Its no surprise that when you will get into the taxi from the airport in Buenos Aires towards your hotel in the city center, the most frequent face on almost all the advertisements and billboards you will ever see are those of the one and only….yes you guessed it right – Lionel Messi. Funny thing was I was so much in awe to have really arrived in Messi’s homeland that I could barely pay any attention to which products he was endorsing in the advertisements. I could only gasp at his smiling portrait comfortably ignoring the calls to action in Spanish or the products he was vouching for.
No denying of the fact that I grew up watching Argentina play football. I can safely put my money on a bet asking any Argentine if they knew the country where I was born and they could never answer that correctly. However we being we, like anything else in the world, got into World Cup Football fever every four years. You could see friends becoming enemies overnight due to affiliation towards the Brazilian football might or the Argentina magic tango with the football. You could see Argentine flags hoisted and flying high in a country which is located at an antidote location meaning simply in the other part of the world. Some unwritten rule was written during the 90s that either you are supporting Argentina or you are supporting Maradona and nothing in between. So the whole mystic around visiting the land of Maradona and later Messi – was always a dream come true for a football enthusiast like me.
While the Messi magic takes you over shortly after you land in Argentina, here are a few things you can do to make the experience worthwhile. Firstly take note of the fact that Messi doesn’t live in Buenos Aires. So don’t waste your time thinking that you could hover around his house in the capital. His hometown is called Rosario, some 3.5 hours drive from the capital. Also note that this city has banned its residents from naming their new born children as ‘Messi’. No surprise right? You can always go to Rosario on your own and find out from any locals where he lives, his schools etc. Its just not in Buenos Aires. The second thing you can consider doing is to buy an authentic Argentina football jersey from a sports shop. The feeling of buying an Argentina football jersey, written Number 10, Messi at the back, from Buenos Aires was the most memorable episode of my tour in that country. I remembered those who buy Argentine jerseys made in China and spared a thought for them in condolence. When you will wear this jersey, you will realise with your eyes open that one of your childhood dreams just came true and you could see that in the mirror while trialling the prized souvenir.