 100 kids (13ish?) from various select teams.

Seems to me like there were some large strategic faults here on both sides.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Been awhile

It's been about a year since I wrote here with any frequency. About a year ago I started dating my wife, and I guess I stopped having things to write about. The low hanging fruit of posts on cultural differences got picked, and it just became less important. Plus a few months ago I picked up one of my other online presences again, which consumes an embarrassing amount of my time for little gain.

These days I live in the suburbs. Of the approximately thirteen million people that are usually counted as being in Buenos Aires, about 10 of them are in the suburbs. So it's perhaps a more typical existence, but also at times a more frustrating one.

It takes me about an hour's journey to go to Sudestada now, which is frustrating. Meeting foreigners there for lunch is still one of the relatively few social opportunities that my new life has. I'm not sure I was really cognizant that moving would be such a change. And it's not a bad change, though the preceeding paragraph sounds like it. Just a change that is still happening. In the meantime, I'm studying for CFA level 2 which is in early June, a few days before the World Cup starts. I plan to pretty much watch every World Cup match, as I did last time. Then CAIA level 2 in Sept, which will mean another trip to Brazil.

And in other news, I'm reading Game Change. Not much reason to write more now.