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My First Post!

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By: John Mann : October 15, 2012

In my mind it seems like forever. In actuality it was a mere two months ago. I walked out of the Closing Ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad; and it hit me, my mind raced as it grasped the idea. My dream, to be an Olympian, had cemented into reality. The feeling was, well--still is, almost unbelievable. Like others, I had overcome a myriad of obstacles to come to this point. When my teammates and walked through the entrance of the Olympic stadium in London, a warmth, a rush, and a heaviness pressed down on me. A chill went across my neck and down my back, leaving every hair on my body feeling as if it were standing on end.

The deafening roar meshed with the pounding of drums. Lights flashed and strobed across the stadium and I began to see the enormity of the situation. This feeling was the one I had been waiting for my whole 27 years of life. Why it feels like it was so long ago, I attribute to a few things. Most likely, it is because everyday has become a “new” experience. I moved to Italy two weeks after I returned home from the Olympics. Learning a new language, culture and lifestyle, has pushed my Olympic reflections to the back burner for the moment.

I am writing from my apartment, which over-looks the sea in Recco, Italy. It is located in a Region called Liguria that holds one of the largest cities in Italy, Genoa. Recco is on the sea about 20 minutes south of Genoa. Recco is a beautiful little city that has a small population of 10,000, which feels more like 2,000! It is my first experience living in a city this small. Coming from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Barcelona, all of which I have spent extended amounts of time in, Recco it is certainly a culture shock. Recco, although very small, makes up for it with a rich culture and a very social community. Residents are constantly out and about either socializing at a café or lying at the beach. It is a truly relaxed and comfortable lifestyle.

The first weekend I arrived, there was a tremendous celebration. Recco is broken up into little boroughs that compete annually in a firework competition. Each borough sets up a food tent in a part of the beach or street to fund this spectacle. Each tent is massive and serves thousands a day with all the local delicacies. Friday and Saturday are spent at the beach and food tents, the nights are spent staking out a prime viewing post for the firework spectacular that takes place over the cove in the city. The firework displays are absolutely spectacular. They last for 30-45 minutes each, and as there are five-plus boroughs you can imagine you see at least a solid 2-3 hours of world class fireworks. I have seen many firework shows - these are right up there with the show in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. What a welcome weekend!

The food in Liguria, is fantastic. I know, it’s almost overly cliché, “The food in Italy is amazing!” I have heard that one a thousand times too. Cliché aside, it is really fantastic. The style of Italian food in this region isn’t widely popular in America, making it especially delectable. Pesto’s, nut, and ragu sauces dominate the pastas here. Foccacia al Formaggio, is a wonderful treat, a unique pizza/pastry-like dish that is smothered in delicious stracchino cheese. Recco is also home to Cavassa one of the finest gelaterias in all of Italy, conveniently located steps from my apartment, the pistachio flavor is amazing!

Now finally to Water polo! I have been training very hard since I arrived here almost a month ago. My team, Sportiva Nervi, is competing in the Division 1 Italian Championship. We play 22 regular season games and in addition we have playoff games beginning in March if we achieve a rank of “Top 8.” The league in Italy begins this week and while I am looking forward to our first game, my expectations are somewhat tempered, I am sure we will make some errors from being a little rusty.

Next week, I will update you on my game, and hopefully have my video journal up and running! I am looking forward to filling you in on my life in Italy!

Thanks for reading!

John Mann
USA Olympic Water Polo Player