From Athens to Africa

16 Jul

I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write a blog post, and now I have no idea where to even begin. Also, Shannon is in Lesotho with basically no internet, so I’ll have to try and cover everything solo. Lets see…

Athens was great, even if it was completely crazy. We were going, going, going non-stop from the moment we hit the ground, for the most part. It was tiring and at times completely frustrating, having to work with such a large group of people and try to coordinate with everyone, etc. But it all felt totally worth it for me when I got to see my Ecuador team receive their gold medals (Go Ecuador!) and when I got to sit with the Haiti kids on the last night, during Closing Ceremonies. Two wonderful memories that I cherish. I miss them all so much! And I know Shannon was so excited to be reunited with Donghan, her subject from Korea. He competed in the very first Open Water swimming event and took home a silver medal! And he was really excited to see Shannon, even though he is usually shy and reserved. Super heart warming!

On a less upbeat note, while we were there, the protests that have been going on since May 5, 2010 came to a head and violence erupted in the streets after the June 29 passage of another round of austerity measures. The police attempted to evacuate key protest areas in Athens, like Syntagma Square, with motorbikes and heavy amounts of tear gas. There were numerous accusations of police brutality and unwarranted attacks on citizens there. So like any good journalist, we picked up our cameras and headed to the Square, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was my first experience with such a charged, potentially dangerous environment and its one I’m still ruminating on. I’ll be writing a separate post about it soon enough, and I’ve already posted my photos on my Flickr page. Shannon also has some kickin footage from the event, which I’m sure will be put up at some point for your viewing pleasure.

After protests and running all over Athens trying to cover every event, we were completely exhausted by the time we left for South Africa, but I still found myself not wanting to say goodbye to Athens. It’s so lovely there, and it’s just a more relaxing lifestyle, with more emphasis on enjoying and savoring life and friends and family. I found myself getting by most of the time on the kindness of strangers, like the cab driver who had to stop twice for directions to the venue I was trying to get to. He spoke zero English, but kept reassuring me that we would find it, and when I finally got there and forgot my map, he came back and flagged me down to give it to me, smile and wish me a good day. I had a policeman give me his seat as I waited for my ride, and every single Special Olympics volunteer I asked for directions was overwhelmingly nice, oftentimes walking me to where I needed to be or offering to carry some of my gear. Those Greeks sure are nice. I miss them.

But we had to say goodbye and we headed off to South Africa, arriving during the South African Arts Festival, which is kind of huge apparently. We had four days to just relax and enjoy some of the festival, and try to collect ourselves before jetting off again. We saw some cool shows, like this South African dance-off thing that was incredible, some traditional Rajasthan dancing and music (made me miss India), some South African jazz, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I had no idea who they were, but they are a Grammy-winning all male choral group that sings traditional South African music and apparently, they are a big deal. Like, really big deal. Go read that wikipedia link, it will tell you all about them.

And then we all packed our bags and headed out to shoot our individual stories. Shannon and Brian are doing a story about AIDS orphans in Lesotho and Kathryn and I are filming a story in Nairobi, Kenya about poverty and hunger in the slums of Mathare! I’ll be doing a separate post about Kenya soon and I know Shannon wants to blog about her experiences in Lesotho as well, so more details will be coming soon! In the meantime, here’s some World Games/Athens photos for you to check out. Hooray!



4 Responses to “From Athens to Africa”

  1. Bruce Castleberry July 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Um, Ladysmith is huge. They’ve even been to Fayetteville! If you’ve ever listened to Paul Simon’s multi-award winning “Graceland” album you’ve listened to Ladysmith, which plays on several of the African-tinged songs on it.

    • moveovermiami July 17, 2011 at 12:04 am #

      Ha, I should have known you would know about them Bruce. Yeah, I got the impression that they were kind of a big deal.

  2. Dab Garner July 21, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    WOW! I can’t believe someone gave you trouble about having Dab the AIDS Bear in Greece! Hope you both are having a safe and great trip. Let me know when you get back to the states.
    The bear and I are heading to Pittsburg, PA for the weekend to do fund raisers for our kid’s event there and speak at the college.
    Have a great weekend.
    big bear hug,

    • moveovermiami July 21, 2011 at 4:07 am #

      I know, some grumpy Greek man was not having it. We were going to take some shots of him with tourists and looking like he was sitting on the marble, but it didn’t work out….

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