As we were sitting in traffic yesterday after going on a detour to the wrong Fiesta Americana hotel (who knew there were two hotels in this city with the same name? Not me, and not our taxi driver) Janner said we should add up all the hours we have spent in taxis over the past two weeks. Just yesterday alone we took four cab rides. Nearly all the taxis are a cheap Nissan made in Mexico called a Tsuru. Some of them demand a new definition for the term ‘clapped out’. We asked one driver how many kilometres his car had. 700,000 was his reply. We’ve had some drivers who know less about where we are going than we do, and I sometimes have to give directions. I just found out why. There are almost 4,000 cabs here specifically to handle the Pan Am Games; many drivers and cars were brought in from other towns. We’ve heard from drivers that they are very disappointed in the amount of business they are getting. So many people hired cars and drivers that the taxi business isn’t good enough to justify the number of extra cabs brought in. They’ve saturated the market. But we’re happy because we never have to wait more than a couple of minutes for one.
I had my first altercation with a local the other day. We came to the venue for the jumping horse jog and when we were in the taxi Janner realized he’d forgotten his accreditation, though he was wearing his official Pan Am photographer vest. When there isn’t a competition going on there is absolutely no security whatsoever – no metal detector, no gate, nothing – this is the case even an hour after the competition is over for the day. So we wandered past lots of idle police and security and no one seemed to care in the least that Jan didn’t have his credentials. And then the shit hit the fan. As we were walking along toward the arena, a police woman came running up and shouting. She stopped us and said we weren’t allowed to be here because it wasn’t a competition day. As I disputed my right to attend the jog, Janner, in true Janner style, sidled away and got to the ring, where of course there were other journalists and photographers. I tried to phone Eduardo, the boss of the equestrian media, but he had forgotten his phone that day (Eduardo’s wheels are kind of falling off after two weeks of trying to keep us lot happy). I could just see the top of the press tribune, and spotted him. By then I had just about lost it completely with this little police woman, who was actually physically barring my way with her arms out. I screamed at Eduardo in a most unladylike manner. “Eduardo!!! This stupid bitch won’t let me in!!!” Fortunately she didn’t speak English. It was only about five minutes later – after Eduardo had come down and rescued me – I was able to see how unnecessary my outburst had been, and at least half an hour before I could laugh about it.
Apart from the fact that they keep reinventing the wheel every day by changing our internet access and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep us from knowing the network keys they type in for us, the organization of the show jumping is pretty close to perfect. The classes are starting on time and running smoothly. The course is absolutely spectacular, with so many gorgeous Mexican-themed fences that the view from the press tribune is like a rainbow lollipop. The only fly in our ointment right now is the announcer, who is feeding us misinformation left, right and centre. During Rodrigo’s round she told us he won individual gold and team silver four years ago in Rio. A few minutes later when Eric was in the ring, she said he won team silver at those same Games. Well, unless there is a country populated only by mega-star show jumpers called Brazanada…in fact Rodrigo won team gold and individual silver. Jill Henselwood won individual gold, only the second woman ever to do so.
I know, I know. I still haven’t talked about the freestyles. I was going to do it on Tuesday but since it was a non-competition day we went to Tlaquepaque again. Jenn hadn’t been there yet, and we spent too much time drinking tequila with the judges and not enough time shopping when we were there last week.
It’s probably because the last course I walked was the eventing show jumping on the weekend, but today’s Nations’ Cup course looks huge. One of the nastiest single fences on course is the Mexican flag plank jump with flat cups. Just as I was telling Jenn I thought that one would come down a lot today (and now she probably thinks I jinxed Eric because he just had it down – jumper people are so superstitious), a bunch of people who were having their photo taken in front of it fell backward into it and flattened it. “See?” I said to Jenn. “It’s already come down and there isn’t even a horse in the ring yet.”
Things are looking up for us. Jonathan just went clear, 2 hundredths of a second over time for one time penalty. But that certainly helps, since Eric had four faults. I’ve just heard that there is a hurricane on its way toward us. The weather has been so uniformly perfect for the past 12 days I stopped bothering to check the weather forecast at all. But it’s cloudy today and cooler so I’m just going to take a peek at the hurricane warnings…nope, just some good old Latino exaggeration. Forecast looks lovely for the rest of our time here.
Here’s a fun tidbit. Because Mexicans are so fond of long names the start lists have middle names for many of the people who don’t have two last names. Captain L’Amazing’s middle name is Alain, Ian’s, Jill’s is Margaret and Ian’s is…Donald! Quack quack! Mclain’s is Lindsey.
EC prez Mike Gallagher said the other day that the US show jumping team looks like someone who brought a gun to a knife fight, and at this point I would have to say he was right on the money. They are winning this thing, no doubt about that.