A Peñarol Fanatic’s Journey Back to Montevideo

June 15, 2011 — by Suman

Two weeks ago, storied Uruguayan club Peñarol stunned Argentinian Clausura table-toppers Vélez Sársfield to set up a historic matchup against Brazilian side Santos for this year’s Copa Libertadores (1st leg tonight is tonight in Montevideo; 9pm ET on Fox Deportes in the USA).  A couple days later we received this message from a Uruguayan friend–born and raised in Montevideo as a supporters of los Aurinegros, los Peñarolenses:

Can you take 3 days to go to São Paulo?  I am in some state of delirium.

Here is the story, still in progress, of where that delirium has taken him:

Forlan's Wall Photo - June 2, 2011

After that initial message, our friend (let’s call him Forlán, after another lifelong Peñarol supporter and prodigal son of Montevideo who has gone abroad to pursue his craft; the real Forlán, btw, is a newly inducted honorary member of the club ahead of tonight’s game*) was looking for someone to accompany him on a trip to São Paulo for the 2nd leg (which is next week–Wednesday June 22). But then Monday we received this via email:

date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 4:23 PM
subject: drama begins

I’m at the Philadelphia airport.
The tickets went on sale this morning at 9 and they were gone in 15 minutes.
(Some 24 thousand had been sold before to club members. The stadium fits
around 65 thousand.)
As of now, I’m without a ticket. But there’s always hope.
On top of everything, all flights yesterday and today in and out of Montevideo
have been cancelled because of the volcano in Chile. Looking at the
wind forecast
for tomorrow, I’m wanting to believe my flight tonight won’t get cancelled.
The game itself might get postponed if Santos cannot fly in.

Presumably he’d travelled to Philly from Ithaca (where he summers, playing the beautiful game and doing his mathematics) by either plane or automobile.

We next heard from him later that evening, via IM:

date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 10:35 PM
10:35 PM Forlán: i’m in miami. they canceled the flight to mvd, but luckily i knew just before leaving phl. So now i’m flying to Sao Paolo and sometime tomorrow from there to Mvd.

10:36 PM My brothers were able to get 2 tickets. Need one more for my niece, will try to get it a travel agency in sao paulo (from the tickets for Santos)

And then back on email the next day (yesterday):

date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM
subject: Re: drama begins

Stuck in Sao Paulo. Will fly to Porto Alegre and catch a bus from
there (12 hours).

He left us in suspense overnight–would he make the flight to Porto Alegre and catch the bus? 12 hours on a bus?? Would that even get him home in time for the game??

But then this email arrived just a few minutes ago:

date Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 10:29 AM
subject Re: drama begins

At home in Montevideo, ready for the game in 12 hours.
A bit rainy and cold. The city awaits the big moment.
Vamos Peñarol!

So the initial leg of the drama is successfully completed–prodigal son of Peñarol completes the odyssey home in time for the next leg..the 1st leg.  Stay tuned..

*: From that article about (the real) Forlan and tonight’s match–read to the quote at the end:

Atletico Madrid and Uruguay star Diego Forlan has been made an honorary member of Penarol, and admitted that he was delighted to have the chance to watch his boyhood idols in another Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday evening.

A lifelong fan of the Montevideo giants, Forlan began his youth career with the team before moving as a teenager to Argentina’s Independiente.

He was presented as the club’s 40,000th member in a ceremony held on Monday night, in the Estadio Centenario’s football museum. Father and former Manya and Sao Paulo legend Pablo was present, as was current Penarol coach Diego Aguirre.

The striker also received the famous gold and yellow shirt with his name and the number printed on the back, as well as a replica of the supporters’ biggest banner in the world which was made for 2011.

Speaking at the presentation, Forlan recalled attending the 1987 Copa Libertadores final as a child – he was eight-years-old at the time – and affirmed that it was wonderful to see his idols back at the summit of South American football.

“It is incredible to be attending another final. It has brought back all I experienced in 1987,” he recalled, referring to the last time Penarol lifted the trophy with victory over America de Cali.

“I remember that I was tiny, and I could not see anything from the America stand because the Centenario was exploding all around us.”