There was a bit of good news yesterday concerning the stray dogs of Sochi — 10 of them arrived in Washington D.C. and will be ready for adoption in a few weeks. It was the result of multi-organization effort, including Humane Society International and the Washington Animal Rescue League, to save as many dogs as possible from the region. This was especially good news for those of us who feared that the attention and money to save these animals would disappear following the Winter Olympics.
Vladimir Voronen, tea grower at Dagomy’s tea plantation near Sochi.
My assignments here in Sochi have been vastly different than I ever anticipated. I never thought I would be covering dog shelters, or a gay bar in Sochi. And I never thought I would end up at a place like Dagomys tea plantation, on the side of a mountain near Sochi. This place was spectacular, simply beautiful. It was so far away, so removed from the concrete, mud, and hustle of Olympic Park.
Russia is fantasically beautiful to me. Yes, it’s a bit strange, but I like strange (and, to me, if you’re not a little weird, there’s probably something wrong with you). The crazy signs, double toilets, food choices (meat salad has consistently been a buffet offering in my hotel complex, though I haven’t tried it so I can’t report on it), and Riviera Park. It’s all a photographer’s dream.
Being a dog lover in Sochi can be painful. It hurts to see many beautiful animals just wandering the streets of this town, sometime still muddy and wet from last night’s rain, looking for the next meal. And it hurts to know that many of these dogs are being put down systematically by a company hired by the local government. This plan has definitely worked … I now see a fraction of the dogs that I did when I first arrived on Jan. 13.
It’s been a few more days than I anticipated since my last post, but we’ve been getting a lot of work done around here. My role here for USA Today Sports Images (USATSI) involves a lot more than just taking pictures — I am working as a technician, helping wire the venues for our photographers (more on that in a bit), as well as working as a photo editor when the Games start. The reason I arrived so early was to aid some of our network technicians in much of the set up that has to take place for such a big event.
Security, as many of you know, is the biggest story here in Sochi. So for the past few days, I have been trying to illustrate the level of police and military presence at the Olympic Park. And that’s not always so easy (security officials here are not too keen about having a lens pointed at them). Above, security patrols outside Adler Arena.
I have to admit, it is a bit uneasy reading daily reports of direct terror threats to this area. But I can’t live and work in constant fear while I’m here, I just have to trust that authorities are doing everything they can about the situation. I am no terrorism or security expert, but I feel safe here.
Okay, so the jet lag lasted a little longer than I thought. It took me at least 4 days to really feel somewhat normal again, in terms of my sleep schedule. I’m writing this post from the small restaurant at the bottom of my hotel (which are built like apartments). All of the media housing are in clusters of about 15-20 buildings and there are about 5-7 of these clusters. The internet started working last night, but only down here in the restaurant. I’m not complaining, this way I can come home and read (instead of work on my computer) before going to sleep (a welcomed change).
I haven’t even been here 48 hours yet, but I’ve managed the jet lag a bit better than I thought I would. Right now, I’m sitting in the cafeteria of the massive Main Press Center (MPC) in the coastal cluster writing this post. For those of you not familiar with the layout here, there is a mountain cluster, which will host outdoor events, and the coastal cluster (where I am based), which has the indoor venues.