Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Post Cards from the Edge
As everyone knows, it's World Cup time...in fact it's about over and in my house the craze of the Cup will not totally say goodbye, rather, it will make its smooth transition to the next big soccer competition ...The European leagues, CONCACAF, COMABOL, etc. But this is the Big one - the world cup- and it started out well for me..it really did. We found a great place with a huge screen the size of an entire wall to watch some of the games and I was really enjoying it, especially the anticipation of the US games. Then after about 3 weeks of coming home to the sound of vuvuzelas all night long (games were mostly at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm here)...I could feel myself getting cranky - with one TV in the house and being married to a seriously crazy soccer fan that could not miss even 5 minutes of any games - there was no option for touching the remote control or going places during those times. I went through my ups and downs, fighting with the world cup, resisting its persistence every single evening, my ugly mood swings getting the best of me - and just when it was reaching its peak, the weekend for our trip to South Africa to watch a match at the stadium finally arrived. I found myself alive with the spirit of the world cup once again - Though 3 games a day in Joburg definitely wore on me - the fact that the US was still in kept me coming back for more.
The game we went to was a blast! The fans were so alive - many with that same crazed look in their eyes that i have seen on Sergio many times while watching the games..especially during the Golazos (well played Goals). Crowds of Red, white and blue filled the inside and surrounding areas of the stadium completely - American flags were waving everywhere - high and low and in all different forms. We saw people dressed as the statue of liberty, red, white and blue elvis's, Uncle Sams, guys naked with just a speedo and red,white and blue body paint, Giant cowboy hats, jerseys, faces painted everywhere - it was definitely a crazy subset of the American population..those people who are so nuts (read: deranged) about the US and supporting their team, that they will shell out thousands of dollars and many take months off of work to stay and watch the whole thing play out. We met a number of people who had been traveling around South Africa to all the games for the full month plus change. Anyways, as we all know now, the US tied with Slovenia and we went content but with a little less spirit, and the ringing of the vuvuzela still echoing in our ears (thank god my normal hearing came back the next day). Overall, great experience - the fans made it what it was.
Apart from Soccer - the trip was great.
We stayed in a really cool farm style house (turned guest house for the games) in the suburbs (Melville). The owner was a nice Afrikaaner named Jacques that made us breakfast each morning and made sure to facebook friend us immediately. Only downfall was that there was no heat in the house and joburg was FREEZING. The bathroom floors were painfully icy cold morning till night.
When you visit Joburg, you don't really visit the city - it's dangerous and not much to see there. The majority of time is spent in suburban town centers - in fact we watched most of the games at this upscale area that resembled reston town center or something similar. For sight seeing - We went to Soweto, where Mandela's owned a house before he was captured - we saw the shrine to the children of Soweto that were killed when they marched back in 1978 against apartheid in schools and the teaching of Afrikaans only, We saw the apartheid museum where the brutality of apartheid was spelled out in detail and the revolution to end Apartheid was told as a story through words, pictures and short videos.I could have spent an entire day there - one of the best museums I have been to for sure.
And we went to a cheetah breeding center and saw lots of cheetahs and many other animals in a tiny little miniature safari. But mostly, we watched soccer..and enjoyed delicious restaurants where the food tastes exactly as you imagine it will. I thought I would be spending lots of time shopping while there - everyone was telling me that it's good shopping, but i think that just meant compared to Nairobi where there is slim pickins.. but the weirdest thing has happened to me - i have lost all desire to shop for clothes! I'm not sure what happened and how long this will last, but i am enjoying it for now.
It was definitely nice to be in modernity after our first 6 weeks of being in Nairobi. The highways, supermarkets, shopping centers, and restaurants all made us feel like we were back at home..totally comforting..perhaps it was a little too early for us to experience those elements again because i definitely had a difficult time leaving it all knowing we were headed back to our poor little development-in-progress Nairobi town, where one lane roads filled with giant potholes and mud are a plenty, with dusty dirty buildings and noise in all directions, and people hanging out of all crevices - but coming home wasn't as hard as I thought..it took only a day to get back and in the swing of things and I think its beautiful here - modern or not, big fancy restaurants or not, luxurious shopping centers or not, super highways or not, clean tidy organized world or not, in its own way - it is beautiful here and actually think I'd choose this over the modernity..at least that's how I'm feeling now. This feels more like real life and somehow the things that are truly important come to light here much more easily.
Categories: World Cup - Johannesburg