So I’ve been a little MIA lately, but with good reason. I’ve been working on a documentary, and as the premiere is tonight I have been exclusively focused on finishing it, meaning eating, sleeping and yes, even blogging, have fallen to the wayside. Though I have spent almost every waking moment editing (and most of those which should have been sleeping moments), I have had a few opportunities for adventures that are blog-worthy.
Last weekend, I went to Uruguay for the day. After an hour-long ferry ride that left me a little wobbly, my friends and I set foot in Colonia, Uruguay. We exited the buquebus (literally “boatbus”) station, and stood in the middle of the street with no idea where to go. We chose a street framed by arching branches and began our wanderings. Our first activity was trying the typical Uruguayan chivito — a sausage sandwich complete with a fried egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato. At a quaint outdoor table, we watched wild birds flirt with the caged ones that belonged to the café, and attempted to enjoy the stack of dripping ingredients without looking completely barbaric. With normal napkins, a messy meal is no problem. But here they offer thin, waxy sheets that can’t be called absorbent.
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing fairs, artesian shops, and colonial ruins. Bumpy, cobbled streets enticed us down avenues overhung with streetlamps sprouting from mottled walls. After a few hours, we had seen most of the tiny town and found our way to a shrub-shrouded beach where we sat down to relax. After one final café stop for something sweet, we boarded the ferry home.
Last night was probably the complete opposite of my tranquil trip to Colonia. Realizng I only have one week left of my program, I went to a Boca Juniors fútbol game, soccer being the country’s beloved sport. Somehow I managed to do everything the guidebooks tell you not to. Boca stadiums are reputed to be packed with masses of rowdy men, so two girls venturing to the game in the shady neighborhood of La Boca probably wasn’t the smartest of choices. Second mistake: showing up without tickets after the ticket offices had closed. After an unsuccessful attempt to identify a scalper, one finally found us. We bargained down his inflated prices to what seemed reasonable for two tickets in a mid-level section.
Of course, when we reached our seats, we realized we’d been tricked and didn’t have seats at all. We were in the populares area, the infamously dangerous mob assembled on concrete yellow steps. Finding a piece of concrete to stand on required weaving our way through jerseyed-fans until we found an empty pocket completely free of people. We situated ourselves there, excited for the kickoff. Unfortunately, there is a reason nobody stands there, which we realized all too soon. We were directly below the edge of the upper section which housed the opposing team, and felt (literally) the consequences of their fanatical fury. Gobs of spit spattered down upon us in an unforeseen assault. Bags filled with liquid that I suspect was urine sailed down, exploding in wet splats. The hail of drinks and bodily fluids drove us to scamper upwards under the protection of the balcony, while those around us responded with chants of further instigation.
Despite the unpleasant precipitation, the game was lots of fun. The Boca fans never stopped singing, moving from one chant to the next, taking cues from the section across that was a mass of blue and yellow. Pumping fists and torsos bounced in perfect unison. At intervals, a cloud of confetti would poof from the stands, as fans would rip up newspaper to contribute to the supportive showers. Everyone around us bustled in the fervor, screaming profanities when an unfavorable call was made and exploding in ecstasy and embraces when the ball slapped into the correct net. Fortunately, Boca won the game, meaning our neighbors remained relatively peaceful, though this further antagonized the rivals above. Being thrown in among unruly Argentines turned out to be a great experience. I even learned a few chants: “Dale dale Boca…”