The atmosphere in London was amazing. It seems like all 10 million people there are completely engrossed in the Olympics. The double decker buses, the ads, the newspapers, the signs, the streets, the taxis, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge; everywhere you look: Olympics. And that’s not even mentioning the people walking around decked out in their countries’ colors, wearing flags as capes, and chanting national songs. All the athletes walking or running around town couldn’t have hurt, either.
Everyone, the helpers, the random people, the athletes, even the police, was so extraordinarily friendly. I couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was in what was many times a chaotic mess always talking about the latest event, telling you the best way to get somewhere, or even just laughing together on packed subways.
Tickets for all of the events were sold out months in advance, and we decided to go only about three weeks ago, so we just went to the free events. We saw the women’s triathlon and the men’s race walk, which took place this past weekend. The triathlon was a lot fun; we watched them swim, then ran over to a different section and watched them bike, and then ran back to watch them run for the last part. It was even a photo finish after almost 2 hours! And honestly, I didn’t even know race walking was an Olympic sport until this trip, but we saw Guatemala win its first ever Olympic medal in that sport pretty neat.
The rest of the time we watched the Olympics at the live viewing sites scattered around the city. Some are huge; you even have to go through something kind of like airport security to get in. In addition to the five huge screens, there are food stands, concerts, all sorts of games, and even a zip line scattered throughout the site. While watching the Mexico-Senegal football (soccer) match, it would start raining on TV at the game, and 5 minutes later it would start raining on us. Then it would be sunny on TV and, sure enough, 5 minutes later the sun would come out where we were.
If you didn’t watch the match, it was a really good game, 4-2 Mexico in overtime. One of the players, Hector Herrera, was cleated in the face. Later that night, Mario and I were walking around the mall, and Mario, who happens to be Mexican, all of a sudden started rattling off in Spanish to some official-looking people. Turns out he recognized the football coach of the Mexican National Team. Then less than a minute later we met Hector Herrera, still with cleat marks on his face.
It was definitely a weekend I’ll remember forever.