Boca Juniors, Steak and Rose

I was determined to pick up some spanish along the way. How would I ever marry Shakira without speaking her native language? Yes. There are many other problems with this plan but spanish is a start. When Mags would depart us, me and Omar would have to negotiate our way through South America with no spanish. This would have proven so difficult. We enrolled in a class back in Dublin but it seemed to be just a class for old people to order food on holidays or to pass the time. I did have moments in that class where I actually had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing. 3 moments in particular;

1) After class ends, Omar stands up to a class of 60 year olds and goes “Class drinks?!”

2) Billy. Oh billy. Billy was about 70 years old and enjoyed a good nap in class. One day, he turned to me and Omar and out of nowhere goes, “Lads, I have no idea what is going on”

3) The best for last. The love of my life. She was about a thousand years old. In one of the early classes, we went around introducing ourselves in spanish. “My name is blah blah blah.”. It comes to this angel and she says “My name is Rose” (in spanish obviously). The teacher looks puzzled and checks her list of names. No Rose on the list. The teacher asks what her name was. “Monica”. Did she adopt a spanish name or something? My god, I think a tear fell from my eye as I was trying to contain myself.

So yeah, those spanish classes while thoroughly entertaining did not achieve much. On arrival to Buenos Aires, we attempted spanish classes once more. It was with a company called “Ibero”. I would recommend it. Going to school in Buenos Aires everyday and to return to an apartment was a brilliant experience. I think I enjoyed pretending to be a normal person. Me and Omar did it for the first week and Leah joined us for the final two. I felt I learnt a lot and got a good grip of the basics. In fairness to us, we were very disciplined. We always did our homework and often studied. God, we are such nerds. The only problem with the class was the teacher only spoke spanish which at times was very beneficial but to explain grammer, you do need someone to discuss it in layman’s terms. We had a teacher who could speak english one day to fill in for our regular teacher. It was so much better. When he found out that we were Irish, he was delighted and explained his undying love for Enya. An argentinian man, no older than 30, loves Enya. Odd.

                                              Colourful streets of La Boca

                                              Colourful streets of La Boca

La Boca and Boca Juniors was maybe the highlight of my Buenos Aires experience. We went on a bus tour around Buenos Aires and hopped off in La Boca. La Boca is a slum in Buenos Aires and is apparently very dangerous but they have an area for tourists. It was such a cool place. Big bright buildings and tango in the streets. Me and Omar were fortunate enough to get tickets for their (and legendary Striker, Martin Palermo’s last ever game) final home game of the season.

This was our second attempt at going to a Boca game. The first was a disaster. Omar’s Dad has a pal who works in association with Boca Juniors and got us tickets for a game. Absolutely brilliant news. All we had to do was ring him on the morning of the game and organise the pick up of the tickets. Easy as pie! I never understood that, is pie easy? We went out the night before the game. We arrived home at some mental time in the morning (as is the argentinian way). We set our alarms for 12.00pm so we can call our contact. Alarm goes off and we head down to a payphone to call him. It went a little something like this;

Omar – “hello alejandro. This is Omar. You asked us to call about tickets.”

Alejandro – “Eh, yeah. I have the tickets but it is half time.”

Omar – “Half time? I thought it kicked off at 4?”

Alejandro – “It did.”

Omar looks at me with horror and asks me for the time. It is quarter to five. Absolute disaster. God, I still cringe when thinking about it. After minutes of apologising. We hung up. Most embarrassed boys ever.

We were still determined to see a Boca game and obviously we severed any chance of getting a ticket of that guy. God, we are such a pair of dopes. Why did we not check the time?! How did we not notice it was the evening?! We organised our tickets through a hostel, Millhouse. Good hostel. Would recommend people to stay in it. It is a party hostel and mostly full of horny dudes but can be fun. We paid (I think) 250 peso for a ticket which we found out later only costs 40 peso.

Annoying. After q’ing for ages, we were finally inside the legendary “La Bombonera”. A dream come true. I have always read different things about Boca and the infamous atmosphere but to be amongst it was incredible. We were behind the goals at one end. At first when we entered the ground with other hostellers, our seats (well, place to stand) was not great. Me and Omar left the group and got amongst the Boca fans. Oh, as I mentioned we left with people from the hostel.

We did not really chat to that many on the night but got chatting to Harry. Harry was from england. Harry explained to us that he is not really into “culture”. He explained that before he left England, he did not check the currency exchange rate and subsequently paid about 160e for a journey that should be about 20e. Shocking stuff. He barely seemed to care or was not even slightly embarrassed. I wonder at what point the driver realised that he could take this guy’s money. This guy also asked a question that followed us around the entire South America trip when with guys. “So, where are the best girls?” or “What are the girls in (specific place) like?”. I never knew how to answer these questions. “Yeah, there are girls in this area of the world.” Confusing. We met people who were travelling to a specific part of the world just for the women.

Anyway, the match. Boca were playing Tigres (I think). It seemed to be a relatively pointless mid table battle. Boca did not have a great season but you would never tell the match did not matter. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I have never felt or heard anything like that. For the entire 90 minutes, the crowd sang and danced. We joined in. It ended 1-1 which was the only downside. Boca took the lead and the place went absolutely mental. I was pretty nervous after the first goal went in. Fans always rush to the front, so you receive quite the shove. If Boca thrashed Tigres by 5 or 6, I definitely would have died. After the celebrations calmed down, we survived. In the final few minutes at 1-1, Boca threw everything at the goal. Part of me was dying for an epic last minute winner but at the same time, I was worried how mental the crowd would go! Of course, we wanted that last minute winner from Palermo. There was a huge ceremony for Martin Palermo after the game which was brilliant to see.

                                                      San Martin banner

                                                      San Martin banner

A video of his best moments was played and he gave a speech. He wore a cape for some reason. It was not even a Boca flag draped around him. It was a red cape. Grown men around us were shedding tears. Brilliant scenes. You have to love that football is so much more than a game here. You see “Maradona is God” graffiti everywhere! On the way home, I could not stop smiling. Seeing Boca play was something I have always wanted to do.

It shall definitely be a moment that I shall remember forever. One of the highlights of my trip so far. I still have my Martin Palermo jersey with me now. Great day. I came home and fell asleep smiling. (A running theme of the trip!) One of those things that you always wanted to see/do and it was as good, if not better than expected. If even in the vicinity of Buenos Aires, go see Boca!

                                                        Gracias Palermo!

                                                        Gracias Palermo!

The waiter than comes out of the restaurant and calls us to give back our 2 peso. How embarrassing. Omar said it was for him but he insisted we keep it. Of course, when we returned to a different branch of the same restaurant (to avoid this waiter) we had the same waiter. Brilliant. We made sure to leave a tip this time. What a dickhead move though. It did work as he left a tip this time. However, I stole about 15 lollipops to even out the score. Take that, struggling waiter. San Telmo market is a great spot. Loads of really cool stalls selling loads of different crap. So many excellent presents for people, well potentially. Unfortunately I can’t really be carrying presents for everyone for months and months. We met two interesting american guys who were selling spicey sauce at a stall. They have made a good bit of money from it and hope to open their own kitchen soon. Ambitious folks. If you are there and see them, help out! The sauce is lovely.

We attempted several times to go see a Planetarium. I think there were three attempts. We would arrive at different times and different days but whenever we showed up, it was closed. Pretty annoying as I was hoping to see a Planetarium. Fuck you, Planetarium.

                                                          And I mean it!

                                                          And I mean it!

So the time came to depart Buenos Aires for the final time. As I mentioned before, me and Omar renewed or Visa in Uruguay before heading back. We were heading down south to Patagonia before starting work in Cordoba (back up North) so it was the last we would see Buenos Aires for quite some time. I was pretty delighted to get on the move again but I loved my time in BA. It is an absolutely incredible city and it was a brilliant experience to live in an apartment there. I am sure I will return one day!