Colombia Welcomes the World
A marching band performs on the infield during Friday's opening ceremonies in Cali. Opposite the band are men and women wearing costumes representing the 50 nations at the championships.Tonight was a spectacular show as Colombia opened the 2007 World Speed Skating Championships. It was not without a few glitches that started a few hours earlier.
As you know I am staying with a wonderful family and would not trade my experience for anything! Although their youngest son, Juan Philipe skates Senior World Class Men, and just missed making the Colombian team. They have never experienced an actual World event. So when the event was supposed to start at 5pm tonight, I wanted to leave around 4:15 or 4:30pm. We are only 5 minutes from the venue. They kept telling me "Not to worry, Colombians never start on time". I tried to explain that for the World Championships and all of the Dignitaries that were assembled all in one place, that they would start close to the published time of 5pm.
Finally at 5:30 I talked them into leaving. We were trying to pull out of our complex and the traffic was stopped dead. People were honking, but no one was moving. Finally 3 cars made it through the intersection per light. Driving is much different here. You just close your eyes and pray all the way to the venue! It took us 45 minutes and me getting out of the car and begging the "Policia" to please let us through. After a moment, he agreed and were once again in another line stuck in rows of cars. It was Daniel, their older son who suggested that we hop out and walk the rest of the way. I could not believe my eyes when we approached the entrance. Hundreds and hundreds of people wrapped around 2 sides of the fenced in area about 5-8 wide. Daniel's mother rushed us to a special line and after being pushed very tight and VERY close to the person in front of me, we were allowed in. The gentleman was kind and we both laughed about the incident but if you are claustrophobic this is not the place for you.
Once inside Ananda and I went straight to the Press area. Again, there are people older than my deceased grandmother who have "press passes" and no cameras or anything remotely close to a pen and paper, who are sitting in the press area. We had to fight our way in and find a spot. Ananda who is usually not very aggressive has learned you must be pushy and somewhat demanding if you want what is yours. All we wanted was the space that we were promised!
We got some great footage of opening ceremonies but my cables to connect from the video camera to the computer are in my luggage. And as of day 5, I still have no luggage. But I did get a few pictures until those become available.
At one point they had over 12,000 Colombians on the track performing Salsa dancing as the rest of the crowd did the wave. Once again it was breath taking and something that is too hard to describe!
Additional photos available here:
This is a quick video of the last night's practice.