Since 2008, October second has always been a special day for Josh and I, being the anniversary of when we (finally) started dating. Every year, we’ve done something unique to celebrate, but nothing has come close to our Year 3 celebration: a clásico match in La Bombonera between Boca Juniors (one of… ¡Lo siento! THE most successful fútbol team in the world!!) and Tigre. I’ve always loved playing soccer and, thanks to my dad, grew to love the excitement of watching professional soccer as well. But I never imagined the thrill of being a part of the masses at a match, watching a team that is so close to the hearts of most Argentines that as our guide Santiago put it, “It goes God, Jesus, milanesa, then Boca. Well, my wife too. Okay, her and Boca are matched.”
A group of 10 of us from the hostel were promised that our ticket price included beer and choripan (a sandwich made of chorizo = amazing Argentine sausage), so we all eagerly got into the van, thinking we would stop at a little cafe before the game. Instead, we were dropped off about a block from the stadium and Santiago led us into a bunker-like concrete room that sloped down from the street. It was filled with an eclectic mix of old porteños and bewildered hostellers, milling around what looked like someone’s kitchen/living room/garage. We were indeed given massive choripans, which we ate while watching another match on TV and being pressured to buy copious amounts of Boca merch.
Sufficiently decorated in Boca colours, we began our walk to The Bombonera!
After being patted down by two different sets of scary police, we were herded into el popular – the “cram twice as many people as there is bench space” section. Directly across from us was the socio (member) section, which was a solid blue wall of banners, trumpets, and team umbrellas. It was really us in popular who needed umbrellas, since directly above us were the rival Tigre fans, who poured massive amounts of drinks and water balloons onto the heads of any Boca fan silly enough to be sitting directly below. Luckily, Santiago had warned us about this, so we were safely tucked underneath the awning.
Even before the clásico match began, the crowds were on their feet, fully involved in the pre-game match. And once the beloved Boca players appeared? We were surrounded by 54 000 Argentines who formed one massive, powerful voice as they sang song after song cheering on their Boca and cursing Tigre (and also cursing their biggest rival, River Plate, even though they weren’t even playing River! :P). And if the ref dared make a call? Well, let’s just say we didn’t only learn nice songs at the match…
The fans at a fútbol match in Argentina truly form both a culture and a community, and it was ridiculously fun and impressive to be a part of. And needless to say, it was a really, REALLY good soccer match. Another win for Boca, 1-0!
¡VAMOS BOCA VAMOS!