I’m sitting in Rose Marine, a bakery & coffee shop here in the Adler District of Sochi, Russia, on the banks of the Mzymta river. This is the first place we found a good cup of coffee within walking distance of our hotel back in February, a lifetime ago.

Walking around this town the past two days–after the Olympic & Paralympic torches have been extinguished–emotions are running high. There is the trill of success, the seemingly audible sigh of relief, a glow of pride, and fear of the impending crash.

Thrill that for a few weeks in 2014, this town on the Black Sea was one of the most important places on Earth. Relief that the games went as well as they did. Pride that these Russian people were able to be an integral part of something so successful on the world stage.

But there’s also the feeling that they’re on the brink of an emotional crash. The realization that it’s over. The unlikelihood that many of these people will experience anything of this magnitude again. A fleeting experience that will remain only in their memories.

The crash is hitting me as well. It’s hard to imagine that many of the people who I’ve worked beside everyday for nearly two months–people I didn’t even know existed months ago–incredible people whose friendship I’m so thankful for, are people I may never see again. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, of course, but reality can be cruel and a bit hard to swallow.

Last week I had a day off and was invited to the home of my Russian co-worker, Olga, to have dinner with her father and another friend. I joined Olga’s dad in what I imagine to be a traditional Russian sauna ritual involving a room that could we could’ve roasted a chicken in, a pool that may’ve very well been the same water temperature the Titanic sank in, and flogging of the skin with shrubbery.

After the first couple hot/cold cycles–once I realized I was probably going to survive–it was quite relaxing. Exactly what I needed to shock my body out of the comfort zone it had found itself in after an easy few weeks in Russia.

Over a nice glass of 20 year cognac, Sergey & I had a chat about his days as a fisherman. He inquired about my plan to sail around the world, noting that a trip like that would be nearly impossible for a Russian–travel restrictions being as they are. It’s not the first time I’ve heard envious references to the magic blue passport that allows Americans to travel freely around most of the world; a luxury we take for granted and few share.

He asked how I was able to do things like work @ the Olympics as a video dork (my words) and yet be passionate about sailing; two seemingly opposite endeavors. I tried to explain how this was my job and sailing is my hobby. Working at Olympic Park was a dream job, but a job. Everyday walking in, as I stared across the Black Sea, I wanted so badly to be out there on the water, sailing being my release, my passion.

He picked up his glass, nodded towards me, and toasted; two guys, two incredibly different lives, sharing the common bond of the sea.


Sunday night we got home to find several of our Russian production crew cooking out beside our hotel. We became an unlikely group of Russians and Americans enjoying a few last moments together, sheltered from the rain by a canopy, grilling chicken, sharing vodka and wine, laughing and hugging, interrupted only momentarily as the fireworks from the closing ceremony boomed overhead a mile away.

Today, my final day in Sochi, I sit in this cafe booth–a booth I’m unlikely to ever see again–trying to soak it all in. The sights, the sounds, the smells; all uniquely Russian.

Tonight I fly to Moscow. I’ll get to meet up one last time with Olga and my camera guy, Stanislov to explore the city a couple of days before flying to London. I plan to squeeze out a few more days of travel this side of the Atlantic, visiting friends new & old in both London & Paris, before catching a train to Amsterdam and flying home the 27th.

Thank you, Russia, you’ve been a gracious host, and I very much hope to see you again someday.

Bo is currently based in Orange Beach, Alabama working towards checking #31 off his bucket list. If you’d like to be a part of the adventure, consider sponsoring a mile. To get more info on the curriculum, sign up here.