Athens, Days 9 & 10:

Last night, I reached a point of pure lazy. As soon as I sat down in the hotel lobby, after a long day at the OAKA venue, I simply did not want to move from the chair. Some of it was being tired physically, but I later realized that it was mostly mental exhaustion. While I’m having a really fun time here, I have been going non-stop for a few months. We completed our Southern Ca Summer Games right before I left. Before that there were many grant reports and projects that I was working (hard) to complete. Before that there was a lot of field support I needed to provide to our Regional staff. It’s just been busy, and it seemed to all catch up with me.

This morning, I felt much better. I, very surprisingly, got a good night’s sleep. The hotel bed is hard as a rock. When I first arrived, I tossed my backpack onto the bed. Usually, when I do that, I see the backpack bounce a little. On this bed, not so much. I can’t wait until I get into my own bed at home.

As I mentioned, I spent day 9 at OAKA, providing some standby support for powerlifting and basketball. There were only a few questions/troubleshooting scenarios that came up. Nothing major which, as we keep trying to remind ourselves, is actually a good thing. It means things are running pretty well. But, it also makes for a very boring time sitting around a venue and waiting to be sought out for help

I was able to catch up with a Southern Ca coworker, Bill, who is here as part of SO Team USA. We swapped “war stories” around the cheese sandwiches (remember from day 1?), athletes, GOC and more. It was good to see him. I also ran into Kelly K, who works for SO Wisconsin and was one of Michelle’s bridesmaids in our wedding. Very fun to catch up with her too. She is here working public relations for SO Team USA.

There is a girl, that works the powerlifting venue, who looks like Shakira (the singer). Her actual name is Alexandra, but we’ve (internally) named her Shakira. Yesterday, I got names mixed up, and called her Shakira to her face. Would you expect anything else? Luckily, she didn’t catch on. At least, I don’t think she did.

The protests and riots got really bad. A budget measure was passed, that set off the general public. There were fires in the streets and riot police everywhere. Thankfully, we’re safe. Our hotel is a few miles away from the main activity, and the riots seem to be moving away from where we are. There is a constant stream of sirens moving down out street (which was closed for a little bit last night). We’re expecting to see more of them throughout the week. Special Olympics World Games is beginning to be blamed for financial woes too, as the public seems to be very unhappy with the amount of government money behind this event. Needless to say, we’re being very careful.

Today, day 10, I made my way back out to Hellinikon to check in with the venues out there (football, cycling, softball, handball and rhythmic gymnastics. It was neat to see all of the other sports (I really liked the way cycling was setup). Most of the time was spent indoors, watching the rhythmic gymnastics. Yes, a little boring hearing the same songs, and seeing the same routines, over and over again, but still inspiring to see the athletes at work.

I met a photographer, hired by Specia Olympics, to cover the World Games. We swapped a few stories and I learned more about his day job (shooting for the European press while stationed in China). It was nice having a conversation with a photographer where equipment brands, the latest and greatest gear, and (equipment) pissing matches don’t come up. Just talking pure photography was refreshing.

The last two dinners were spent at Pizza Roma, just a little walk from our hotel. It’s pretty good pizza (not NYC good, but good enough to remind us of home). I like the place because it’s very low key, and I’m finding that at this point of the trip, I like my evenings to be as low key as possible.

That’s about it for the past two days. There are some riots again this evening, stranding two of our team members at a venue that is on lockdown, but for the most part everyone else related to SO is safe. Now, we’re all just hoping that they don’t choose to riot/protest on Tuesday, when all of our flights are supposed to take us home. That would suck.

But, we’ll cross that bridge in a few days. For now we will see these games through. Tomorrow looks like I’ll be back at powerlifting. I’ll try not to call Alexandra, “Shakira”, but I can’t make any promises.

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