Sunday, April 14, 2013

J is for Juego

Juego (hwaygo) is Spanish for game.

I went to two football (soccer) games in South America a few years ago. They were very different. The first was in a small city. It was pretty standard but there weren't any assigned seats, so it was a bit of a free for all. My friends showed me which side of the arena I was supposed to support. One side was a bit dilapidated though, so most people were on the same side or at the ends. I can honestly say it was the worst game I've ever had to watch. It included three misses at empty goals. They fumbled passes, grouped together, and generally made me think I could've played without making it any worse! The highlight was when a fight broke out which ALL of the players decided to get involved in. I then learned why the side of the pitch had been lined with police officers. They all jumped in and started pulling people apart and it was like, woahhhh what just happened? I didn't even see how it started. My friends said that I should prepare to run, because if the crowd got into it to, it would get nasty. However, the police managed to get it under control and the game continued. People were eating a candy which you chew for about a minute and then spit out. Not sure exactly what it was, but it was sweet, and the whole place was really dirty since everybody was spitting it out again, so that's a bit disgusting.

The second game was in Lima. I went to watch two popular teams place at a much larger arena. They played much more professionally. When we got into the arena men and women had to get into separate lines to be checked by male and female officers respectively. All of my male friends got through no problem, even though I'm sure one of them was drunk. However, my extremely naive 19 year old face obviously looked like a threat to everybody as I got pulled aside and throughly padded down and asked what my purpose was in attending the event (seriously...worse than customs). I told her I just wanted to watch the game which was obviously a very sketchy answer as she demanded that I open my bag. She took EVERYTHING out of it while my friends watched amusedly from across the way and people in the queue probably thought I was a terrorist or something as nobody else was receiving this special treatment. She even opened my wallet and pulled out all of my cards to examine them- she spent the most time looking at my air miles card- fascinating as it is. Evidently she was satisfied as I got waved through to my hilarious friends who thought it was so funny. We weren't sitting in the "barra brava" as my friends seemed to think I wouldn't make it. I did see why they thought that though, because they were very rowdy and super addicted to the game and I might have been crushed. My friends said that if it were a qualifying game it would be dangerous to wear a shirt supporting either side when leaving the arena as barra brava fans liked to engage in fights with opposite teams. Must be like England in the 70s. The atmosphere at the game was amazing, people singing and dancing- there were entire orchestras!

Going to a qualifying game still remains on my bucket list. I want to experience the atmosphere (not the fights so much though)!

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