Monfrague Parc Nacional—The first time I am able to sit and talk to you, and the Community of Madrid and the country of Spain has come to a full stop. I meant to describe the excitement of my first visit to Europe, and I have arrived on perhaps the biggest weekend in Spain since the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.
Spain is in the finals of the Euro Cup against Germany ("Alemania"). This is their first visit to the Finals since 1964, I'm told. After a first half goal by the blond-haired Fernando Torres, Spain is leading 1-zip. Here at Vaughantown in Monfrague Parc Nacional, the entire group of students and volunteers has gathered around two television sets—one in a smoking room and one in a non-smoking room. In the center of Madrid, thousands and thousands of Spaniards, (and no Germans) are assembled in front of jumbo TV screens in the Plaza de Colon in the heart of Downtown Madrid.
At ten minutes before 10 p.m. the sun is only just beginning its slow descent below the horizon. Night comes late to Spain in these early days of summer. 16 teams began the march to tonight's game in early June to tonight;s game in Vienna, Austria. The Euro Cup is second only to the World Cup in Importance in the sporting universe. And the World Cup makes the Super Bowl look like Franklin High School vs. the Widney High Junior Varsity. My sitting here with my MacBook balanced on a shaky cocktail table is reoughtly tantamount to a moon landing covered by the Belleville, Arkansas Bugle and Reporter society writer. Every media outlet in Europe has a correspondent here. Have no fear. Any fan looking for coverage of the tournament is not looking at this tiny blog tonight.
Spain has been on the attack all evening, and every wayward kick at the German goal draws shouts and gasps from the hometown crowd gathered in the bar here at the Monfrague Park Hotel.
Germany has mounted a brief attack with two quick shots on goal, but the match so far has been played in Spanish.
Should the Spaniards hang on to win tonight, bedlam will ensue in Madrid. If not, it will be a sad week in Vaughantown. The next 17 minutes will decide whether this is the New Summer of Love in the New Spain or the Summer of Sad.
Prepare to stand by.