Remember all that perfect tennis playing weather I was going on about in my Guadalajara preview? We were greeted by somewhat less pleasant conditions upon our arrival in the pre-dawn of yesterday morning. Hurricane Jova, which had been downgraded to Tropical Storm Jova by the time it reached mainland Mexico, dropped a load of rain on Guad throughout the day. I haven’t yet been to the equestrian venue and have no idea how the footing might have fared, but the sun is out now and quickly drying everything out. The dressage horse inspection is tomorrow so that will be when I first set eyes on the Guad Country Club (GCC from now on).
I experienced a Déjà vu moment on our flight from San Fran to Guad when I looked across the aisle to see the smiling face of Pedro Cibulka, who was also on my flight to Hong Kong for the Olympics in 2008. He will be shepherding all the horses – dressage and eventers too, not just the jumpers – from the warm up to the stadium. I hope Pedro doesn’t pull out his giant sombrero for the dressage horses the first day…our flight wasn’t quite as empty as the seat map on the web had suggested, but other than a few Colombian gymnasts on their way to the Pan Ams straight from their World Championships in Tokyo, I would venture to say everyone else was packing a Mexican passport. The airport – and the city at first glance – show very little sign of making a big deal of hosting the Pan Ams.
Our flights to Mexico were uneventful, as was our passage through immigration. Too uneventful. Jan and I spent the better part of a morning at the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver because Mexico requires all journalists working at a Mexican event – regardless of who is paying them – to have a special visa that costs nothing but necessitates the filling out of multiple forms and the obtaining of passport photos. The subsequent visas – which take up a full page in our passports – were not only not sought by the immigration officials, they weren’t even seen. Neither Jan’s immigration officer nor mine even flipped past the photo page. Classic.
As many of you already know, I never stay in official media hotels at these gigs. For one thing, who wants to stay in a hotel room for more than two weeks? For another, who in the land of freelance equestrian journalism can afford it? Back in the spring I secured an apartment for the duration of our stay in Guad. I knew it looked quite lovely in the photos – colourful and very Mexican. But what greeted us on our arrival in the dark yesterday morning was one of the most surreal – and I mean that in a good way – arrivals I’ve ever had, anywhere. When we arrived at the address where we were to meet our landlord we were greeted by a droll American fellow with fine manners who put me in mind of a reclusive billionaire or a famed expat writer. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if he had introduced himself as John Steinbeck (other than the fact that John Steinbeck has been dead these past 30 years). Robert led us along dark, cracked and wet sidewalks for a couple of blocks before opening a metal door. Here is the sight that greeted us:
Once we had retrieved our jaws from somewhere near our feet we followed Robert into what I thought was the lobby of a boutique hotel – until I saw the bed and the fabulous murals on the wall that I recognized from the photos I’d been sent when I booked the place. Yes folks, I inadvertently scored us the lap of luxury and an oasis from the urban madness outside our courtyard, all for less than the price of a Motel 6 on the side of the highway half way between Regina and Brandon (that is, if anything besides telephone poles existed on the highway between Regina and Brandon). That Alhambra-like garden is all ours, including the peacocks. Here are a few more images of our home-away for the next 17 days.
Lapping up the luxurious deal of deals in Guad Land
They thoughtfully provided a footstool so I could mount the bed
I wonder if the peacocks would mind if we invited some friends over for a party…
a garden party…
The peacocks are friendly – maybe even party-friendly
If you have been to Mexico before you have almost certainly witnessed Mexican wiring. It looks random and dangerous but it usually works. Such is the case with our internet here at the oasis.
The COC has kindly provided us with tickets to tonight’s Opening Ceremonies, so despite my earlier predictions that they would be the number one target event for would-be terrorist activities, we are going to live on the edge and attend them tonight. So far the only untoward behaviour we have experienced is traffic related (big surprise): yesterday a van blasted through one of the many pools of water on the streets and completely soaked Jan and me, who hadn’t yet learned to keep to the farthest side of the sidewalk. I have always found Mexicans to be incredibly welcoming and hospitable folks, and I am already becoming quite friendly with the lady at the teeny corner store around the block. In the morning I bought milk from her and in the evening a bottle of Tequila. Jan says soon I will have bought the whole store.