Futbol fans really get into a frenzy, jumping around like kangaroos
I have gotten into the habit of always carrying a small camera with me around Ecuador (for those interested, it is a Sony RX-100 MK II). I never know when I will turn a corner and run into something going on that I hadn't expected. Today was a typical example of that. We started off going to Kywi (a large Cuenca hardware store) for some items we needed around the house. About a block away, we started hearing drums, and then trumpets, and changed direction to see what was happening.
We discovered a crowd of young people standing in the square next to Iglesia La Merced (where yesterday's Good Friday parade started) and Coffee Tree (a popular local hangout). At the time, there was only about 30 people there. Since there was also about an equal number of policemen around, we guessed that something bigger was brewing. I asked one of the police (in my broken Spanish) what was going on and when it would start. I was told it had something to do with futbol (aka 'soccer' in North American parlance) and would be starting in about 30 minutes. We decided to grab a beer at Coffee Tree and wait to see how things unfolded.
Soon banners began to spring up around the square. At the time this was going on, we knew only the barest outline of what was happening. This is the scourge of not speaking the local language. I can only dream of someday speaking enough Spanish to figure out details on the fly. As it is, we figured out a lot of after getting home and putting Google plus Google Translate to good use... ☺ These banners were from various towns and clubs near Guayaquil, and represented groups in town to support their team.
We found that this was a major game between the Barcelona Sporting Club and Deportivo Cuenca. The Barcelona Sporting Club is the Guayaquil football team, which is in first place in the national standings. Meanwhile, our local Deportivo Cuenca team is firmly in last place. You can guess the outcome -- Guayaquil beat Cuenca by 3 goals. I read an article at the start of Easter Week, where the local bishop blessed the local team. He was quoted as saying something to the fact that "God does not come down on the field and make goals, but if all members of the team let Jesus into their hearts, perhaps we can pull out of last place..." Apparently Cuenca was the national champion in the past, but has now spent the last two years in last place. The blessing didn't seem to help...
The band piled out of the square and onto the top of a chartered double decker tour bus, and festooned it with more banners. Our later investigation found that the Sur Oscura banners represented a fan club that is considered the "main hooligan" of the Guayaquil team, and is well known for violence at sports events. Apparently the large number of police were not just there for traffic control...
Given that reputation, we felt the crowd was well mannered. They were certainly boisterous, jumping around like kangaroos while chanting their team song over and over (everyone seemed to know the words -- as we passed people on the streets, they would start to mouth the song too!). One guy was setting off rockets using a coke bottle as a base and a lit cigarette as a fuse lighter (that is him in the lower right above), but most were just having fun. We saw no liquor and no drugs anywhere in the crowd. The local newspaper said that the police were planning on putting a barricade in the arena to separate the fans from the two teams though, which sure sounds like trouble in the past.
As an interesting side note, the Cuenca Trash Patrol (my name -- not really sure what they are called?) was out in force in their blue coveralls. They patrolled the area, picking up litter as soon as it was discarded. When the crowd moved on, there was no litter on the ground, everything having already been picked up. I continue to be impressed with the effort the city puts into keeping it clean. Now, if only they could do the same for the graffiti that is taking over parts of town...
Here are a few other photos I liked, but didn't seem to fit in other groups... ☺