Yesterday Cuenca had a 15k race throughout the city. Once I heard the route it sounded like a track from Mario Cart, but I guess that just shows that it's a pretty small city after all. The race started at 10 a.m., and it was quickly raining after the participants got under way. Of course I missed the start by a few minutes, but headed out around 11 anyway to see some of the finish.
Down at the stadium the race was ending, and when everyone was finished, a concert was said to be happening. In typical Ecuadorian fashion, things didn't make quite as much sense as they could have. Only one section of the stadium was open, and as people continued to pile in, space was extremely limited. By the time I got there some runners were already finished and all of the seats were occupied. People were standing in the aisles and crunched in together. It took a few minutes before I could work up to the top of the steps and see some of what was going on. Luckily, I'm as tall or taller than most people in this country.
But it continued to get more crowded until we were packed like sardines and I couldn't move. I just kept my hands in my pockets to avoid pickpockets and went with the current. At one point it was getting harder to breath and it stank of cologne. I was wondering why I was even there, because it wasn't as exciting as I'd thought it'd be. Granted, I never actually went to see the Boston Marathon either, but I imagined it would be more exciting.
The race was put on by Jefferson Perez, the national hero who hails from Cuenca. Perez is the only Ecuadorian to win an Olympic Gold Medal for, that's right, speed walking. The entrance fee for the race was $1, and I believe the money was going towards some sort of children fund. But back in the stadium, I wasn't too comfortable. I also noticed that a lot of parents had brought their small children who were suddenly being crushed like me. But I realized that if parents were afraid for their children, it could cause a riot. Then I realized that I would be right in the middle of it with no exit, and I decided it was time to leave.
Of course, the only exit was also the only entrance, so for 5 minutes I became a salmon going upstream, and it was a heck of a battle getting out, but I finally managed it. Though I've been here 7 months, I've only recently started going down to the stadium, which isn't even far away from my house. On Saturday night we went to a soccer game between Deportivo Cuenca and Deportivo Quito. Quito wound up winning with about 10 minutes left, but it was a good way to spend the afternoon-night. And it only cost $4. We're also going back this week for the big game between Cuenca and the Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires. That game also game with another game attached to it, so in the end I'll have tickets to three different games in a short span of time. I still wouldn't say I'm a soccer fan. Maybe an enthusiast.