For just $10 per person we got to experience what The Observer named as number one of the "top 50 sporting things to do before you die." And just like our Turkish bath experience that I posted about last week, this was another one of those classic "we're definitely not in America anymore" moments.
Suuuuuuperclásico. This seemed to be the word of the week around Mendoza when we were there last February. Waiters, locals, tourists, and everyone in between were chattering about the upcoming fútball match between the bitter Argentinian fútbol (soccer) rivals, River Plate and Boca Juniors.
They come once per year to play a match on neutral turf, in Mendoza, and fortunately for my sports-addicted husband, we just so happened to be there that same week.
Due to a break in the futbol season, we had missed the opportunity to see them play a game at their home stadiums in Buenos Aires. This was our chance to witness this authentic rival game in South America. So, of course we had to go.
A ticket to a sporting event back home in the States, would get us a seat in the arena, the opportunity to watch a game, and an excuse to tailgate. But included with the purchase of this ticket, we got all of the following thrown in too:
• Full TSA-level security checks (they even made me throw away my ball point pen).
• Completely necessary separatism. Authorities enforced separate entrance times for Boca fans and River fans. They allowed all the River fans to enter the stadium first and find their seats before allowing the Boca fans to enter, thus keeping the fans separate to avoid fights.
• A reserved seat that we didn't use because everyone stands and sings for the entire game.
• A fence topped with barbed wire that ran down the middle of the stadium to keep fans in their respective halves.
• Police in full riot gear and on horseback, and police dogs too.
• A ban on alcohol within a certain radius of the stadium two hours prior to game time.
• A moat. Yup, a good, old-fashioned, castle-protecting moat ringed the field as an additional buffer to prevent fans from rushing the field.
• Stadium-wide banners, twirling umbrellas, and a parade of streamers touting the two teams' colors and logos.
• 90 minutes of almost-non-stop futbol action, interupted only for the smoke to clear from the fire works that the Boca fans set off INSIDE the stadium. (seriously? I had to throw away my good ballpoint pen, but these guys got fireworks through security?)
Oh, and we got a post-game show too. Following the game, fans from both sides began ripping the stadium seats off their brackets and chucking them at each other over the barbed-wire fence.
And if you don't believe me about all this, just watch the video below (forgive my incredibly sad video editing skills:
We thought USC and UCLA had committed fans and a deep-seeded rivalry. But Boca / River fans took it to a whole new level. We were definitely not in LA anymore.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!