Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{fútbol fieldtrip}

Nolan definitely learned to love all things Argentine.  Fútbol was at the top of the list before he even arrived in the country.  We may joke about soccer mom's in the States but fútbol is almost a religion in Argentina.  Everyone has a favorite team and families don't necessarily cheer for the same one.

Since Boca is Nolan's team and Boca Stadium was not far away a fútbol fieldtrip was in order.  
This was as close as he'd gotten to Boca Stadium in  two years . . .
Coca-Cola and Adidas are huge sponsors and advertisers in Argentina.  Their names appear everywhere.  Boca's colors are obviously blue and yellow.  Their legendary rivals are River Plate.  River's colors are red and white.  Normally Coca-Cola and Red & White go together but NOT on Boca stadium! A very impartial black and white is the only suitable option.  {We did pass by River's stadium and Coca-Cola's red & white banners were right at home.}

Fútbol, or soccer, was often the topic of conversation and we liked to ask people which was their favorite team.  The most popular answers were Boca, River, and Independiente. The poor River fans are loyal yet suffering.  Every year the teams compete in a championship series or something and the top teams form the "A's" or major leagues.  For the first time in history River is in the "B's" or minor league.  Naturally no one wants to let that slip by when they meet a River fan!  Imagine the disgrace! haha

Nolan had very few request.  Actually, going to Boca Stadium might have been the only one!
He had taught and baptized the Albarracin family a few months ago . . .
Marcelo, the father, is also a huge Boca fan and we were privileged to visit Boca Stadium with them!
{I won't mention that the other family members were River and Independiente fans.}

Emir had school that morning and wasn't able to go with us but we had the best time with Marcelo, Mari, and Geronimo.  Once again, I learned what it means to be gracious, thoughtful, and the perfect host . . . and we were taking the bus and visiting a soccer stadium.  These people are amazing!

We took a bus to Boca Stadium and arrived before it opened. We walked around, took pictures, and visited a few of the tourist shops selling Boca paraphernalia.

The entire neighborhood has Boca fever and almost everything on the street was painted blue and yellow.  I loved it!
No self-respecting stadium could have plain sidewalks.  Boca has it's own sidewalk of fame so we had to search out it's most famous players!  Riquelme . . .
 If the shoe fits . . .
. . . too bad it doesn't!

I didn't know all the players but true fans knew what they were looking for . . .

However, even I knew to look for Diego Maradona . . . I think he should add his hand or footprints so his adoring fans can say they touched it!

I was also quick to recognize #10 - Messi, in one of the souvenir shops.

Okay, so we all watched the World Cup and we could all identify Messi . . .

While Messi gets to hold a soccer ball - oops, fútbol - in the shop . . . el Diego gets the trophy!

I don't think Maradona's going to give up that trophy any time soon . . .
{P.S.  If you're ever there, I don't recommend removing the trophy from his grip.  My Spanish isn't great but I got the idea that the store owner prefers for you not to.  I just got that impression from watching my guys.}

Boca Stadium opened it's doors and we stepped inside . . .

. . . as my eyes took in this colorful sight I have to admit that I felt something!  I had a flicker of feeling for what those devoted fans feel when they walk into this stadium.  Apparently they leave a little of their passion for the rest of us because it was super cool!  I know.  I thought going to see a foreign stadium sounded pointless too.  Nope. It was a little magical.  I've been to Boca Stadium!!

The moment wasn't lost on Nolan!

We were standing in a place that hundreds of thousands of people want to stand.  I started feeling pretty special.

Marcelo was ectastic!  That made it even better.  We learned that fans literally climb on this fence during the game to watch so Marcelo and Nolan fulfilled a dream . . . they climbed the fence.  I don't know that it was ever Keaton's dream but he was quick to make it one.

Nolan's always been a climber and wanted to REALLY live his dream.


I can only imagine dozens of fans hanging on this fence during a game!  In my imagination it is dangerous and painful.

The grass was so lush and inviting that I HAD to touch it.  Yep, I squeezed my arm through the fence so I could touch real fútbol turf.

I'm an idiot.  THEN, I discovered an area that provided a pain free way to touch the turf.  In case you're wondering, it felt like fabulously lush, thick, grass.  Even if I'm an idiot I can say I touched it. ;)

I am so grateful we had the opportunity to go with the Albarracin family.  It really wouldn't have been as wonderful without them!

It doesn't seem that anyone could be very hospitable while riding a city bus or visiting a soccer stadium but I learned differently.  I felt so embarrassed of my general thoughtless behavior when I was with this family.

Marcelo was always the last one to get on the bus and the last one to get off because he was constantly watching over us.  He wanted to make certain we didn't miss any of the buses or get lost in the crowd and miss a stop.  If there was an empty seat on a bus they insisted I take it.

Words fail to convey their graciousness and the way they treated us.  How I wish I could speak Spanish!  I wish I could convey to them my appreciation and love for their family.  I'm struggling to find the words in English to describe the experience.  I guess I just always felt safe, loved, esteemed, and  humbled by their constant attention to details.  Mari was every bit as incredible.  Perhaps I could describe them as the pinnacle of considerate.

They are just beautiful people!  Every time I see this picture I just want to hug them again.

The bronze statue of Diego Maradona at the entrance of Boca Stadium represents a country's hero.  The real hereos of Argentina are people like Marcelo, Mari, and Geronimo.  What a privilege to visit the stadium of a soccer legend with some of my hereos!