Tuesday, July 13, 2010

As If the First Day Wasn't Enough

Clara tells me that I should leave work on time, at 7pm, so as to not miss the welcoming ceremony of the World Cup trophy.

I thought that after last nights incredible spectacle that the city and the people were tired out. I could not have been more wrong. Whereas Sunday was a celebration of reckless abandon and people filling every part of the city, Monday was an organized extravaganza.

I rush home at 7pm to greet Charlotte and change out of my suit. She is wearing a Spanish headband, Spanish wristband, Spanish t-shirt, and Spanish flag as a sarong. She hands me my own arm band and a handkercheif to hang around my neck. I decompress from work and yank myself out of my pereza and ponerme las pilas. (I love that saying because it literally means to put my batteries in, and that is what I had to do).

We walk down three blocks from my apartment and Gran Via is filled with red and yellow as far the eye could see. One is simply taken aback by the sheer size and unity of the masses. Placing ourselves as central as possible to the entire parade of people, we contribute our small offering of red and yellow as we walk to Principe Pío where the team is going to show up and present the trophy to the people. There is a bus with all of the players that does a tour of the whole city, satisfying the insatiable cheers of the madrileños. Charlotte and I plant ourselves on the fence leading towards a tunnel, in our desparate attempt to get close to the path of the bus so as to see the trophy up close. We stand there, getting restless, for close to two hours. The atmosphere distracts our aching feet when all of a sudden a motorcade of about 10 police vehicles. The gneral rumble of the crowd picks up, the typical chants initiate the animus of the people. We see a bus approaching, it comes closer, and just our luck, it halts right in front of us for a solid five minutes. We get smashed by oncoming fans, trying to get as close to the bus as possible. Casillas peaks over the edge of the bus and ends the anticipation by thrusting the gold idol up into the air.

SE VOLVIERON LOCA!!!! The people basically died at the sight of it. You could sense the struggle, the heartache, the blood, sweat and tears of the trophy. The motorcade picked up and so did the parade of people. I pride myself in 3 talents: the ability to always get a bartender's attention, the ability to pick a place on the metro platform so that the doors land right in front of me, and the ability to quickly maneuver through large crowds. I grab Charlotte's hand, duck my head, and bolt. We make it up to the fence, and the site that I saw, you have no idea. You have no idea. None. Not one. It was out of a movie what I saw. Probably a couple million people, all in red and yellow, all screaming, all waving flags. We shove ourselves against the fence as our tardiness from waiting for the cup had left us on the outskirts of it all. There was no way I was going to sit and watch without being exactly in the middle of it.

Again, I duck my head, grab Charlotte's hand and bolt. In Charlotte's infinite wisdom she wears sandals to a multi-million person party. We are ankle-deep in mud and trash as we trudge ahead to get a good spot, to be surrounded by mania and mayhem. In between a group of line-dancing girls and rambunctious boys we found our place to settle. The players are all anounced individually as the crowd grunts in support. Then, David Bisbal comes out to sing the World Cup anthem and the crowd goes insane. We are in the middle of the biggest crowd of people I have ever seen. You almost get dizzy in glancing around, trying to see an end to a horizon of bobbing heads and pumping fists. Charlotte and I are yelling indecipherable nonsense, throwing our voices to the air to sustain the momentum of the crowd's spirit.

At 12:30am, the concert ends as tear-filled players exit the stage and a mass of millions attempt to exit out of any direction possible. Shaking cars and shooting fireworks into the ground, the people never tire. We end up getting tapas and a beverage afterwards before calling it a night. But I tell you my friends and loyal followers, this had to have been the most mental two nights I have and probably will ever witness.

I ran all around the streets asking, "Eres campeón?" YO TAMBIÉN!! VAMOS!!!

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