presented by Gaitpost Magazine

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fun with Guns in the Sun

Sorry to keep you all waiting for news but logistics have been interesting, to say the least. If we don’t start using taxis Jan and I will be spending many of our waking hours riding buses during these Games. There is one section of about 20 km that we saw four times today, as we rode the press bus from our ‘hood’ (Copacabana) to the Main Press Centre, then back-tracked on another bus to get to the equestrian venue, which we had come within a couple of kilometers of on the first bus. Before the Pan Ams the Brazilians boasted that the venue was only 26 kilometers from the Pan American Village – what they told us only after we got here is that the distance if you use official transportation is 53.9 kilometers. It takes longer to get to and from the site than the actual competition takes ; there were only 13 horses today, and 13 more tomorrow. The official transportation uses only a couple of big roads, which judging from the INCREDIBLE number of police and military stationed along the way, is for security purposes. I have never seen so many police in my life. Oh yeah – and lots and lots of guns. Big guns. It may be meant to make us safer, but it doesn’t make me feel safer. On the other hand, we have felt pretty comfortable walking around at night even though the seedier element is visibly apparent. Last night our ‘movie’ out the window of our apartment was watching several prostitutes attempting to get picked up by men driving cars.

Today was round one of the dressage – Tom Dvorak was the only Canuck, with the other two going tomorrow. Tom’s horse was pretty hot and the canter work got a bit edgy looking, but the judges liked it well enough. Sagacious, the first of the American horses, was spectacular. His rider Lauren Sammis was inspiring too. They fully deserved to finish the day in front of the pack. From the sublime to the ridiculous – there were some pretty dismal performances, particularly by men in uniforms.

There were more staff and volunteers at the equestrian venue today than there were spectators, but the few Brazilians managed to make a hell of a ruckus when the first Brazilian rider came in. Also the only black rider in the Games, he showed off some pretty spiffy one handed two tempis for the crowd (if you can call a gathering of less than 100 a crowd) before his test, which was actually quite good. Tomorrow team medals will be handed out. I predict a close-ish race between US and Canada for gold and silver, and a perhaps even closer race for bronze between Mexico and Brazil.

I had a lovely chat with Karen Pavicic, who has been able to ride Lance in the warm up and competition arenas over the past few days. It’s more than a bit cooler here than it was in Florida when they were in quarantine and all the horses perked up when they arrived in Rio last week. Tom said after his test that it was hotter today than it’s been, but that it was a ‘good hot’. His second placing with 69% and change would confirm that the weather was good for Beaumarchais.

One of the first things Jan and I noticed when we arrived in Brazil was that the favourite hand signal here is the thumbs up sign. And I do mean favourite. It’s used for everything from “ok, we’ll let you take that DSL cable from the press room” to “what a good test our Brazilian rider did.” In fact a volunteer just gave me the thumbs up when I confirmed that I do indeed want to go to the place this bus is going in a minute. Jan and I are quickly absorbing the gesture of course, though the language still sounds to me like Spanish being spoken from the bottom of a swimming pool. And monoglots beware. People in Brazil don’t speak English. Very few of the volunteers, very few locals in fact, speak English.

Until tomorrow everyone.


No comments: