Returning to Buenos Aires and My First South American Soccer Match

In mid-May I returned to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, a city I inhabited in the summer. This time I was lucky enough to spend time with Rebecca and her enthusiastic children Kaye and Robbie in Belgrano. West of Palermo, Belgrano is one of Buenos Aires’ grandest suburbs, full of old mansions and tree-lined streets.

I was also fortunate to catch up with Australian expatriate Pat. Pat is a mad Huracan fan. Huracan is the best Buenos Aires soccer team no one has heard of. If you come to Buenos Aires, don’t ride on the Boca Juniors, Racing Club or River Plate bandwagons, join Huracan’s passionate supporters instead. Pat initiated me into Huracan at a Primera Division match against Unión de Santa Fe.

Huracan Match, Buenos Aires, Argentina

With Pat at Huracan’s Tomás Adolfo Ducó Stadium; note the empty ‘away’ end

Argentinian soccer is somewhat different to other sports or leagues I have observed. Due to childish behaviour exhibited by supporters, opposition fans are not allowed to attend games. The policing and logistics required to manage separate groups of immature adolescents fans are too much for the cash-strapped country to deal with.

Huracan versus Unión de Santa Fe had its own controversy. Play stopped for several minutes in the first half for a sign threatening the referee to be taken down.

Huracan Match, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Huracan fans removing the sign threatening the referee; note in the background how close the pitch line is to the sidelines

Huracan Match, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Passionate Huracan supporters chanted throughout the match; select fans held onto giant ribbons while giving it their all for the team

Huracan Match, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before the match, at half time and after the final whistle bouncy tunnels inflated onto the pitch, protecting players and officials from any projectiles thrown by the crowd

Despite having most of the possession and more shots at goal, Huracan didn’t win, drawing 1:1. Overall the match was a fun introduction to South American soccer and a wonderful way to spend time with Pat and his fellow Huracan fanatics.

Video footage of the match start and the crowd cheering for a Huracan player returning after long term injury

From Belgrano I moved to San Telmo, a very different suburb in central Buenos Aires. San Telmo was settled early in the city’s history and is more crowded than Belgrano.

When asked for a steak restaurant, my hostel recommended Gran Parrilla del Plata, where Michelle Obama had eaten two months earlier. The steak and salad were delicious but the wine stood out. For 29 pesos (AUD $2.80) I received a giant glass of quality Argentinian red wine. I had only consumed half before completing my meal and I was tipsy by the end.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

My meal and giant glass of wine at steak restaurant Gran Parrilla del Plata

At the hostel I met Selvinaz from Istanbul. Putting two and two together, I guessed she was a colleague of my friend Noriko’s. I was right! Hostel America del Sur organises walking tours and I joined in the tour around San Telmo and La Boca. San Telmo has character and I would love to further explore its streets in warmer, drier weather.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

A vegetable stall at San Telmo Market. Argentina has some of the best garlic I’ve ever cooked and eaten

The tour concluded in La Boca, another old Buenos Aires suburb famous for its port and being the home of Boca Juniors soccer club. La Boca also has a poor reputation for safety. Boca’s yellow and blue colours were everywhere in the stadium precinct and I wouldn’t wear an opposing team’s kit there.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The walking tour group outside Boca Juniors’ stadium

Time came to again farewell Buenos Aires. Upon departure I rode a suburban bus to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, the convenient inner city airport. Puerto Iguazu with its waterfalls was my next destination.