It turned out to be an “athletic” themed weekend this past weekend. It all started Friday when our group went to tour the neighborhood of La Boca. La Boca is a small neighborhood, well known for its “Caminito” or little, colorful streets. As one of the first neighborhoods developed in Buenos Aires right along the ports it was an immigrant melting pot. Filled with little boarding houses cramped with upwards of eight to ten people stuffed into one or two rooms, the boarding houses have now been turned into restaurants and/or tourist hot spots. Vendors fill the streets with leather goods, mate cups, paintings and other works of art all depicting the colorful life in Buenos Aires, oh and there are plenty of individuals selling churros, which I simply could not resist. But on this visit we toured the museum of Quinquela Martín, a world-renowned painter from La Boca. Interestingly enough the museum was actually the apartment that he lived in during his time in Buenos Aires, and for such a successful and wealthy man his apartment was refreshingly humble.
Afterwards we gradually made our way to the main attraction of the day, the fútbol stadium! There are two main teams in Argentina, La Boca Juniors and River Plate. You either love one or despise the other, there is no in between. But just as casual, non-partisan tourists and observers we walked into the la boca stadium and toured through the museum, highlighting the history of the team and its successes. The stadium was empty except for a few other tourists like us but you could only imagine how packed and crazy it would be on game days. The stadium was constructed with a vertical element so as to make spectators feel as close to the action as they could, and to everyone around them as well. When it comes to fútbol around here personal space is subordinated to the cheers and rallies for your team; so much so that our tour guide warned us that if we ever came to a game here to come in groups for it can be dangerous for unaware foreigners.
The following day I took part in a much tamer athletic event, but one that was fun and exciting never the less. The school that I am currently attending, la Universidad de Belgrano, was hosting a 10K race in celebration of its 50th anniversary. A couple of us decided it would be fun to do, or at least try! I was questioning my rationale when my alarm sounded around 7:30 that morning but I reluctantly forced myself out of bed and laced up my shoes, (remind you I have never run a 10K before or even remotely trained for this). But we all figured we had our youth on our side and could just wing it. And I was so happy that I did it! The start/finish took place at the city’s polo grounds, which were gorgeous, and it could not have been a more perfect morning. The sun was just coming up as we started, it wasn’t too hot or cold, and we ran through some of the city’s most gorgeous parks. The scenery and excitement of it all made time fly and before I knew it we were crossing the finish line, I even got a medal to celebrate my spur of the moment decision! J Afterwards we were all experiencing that “runners high” and already discussing plans for our next race.
Just like many other weekends, it ended too soon but it was a great time learning more about the culture and its affinity for activity not only by being a spectator but a participant as well. For when in Argentina, why not?!