Like an inverse of yesterday, I went into work early today, just to get as much of my last day as possible. It would have been very easy to get depressed with everything – sitting down on the Tube for the first time in weeks, no fans on the Tube, people back to their impersonal ways. But then I met with some Venezuelan kids who I had spoken to on the Tube a few days ago, and who had taken photos of me. The oldest was about 20 and the youngest was about 10. I enjoyed listening about their trip, and was even happier when a Colombian man joined in the conversation. It made me think about the legacy of the Games. I’ll get back to that later on.
I met up with Christina in time for lunch, bumping into Carlos and Kathy on the way. It was a really nice last meal in the Village, catching up, taking photos.
There was a lot of taking things off the walls and saying goodbye to people as they left. We were given more chocolate, and some flags.
And then people started leaving.
First it was Christina, and then Mike. It was terrible knowing that the team was splitting up for good. We’ve been such a great team – we gelled well and we’ve always been there for each other.
With nothing much more to do, apart from a couple of trips to the NOC desk to translate for Elida, I walked around the village one last time, taking photos. But it wasn’t really the same. Many of the countries had left, leaving a sort of ghost town. There were people around, but it wasn’t buzzing as it was before. I could walk the roads like those first days, not worrying about being bowled over by a bus or a golf cart. Or a cyclist. Or a jogger. It was a deeply saddening moment. It was like school after all the kids have gone home, but without the reassurance of everyone coming back the next day. Oh, how I wish I’d signed up for the Paralympics. That’s the main question here: “Are you doing the Paras?” or “Are you doing Soche/ Rio?” I wish I could say yes to all three of these. I’m not ready for it to be over.
Leaving was difficult. Saying goodbye to Artemio, both Elidas, Yamelys, Maureen, Victor, Franklin was sad. The pressure of the situation sometimes drove me insane, but they were always kind and fun to work with. They introduced me to a culture that this country could learn something from - a culture so laid back. So unbothered by deadlines. Maybe it would drive this country insane. I don’t know. But they taught me that it was OK to be relaxed and mañana about everything. That the world still turns if you take your time.
Leaving was difficult. The normal (shortcut) exit was not accessible anymore, because they wanted to search our bags one last time. Where it would usually take a few minutes, it took painfully longer to go from one end to the other.
The Games Makers on the bus to the station were as chatty as always. I really appreciated my mind being taken off the fact that I was going home from the Olympics for the last time.
As I sat on the Tube, and collected my takeaway ‘comfort food’ before heading home, I thought about the Olympics legacy. Not the ones David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Seb Coe talk about on the News, although those are important for the country. I meant my own legacy. What the Olympics has done for me. I’ve been a part of a wonderful team of people – Christina, Carlos, Mike, Goli, as well as Kathy, Shernaz and Mitzi. I’ve made wonderful friends. I’ve been speaking Spanish every day. Even if I have a wonderful Venezuelan accent now, and I say ‘chevere’ too much for a normal Spanish Spanish speaker, almost four weeks at the Olympics has been even better than four weeks at Uni. I’m more comfortable with strangers, I’m more comfortable with London. For the first time in a long time I’m proud of my country, and I know what we can achieve if we put our minds to it, and the pessimism behind us. I’m genuinely so sad to be leaving, but I can’t wait to watch the Paralympics, and continue the party. I hope my contribution made a little difference to the Olympics – that the Venezuelans can go back and tell their countrymen that we did a good job. Because I really believe that we did.