French bouncers gone wild, Swedish reiners on carousels, and beer…not a bad start to our first day at WEG.
The sun is setting, and Jenni and I are huddled around a bourbon barrel in the Kentucky Ale bar in the Games Village. We haven’t slept in 33 hours and are on our fifth beer, courtesy of a rowdy bunch of international reining people who keep buying us rounds because USA has won team gold. Do we know anything about reining? Not really. But hey, free beer is free beer. ‘Murica!
Our new friends include reigning double-European reining champion/German team member Alexander Ripper…
…an off-duty French security guard-gone-wild named Vincent…
…and a guy who claims to be the actual WEG mascot, Norman.
Across from us, the Swedish reining team is riding a carousel…
…and a few tents down, a French lounge singer is massaging our ears with sweet, sweet melodies revolving around the word “l’amour.”
As random and surreal as all of this sounds, this moment in time actually makes more sense than anything else that has happened to us today.
While WEG’s organizers clearly put a great deal of effort and funding into some aspects of the games — Saturday’s over-the-top opening ceremonies being a prime example — other more practical considerations seem to have been overlooked. The parking situation is ridiculous: We drove around for an hour before giving up, going back to the hotel, and hoofing it to the venue on foot. Shuttles exist but run on “French time” along mysterious, nonsensical routes. Nobody speaks English. Internet is spotty and non-existent in the media hotel. So you can understand why, by the end of the day, heavy drinking seemed like the only logical response.
But hey, today is a brand new day. The sun is shining, there were fresh baguettes and individually wrapped cheeses on the breakfast buffet, and we aren’t even that hungover.
Viva la France!