Months and months ago, when my smart friends were purchasing tickets for the Olympics, I was still wavering back and forth between spending a few extra weeks in the Bay with my family, or coming back to Rio to be part of this international madness before starting my third year of teaching in Brazil. ‘But the puppy! The Mexican food! The everything convenient!’ I thought to myself. Knowing I wouldn’t be coming back to the Bay until next July weighed heavily in the balance, but when beach volleyball tickets came up to see Kerri Walsh and April Ross play in the Olympics…I swung back to being in Rio early. PTL.
And I am having an incredible time. Everyone is in such a good mood! And I love a good sports story, and I love yelling, and I love the States and dressing up. All my favorites are combined! If you ever get the chance to olympic (which I now use as an adjective, adverb, and verb, and my friends text ‘are you out Olympicking today?’), you must.
Here’s some of what I’ve been to recently . . .
Men’s Water Polo – we trudged over to Olympic Park via bus (including one wrong bus and going back to the start) on a rainy morning. We were at the site of the infamous green pool, and it did in fact look quite murky and scary, but the men were swimming in something much cleaner. I had never been to a water polo match before, but once the team from Hungary walked in with their plush robes and facial hair and could-chop-down-a-tree-without-breaking-a-sweat ness, I picked my jaw up from the ground and wondered why I had never watched this sport. The Hungarians all looked like Viktor Krum from Harry Potter, and basically ate the Japanese team for breakfast.
We then watched Croatia v. Italy (beautiful) and then USA lost to Montenegro, but not before leaving quite the impression on me. Despite the weather, which I kept reminding myself to soak up and enjoy before the crazy heat and humidity hits us, we had a fun time.
Olympic Torch, Art, Houses – I don’t know if they do this in every Olympic city, but Rio put together some incredible art and viewing spaces for people to walk around in during the Games. It was insanely crowded, but really cool to walk around in. Live music, yummy food, cheap souvenirs everywhere.
There is the torch, murals, NBA house, CocaCola house, huge spaces with big tvs to watch events live and cheer and groan along with the crowd, live music stages (where we watched babies from around the world meet each other and do the diaper drop dance to some reggae music and be adorable) and then quite a few countries have special houses where they have cultural demonstrations, food, athlete signings, etc.
Some are super exclusive and invite-only – the USA one, for example. But Finland had Santa Claus, Holland, Germany and France apparently have huge dance parties, and Portugal is on a ship . . . strangely reminiscent of the ships used to bring over colonizers, but maybe I am the only one who thought that a little tacky.
Gymnastics Gala – Like me, you were probably wondering ‘what is even left to show?’ after all the amazing Gymnastics performances we’ve seen. But apparently what the Gala is is just people who have won medals showing off for
a few hours, and then some previews of ribbon dancing. It was super cool. Simone and Aly did routines, and I was so happy to get to see them live. We saw men on the pummel horse, on the rings, on parallel bars, and the medal winners in tumbling.
And these Chinese boys climbed up and down each other and stood on heads and it was WILD. They used the smallest one as a human jump rope. We saw some synchronized trampoline performances, and artistic gymnastics. Literally ribbon dancing to dramatic Italian operas. And the Brazilian gymnastics team did some weird modern dance type stuff with these blow up Twinkies? Katherine thought they looked like bug larvae. It was very phallic and very strange.
I have one final event to attend tomorrow – medal rounds of wrestling. I feel confident about enjoying that. So there will be one last post about my Olympics adventure this weekend, giving me enough time to process what I didn’t write about here, which would be the quarterfinals women’s beach volleyball and meeting Kerri and April again, and the all day fun that day was! And just being here for the Olympics in general.
In non O-related news, new roomie and I are settling in to a groove in the house and teaching inservice starts on Tuesday, so the end of my good times is a comin’. I both welcome and dread the return to ‘normal’ life. But I welcome you along the ride! And I rarely do a shameless plug of this blog, but it means a lot to me to know who is reading, so if you do read and like what you do, feel free to subscribe directly by email (below this post), or “like” my page on facebook for updates and throwbacks!
Love to all I love. You are gold medal friends.