As I walk behind an elderly woman, dressed in an ironed suit, with a Spanish scarf hanging from her purse, I could only think that I must write you an email accounting for last nights events of epic proportions. I never use superlatives to describe an event in fear of sounding overly dramatic, but this had to be one of the best celebrations I have ever attended.
My friend and I get off a couple stops past where we needed to in order to walk into the crowd in a suspenseful fashion. The game was to be displayed in the middle of the biggest street in the city and we wanted to be directly in the middle. We approach the front gates of the sectioned off area and see a sea of red and yellow. Flags waving, children cheering, it was an amalgamation of spirit and pride. We watch the first half of the game in front of the giant screen, pretending to know the words as we join in on every Spanish cheer. It was odd though, we thought there would have been more people in support of the national soccer team in the biggest match they may ever witness. We get a small sandwich at half-time to ease our hunger before the second half. We get back to our original spots and then we realize, we had just been grazing the surface of the crowd that had turned out for the game. Behind the screen we had been watching were four more screens, each projecting the game to thousands upon thousands of people.
We plant ourselves in the middle of it all, where strangers become friends as together you suffer each missed attempt on the opponents goal. As it fell into overtime, the suspense was tangible. You would never think a crowd of almost a million people could fall silent all at the same time. Then, the ball heads to the middle of the field, a shot, and GOAL! I hugged the person next to me as if we had grew up together for the past 25 years. Tears falling from young girls cheeks, and grown men jumping like young girls. They pan the audience in an aerial shot and I realize what I had become a part of. This massive manifestation of pride and hope, an unprecedented gathering towards one objective. The whistle blows and, simultaneously, red fireworks line the sky. Balconies are filled with people pouring water on the crazy fans below. Whereas before the Spanish flag was a symbol of Franco and the dictatorship, now it had become an icon of victory.
The crowd moves robotically from the outdoor viewing to the center of downtown on Gran Via. People flood the streets, and you have no choice but to take a step back and take it all in. Fountains emiting people instead of water. A big statue of a horse in the middle of Puerta del Sol now has three fans sitting on its back as if to ride the horse into victory. The celebration continued into the morning, soccer fans bumping into the morning commuters. I find myself behind an elderly woman, dressed in an ironed suit, with a Spanish scarf hanging from her purse, and I could only think that I must write you an email accounting for last nights events of epic proportions.
Thank you for this opportunity and all of the fringe benefits it has presented. This job, and entire experience, has been nothing short of amazing. See you soon in the States, hope all is well.