Things in the Village are a changing…deals are being made and they don’t start with “hey lady”. Everyone is starting to make their trades, and the Canada back packs and bags are a hot item. Pins have been popular the whole time – one guy traded 3 pins for an Olympics t-shirt…and we get the pins for free so he made a great trade there! I feel like wearing a sign that says, “I like my back pack and bag so I don’t want to trade!” I wouldn’t mind trading away those red “pj” shorts or the beige “pj” pants. Unfortunately we have to wear those pants for closing so it will be hard to trade those, but maybe tonight after the ceremonies.
Last night at the track Chantal Petitclerc won her 5th gold medal in the 1500. It was her last as she is changing to road racing now. I think she is tied for the most medals ever won by a Paralympic athlete. She won quite a few at previous Games, and holds the world record for every event she won this Games. A super nice lady, who was a pleasure to work with. She had 4 drug tests done these Games as every time you set a world record you are tested, and most of the gold medal finishers were tested. They did mostly just urine, but also some blood testing. For the quads they also did blood pressures on the quads to check for boosting (using dysreflexia by clamping their catheter to make them go faster).
This morning was the marathon, in which the Canadians did not fair well. We had one minor crash which unfortunately cost a medal finish (no injury), one out with 2 flats, and 3 other finishers. All our athletes were wheelies.
I forgot to mention about the other shopping other night. We were downtown at the Hotel near Wangfugen, an area like Robson Street with stores like Nike, Adidas, etc. I was surprised that the prices were the same here as they are at home, which would be very expensive for the average Chinese.
The weather continues to be very hot and humid. We had another major wind, thunder and lightening storm last night. They have been watering the streets at times, perhaps to keep the dust down, but it also helps with keeping them cooler when you have to walk along them. Overall the streets and such have been very clean, and you see people cleaning and picking up litter all over the place. Adding to the overall picture is that there are many flowers and plants by the roads. It is very nice, and also attracts many butterflies. They are flying around all over the place. Most of them are small, and orange is the most common colour.
Architechurally, Beijing is very interesting. They have many many high rises, which are often not square blocks. They seem to like having areas that are 20 stories up that stick out or join two buildings together with unsupported areas. Looks very cool, and hopefully the workmanship is stellar as that is a long way to fall if there is a problem with the floor.
On the driving side of things, they are not like home. The lines on the road are just a guideline, and horns are definitely very important. One great thing is they have signs with maps of about 2 square blocks on overhead signs which light up green or yellow depending on how busy the traffic on them is. That way you can see if you should go over to another parallel street, or stay where you are. Maybe they should try that in downtown Vancouver!!
The end is in sight and things are very relaxed here now – nothing left but the celebrating (for most of us). More to come…stay tuned….Paige