I hope this letter makes it to the Russians and in particular, Vladimir Putin. As many of you know, we recently returned from watching our kid (Travis Ganong) do a pretty good job in the Sochi Olympics. It was an honor for him to be there and exhausting and thrilling for us to attend the games.
We were most impressed with the friendly and engaging Russians. This was enhanced by wearing the crazy USA “Russian hats” that many of you have seen on national TV.
These hats have done more for international relations than 100 years of “diplomacy.” They attracted thousands of people and 500 or more photos of us with them.
Each time, it leads to lots of laughing, camaraderie, gesturing and talking. We exchanged ideas, names, experiences and, yes, some vodka!
We and they came away with an enhanced and improved understanding of one another.
A second amazing experience was the story of me leaving my backpack in the taxi which dropped us off for our flight home out of Sochi and sped away.
“C’est la vie” was my response to $200 U.S., $50 Turkish, camera, my friend’s binoculars, favorite down parka, credit card, copies of passports and such things that you pack in case your luggage is lost.
We only had the last 3 numbers of the taxi “778.” Did not even have the company name.
We hurriedly spoke to the police and left our information-keep in mind there was with a huge language barrier. Boarded the jet 1 hour later. Ten days later, it arrived safe and all intact with a Russian security Ziploc across the pocket holding my wallet.
I can’t believe this happened, and I am totally impressed with their integrity and sense of responsibility, from the taxi driver to the police and airport authorities.
The people of Sochi really made this a great Olympics. I only wish Vladimir would follow suit!