What a crazy couple weeks it has been in South Africa. The World Cup has completely enveloped my life here, as well as the departure of the entire house and many of my close friends from around the city.
The World Cup began in this country long before June 11th. When the country was drawn to host the 2010 World Cup, many infrastructure changes have seen the cities around South Africa update to host all 32 countries and its citizens travelling here. Since moving here there have been advertisements and countdowns on everything from television stations to shop’s windows. On the 10th of June, we went to the Cape Town “Grand Parade” FIFA fan park to get our bearings correct before coming the next day for the opening match. We all had USA flags on our backs and were quickly swarmed with people wanting pictures with us. Three different television stations from South Africa and France interviewed me. It was as we were celebrities, haha.
The opening day South Africa match crew
June 11th, 2010 marks one of the most exciting days of my life. I really cannot express how I was feeling with the World Cup finally coming to South Africa and being able to watch Bafana Bafana play the opening match. We got the fan park five hours before game-time to make sure we could get in. It was a good decision because they closed the gates about 30 minutes after we were in because the park was at capacity. The afternoon involved a ton of live music, beer, friends and meeting people. When the game started, the country’s eyes were 100% fixed on the game. When Siphiwe Tshabalala opened up the scoring for South Africa, this entire country literally erupted. I have never screamed so loud in my life and thrown so much beer all over everyone around me (they were doing the same). Not only was it one of the most spectacular shots into the upper right shelf, it was South Africa, FIFA ranked 82nd in the world playing against a much more experienced Mexican side. The Mexico goal sucked, but the fact that SA got a point out of the days games was glorious enough for everyone here and allowed us to keep our spirits up until they played again.
Ari & I at the fan park with Table Mountain in the background
That evening I walked with my friend Don to the France/Uruguay match at Green Point Stadium where we watched it live from the nosebleeds. Although the match was kind of a bore, it was so cool to see all of this big soccer names play in front of me. Soccer has finally turned into a real sport for me and not just an internet obsession. The next day was USA vs. England. What at day it was! We decided to watch the game at Scrumpy Jack’s instead of go the fan park because we wanted to be able to cautiously watch the game in a place we could call home. After a horrible mistake by Robert Greene, we got one point out of the game we were supposed to lose. A great night!
Outside of the Stadium
Don & I at our seats in Green Point Stadium
Scrumpy Jacks friends Nyani and Cia with Anthony and I and some girl I don’t know. The night of the USA vs. England match
Me, Taryn, Ariana and Amanda after the USA tying England
The next few days involved a lot of soccer watching at home or at other pubs. On the 15th a few of us guys from the house went on a road trip starting at 3:00am in the morning to Port Elizabeth. We had tickets for the Portugal vs. Ivory Coast game that was at 5:00pm and made it there around 1:00pm. We had a nice hostel that was totally outfitted for the world cup and gave us good directions to the game down on the waterfront. Nelson Mandela Stadium was a great venue to watch the game at. The evening was pretty chilly, but we managed to stay warm and keep our spirits up even though the game ended in a 0-0 draw. I am happy to have watched a lot of soccer before so I can appreciate a 0-0 game, but feel bad for other people who are expecting some amazing goals and a close match.
Scrumpy Jacks of course
We left Port Elizabeth the next morning and made a 7-hour trip up to Bloemfontein. We stayed at one of our friend’s cousin’s house in the city. It was cool to stay at a place that we wouldn’t be able to find online with a person who knew Bloemfontein. Tutu was his name, and we spent the evening with his friends at another person’s apartment watching the Bafana game, which unfortunately didn’t end in their favor. We then went to a bar in the surrounding township that we definitely wouldn’t have gone to without these guys. We were by far the only white people there, but people greeted us and were really interested to talk and hear our story! I had a blast, as did the other guys, and really appreciate Tutu’s hospitality.
Our Nissan Tiida kept us moving for the World Cup
Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth
We left for Johannesburg pretty early the next morning for our final destination and final World Cup match. We arrived in the city and picked up our friend Jacob at the airport where we found another pub (go figure) and watched the Argentina game. We left the airport to our hostel with some random guy who drove us in his Mercedes (awesome.). We found our hostel quite easily and were really excited when we walked in because it seemed to be an awesome place to spend a couple days for the World Cup. We unfortunately were relocated to one of the hostels’ satellite bunks, which had a shuttle running to and forth every 30 minutes. We weren’t too disappointed at our move since our place had a TV and some warm showers. The only bad part about the satellite hostel was its location. It happened to be on a random grid in Johannesburg that was shutting down its electricity randomly throughout the day. We were a little irritated to say the least.
The next day brought the greatest sporting event I have ever been to; The USA vs. Slovenia at Ellis Park Stadium. Ellis Park was the venue where South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup that people would recognize from Invictus. It was really cool knowing that we were in a place of history! Our seats were in the second row at one of the corners! The USA went down 0-2 in the first half, which was not very hopeful in any respect. The moods were dim, but we still tried to enjoy the game. The second half started in the best way possible. Landon Donovan scored a wonderful goal from a tight angle, blasting the ball into the upper net. The stadium completely erupted with screams and flags and scarves. When the second goal came, was really the determining point in my life where I knew how loud and high pitched my voice could get. I, without a doubt, sounded like a little schoolgirl screaming after the second goal went in. It was one of the most glorious celebrations I have ever experienced. The 3rd “what should have been a goal” was taken away (and I have it on camera), but we shouldn’t have gone down by two goals in the first place. After the game, we were so tired from cheering and singing all day that we crashed pretty hard at the hostel afterwards.
Stephen & I in our seats for the USA vs. Slovenia match
Our plane brought us back to Cape Town the next morning. It was very nice to get home after being gone for only 4 days. Going to lots of different cities in South Africa has made me really appreciate Cape Town. It is a city entirely different from the rest. It has everything and everyone. The pace is a little quicker here, and people are far more accommodating and willing to help travelers around. I say this fully knowing that there are great people in all of the cities, but Cape Town is my home right now and I won’t be able to think any city is better than the Mother City.
The city is completely draped in South African flags
The World Cup is running steady right now and I have been watching the games pretty closely. The USA going out the other night was not the happiest moment of my life, but at least it was to Ghana, the last African team in the tournament. I am the last original person in the house now. Everyone else has gone home and left me behind ☹. I spent the weekend at a braai in Nyanga (township) and driving to Simon’s Town and around Chapman’s Peak Drive one last time on Sunday. New people have been moving in, but the house (and the city in this case) will never be the same without all of the lovely, beautiful people I spent so much time with. I plan on keeping busy these last few days to try and make myself content with leaving my home in South Africa. It will be tough to leave, but I know that I am going home to the family and friends that make my life so great. I will try and update one last time before I leave.
Sible, Me, Lin Li and Mason (friend from home)
At Andrew and Ivy’s braai
My last South African sunset from Camps Bay
Much love to everyone, I will be home soon enough,