We all know Argentina is a football country, but really to what extent, only being here in Buenos Aires during World Cup could give you a glimpse of understanding of actually how serious football is to them. Let me share some of my observations when the national team was playing South Korea last Thursday morning (June 17).
1) It was a morning game, starting at 8:30am, which was during the prime time of rush hour. Usually at this time on a normal day, every street is buzzing with cars, buses and people. Especially in area like Once, where loads of people making connections from train to buses with many huge waiting lines. You will see buses full of people barely able to close the doors and the lines are still not getting any shorter…well, you get the picture. On that very morning, when I passed by that exact same area at the same time like I do everyday, it was a complete ghost town!! Not to mention a line, there was not even a single soul, the bus ticket men who were supposed to be working weren’t there either. It was quieter than a public holiday, it was really an unbelievable scene!
2) After comparing notes with my friend, the ‘rush’ actually occurred an hour earlier because all these commuters had already gotten into town, well settled down in a cafe somewhere way ahead of the start time. Knowing all of these out of towners usually have to start their commute quite early in the morning, imagine on that very day how much earlier they had to get up to fit in the game!
3) Taxis were extremely scarce that morning. I have witnessed an empty taxi, ignored the people flagging down the street, turned swiftly and disappeared into a garage. I guess money can wait, but never for a football game!
4) Almost every café and restaurant I’ve passed by was completely packed, and everyone was sitting and facing one direction with their heads up. It was pretty obvious that the couple places that were empty was because they didn’t have a TV! I felt sad for the waiters in there but I bet they had a radio.
5) Banks were closed during business hours. The given reason was that since there wasn’t anyone around, it’s safer just to close it for the couple of hours… wow!
6) As described above that it was a ghost town everywhere during game time but if you were travelling/walking in the middle of an empty street, far far away from any technology, you don’t need to worry about missing out on any goal moment, because when we had a goal, you’ll hear ‘goooooooooooooooool’, honking, screaming, cheering among other variations…right on the 0.00001 second. You’ll know it faster than any internet alert, blog update, twitter can give you. Let’s just say that you’ll be notified no matter where you are!
7) I was told that instead of having classes at that time, children in school were actually watching the game. I need someone to verify this for me but I’m not surprised. Why didn’t my school do that when I was a kid??!
8 ) ADDITION: I had a brief conversation with a middle-aged Argentine lady today (June 22), when Argentina is going to play Greece at 3:30pm. She told me that she has some trouble with her arm and she tried to make an appointment with her doctor this morning but she was told that if she could come at 2pm, they could still see her, or else they’ll reopen at 6pm. mmm… closed between 2pm – 6pm…I wonder why?
So in conclusion, when game is on, don’t fight it, find a TV and watch the game! Speaking of which, I have to go get ready!