My crew is here! Crystal came in first even though her train was two hours late from Paris. Then my sister, Delcene, niece Melissa. Julie and Tina arrived together at 11:00 p.m. Julie did take a side trip on the way after falling asleep on the train but re-united with the rest in Paris. Jean-Pierre had taken me into Caen earlier in the day to pick up the car which made it easy to pick all of them up.
The next morning they all quickly got into addressing finding feed for Sam. The extra help and motivation to find feed after trying for a couple of weeks on my own helped immensely! Thank you to all the readers of Horse-Canada and relocated Canadians residing in France who have gone out of their way to get in touch with me to help with the feed issue! We have finally resolved it and have more than enough variety (and approved by the FEI for competition) to see us through until we return to Canada.
Our assistant team veterinarian Dr. Roxy Bell and her husband Dr. Dave Bell were staying just in Bayeux (15 minutes away) and stopped in to check out Sam. Between the work that Julie and Dave did, Sam is fighting fit and ready to go! Maura (chef d’equipe) stopped in the next day to run through uniforms, protocol, etc. before the opening ceremonies to be held in Caen that evening. We did all get together the night before to go to dinner in Bayeux and wandered throughthe only Cathedral left in Bayeux (there were three) that wasn’t destroyed in D-Day. Unfortunately, all of the ice cream shops were shut after dinner….it is amazing here.
We let Sam graze after Maura left and then got ready to head to the Opening Ceremonies. Caen is only 40 minutes away and we had to stop at the Caen train station to enlist Crystal as another driver on the car. Then with our very experienced navigator Melissa (by now anyway!!, we located the stadium. The search began for our parking lot P20. After many stops and jilted conversations in French with a lot of parking people who only knew about lots up to P19, (about an hours worth), lots of traffic and trips around the roundabouts, we found Maura, threw her in the car and she took us to P20! We then did the long trek to the vending booths (about 3km) to have a look around and find the last bag of feed organized by Lydie for Sam. Finding the booth was a journey in itself. We had to return to the stadium for the opening ceremonies by 7:30 p.m. We still hadn’t found the Baileys feed booth by 6:50 p.m….but find it we did! So my team then became a true endurance team relay team! Our baton weighed 25 kilos. Our race was 3km to the car. We started at 7:00 p.m. Swapping the bag of Baileys Endurance feed from shoulder to shoulder, the six of us hauled that puppy up hill to the car at P20 in under 15 minutes (all of the shuttle buses were full with people heading to the stadium).
Now to find the stadium! The Italian team (don’t know which division) pointed us in the general direction and we headed off at the quick step to find Maura at her car with the balance of the Opening Ceremony uniforms. Got them and raced back to where the entry was for the athletes to get into order for the parade thoughthe stadium. They gave us a dinner each (in a bag) and we guzzled our bottle of water and ate while we waited for the process to start. We were in line behind the Brazil team and I was awarded the honor of carrying the Canada sign with Josianne (reiner) to enter the stadium at the front of the Canadian contingent behind the horse/rider carrying the Canadian flag. Never have I felt so proud to be Canadian. For those of you who have never experienced this….one of the most special moments is when they announce Canada and there is a cheer. Slightly secondary to that is spying the Canadian flags in the audience and knowing they are there with you.
The Opening Ceremonies were amazing. My team are amazing…all of them were excited and happy to participate…whether it is finding feed, lugging it up a hill, or enjoying the thrill of entering a stadium of 21,000 spectators. More preparation and planning is definitely in store for us over the next few days. Tuesday we head to ride camp at Sartilly and from there it is two days to race day. GO CANADA!
P.S. After the opening ceremonies, I finally got to go for a ride the next day. Sam was pumped and ready to go. The afternoon was spent trying to do some sight seeing and we found the Canadian Cemetary near Juno Beach. A very sad place to go, but after the patriotism of the opening ceremonies, it really hits home how so many people gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the privileges of doing what we do today. Then dinner on the beach at Arromanche (on Juno Beach) and finally home to bed.