Thursday, 10 November 2011

Closing Ceremonies (Finally) !!!

October 30, 2011
Alright so the closing ceremonies went down tonight and while I was pretty tired from a somewhat less than restful sleep last night they did not disappoint. I slept at Kaitlyn’s host family’s house, got up and had some breakfast and chilled with Kaitlyn for a bit. She was pretty disappointed that she couldn’t come (there were no tickets left for anything by that point) so I stayed longer than I probably should have but still headed to the village with lots of time before the walk was to begin. 

I stopped at the cafeteria once I got into the village because it had been awhile since breakfast and I was quite hungry. There I caught up with Kris and Mike who had been in Puerto Vallarta for a few days with two of the Mexican team members for some rest and relaxation on the beach before heading home. They had also come back that afternoon to catch the closing ceremonies in the evening before jumping on their respective flights home the next morning. We caught up a bit while we ate and they regaled me with stories of their adventures in PV containing no shortage of cervezcas, beaches and bars. They without a doubt had a fantastic time on the coast.

Team Canada ready to march!
After we had finished eating, we headed back to the room to chill for a bit before the walk began. The girls had all headed home on the 26th after the racquetball portion of the games had ended so we lay out there as the main room where their beds were located was much cooler than ours. Everyone took their turn showering, packing and getting ready before time finally came to head down. The ceremonies were scheduled to begin at 8pm but we were told to be downstairs at 645pm, presumably because of the way time works in Mexico (everyone always seems to be late, yet another reason for me to live here – I would fit right in). Punctual  north Americans that we are, we ended up waiting around for all the other teams to get ready and funnel down to the parking area between buildings before beginning to march around  715. 

The march itself was pretty much the same as the opening ceremonies. All the athletes gathered in the parking lot in one large group before heading out on a winding path towards the stadium. We trekked along, waving and smiling to people lined up at the fences along the path, some giving pins or other memorabilia which really made the spectators go nuts. We arrived at the back of the stadium and waited again to enter. It all felt very familiar but at the same time exciting. Eight o’clock hit and still no signal to enter. At five minutes after though, huge fireworks lit up the sky outside the stadium and we knew it wouldn’t be long. Sure enough, a few minutes later we began marching in. 

The one stark difference between the opening and closing ceremonies was that the athlete entrance at the opening was very organized. Each country would enter, one at a time, the flag bearer in front and everyone following in tight formation behind him or her. At closing, though we still entered with our respective country, the athletes paraded in as one large group. There were no breaks between countries, to symbolize unity of spirit, which I think it accomplished. Anyway we walked in, did a lap, then took our seats for the show!

Walking into the stadium

The closing ceremonies began with words from the political and sport dignitaries of the local governments and organizing committee and while the speeches were uplifting, they were longer than the opening ceremonies (or at least they felt that way) and thus ended up lulling me into somewhat of a listless mood for the rest of the evening. Things picked up after the speeches though as they did a flag ceremony where they took down the Pan American flag to signal the end of the games, showed a tribute video to the volunteers of the games and finished with a video montage from the organizing committee for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.   

Flag ceremony

After the presentations came the first of several musical numbers throughout the evening. The first band was a Mexican band called Camila. They had some good tunes but I didn’t recognize any of them which turned into the theme of the night for me. I’m sure these musicians are very talented and popular in their latin circles but if you don’t know the music and don’t understand any of the lyrics it makes it difficult to get into a performance. They did a duet with Colbie Caillat near the end which kind of excited me but unfortunately it was also in Spanish so I was yet again relegated to confusion. 

There were a few interludes of characters in strange costumes that would parade around the inner circle of the stadium. Presumably these costumed performers had some significance to the games or to Mexican culture but whatever the metaphor was I didn’t know. The costumes were pretty cool though. 

Ricky Martin!
The highlight of the night (if you can believe it) was Ricky Martin’s performance. Expectedly, most of the numbers he performed were in Spanish to appeal to the overwhelming majority of Latin American people attending the ceremonies, but he did perform his hit single “La Vida Loca” (The Crazy Life) in English and even threw in a few shout outs to the Guadalajara audience within the song. It was actually very well done and they seemed to have saved a substantial amount of their firework reserves to cap off the performance that made it seem like a sunny day

Following Ricky’s hip-swinging performance, we walked straight back to the dorm. The Canadian delegation had Dominos deliver pizzas to the building and we were all starving as we hadn’t eaten in over 6 hours. After a few slices we were feeling much better and retired to our room. Everyone took turns showering and packing up their stuff as I was heading to Lilia’s place so Kaitlyn and I could catch a bus in the morning and everyone else was taking a bus to the airport very early (or very late depending on how you want to look at it). I said my goodbyes once I was all packed up and headed out. 

Upon arriving at Lilia’s Kaitlyn and I went over the plan for the morning. Cab at 615am, bus station by 645am, leave on the bus by 7 and hopefully catch up on sleep during that time! We packed up what we were planning to bring with us and got to bed, excited for the next portion of our trip. I’ll update you on how that went in the next couple of days.


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