Professional Fútbol in La Paz

June 6, 2010 (Day 19)

Our day started off with a walk around La Paz and a visit to the Witches' Market.  The setting was not quite as I envisioned it but if you are ever looking for alpaca embryos, animal parts, mysterious concoctions, good luck charms, and other sorcery items, then this would be the place to start.  The storekeepers, probably experienced in tourists just looking and not buying, were not eager to sell us anything, and quite frankly, I was not in the mood to get cursed, so we continued on our way through town.

At the top of our "nice to do" list was the opportunity to watch a soccer game.  South Americans are passionate about their fútbol so if there was a chance to catch a game on our trip, we were going to jump on that chance and so we did.

Bolivar vs. Wilstermann
The riot squad is slowly growing in numbers, styrofoam seat cushions are selling like hotcakes, walk-up tickets sales are brisk, and the three Canadian soccer fans are all decked out in Bolivar gear. Let's hope our tickets are in the right section!  

We entered the stadium and our daypacks were checked.  Everything was ok but we had to empty our water bottles. Ok, no problem. We headed our section and picked some good seats, and looked at the endzone, only to see the visiting team's fans running around with flares, and the game hasn't even started yet.  

The visiting team enters the pitch, and firecrackers go off in the endzone seats. Woah, hold on there! No water allowed in the stadium, but flares and firecrackers, they're ok!  Even though the stadium wasn't packed to capacity, excitement was in the air, and the first (and only goal) of the game only heated the fans' passions.  I think I even heard gun shots during the goal celebrations. As the game's officials headed off the pitch at half-time, they were hailed with garbage until the riot squad moved in to provide some protection.  Then in the second half, a dog somehow managed to get on the field, and walk around while play continued in the same zone.  

Eventually, the dog decided it was too hot out there on the field and left at its own discretion across the field.  No special attention was given to the dog as if it were a regular occurence, and perhaps it was.  Next thing you know, the dog right next to me watching the game from the stands!

As the game entered its final moments, we headed for the exits just to encounter mobs of people entering the stadium.  It looked like they just let anyone come in for the final few minutes of the game.  We caught a cab and headed back to the hostal to pick up our packs and headed to the bus station for our 12-hour overnight bus trip to Uyuni.

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