July 14, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Madrid, Spain, Traditions

I lay in bed at 3AM on Sunday morning staring straight at the ceiling of my hotel room in Valencia contemplating whether the horns and chanting would ever end. Would they stop at daylight? Sometime the next day? Maybe a week from now? “Yo soy español, español, español” , “a por ellos, oé, oé, oé”….and then at some point I started hearing “Go bananas, B.A.N.A.N.A.S.” and realized that I was no longer actually hearing people outside, but had officially lost my mind after hours of unrelenting horns and cheers celebrating Spain’s World Cup win.

That night my friend Heather had brilliantly reserved us a table for dinner at an outdoor terraza with big screen TVs. In the warm, sticky Valencia evening weather, we watched the game with hundreds of strangers, who felt more like family given how we all rallied behind our team (except for the random Dutch folk who were proudly bedecked in orange). Every few minutes, our small crowd would begin chanting, and when the game was finally won, we all flew out of our seats cheering and knowing that this was only the beginning of the celebration. We headed down to town hall square where what must have been thousands of people gathered, all covered head to toe in red and yellow and fanatically waving Spanish flags of all sizes.

If Valencia was wild, then Madrid would be pure pandemonium. A part of me was sad that I missed being at home with all the madrileños to celebrate the big win. Fortunately, with the team’s return home on Monday, the excitement of the win would be as electric the following night, if not more so, considering the players would be parading through the Madrid streets.

On Monday evening Jacobo and I headed downtown, parking just outside of the city center and then cabbing it about a mile or so to where the parade would be passing. We eagerly sped walked past the famous Puerta de Alcalá and down the middle of the street where we were greeted by the expansive view of the people-filled Plaza de Cibeles and junction of Gran Vía and Alcalá. Walking in the middle of the usually chaotic Madrid streets and seeing those same streets overtaken by more than one million people in red and yellow was nothing short of emotional. I couldn’t help but wonder what in the US could ever possibly unite us in such a way, patriotically or otherwise? All of these people, so proud of their country, so proud to be Spanish…I felt just a little jealous that we don’t come together that way back in the States. Hmm, maybe we need a little more fútbol in our lives.

We weaved our way to the Cibeles fountain (my favorite in Madrid) where the Goddess Cibeles brightened up her outfit of stone with a Spanish flag cape. It is there that we managed to stake out a spot in front of a police van and then devise our plan – when the team’s bus arrived, I’d hop up on Jacobo’s shoulders, bracing myself on the van, and capture it all on video. Genius!

We waited for an hour during which time our friends Manu and Tito arrived and joined us. They came on their motorbikes (the only way to really get around Madrid efficiently), but not without a hitch – Tito’s beloved Spanish flag got jammed in the spokes of his tire, delaying their arrival. Fortunately, Manu was able to represent though – below is a video that Tito valiantly took of Manu during their drive into the city. Thankfully, Manu’s flag didn’t see the same tragic fate as Tito’s.

Despite the wait, the crowd was so full of enthusiasm that the buzz of excitement kept my adrenalin at full throttle the entire time. We watched the junction of Gran Vía and Alcalá carefully, waiting to see when the onlookers would begin to grow more animated, signaling the arrival of the team. Right as we started to see the first police cars parting the crowd, seven fighter jets flew overhead trailing red and yellow smoke behind them. What an introduction!

As the team approached, I climbed (ungracefully) up onto Jacobo’s shoulders and took it all in. The crowd continued cheering, fireworks went off, and confetti burst into the air showering the already red and yellow crowd with flecks of patriotic paper. My heart raced as I balanced filming, keeping my red dress down, and not completely falling over onto the van behind me. Before we knew it the team had passed and the crowd began to separate. Below is the wobbly video I took as I nervously juggled filming vs. tumbling down, or God forbid, flashing everyone.

Back at our house about a half an hour later, we watched the remainder of the parade (which lasted six hours in total!!!) hardly able to believe our eyes even though we’d seen it all for ourselves.

Today, the Wednesday after the game, Spanish flags still hang from everyone’s balconies (I can count 12 just looking out from my apartment!), and stream from the windows of people’s cars. They are proud to be “campeones,” but even more proud to be Spaniards. I’m so lucky to share in it all.

As many of you may know, I will be getting married to my very own Spaniard next week. My father arrives tomorrow, followed by the trickling in of another 40 American guests. My guess is that I will be signing off for now, although I hope to start posting again from our honeymoon in Southeast Asia. So, until then, adiós and wish me luck! Oh, and que viva España!!!

To see all of the pictures, please visit the La Tortuga Viajera Facebook page.

5 Responses to “Campeones, campeones, oe, oe, oe”

  1. Frances De Nuit Says:

    It is wonderful to live vicariously through your pics and descriptions. Maybe it is time for me to claim my Spanish roots.

  2. Status Viatoris Says:

    So jealous!!! I was sitting in a gelateria in San Remo, Italy with a Kiwi friend of mine whose fiancé is Dutch… And I screamed myself hoarse regardless! For me it was amazing to see Puyol playing, because he was one of the first players I ever started recognising (mainly because he was fugly and had stupid hair) when I moved to Spain FIFTEEN years ago! What a star… Campeones!!! Una victoria bien merecida, y estoy de lo mas contenta!

  3. Erin Says:

    @Frances – I do think it’s time for you to come and experience the country! Just let me know when and I can help you with your plans! @SV – I love that Puyol was one of the first players you recognized – until recently, he was the only player I really knew as well, and of course for the same reasons. I just loved his ultra caveman move to score a goal in the semifinal game. Awesome!

  4. Sabrina Says:

    I can only imagine how crazy the celebrations were when Spain won 🙂 Have a beautiful wedding and an amazing honeymoon. I went o China, Hong Kong, and Macau in May – if you have time for only one, I would really recommend Macau. It’s beautiful!

  5. Erin Says:

    Thanks Sabrina! We are actually going to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand – I wish we could fit in one more stop, but our schedule is already packed! Next trip, we’ll do Macau for sure though!

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