Chapter 1: Raincouver.
Rainy. Wet. Rainy. Cold. Rainy. Dark. And rainy.
The journey to the 2016 World Cup started with getting up very early (4 am) on a Saturday morning. I walked to Union to take the UP Express (the first one left at 5:30 am). Ben was originally going to take it with me but he was a no-show. In fact, while I got to the airport for 6 along with Adriella and Pearl, Ben didn’t arrive until an hour later. We were all stressed out waiting for him because he had Jess’ snowboard bag, which we were going to use to pack the paddles and time was running tight. Why was he so late? Turns out he had to cook a 16 oz steak for breakfast and eat it. This guy.
On the plane, I took the window seat next to Adriella (with Pearl and Ben sitting across the aisle from Adrian). All three of us ended up watching Finding Dory (I was about 2 minutes ahead of Adriella in viewing time). I had already watched the movie previously, but I don’t like suspense and if I can’t Wiki the plot synopsis ahead of time, I prefer watching things I’ve already seen, hence the rewatching of it. Plus the movie was really cute and I liked it.
The Montreal and Toronto crews arrived in Vancouver at pretty much the same time and were picked up along with the Calgary pair by the locals (Shane and Jessy drove our group around). I had been to Vancouver several times in the past…but never outside the airport. My first impression? No wonder they call it Raincouver. I’m not even sure Vancouverites know what sun is. It rained every day we were there. Locals assured me that they normally got plenty of sun and that it wasn’t that bad but I suspect they don’t actually know what a real sun looks like and might just be mistaking bright lamps for it.
After leaving the airport, we headed right for Dragon Zone for the first practice. Man, that place is nice. Really nice facilities, pretty setting with the Science World backdrop, and every sort of boat we could want. There was even a lonely erg in one of the sheds. These Vancouverites have a definitely swell setup. The standard mixed boat went out first to get a feel, working on blend and exaggerating the stroke. Over the course of the training days, Marcella and I alternated on the drum, respectively freezing and getting wet, both from the water around us (it’s salty! That’s new) and from getting splashed by seats 1-2. Seriously, it was cold! Of all the cities we could have trained in (including Montreal and Toronto), Vancouver actually happened to be the coldest. What is this.
As a side note, Sin is apparently a celebrity in Vancouver. The juniors all look up to him and idolize him. Only the boys, though, not the girls. According to one of the guys, when he walked into the changing room and took his shirt off, the boys all stared and ogled. He ought to have signed autographs, really.
The NDRC crew stayed at Shane’s place. I’m not sure I had actually met him properly before but he’s a really nice guy and a very gracious host. He bought groceries for us and set up beds, blankets, and pillows. Pearl and Marcella took the bed while Adrian preferred a thin mat on the floor. Ben and I each took an air mattress. Ben took ages to inflate his using a foot pump, disregarding Shane’s offer to use an electrical pump, while Shane inflated mine in about a minute. While being awake was fun (we played Duck Hunt, chatted, and chilled, while Pearl and Ben bickered), getting to sleep was another story. Each day we went to bed early, not used to the time change and worn out from practice. It was actually quite impressive at how quickly Marcella and Pearl could fall asleep. Ben and Adrian went out soon afterward. I take a while to sleep, which is bad because Marcella and Ben snore. Loudly. They had a coordinated concert, alternating with each other and it was a severe struggle trying to fall asleep.
When it was time to go, we met up at the airport, ready for China. Luckily, all the visas turned out fine, even Jessy’s. My goodness, we had so many problems with getting everybody a visa; it was the worst. Sin and Mélanie both discovered their passports expired too soon basically at the visa office and had to get new ones last-minute. Graham lives in the middle of nowhere and had to send his documents to Jordan in Calgary. Adrian had to wait like 6 hours to get his and Marcella’s visa applications in, while giving up on Pearl’s because hers was just a mess. Apparently since she was born in Hong Kong, she needed to provide her Hong Kong ID. Since it had expired, she needed to provide her citizenship card, which would count if she had been a citizen for >20 years (which she had). She had lost her old one and got a new one, which unfortunately only indicated the date it was issued (2011) and not the date she became an actual citizen. She therefore would need to give them her birth certificate, which was in Hong Kong. Her mum ended up express FedExing it and she managed to get it in time but dear me, that was a nerve-wracking situation. Sin and Jessy both had their invitation letters addressed to the Chinese embassy and not the consulate general and were denied visas. When we asked for new letters, the Chinese sports association didn’t really want to issue new ones and suggested they go to the Chinese embassy for their visas…in Ottawa. While not really a option for Sin (being in Montreal), it was DEFINITELY not an option for Jessy (being in Vancouver). We did, however, eventually procure new letters for them. Finally, Jessy, derpy baby of the team that he is, decided for I don’t know what reason to get regular service for his visa…meaning he would only get it on Tuesday. At 9 am. When our flight left at 11 am. It’s like this guy just wanted to give me stress issues.
And we were off!
To be continued…