Sunday, Sep 25, 2016

Today Cuenca plays Guayaquil in futbol. Chase, Easton, and I are meeting Scott and Colleen at a restaurant across from the stadium for coffee before we go into the game. Heidi is passing on our futbol game because her Broncos are playing football at the same time. She is so North American. 😉


Keeping Out the Crowd

When we arrived at the restaurant, it had a chain and lock on the gate. The waiters were standing in the open air restaurant and saw us wanting to enter. They came to the gate, let us in and locked it again. I said to Chase and Easton, “why would they want to lock their gate and keep people out?” It didn’t take too long to understand why.

As we sat at the table drinking our coffee watching the activity at and around the stadium, it started to get rowdy. Fans who were already in the stadium were up at the top spitting and throwing things on people walking on the street below. These were Cuenca fans, by the color of their jerseys , at the top of the stadium. I assume they were taunting the Guayaquil fans that walked below.

Several police were on horse back, dressed in riot gear, sitting on horses covered with kevlar blankets. It was an interesting visual experience to have. Suddenly there was a roar from the crowd in the street, there were sounds of hooves on the pavement, and cops with riot shields running toward the group of people massed near us. I’m not sure if it was a fight or someone got injured from things being thrown down from the top of the stadium, but as the crowd cleared I could see one guy crouched on the asphalt.

As I watched this drinking my coffee I was glad the gate to the restaurant was chained and locked. Scott and Colleen hadn’t shown up yet, and the three of us just looked at each other wondering if we really wanted to go inside this stadium.

Scott and Colleen arrived, with their friends, June and Baird. We all sat at the table in the restaurant looking at the long line and decided we probably should go get our seats. We had bought preferred seating tickets for this game, so we thought that must mean it was the very short line going into the stadium. It wasn’t.

In fact, I believe the preferred line was actually longer than the general admission line. We stood in this line for over 30 minutes before we were at the entrance to the stadium. As we peered through the door we could see people literally packed like sardines on the stairs leading to the seats, and no one was moving. It looked like this stadium was beyond capacity.

Scott and I were in the front of our group and next to enter through the doors, but they just closed the doors on us. Here we stood looking at a gray closed-door, with a line of people still behind us. We had been shut out. Did I mention that the ticket price for this game had been doubled?

I was amazed at how this was going down. Scott, Colleen, and I stepped out of line while Chase, Easton, June, and Baird held our position in the long line that still waited outside. In about 5 min or so, a single door opened and everyone in the line just pushed toward the door.

We were back with our group and there was no longer a line but a mass of people all trying to funnel through a single narrow door. A man next to me, who wasn’t aligned with the door, was pushing hard into me. I could feel the press of people behind me. I just stayed focused to keep aligned with the opening so I wouldn’t be pushed aside or squished on either side of the door.

We all made it in to the stadium and there was absolutely no place to sit. The place was packed. It is obvious that the organizers sell many more tickets than available seating. We made our way to the fence and maneuvered a section along it to stand and watch the game.

At this point Scott realized he didn’t have his phone. During the press of people getting into the stadium, someone had pick pocketed him and stole it. Uuugh! Shit like that just pisses me off. It makes me wonder when I felt the guy on my right pressing so hard into me if he may have been a pick pocket. My phone was in my jacket in a zipped pocket.

Scott and Colleen decided to leave so they could get to a computer and lock his stolen phone up. Damage control. We stayed for the game and I watched it through a couple of openings in the chain link fence. Literally. There were people standing behind me so I couldn’t even back up a bit. If I created any space at all, someone would try to push in front of me and fill it.

This is a law of physics here in Ecuador…any vacuum created will instantly be filled with a local Ecuadorian. This isn’t a judgment, it is a fact based on my experiences standing in many different lines in this country. While we were standing in line coming into the stadium, there was a one person gap, and a man cut and stood in it, then the other 3 members of his family followed him. It is how it is done here.

My view of the game

My view of the game

The game was actually fun to watch. We thought our preferred seating would be the area of the stadium with cover, but it wasn’t. Luckily it only rained for a short time, then the sun came out. It was an action filled game but unfortunately Cuenca lost to Guayaquil, 0-1.

After the game, Cuenca vs Guayaquil

After the game, Cuenca vs Guayaquil

As we made our way out of the stadium in the push of people, I kept my hand on my pocket where my phone was.