A district of Buenos Aires named La Boca is probably what many of you have seen in travel photos of this city. It is a place where the local people have managed to spruce up one of the poorer neighborhoods in the city by painting the walls with bright colors and lining the streets with eccentric artwork. I have now spent a total of 3 different days in the area, some crew members even more. We went to a futbol game at La Bombonera, walked the streets and have eaten quite a few meals there.
Watch out, as the locals have learned to make money on the hoards of tourists that frequent the area. After walking up to the center, numerous tango dancers will come up to offer photos with them at a cost, countless restaurateurs will do their best to lure you into their delicious but pricey restaurants, and the street vendors and artists are will be ready to sell you their wares. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the intense feel of commercialization, however, once you enter La Bombonera or walk a few blocks from the main tourist center, the surroundings are genuinely local.
We found numerous restaurants with excellent food for half the price of anything downtown, and on the way to the game dozens of street vendors sell freshly made and ready grilled choripans (a chorizo sausage on a bun) and other delights. The most exciting part?…Joining the local flavor in the cheap general admission seats at the game surrounds you with the crazy futbol fans of the local team. Just above this section are the seats for the opposing team. Towards the end of the game we learned the reason why these fans are separated while listening to the craziest of the local fans yelling obscenities to the opposing spectators through a small opening of chainlink fence on the stairs. Then you wait.
We sat in our seats for about 30 minutes in what I like to call the post-game home team fan detention center. I guess this allows the local fans to blow off a little steam while the poor visiting fans can get away unhurt. As soon as the gates opened up to let us leave the entire mob of fans started to push their way toward the exit. It is a unnerving feeling when the crowd is essentially carrying you toward the exit whether you want to go or not. The mob pushed us through the stinky stadium hallways with the distinctive smell of urine, and our the doors to the street where the locals hooted and hollered all the way to the bus stop. After a short wait we were on the bus with the fans on the way home rolling by numerous police officers ready for any rowdiness that may ensue.
Latin Americans take their futbol very seriously and a match somewhere down here is not to be missed as part of the adventure. The energy surrounding these events is something that everyone should see once in their lives.
The Streets of La Boca