Written by Jacqueline Newell
80 minutes ago, the showdown between Argentina and Uruguay began. I obviously did not shell out the pesos for a ticket because if I did, I would not be writing this. But, just because I’m not in the stadium doesn’t mean I didn’t have my part in all the action.
Yesterday I left my office to find my boyfriend, Juan, waiting outside of the Park Hyatt. He had told me that the two teams would be staying in hotels near my apartment and I thought that when he told me he wanted to see the teams, it would take 30 minutes tops. I was mistaken. The space started to fill in and Juan and I were soon surrounded by screaming Uruguayans. We even managed to make it on to TV as everyone around us was being interviewed.
After 2 hours of standing, the Uruguay team finally made their appearance – it took all of 1 minute for them to get off the bus and into the hotel. Once they were inside, we made our way to the Diplomatic Hotel where the Argentinian team was staying. Hundreds of people were crowded outside, filling the street and blocking the train tracks. They too hustled into the hotel. But quick appearance aside, the masses lingered. The waited, staring up at the hotel windows, waiting for players to wave down. (Were they players waving or just other hotel guests having a laugh?)
Today was a different story. I walked by the Park Hyatt once more and saw the Uruguay fans lining the street. But this time, I didn’t stop. I wanted to see that streak of bleach blonde hair that is Lionel Messi. So I headed back to the Diplomatic and its hoards of fans. All day long there were cameras at the ready, folks playing hooky.
As I walked by, the bus rumbled to a start and I thought, what the hell? I’ll stay. As the players walked the 20 feet between the hotel and the bus, the crowds went wild. So wild, in fact, that they broke down the metal barriers and made a run for it. They crawled and clambered, looking for their favorite players inside the bus. The police moved forward and I made my exit… until I realized that I was in the perfect place to see the bus go by.
As it passed, I finally saw it, the streak of white in the 2nd story window. He waved and gave everyone a thumbs up as he slowly passed by. That is, until the bus couldn’t make the turn and everyone sprinted and hovered below his window, jumping to the chants of “Messi! Messi!” And I, of course, followed their lead. Jumping and screaming, I’m 96.7% sure that Messi waved back to me.
Once the bus was about the make the turn, the crowds pivoted and started sprinting down the block to catch the bus going by again. Rage and passion were spewing over as the crowd ran through traffic and angry teenagers jumped into the gutter to find broken glass to throw at police officers.
And, on that note, I went home.