Sunday, November 13, 2011

To Feel A Part

So many things have kept my attention these last few days that I, A) haven't had time to share them and, B) don't even know where to begin!

The Paralympic Village is a pretty fascinating place. Hundreds of athletes from all over this continent, all gearing up for the same thing. There is so much pride and strength here. There are flags of each country hung over balconies of appropriate assigned apartments. The US has two assigned apartments that sit adjacent to each other and, even though they are not the tallest nor largest of buildings here, they seem to tower over most.

In the US building next door there is an althlete lounge and clinic, both of which I have been spending a lot of time. In the clinic, my arms have made a new best friend, Brian, who is our Team trainer for this trip. He has been diligent about making sure that my muscles and all surrounding components are up to par leading up to my first race. The Athlete Lounge is a haven of technology in this little village in which I have no cell phone coverage. There in the lounge you can chat it up with friends on the couch will chowing on 'Nilla Wafers, or call home free of charge--thanks to AT&T, catch up on Facebook status updates, or even witness a heated game of poker amongst 4 visually impaired athletes. It's a trip.

We have been traveling to the pool every morning to finish up our taper training. DAY 1 of competition was today; however, I don't swim until Wednesday. We successfully brought home 2 gold medals for tieing an event! The pool is beautiful with subtle reminders of strength and courage hidden within the finely-chiseled walls. The water feels good and it is so awe-inspiring to take a breathe and let your gaze rest somewhere high up in the spectator bleachers.

Last night, we attended Opening Ceremonies where I felt overrun with emotion for this entire experience. My words won't even be able to touch you here. Between surrounding yourself with the cultures and traditions of the other countries; parading into a crowd of thousands cheering, "USA! USA!); being inches away from traditonal Mexican dance and song; and for the first time ever feeling like I had really deserved to be there and really be a part of it all-- it was utterly astounding and brilliant in every sense. I'm just not quite sure how to relay the amount of energy and positivity that came out of being a part of the parade, cheering on Team USA all the while being cheered for as well. There were so many cultural connections that were made among teams-- dancing and photos with the Guatamalans and Brazilians, receiving a Mexican flag during their own procession becoming a part of it all, singing and laughing and cheering with everyone.

Along the same lines, my absolute new obsession for this trip has become the exchange of countries pins--flags and symbols that display cultures and traditions in a little gold-plated pin. It helps to have a swim buddy and roommate that is Latin by birth, and it also helped to have her do your makeup before Opening Ceremonies! As of right now I am currently the proud owner of pins from: Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, and Columbia. I'm hoping to hit up the Argentinians and Cubans tomorrow!

That's what I've got for now. Buenas noches amigos.


  1. Congrats, Ry. That's such an amazing experience and you shared it so eloquently. Love ya

  2. Just soak it up Ryan. Your words bring back wonderful fond memories of my days on the team. I understand your feelings of being overwhelmed with emotion and the great sense of pride in being an American. Good luck in your upcoming swim. Be ware of certain pin traders (usually not the athletes) they gladly take your pin...with nothing in return. : )