It’s 6:15am, I’ve been up for about 45 minutes… It’s dark outside, snowing and I am staring at a pile of kids’ ski stuff and unwrapped Christmas presents. If it weren’t for the jet lag, it would be hard for me to believe that 4 days ago I was wrapping up our final day at the Hamad Aquatic Centre and packing up to leave the Middle East after 6 incredible weeks.
It’s hard to even process the whole experience right now. I left in such a rush, traveled for 24 hours and arrive home to full blown Christmas chaos that I haven’t really had the time to sit and appreciate what just happened! As thrilled and excited I was to get home and see my family and friends, I was equally sad to leave the friends who essentially became my family while I was away. Summer camp is over!
The final days in venue were very successful. It was a pleasure to work in a venue with people who were passionate about their jobs and had a vested interest in seeing the event succeed. It was great to hear the cheers of the Tunisian fans (deafening at times!) and watch the star of the Games, Oussama Mellouli capture 14 medals. In fact, there was one night during which we planned our entire ceremonies schedule around his race schedule! I could not have asked for a better way to finish off my experience at the Arab Games.
My final hours in Doha were spent saying goodbye to my team of medal and flower bearers and escorts, whom I will miss dearly. Doing something I never thought I’d do and will never, ever do again (more on that later). Racing back to the hotel, packing. Grabbing a final beer and saying another round of goodbyes to the Auditoire team at the wrap party. Heading to the airport for a 2am flight.
As I headed to the airport, I could feel the adrenaline leaving me and the fatigue settling in… as expected, it was a very long trip home – during which I had an incredibly difficult time staying awake, never mind trying to focus on any one thing! I had a layover in Germany and had the very odd sensation of feeling out of place in a Western environment, and missing the sound of Arabic…
Things I won’t miss? The Marriot food. Air conditioning. Traffic. Hermetically sealed rooms. The ring tone of all the Auditoire phones. Weird elevator lady. People asking me if they could have a medal. Champions. Cigarettes. The fact that after 6 weeks, I still couldn’t figure out the layout of the city.
Things I will miss? The people and friends I made. The souq. Morning runs on the Corniche. My roommate. The daily recaps and catch-ups. The experience.
Time now to settle back into daily life and enjoy my family for a while!