Yesterday I went to the beach (about 30 minutes from the city). The police and firefighter international games have been going on, and yesterday was the beach volleyball tournament. The competitors were co-ed teams from around the world. Some of the teams wore a national 'uniform' whereas others just wore bikinis, shorts, or T-shirts. The Finnish teams were easy to identify because the women had a Finnish flag on the butt of their blue and white bikinis. The men more modestly (or perhaps, more sexist-ly, if that can be a word) wore tank tops with "Finnish police force" on them and blue shorts. In contrast, it took me the whole match to figure out that the Canadian team was actually from Canada. The woman wore a very small bikini (I kept wondering how it didn't fall off) and the man wore board shorts. Their French speaking threw me off for awhile, it wasn't not until I saw a Canadian flag stamped on the woman's arm that I figured out they were Canadian and not French. Otherwise, most teams seemed to look the same regardless of nationality: incredibly tan, the women either with brown or bleached blond hair (usually bleached) and the men with brown hair. I guess tanning lotion and hair dye are the great equalizer.
I watched two matches, Finland vs. Canada and Finland vs. South Africa (the South Africans were wearing uniforms with what I assume was the S.A. flag. They were also the only black people I saw at the games. I'm guessing that this "global" event was heavily weighted towards European or North American countries, or at least affluent developed ones. Hong Kong and Japan were represented, which again although Asian are affluent and developed.)
Another interesting note about the games, I was talking to a German exchange student of Dave's friend, who is in Australia doing a medical externship, and she said that in Germany fire fighters are perceived as being right wing reactionaries, whereas police are seen as more mainstream. I feel in the US it's the opposite. The stereotype is that firefighters are hunky heros who save people's lives, while police men are more likely to be trigger happy vigilantes.
But back to the beach. The beach was nice, the day was warm without being too hot, and the water was steamy compared to NW Pacific coast standards. There were also palm trees. Unfortunately I didn't put on enough sunscreen, and managed to sunburn the oddest parts of my body, such as the right side of my left shin, and a small patch under my right knee.