Beauty, futbal and near death... Brilliant.

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, October 21, 2006

There's something about a near-death crushing at an Argentinean football match. I'm not sure what it is. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's not just the pre pandemonium - the fact that, having attended so many crazy football games of football in my life, nothing even comes anywhere close to this level of fanaticism; it's not just the exhilaration of being at El Monumental, one of the great football stadiums of the world; it's not just the absolute confusion of the experience - forever trying to comprehend what the fuck is going on - no: it's something more. I think it has something to do with the whole near-death experience. You know - the 'your life flashing before yours eyes' thing. Well, pushed up against a wall after the opening River Plate goal, gasping for air, thinking that this wouldn't be a bad way to go out, one of these near death experiences came to me - all the important significant moments of my life flashing before my eyes - like that racing car ice-cream cake that I had at my 8th birthday; finishing space quest 1 for the first time ('put rock on geyser'); the first prawn dumpling that I ever had at yum cha - those moments that changed me forever. Indeed, having survived El Monumental - the crushing and the hooligans; having had the insight of the near death experience, I came away from the stadium with a learning that I will, without any doubt, never, ever forget and that has changed me forever: that River Plate games are fucking madness. Living the dream...

Anyone hungry? Yes? Two words - tenedor libre. Parilla libre to some. What does it mean you ask? Well, to most it means trouble - gluttony, excess, pain. To others, it means illness, perhaps even near death if not death itself. To all, however, it means 'all you can eat'. But they're not just those old regular sizzler style all you can eat places - oh no. They're Argentinean - and that means meat. Meat meat fucking meat. Fine Argentinean steaks fresh from the grill - choose the part of the cow that you want. Don't fancy beef? Fine. Chorizo it up. Grilled chicken - do it. Pork chops, pork anything - all over it. Pretty much any meat meat fucking meat you want. And of course, all of the other regular waste of space that buffets offer. Madness. Sounds expensive I hear you say. Wait for it... $4. Aussie. Sometimes $3. You're joking me. You're killing me. Eating the dream...

Buenos Aires: I'm calling it. A top 5 city of my trip so far. And that's a big rap considering the competition: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Berlin, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Madrid, Barcelona, Marrakesh, Perth. But without doubt, it lies within the greats of these cities. Buenos Aires is completely and utterly brilliant. It's romantic and beautiful - the long tree lined avenues and colonial architecture generally exquisite, especially lit by the golden rays of the setting sun; it's overflowing with culture - tango shows appearing in bars, restaurants, pedestrian malls everywhere; the Teatro COlon - the finest opera house that I have ever bee in - charging only $2 for a standing position in the Paraiso looking down on the six stories of the opulent theatre - a bargain even though I had little idea as to what was going on in Mussorgsky's Boris Gudonov - the Russian with Spanish surtitles not a massive help to me; the nightlife is out of control in both the hostel and the city proper - and I mean out of control; and the city just exudes a wonderful atmosphere. And while it is equal to culture and sophistication to almost any european city I've been to, it is cheap cheap cheap. 3rd world cheap. Brilliant.

Buenos Aires seems to be all about testing your limit. It's there in almost everything I've mentioned: the football, the food, the nightlife, in everything it does. It drives you to near death experience after near death experience, almost like an addiction. And I love it. In fact, I may well be addicted. Luckily, the first step is always admission. 'Hi. My name's Mark and I'm addicted to Buenos Aires. I may never leave. And it's not just me. Buenos Aires just sucks people in. I can feel it happening to me, helpless against the results. There are people in the hostel who intended to stay for a week and are going on a month. Hmmm - I may never leave. On top of this, Brazil is fucking killing me. Visa application form questions 21 - 23:
'Name and address of person, company or institution in Brasil than can contact you' - what the fuck?
'Date and place of entry?' I don't know...
'Address and phone number of places you will be staying' - you're joking me.
The Brazilian government has clearly never contemplated the concept of impoverished, disorganised, 'don't never know what is going on, i'll just wing it' - backpacker. Several trips to the Brazilian consulate now sees all my clothes completely covered in red tape - and still without success. And I need this visa before I leave Buenos Aires. Luckily I'm in no rush. I may never leave.

So, to the Top 5. I just can't go past it. Football. River Plate. It was, indeed, a very special experience. Mad. And, especially with those football fans out there, I want to share the madness. Therefore, this Top 5 is a special video instalment of the Top 5. Go to the pictures and movies to view ?the top 5 things that happen at a river Plate game', which are described below:

5. Prior to the game, prior to their entering the stadium, Las Barrachos - the drunks - the fanatical River Plate supporters group, beat drums announcing their imminent arrival. The drums grow louder and louder as they enter the stadium until they finally reach the River Plate end with a mass of umbrellas and the whole crowd chanting. Awesome.

4. There's a big screen. What do they show on it? The game? No. The score? Nada. Highlights? Nup. Hot chicks. Eating icy poles. Brilliant...

3. for one of the chants, all of the fans at the River Plate end jump up and down creating a fluid mass of bodies like a wave. The whole stadium shakes just a little bit. (Unfortunately - the video doesn't quite capture the jumping at it's best - only the end... average)

2. Victorious shirt twirling. Just when you'd thought you'd seen it all, the final whistle brings a hypnotic scene of red, black and white spinning all around. Possibly better than West Coast v Essendon...

1. At half time, to cool off the spectators burning in the sun, a giant water cannon is sprayed all over the stands at either end. Brilliant. Fucking brilliant...

And there's Boca Juniors next week. I may never leave...
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scottwoz on

Superb entry mate, laughed my tits off..

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