Yesterday was a rest day so Janner and I decided to take in the folkloric charms and artisans of Tlaquepaque, a former village near Guad that has now been swallowed by the sprawl of six million people. We arrived around lunch time and agreed eating ought to precede taking in our surroundings, so we found a place with a nice looking interior courtyard and dived in. Imagine our surprise (remember, a city of six million) when we saw our friends from Costa Rica: Costa Rican team dressage rider Gretchen Luttmann, her husband Lucho, a couple of other friends and – wait for it – Albrecht Heidemann. They were just beginning their meal so we joined them and were in turn joined by the Egerstroms (of Mexico and CR) – Michelle, Chris, Ami (who was the young star of the team, the only one to make it to the I-1 and she’s just barely 18) and the younger Egerstroms. Clearly we weren’t the only people with the idea of spending a day off browsing the shops of Tlaquepaque, but if you saw the large number of restaurants we might have walked into you would see what a coincidence it was to find them inside the one we chose.

Ami, youngest competitor at the Pan Ams and highest placed member of Costa Rica's first ever Pan Am dressage team!

Me (suck your gut in for heaven's sake!), Ami, Gretchen, Michelle and Lucho

After lunch everyone dispersed but that was not to last. Soon we were clotting up again in a fabulous shop where several of us bought some of the magnificent textiles on display. It was thanks to Albrecht that we found the place – and thanks to him that the shop owners saw some quite good business.

Man of the world and honorary Canadian, Albrecht

Soon to be stuffed with a pillow at home and grace our living room sofa

Once our shopping urges had been satisfied, we headed two doors down where the Egerstroms told us they would be enjoying some food and tequila-based beverages. They weren’t alone.  All five dressage judges were there too. Janner made a hit with them and is sending them photos  as I write. Raphael was the least cuddly of the lot (and I’ll try to refrain from any French stereotyping here). But the other judges were really friendly and it was great to interact with them in an informal setting. I am hoping that our pleasant chat will result in their willingness to weigh in on the Pan Am dressage results. Dear Cara, Gabriel, Lilo, Raphael and Stephen: everyone who reads this blog would welcome your comments to what I have written and will write following today’s freestyles. My goal is always to create dialogue, not closed minds – even if I do annoy you sometimes.

Now, off to the Country Club to watch the freestyles, which start at 3 pm. I will send immediate updates on the three Canadians’ scores as they become available; go to the Horse Sport Facebook page to find them.

All smiles in Tlaquepaque