For the last couple of days I have been listening to reports of how conditions at the Olympics in Sochi are so terrible. There are problems with the running water, the electrical systems, the hotels are not up to “our” standards etc. I have traveled all around the world the last 20 years and I only have one thing to say to our special athletes, Welcome to life outside of the US.
Many of the countries around the world I slept in “5 Star” hotels that in all honesty, I think I would have been more comfortable walking alone at 2am in Camden than I was sleeping there. People from the US do not realize just how poor some of these countries are and what they consider to be luxurious.
What is Luxury?
Here in the US what we consider a luxury is basic survival in many other countries. We think nothing of buying a $50,000 truck that gets 10 miles to the gallon while in many countries, they have buses that are meant for 30 carrying 60-80 people on them. People are hanging on the sides of the buses, riding on top, cramming up next to the driver etc. We also think nothing of going to McDonalds (or any restaurant for that matter) and grabbing a quick bite to eat. Remember when they first opened a McDonalds in Russia? People were spending one weeks salary to dine out ONE time.
I remember being stuck in a real crappy country where we were not allowed to stay but because we lost an engine upon landing, we had to spend 3 days there to wait for another engine. They set us up in a wing of the hotel with an armed guard at the end of the hall 24 hrs a day. If we went anywhere, we had to go as a group or no one went. I actually enjoyed the stay and the people seemed very friendly to us but we always had a guard from the Embassy.
How Bad is Life Really Outside the US?
I remember a couple of conversations with him and one of them we asked him about his job and someone asked about corruption. He said that he would be a fool to jeopardize this job because he made more in a week working for our US Embassy than most people in his country made in a yr. Then we asked if life was better before the wall came down or since. He actually said that Communism was better (the wall had come down over 10 yrs prior to us being there) because at least then everyone had food and most had jobs. Now, everyone has to fend for themselves and there are not as many jobs because of all the new rules that come with being a “free” nation.
This man had a great paying job, working for the US Embassy and said that Communism was a better way of life as a whole. I could understand if this was a couple yrs later and they were still trying to adjust but this was over 10 yrs later, they should have had time to adjust properly by now…right?
Another thing, remember the Superbowl last year when the lights went out in the middle of the game? Anyone remember what happened? If I remember correctly they said it was some type of accident by overloading a couple of the circuits. Did you hear what happened to the man responsible for the debacle with the rings at the opening ceremonies just two days ago? He had an “accident”. Fell on an knife multiple times.
“It’s terrible when accidents like this happen. But then again, maybe Mr. Avdeyev should have thought twice before he screwed up the Olympics. Accidents tend to happen to people who betray Russia.”
If you dont believe me, the end of this blog is the link to the site I got it from.
Here in our country we complain that the police don’t show up on time, the ambulance doesn’t get there quick enough or a house burns cause the fire dept reacted too slowly. After traveling all around the world, I must admit, we have far and away the best of all worlds in the US. Our emergency responders are allowed to at least get to the emergency. I was in Turkey and we were at a 4 way intersection in a taxi and about 8-10 car lengths behind us and ambulance was trying to get through with sirens blaring.
The street we were on was a 4 lane street in our direction but we were 7 cars wide. No one moved. I asked the taxi driver if anyone got out of the way for the ambulance, he said only if they want to but not many people do. He then said “many people die because of this”. And if you think catching the police beating on a citizen here is tragic, they don’t even blink twice in many countries, it just happens.
And the military we have at least has some guidelines to follow no matter how the news wants to skew it. Other countries the military is to defend the country but it is also to keep the people in line.
Feeling Bad for the Olympians
I cant feel bad for the Olympians who for the next two weeks have to live in such horrible conditions. I am sure we will hear more stories about how the “Ugly Americans” acted as we already have about the bobsledder who got locked in his bathroom without his cell phone so he destroyed the door, and of course posted the pics on twitter and any other “look at me” website he could think of.
I am sure that Putin has many reasons why he wanted the Olympics there to push his agendas but the last I heard they have put over $50B into this event so far. The most expensive Olympics in history, so can you imagine what the place looked like 7 yrs ago when they got the nomination?
I understand the IOC may need to look a little closer look at who they choose for the Olympic bids but do you remember Sarajevo? Some say it was one of the most beautiful places to hold the Olympics.
Barely 10 yrs later the country was being turned upside down with war and you would never recognize the place. So the IOC does not have a crystal ball to see into the future but if you have to put $50B into a project just to get it to where it is, then maybe they need to re-evaluate future Olympic bids.
Like I said in the title “Welcome to the Real World” outside the US.