Friday afternoon I decided to push my boundaries a bit and take a solo mission over to the Ecuador vs Venezuela World Cup Qualifier match and try to grab a ticket.
I’ve never been to a sporting event by myself, yet alone one in a foreign city, so I figured this would be a fun little test.
I hopped on a public bus a few blocks from the hostel and followed a mob of Ecuador fans over to the Olympic Stadium where a crowd had been gathering for hours.
I was pushed off the bus outside the stadium and immediately swept up in the electricity of the event.
Fighting through a sea of yellow, red and blue, I went around to different scalpers scattered around the main entrance for price quotes and availability. Luckily, just outside the main entrance there was a giant map of the stadium and all the labeled sections (first one I’ve seen in South America), so I studied that and picked a section before I committed to anything.
Tickets ranged from $30 to $65 on the street, so to be certain, I asked the main ticket office to see if they had seats still available. They did so I bought one from them at midfield for $30 bucks.
The men at the gates were ticket checkers instead of riot police, crazy!
Once I entered into the stadium and cruised around a bit, I eventually found an open space just to the right of midfield. As I got acquainted with my neighbors and surroundings, I was in owe at the scene around me.
Beers and bottles of liquor were being passed around like nothing. Stadium vendors patrolled the stands with everything from cigarettes and ice cream to pitchers of beer and bowls of mystery meat with potatoes.
In Argentina you’d be lucky to get a hotdog or warm coke and in Colombia you’d be satisfied with a smuggled joint.
Sure, fireworks were set off and fights broke out and people threw stuff at police blockaded Venezuela fans, but everyone seemed so well behaved and sophisticated in comparison. Even the popular section wasn’t as rowdy I had hoped.
I hate to say it but I think Oakland Raiders fans could have gave them a run for their money. But, I would imagine the fans during league play in Ecuador get a little crazier.
The match itself was perfect for Ecuadorian fans. They controlled most of the game and scored once early and again late.
Goals were celebrated with screaming and jumping around like you’d see in the States, followed by everyone sitting back down.
There wasn’t an avalanche down the stands after a goal or 90 minutes of jumping and singing.
It was just a good ‘ol rowdy, family-friendly South American futbol match. The perfect platform for my first solo sporting event.
Next time I’m bringing the fireworks.