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June 17, 2005

Dominican Republic –
Week of June 13, 2005

We are in the Dominican right now at the Pan American Games. We arrived last Thursday night and as soon as we got off the plane in Santo Domingo, it was “Welcome to summer!” The heat and the humidity here is very high and we sweat just standing in one spot. Another thing I have noticed is that the traffic is CRAZY! It doesn’t phase the drivers, but it scares us to death. Sometimes, I just have to close my eyes when I am on the bus just so I don’t freak out by looking ahead. Luckily, we get our own bus to travel on, and we get a police escort to move us through traffic as quickly as possible. It is pretty cool to get a police to stop traffic for us so we can go through a red light.

Other then the crazy traffic and the heat and humidity, the people here are really nice. However, it is custom here to walk up to people in traffic and sell things like calling cards, mangos, cell phones, etc. That can get crazy sometimes, especially when people ride bikes and mopeds through traffic. The people here are super friendly and always try to speak to us, but most of us don’t know Spanish too well so we can’t respond as expected. There are a few girls on the team that are fluent in Spanish and our assistant coach Ben (who is an assistant at Georgia Tech) is also very fluent in Spanish. They are our interpreters. So far, I am learning enough to get by and I am learning more since I have been here.

The Pan American Games is a pretty big event in the Dominican, and a lot of people show up to watch volleyball. The first day of practice here was very intense because we weren’t used to training at the temperature or altitude. We spent most of the practice wiping the floor because we were so sweaty. Most of us go through at least three shirts during a practice. It is like that every time we practice.

There are a lot of teams here: Jamaica, Barbados, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, and of course Dominican Republic. In our pool it is Jamaica, Barbados, Mexico, Canada and Cuba. We were undefeated in our pool, until we played Cuba. They are a very good team. We only lost to them by two or three points in each set. Overall, it was a very good match. What a turnout we had for that game! There is a big church missionary group from the USA staying in the same hotel as us, and they came out to support USA for that game.
We are halfway done with this tournament, but we still have a long way to go to reach the finals. I will let you know how we turn out at the end. After this, it is off to China for the World Grand Prix! That will be very exciting. Until then, Go Cocks!