For those not in the know, the South American Games (like the Olympics just for S. America) began tonight with a HUGE inaugural celebration in the stadium a few blocks from my house. The inauguration featured director Franco Dragone, the master behind Cirque du Soleil, which meant we got some amazing choreography, costumes, cocepts and of course, Le Cirque:
So much excitement had been in the air for all the folks here in Medellín, intent on showing all the beauty their city has to offer for the first time on an international level. After the Cirque spectacle, all the athletes from each country proudly marched around the stadium to massive applause from their warm Paisa hosts. Given the recent diplomatic tensions (and war games) between Venezuela and Colombia, I thought that the crowd might reflect this by booing the Venezuelan athletes. Boy was I wrong, the cheers Venezuela received boomed louder than any of the other teams (save the home team, Colombia). It's like my Paisa buddy Federico says, "we like Venezuelans, it's just their president we have a problem with" (which might sound similar to anyone who traveled abroad during the Bush era). After the Olympic torch was presented, President Alvaro Uribe addressed thousands of Paisas who chanting at the top of their lungs. To have an outgoing president so well-liked and respected is just something I'm not used to and for what it's worth, he's got some decent charisma. Afterwards, the Paisas celebrated in the streets, content that their city earned the confidence to host the most presigious games in the continent and content to be able to show off all of the wonderful things their city has to offer. Here's some great video from the show:
With an inauguration like this, how can you not be at least a little excited?