Friday, July 2, 2010

USA vs Ghana

Back to Rustenburg! The last time we traveled to Royal Bafoken Stadium in Rustenburg it took us almost 4hrs on a bus and we tied England 1-1. This time things would be different we said. We decide that since there were only 5 remaining in our group we would cram into one car and make the drive ourselves.

The decision to drive wasn’t the worst or the best, 5 grown men 3 which are 6ft plus crammed into a Toyota Camry for a 2hr drive…Why Not? It was a quick 120km drive there as we left 6hrs early just to avoid any possibilities of hitting the awful traffic we witnessed the last trip. The idea was to arrive early enough to catch the 1st game at a local bar, we arrived to the stadium (well as close as we could get w/out a pass) and were forced to a park and ride in order to get close enough to a bar to watch the game. We hoped on the bus and took the short 10min drive to the stadium, then asked “How do we get to a place to watch the game. We are told “There’s a Pub across the street” Really? I don’t see a Pub? We decide to talk a walk.

We walk around the security fences and make our way across the street where we find some houses that have made their front lawns into a place to sell goods, which is know in Africa as a “shabeen”. A “shabeen” is an old-school type bar typically found in neighborhoods I guess similar to the old time pub in Ireland but different… Way Different! We look at each other and decide to try our luck so we enter. We see four older men are sitting at a table on their front porch. We give a good wave HI and walk the front door AND WOW…the smell was overwhelming. There were four people (locals) sitting a dinner table in the front room, and a small table in the room behind (kitchen?) had a few others watching the Uruguay vs. South Korea game. I decide to exit at this time and wait for my drink outside. I’ve decide since I wasn;t inside to see what happened I’ll use German’s decription from his email back home about this experience.

Next to the front-room table, a small hallway is turned into a bar, Milk crates are covered by a few pieces of wood to create a knee-high ‘bar,’ which is the width of the hallway. The ‘bartender’ stands in the hallway and charges us for 70 rand for seven tall beers – which to us are ridiculously inexpensive (less than $7 dollars for seven 32-ounce bottles). We couldn’t believe it. While two guys stood to wait, other guys had to walk out – the smell of body odor was that intoxicating. I got stuck. A 40 year old man sitting at the front table – clearly a local – gets up, and approached me, two feet away. He begins to hug me – I held my breath, as I couldn’t believe it – it being his smell. What do I do? Am I in his house? Do I have to show some type of respect and reciprocate? I stop breathing, close my eyes, and give him a tap on the back. His accent was so strong – or he was so drunk - that I couldn’t understand him. Something about happy to see fans, USA something or other, Ghana bla-bla – it was all hidden in the spit that kept flying out of his mouth and onto my face. I wiped my eyes, lips, and cheeks with my sleeve as he continued with his arm around my shoulder.

Disgusted, I push him back and point to the TV with the game on – he wants nothing to do it, and starts hugging me again. With one hand I tried to push him off, the other hand covering my pockets as I understood his next line – ‘10 rand, please.’

It took all of 30-45 seconds, but felt like an eternity. I tried to shake myself from shoulder to feet as I hurriedly turned and stumbled back out the front door. I jumped off the front porch onto the dusty front yard. The rest of our group was outside now. I couldn’t stop laughing inside – my way to recognize the absurdity that just happened and my once-in-a-lifetime bar experience that is completely unique to Africa!

I also laughed at the thought of some of my friends (Aloisi, Clint, Nahodil, others) being in this same situation – I’m laughing now as I type this, imagining their reaction to reading this last story or being in my shoes.

The ‘Tuck Shop” outside served ‘food’ well something like food, we head over to check out what’s on the menu. Here is what followed as described perfectly by Curtis’s blog.

Corey and I walk up, we are greeted by a very friendly young lady and the following, almost unbelievable, conversation follows: Me- Hi!, She- Hello my handsome friends, Me- So, what’s on the menu tonight? She- Well you are going to have to wait 15 minutes because the meat is cooking. Me- Okay, so what kind of meat is it? Beef? Chicken? Pork? She- Well it's like beef yeah, its red meat. Me- Well I prefer my "like beef" medium rare. She- 15 minutes honey and I will make you a nice plate! I then look at Corey and say "I will definitely be back at this spot in 15 minutes to try me some 'like beef'!" She winks at us as we walk away and 15 minutes later I bought a plate of that delicious "red meat". I have no idea what it was and I don't care, it was good!

I decided to wait and try my luck with the hot dogs in the stadium. Not the best choice because they ran out of food even before the game started! What are they not prepared? How are the beer lines 40min long and how the heck do you run out of hotdogs and hour before the game starts? (This only begins my unpleasant experiences at this stadium… there are more to follow)We walk into the stadium and just like before the American fans are spread out all over the place. There is no one section that could carry a group. WTF! This is why we purchased Category 3 tickets! SO the supporters could sit together!

We find our section and decide what the heck lets sit in the front row! NOT everyone wants us to SIT DOWN, so we move to our correct seats where we begin our chant. “Stand UP for the USA, Stand UP for the USA!” We were able to get our section to rise and cheer for the remainder of the half, and at half time many of our fellow supporters from the Slovenia and Algeria games found their way to our section and the 2nd Half was much better but just not enough. It was so difficult to get anything going from the crowd All of Africa was behind Ghana (including the English fans), a sign we’ve often seen when the U.S. loses – it seems every nationality is cheering against them. It was a tough final minutes of the game because many England fans were at the match because they purchased tickets for the #1 in the group so confidant England would win the group. WELL THEY DIDN’T! WE DID! Suckers!!! However At the end of the match I was able to control myself as a piss drunk English Fan w/ a Ghana flag painted on his face shouted “ The Yanks are going Home!” This pissed off many of us and I’m not sure where he ended up but I’m sure if he kept that up he was bleeding in a ditch somewhere J

The US is out of the Cup with the loss and I’m not sure how to take it. We all just stand there with a glazed look as we applauded the effort of our boys in blue. Was I sad? Yes. Was I happy I was there? Yes! The way the US played and how they put their all into this World Cup especially this game I was overwhelmed, and glad I made this trip. Now it’s time to head back to Pretoria.

Well we didn’t even get much of a chance to mope, because of the complete disaster of the exit after the game. We find the field where were supposed to pick up our shuttle bus to take us back to the park and ride. It was a crowd of people, no lines or barricades, no instructions of where to go, no signage or personnel directing fans. It was in better words a complete CLUSTER F*%#!! It was a 10,000-person mob trying to inch closer to a fence where we could see some buses. It was more than amazing how bad this was organized. It took us forever to get a bus and luckily we are all pretty big guys because the pushing and shoving got pretty bad. By the time we got back to the lot, in disbelief, it seemed like no one had left. There were just as many people in the parking lot as there were trying to get on the buses! There were no attendants directing cars, so every car tried to cut to the front by driving around the parked cars. It was just plan funny now and could only laugh at the disorganization.

The game – which didn’t even have 35,000 fans, ended before 11 pm. We get to our car at 1 am. We got on the highway at 2 am. It was a two-lane highway so for all of you who have driven from GJ to Montrose that’s what we were dealing with! And it took us 4hrs!!! We got home around 4:30am. If the loss didn’t make us ready to leave, the frustrating lines, inept organization, and just plain pain in the ass effort required to get to / from games has got us looking into changing our flights! Really who wants to stick around here for a weeklonger?

Maybe I’m just a little tired; maybe I’m bitter maybe I miss my kid too much? Who knows! I’m just ready to leave.

USA vs Algeria

Well the time has come and today’s battle is in our backyard. The march to the stadium is only 10min and one to be remembered today. We wake up early for yet another lovely breakfast, then off to get ready. I choose the Captain America theme for today’s war paint. (it’s also the choice of Bret’s for the 98/06 World Cups)

Anyways, German heads down to the stadium early to try and off load some extra tickets he has as we get all dolled up. It’s Brett’s 10th anniversary so he makes a sign “Happy Anniversary Jen” in red/white/blue, as Corey, Curtis and I finalize our war paint.

We start our march from the guesthouse and head to Hatfield Square for a quick bucket of beers and some friendly chants w/ US supporters and a few Algerian’s.

The town seems to be packed with Algerian Fans! They have invaded our turf overnight! It’s depressing but we won’t let it get us down. Hatfield Square is half full and the majority of the crowd is supporting the USA so it’s exciting. We grab a few beers and participate in some cheers then it’s off to the stadium. Back in the streets the Algerian’s still our number us, and the walk takes longer than usual as many of the fans want to stop and have a photo with the American Fans all painted up for the game. Once we reach the first security check point outside the stadium we decide it’s no time like any other to burst into song as we get other USA Supporters to join us in “God bless America” This was chilling and made the next 1000 feet to the stadium that much better!

We enter the Loftus Stadium and find where all the USA Fans were! The place was packed with RED! WHITE! And BLUE! The stars and stripes waves proudly overheads of fans as we joined into the cheering!!! This is the 3rd game for the US and a very anticipated one for we have a chance to move to the next round. The game was AMAZING! and the game winning goal will most likely go down in history as one of the best goals EVER!! At least for the USA, we cheered and cheered and the cheering didn’t stop at the final whistle. The US fans stayed and cheered for about 45min after the match. We did so too. German, Monty (a US supporter from Philly I think) and Myself decided to show are appreciation with a victory lap around the field. There was new excitement in the air after the match, not only did the USA win the game they also won the group!!! USA 1st, England 2nd!! Let the party begin! We were all forced from the stadium however the cheers continued in the streets. We participated from a distance as Curtis decided to jump into the crowd for about 20min. The game has been over for about an hour and a half so we think it’s time to leave the stadium grounds and walk. Everyone besides Curtis and I decides to head to Eastwood’s for some post game cheer and the next game where we find it best to crab some take away food and watch the next game from the comfort of the couch in the guest lodge.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

USA vs Slovenia

Well the time has come for the 2nd USA game and it couldn't be here soon enough! We all wake up at the normal 830 am and have breakfast where we all talk about today's match. After breakfast we all go to get ready and Curtis and I decide to apply some "war paint" for today's battle. (Curtis did Corey's on the way to the game)
The drive to Ellis Park was great we got plenty of honks and Vuvuzella blows in the way. They loved the fact we were dressed for today's game. The drive to the game seemed to go quickly but finding the Stadium? Park and Ride? Park and Walk? was a test for sure.

Ellis Park is located smack in the middle of Johannesburg in what many would call a "Not so good" neighborhood. We decide to drive to the stadium and work backwards from there. We get close enough to catch a glimpse of the place as we ignore the 100's of barkers getting us to park in their spot? on their hill? on their grass? anywhere we wanted it seemed... For a price.

We zig and zag our way through the busy streets to find the park and ride to the game, HOWEVER!!! we were denied entrance to the park and ride because we lacked tickets. Hummm wait we have tickets to the match so we're all good right? NOPE you need to buy tickets to the park and ride... REALLY? this sucks so we decide to move forward with plan B Park and Walk. Hopefully it's close enough that we can sprint through the ghetto w/out any muggings. We all joke that one doesn't need to be the fastest in the group just not the slowest...Ummm this will be a close one for me :)

We find the Park and Walk and yet again you need a ticket!!! REALLY? Damm our luck! But wait! I've got an idea that has worked for me many of times in my travels to Mexico... I decide to ask the parking officer "Is there any chance i can pay you and then you can pay for our ticket, since it's close to game time and we'd hate to miss the kick off" he agrees with little hesitation after a quick glance over his shoulder that no-one is watching. I slip him $100 Rand and tell him it's for us and the car behind me. We're IN! The scene when we arrive to the parking area is wonderful it appears that this is the preferred parking spot for the USA supporters so there is a warm welcome as we pull in and tail gate for a while.

It's 2 hrs before the game so we decide to make our way to the stadium and what a walk it was. It was about a mile long through what normally would be a not so good area of town however today it's something different. Locals have transformed their driveways into BBQ's where you could purchase hot dogs, chips, and whatever you needed for a pre-game meal.
German and Corey were 1st to stop and grab a hot dog like substance that was out of this world :). Then we notice the preschool is hosting a fund raiser w/ food and drink so we must donate of course. We grab a cold been and bratwurst and relax with other fans.
Here is a picture of Ryan, Brett and Corey at the Pre-School.

So after a a quick sip and a bite we continued our march to Ellis Park. The streets were alive. Kids chanted USA! USA! USA! as we passed and vendors sold flags, hats, etc, etc, etc for today's game. We make it to the gates and German has 2 extra tickets for today's game from a friend who was unable to make the trip and to try and help get some $$ back for him we find ourselves in a different situation we don't need tickets we have extra. "Let's sell these suckers" we say and it proved easier said than done. Everyone had tickets to sell. We make a few laps up and down the street and find a Mexican fan who is in need of only 1 ticket so this being our only offer in 30min we decide to sell it to him at face value. So now we are stuck w/ 1 ticket! What to do? well I come up with the idea (since i don't feel like trying to sell anymore) lets find someone else w/ 1 ticket and let's give them to a local kid so they can watch the match. I had my eye on these to young guys that had been kicking the ball around us as their mom's sold food to us. I found another American w/ and extra ticket and he didn't seem to like my idea and went in to the gates w/ an extra ticket in his pocket! LAME Fortunately someone else with an extra ticket gave it to one of the boys so we were the hero's when we offered the other boy our extra.
These two little guys grins from ear to ear! so we took them under our wings and walked into the stadium w/ them.
I ask them "If they are excited?" they reply "The Most!"
We have now been able to pass our love for the love of soccer along to two young South African boys who may not ever been able to see a game of this magnitude ever. We tell the boys to stay together and have fun. Their seats were in the upper deck and ours were about 20 rows from the field and since our chants and cheers are well above the PG rating scale this was a good idea they sat in their seats :)

Game time! and We cheer and yell in support of our boys in blue and things don;t look good for us at half time. However, we start the second half off with a supportive chant of "YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!" and 3 min into the half we score!!! then not long after another!!!! it's tied 2-2! We soon score yet a 3rd goal and the stadium erupts!!! I'm now 2 sections over from where i was standing with excitement! As i make my way back to our group i settle in and find out for some reason unknown to ALL that the gaol was called back. WTF Well anyways we stay alive in the group with a tie and we exit the stadium with cheers for our boys who wear the Red! White and Blue!
On our walk back to the car we make a pit stop once again at the pre school for a quick road dogg and cold drink... This was to insure most of the traffic had left and our ride home wouldn't take to long. We make it home safety and all call it a night after a quick recap of the match and we watch the replay of the "Phantom Call" by the Ref!!!

Thursday June 17th.
We wake up early and decide to head to Jo-Burg and try our luck at getting tickets to the Argentina VS Korea Game
Soccer City, Johannesburg South Africa.
We drive the hour plus drive to Jo-Burg and try to follow the signs to the stadium. FIFA has done a wonderful job with the signage to the stadiums and we've found them to be pretty accurate however not so much when it comes to the park and rides :( as soon as you exit the hwy it's a 50-50 chance you may not see a sign for the park and ride this is frustrating when you are in a convoy w/ other American guys who all think they know where it is.
Anyways, we settle on parking at Casino parking lot and jump on a bus to the game. (we found out that if you don't have tickets to the game you can not park at the FIFA park and rides.) LAME
We jump into a mini van w/ 5 Argentina fans and head to the stadium to try and get tickets. Once we arrive 3 guys in the group score tickets from an older gentleman then 2 more from a Canadian man decked out in Argentina Gear lastly Corey and myself hit the jackpot with 2-tickets at the bargain price of 1000 R which is like $65usd each. WOW we are all 7 going to the game. We head in with smiles from ear to ear. Bret and German are in the upper deck at mid field and Ryan, Clint and Curtis are behind the players bench and Corey and I find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the Argentina Fans Section on the corner about 15 rows from the field. THIS IS GREAT!!! So great i text Bret and German and they decide to join us at halftime.

There is a little thing you need to be warned about a supporters section before you join them just in case...There are many “No Smoking” signs in the stadium, but that means nothing in this section. The Argentines don’t sit, so prepare to stand the entire match, and your exact seat locations are also a meaningless thing so it makes it easy for the guys to join us. OH and do you best to cheer on the boys in Blue and White.

Here's how it goes (i think)

It starts“Vamos, vamos, Argentina. Vamos, Vamos, a ganar.” (You sing this while waving your hand high in a circular motion)

“Se mueva para aca, se mueve para alla.” (And we move over here, and we move over there)…And we hop a few places to the right, then back to the left.

“Es un sentimiento, no puedo parar!” (It’s a feeling, I cannot contain)…singing non-stop waiving anything you have in a circular motion high up.

Good thing German is there to help me translate because i soon find out i speak Mexican Not Spanish :)

Here is a picture of German and Myself at halftime.

This was SOOOOOoooooo Much fun and it last 90 min Plus!

After the match we head out of the stadium to catch the bus back to our cars. They have set up a line where the buses dropped you off but they corral you into a fenced area and everyone looks like they cattle moving slowly as the buses and mini buses load up and head back to the parking lots. This part takes over an hour and the VuVuZellas make it oh so enjoyable. Mann I hate those things!

We finally get back to our cars and head back to the guest house in Pretoria. Oh what a day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Catching up on the last week

ok we've been busy since the last post and i've managed to let 5 days slip by so i'll be catching up on those last few days in this one post.

We wake up to yet another wonderful breakfast here at the Guest House we are staying in. Since we're about a 10 walk from the stadium and today it plays host to Ghana vs. Serbia - we decide to try our luck on getting tickets.
We head to the Brooklyn mall where there is a FIFA ticket office, this was a waste of time. The line to buy tickets was too long so, we come back, park our car and walk to the stadium.
We see some people scalping, but not many. The Ticket Office is on the opposite side of the stadium, which because so many streets are shut down, is quite a walk. It's cool, in some way, cause you get to see more fans walking around.
The ticket center had no tickets. We start looking for scalpers. The BUZZ around the stadium seems positive we'll get some for a decent price, but will we get 7? We find a couple of Ghana fans that are selling. We say we need seven, No Problem, we are told. One guy runs to another place, and brings back a wad of tickets. He says we can have them for $90. No way, we tell him. We're not paying more that 400 rand (about $35). He walks away, but another guy, with another huge stack of tickets, says he'll sell them for 500 rand. Again, we say we're not paying more than 400. He takes it. So we've all got a ticket and head for the gates since the game has just started. On our walk to the gates we speculate
Why did two people have so many tickets, and why did he so easily accept our offer? Where the real?
We take a closer look at the tickets and they say Ghana Football Federation. We laugh :)
We have 7 tickets near each other so at first we're split up, then decide to find each other and all stand behind the Ghana group that wore bright colors, had drums, sang, swayed, danced - it was GREAT and to date was the best soccer experience i've ever had! When Ghana scored late in the game, we found ourselves right in the middle of a massive party.
Ghana holds on to win and we sing and dance our way out of the stadium with all of the Ghana Supporters.
What a night!

Today we decide at yet another wonderful breakfast that we should try and catch the Holland vs. Denmark game in Johannesburg. (which is about an hour away) Due to the lack of planning and our late start we hit MAJOR TRAFFIC and w/out tickets we are denied at the park and rides.
We decide to turn around and head back to Petroria to watch the game at the official FIFA FanFest. It was at a cricket ground. Unfortunately, it was nothing like what we'd seen in World Cups Past. There were the 2 large big screens showing the games but it was anything but full due to many of the locals having to work we expect. The lack of a crowd was a nice change for us as we were able to sit on the grass and enjoy a quick lunch and beer and relax.
During halftime of the game Curtis, Clint, German and Myself decide to participate in a quick 3min 4v4 game. We didn't do bad however the Argentina fans ended our hopes with a cheeky goal that we are all still wondering how it went in?
We head back to the guest house and over dinner we make plans to head out early tomorrow for a Safari. I'm excited for this so it's off to bed early with dreams of Lions and Tigers and Elephants OH MY!


We wake up around 7 am and drive from Petroria to Pilanesberg National Park, which was about a two-hour drive northwest. We had done part of this drive last week on our way to the U.S. game (Rustenburg is past the park). As you drive along the highway, large hills can be seen in the distance, as can platinum mines and factories. It’s kind of desolate, with a lot of open space. If there are cities nearby, they’d have to be small. When we pull off the highway, we begin to drive down a rural road with signs that read: No fences, watch out for wildlife – with a picture of an antelope and ones with cows. However, the best sign was this one and what soon to follow it.

It looks like this sign says no street vending but i guess this guy didn't see the sign :)

We continue on, we see tons people with machetes chopping down the tall grass that grew high near the roadside – or at least that was our observation without knowing if they were in fact doing.

We passed by tiny shanty houses, some built out of aluminum or tin and we think WOW how hot would that be in the summer. On multiple corners we passed people that had set up stands to sell fruit and other goods. We really are in the middle of no where.

As we approach the Park, now with fences separating the large expanses of green and trees to both sides, on our way in we get our first look at some wildlife, some spider monkeys in the trees to our left.

We pull into the park. The initial idea was for us to drive the two cars through the park – which is permitted – and apparently inexpensive. However, we also kind of wanted a guide, and to try to get us all together. Our car was happy on this decision to go with the guided tour because our "Mid-sized" car that we have now named "the ant" would not of been the best choice in the park since many of the animals in the park would be twice the size of it.

No one would flat out say it, but I think there were at least a few that felt more comfortable being higher up in a vehicle with a guide that would hopefully carry a gun in case we were approached by a dangerous animal. (Some guys admitted to this after the fact). We found out we could get a personal safari vehicle for about $35 each. Done.

We meet Justin, our driver who had been working in the safari guide business for 17 years. As we begin, we’re told the rules. Absolutely no one out of the vehicles. Also, no loud noises or attempts to startle animals should we see them. "IF" being the key word here.

It was FREEZING!!! and i myself was not prepared for this kind of cold today seeing i only wore a long-sleeved shirt and a light hooded sweatshirt. Our vehicle was an open-air safari truck. After some laughing at us who were not ready for the cold, we all accept the blankets that were passed around.

We’re on our way. (this section of the blog is from one of German's emails)

Right away we notice the massiveness of the reserve. And right away we see our first animals. A bunch of Impala antelopes bouncing around the side of the road. We stop for photos – and see them on both sides. We’re on a real safari!

A little further down, Brett spots something moving in the trees: warthogs and a lone wildebeest. They are barely visible through the trees, but we snap away.

Far up a hill we see zebras – too far for photos. We keep driving and pull off the paved road onto a dirt path. About 100 meters to our right, Brett again spots something. Justin puts the truck in reverse – and we all jump over to the right side: beyond the four foot waving blades of yellow grass, and slowly moving near a tree, is a white rhino. Awesome. The first of the big five.

We begin to pester Justin with questions. Have you seen any kills, do cheetahs live out here, what about giraffes, or elephants. He has a bunch of answers. There are so many lions out here, in this 55 hectare reserve, and they are so dominant that they have nearly killed off a bunch of animals. As far they know, there are only a handful of cheetahs even still around, less of other animals.

I’ve forgotten the exact order of the animal sittings. One reason is because we saw so many wildebeest. You could often see them far into the park and then wonder what all is out there that can see us, but perhaps we can’t see them.

We see a watering hole – next to it are two hippos, a momma and baby.

Then, we come across a larger open area near the bottom of a hill where a bunch of wildebeest and zebras are playing around. In front of them are springbok, another type of antelope. Two impala behind them, noticeable because of the horns.

Suddenly the antelope take a few quick hops forward before stopping to continue pecking at the grass. The impala are in a trance. They are fixated on something behind them, so they stand at attention and look back.

We look in front, trying to figure out what they are looking at. We see nothing but tall grass with sprinkled in trees that stretched for thousands of feet onto the bottom of another hill. Something is out there, the driver tells us. The impala can sense it, which is why they are looking like this.

I get excited. Will we see the beast!

We keep driving, slowly. We’re all quiet, seven sets of eyes surveying the entire terrain in front of us. What is out there?

The driver hits the breaks. We jump. What, what is it? Where? Our heads are spinning around. He puts the truck in reverse and jumps out. He takes one step and with his hand circles a footprint. It’s a lion’s paw. Holy shit! Adrenaline is kicking in. We continue driving and I can see 6-7 more tracks before they fade away. I can’t stop looking up and out, somewhat expecting to see the tall grass moving. I see nothing.

Further along, after more wildebeest and zebras, we come to a large lake. As we find our way closer to the lake, we see at least four more hippos on the opposite side. On the near side, we see three waterbucks, and, laying behind them, a crocodile.

We begin our drive away from the water and spot a giraffe, eating a bone for calcium. We are so close, and to our left are at least four more, eating off the trees.

We’re now a little over three hours into our drive and returning to base. We see the rhino is still in it spot. After another turn, we see a family of elephants – including a tiny baby. They stay a bit away, somewhat behind trees, though they are too big to hide completely.

We’re on the last stretch and we see the impala jumping across the road again, so we slow down. Seconds later, there are a bunch of baboons playing around.

For as much as I’ve written, I think it’s difficult to describe in print how cool it is to be in the wilderness like this. To see these animals in their habitat – not in cages, not staged, not placed out here for tourists to see.

After the Safari and i regained feeling in my fingers and toes we set off to "SUN CITY" it's described as the RENO of South Africa... It's not it's not even the glitz and glamor you get in Black hawk or any Indian Casino. The view is nice but the casino needed some work. We have lunch and watch whatever match is on the TV and then decide to drop by the casino before we head home. Ryan and German hit the tables while the rest of us mill around. Ryan is doing well and as i pass his roulette table he offers me 50$ Rand (about $7 usd) so I have a seat. quickly beginners luck strikes and i find myself with over 1000$ Rand (About $125 usd) I decide this is enough to buy a ticket to tomorrows game so i walk away :)

We all depart the casino w/ more money than we've lost so over all not a bad trip.

The drive home was one for the books. The nights sky was black as can be and only being on this two lane road once i was a little nervous. We made it back fine and went straight to bed. I was exhausted and excited that we decided to head to J0-Berg in the morning and hopefully catch the Argentina vs Korea game.

Monday, June 14, 2010

USA v England

The day has come and we awake with stories and predictions from dreams of what today's results will be...
"It will be 1-0 USA" says Clint
"No, it will be 2-1 USA w/ the last goal scored in OT" Says German
"It will either be a 1-1 draw or 0-0 draw" i say
anyways, we sort out our transportation needs and await the night game.
AS we all suit up for the match we make the necessary preparations:
US Jersey-Check, US scarf-Check, Face paint-Check (this will be applied closer to game time due to the long bus ride), I take the colored hair spray and proceed to make my hair red/white/and blue. We're ready let's go!
230pm we rush to get to the towns city hall where we are to meet our bus to Rustenburg witch we are told will be an hour and half maybe two hour drive and the bus departs at 3pm.
245pm we arrive and pay for or tickets and are told the bus will now depart at 330pm. "UGHHH" so we have a few minuets to kill we look for a shop to grab some snacks and drinks.
We all grab an assortment of quality snacks and drinks. (chips/fruit/cookies/crackers/water and soda)
We return to the bus and board and we all get excited as we begin to share stories about previous World Cup experiences together.
345pm the transportation director boards the bus and says "sorry, this bus will now be leaving at 430pm just in case some is late" A roar erupts from the 40 people on the bus NOOooooo!
he insures us we will be there in two hours and there is nothing to worry about! We all soon realize our delay is to save him money because there was to be 2 buses making this trip and he can now cancel his 430 bus due to the low number of attendance. ANYWAYS 415pm we have convinced the driver to go and we hit the open road. Two hours and we'll be there ready to get our war paint on and cheer on the yanks!
Well due to poor planning and other unforeseen details of exactly how popular the world cup is there is TRAFFIC! Yes only one road in/out of the small town that host today's game. :( The only positive thing to the traffic if there was one is the men were able to get off the bus and relieve their bladder pressure on the side of the road w/ out pulling over.
So just a short 3hr into our trip the sun has gone down and we all begin to get anxious that we may not make it on time. We catch a glimpse of the stadium from the bus window and are relieved...sort of. It's 715pm and there is 45min till kick off and we are still in traffic! We start to ponder the distance of where we are from the stadium and if walking will get us there in time...15min pass and we are closer but still so far away and we've come to a spot where traffic cops are re-directing everyone...UMMM well this bus isn't having any of this re-directing nonsense and begin to vocalize our option to the drive on no matter what the cops say. GO GO GO GO GO!! he complies as we all cheer and with little hassle we proceed down the road no one else was allowed to and we are now headed in the right direction. It goes to prove the old saying "as long as you look like you know and are confident in where you are going those in power will believe you do" well we get about a half mile from the stadium and the traffic is backed up again we all have had enough and decide to walk and take our chances of not finding the bus after the game is less important than missing the kick off.
Excitedly we all walk with a quickness in our steps to the gate. There is a large number of English fans and we soon notice that many of the locals are dressed w/ English Jerseys and flags, we attribute this to them only following the EPL. Who cares the US supporters are many and high fives and chants USA USA fill the air as we walk to our seats. 805pm we enter the stadium and we discuss the need for libations. 30 $ rand for a Budweiser hummm ok, but the line is long, is it worth missing the kick off for a beer? well we each grab two and make it to our seats for kick off.
Corey and I are in row 6 behind a group of about 8 USA supporters making 10 USA fans in a section full of English fans. The game begins and we are soon instructed to have a seat. WHAT? SIT DOWN? ummmm NO THANKS! this pisses off the English fans but their goal 6min into the match keeps them happy. OH well we represent well and continue to stand. The stadium is not to the standards of High School Football stadium. The track around the field make your row 6 seats feel like row 30 and the scoreboard and big screens aren't working. This Sucks! but whatever we'll make due! The rest of our group is in the section above us witch proved after the match to be full of USA fans.
Still in the 1st half and since there is no clock I'm not sure of the exact time but we score!!!! it's tied 1-1 and the stands erupt!!! USA USA USA! We hold on for the draw which is great the US fans take as a huge victory as the English take as a huge defeat. Corey and I rejoin with the rest of our group and make our way out to try and find our bus. We find it exactly where we got off. Nice! we board and sit in traffic again but this time we are all excited and share stories of the match and photos we have taken.
It's a long bus ride home and we return to the city hall around 2am where only one of our two cabs is there it's cold and we are all starving so after waiting 30 min we decide to cram all 7 of us into 1 cab and hit the McD's drive through! It was a tight fit but we made it home after a unique drive through experience and are all head to bed happy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 1

We awake with new found energy after a 12hr nap :) i feel the jet lag is gone, and we are excited for our friends arrivals and today's matches. The B&B is AMAZING thank you "Uncle Bret" if anyone ever ventures to South Africa please check out this place "About Guest House" in Brooklyn Pretoria it's great!
After breakfast Curtis, Corey and I head to the mall to collect our tickets for the upcoming games and explore. We get our tickets USA v ENG / USA v SVN / USA v ALG and what's this???? 2 tickets to the finals on the 11th? WOW they made a mistake right? well no I guess i did.
Here's the story... back on Feb 15, 2009 at 2am when the lottery for tickets opened i placed my bid for 2 tickets to follow the USA through the world cup well it being early in the morning and me not being completely awake i chose to follow the USA and group C unconditionally!! this means Corey and I now have tickets to 7 matches in this world cup including the finals no matter who wins our group or plays in the finals :) :) :) :)
We are now two large children in a a candy store! We have to decide soon what to do about this but plan on making our decision after the England match.
We head back to the hotel to greet Bret, German, Clint and Ryan. Our group is now complete lucky #7! Bret, Corey, Curtis and Myself are all friends for more than 15yrs from Grand junction .Co. German and Clint are soccer buddies from Denver and Ryan is a good friend of Brett's
The 7 Americans here to support the USA and the game of soccer!
Game 1 the host country South Africa plays Mexico our biggest rival in the game of soccer! LET'S GO BAFANA! BAFANA (that's what they call South Africa)
We head to the fan fair near our guest house to catch the games. In a packed square full of restaurants and bars and a huge stadium sized screen we watch the games.
South Africa draws with Mexico 1-1 this is a huge result for the host county and makes the vibe here that much better. People sing and dance with no reservations!
France v Uruguay played next and also tied 0-0.
The rest of the evening was full of beers and cheers as we mingled with those around us celebrating the arrival of the world cup.
We head home around 1am to get some rest for the long awaited match up of USA v England the next day!!! Chants of USA USA USA put us to sleep.