Saturday, June 26, 2010

Along the Cape

Durban was a tropical paradise compared to our frigid nights in Joburg and Rustenburg. The lows were in the 50s and the highs in the 80s. The locals all thought it was quite cool and the beaches were pretty much empty. Durban is along the eastern part of the Cape on the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. There is also a huge Indian population in Durban (and South Africa in general, in fact Ghandi lived here for a while during his early life) and the place has a very different feel from the Guateng province in the north. It's warmer and greener, but it also seem to have a more affluent feel to it. Joburg is where people go to make money, but Durban seems to be a place people like to go once they have it. The country clubs, villas, palm trees, and sandy beaches make the place seem a bit like a nice southern california town. This makes the shanty towns crawling up the hillsides seem even more out of place then they were in Joburg. The stadium in Durban is absolutely gorgeous and right next to the coast. We got to enjoy Japan vs Holland in this beautiful stadium.

After a brief two day stay in Durban we started down on Coast towards Cape Town on the Baz Bus. The Baz Bus is a great bus that goes along the cape and picks up and drops off travellers at various backpackers along the way. Our first stop was in Port Elizabeth, half way to Cape Town from Durban. Port Elizabeth is smaller and quieter than Durban, but a very beautiful green area. We spent the day walking along the beaches and then watch Bafana Bafana beat France 2-1, but unfortunately not enough to save their World Cup hopes. They go down as the first host to not make it out of the group round. People weren't too upset by this though. There weren't many expectations going into the tournament and they played very well (drawing with Mexico 1-1 and beating France). In general people are still happy and proud to be hosting the World Cup.

After one full day in Port Elizabeth we had a shorter day on the Baz Bus to Mosselbaai (Mossel Bay). Here we had time to just relax and hang out on the beach. Oh and watch the USA beat Algeria and win their group!

After a day in Mossel Bay we arrived in Cape Town. Cape Town is a beautiful city nestled between the coast and Table Mountain. We hiked Table Mountain and got some beautiful views of the city and the cape.

Things are starting to wind down with our trip and pick up with the World Cup. The group stages are all finished and we're off to Bloemfontein to watch England vs Germany! After this I'll be staying with Justin and his uncle in Pietermaritzburg and then i'm on my own.

Here are a few pictures from joburg and rustenburg:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh when the Yanks go marching in!

It's been a great week out here in SA. Barely have had a chance to catch my breath and there's far to much to write about. The two USA games have been the bookends to our first week out there. Two draws sounds like a dull sporting experience, but it has been anything but that.

For our first game vs England we found a little pub near where we were staying in Joburg. The place was filled with England fans (though mostly South Africans) which made for a spirited though friendly atmosphere. The game ended 1-1 and will make England hold their heads in anguish for years to come.

We spent the next couple of days in the more rural city of Rustenburg northwest of Joburg. Here we went to my first World Cup match ever, New Zealand vs Slovakia. The match was entertaining and a NZ equalizer in the 93rd minute toped off a memorable (and slightly deafening) World Cup experience. The next day was spent doing our own self-guided safari in the nearby game park of Pilanesberg. We had a great time and saw quite a lot of wild life.

We're back in Joburg now. Today was dedicated to the USA vs Slovenia game. We showed up early to avoid traffic and started painting our faces outside the stadium. Shortly into our face painting session some guy showed up with more face paint and asked us to paint his face. Before we knew it there was a mini USA party happening on the street corner. If we're ever short on money all we need to do is show up to a game with face paint and start charging. The USA game started our as a disaster, some poor defensive play put the USA down 2-0 at the half. The USA players and fans weren't discouraged and shortly into the 2nd half Landon Donovan had a world class goal to get the USA going again. The USA threatened for most of the 2nd half and the equalizer finally came with about 10 minutes left. Needless to say the mostly American crowd went crazy. We were unlucky not to win the game when the ref mysteriously called our third goal back for no known reason. Still a USA game for the history books and an experience I will never forget.

So far we've met lots of great people (from South Africa and all around), been hosted by a few generous South Africans, and in general just had a great time. Tomorrow morning we're off for Durban where we'll spend a couple days near the coast and watch Japan vs Holland! We thought we didn't have much time to relax in Jozi... just wait for our trip along the cape.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bafana Bafana!

So after a little over 48 hours of travelling I've finally made it to South Africa! The flights were great, uneventful. Things are lively here in South Africa. We're camping at a little place outside of Johanesburg. The nights are cold, but the days are quite nice. The World Cup opened up last night with South Africa's team (Bafana Bafana) playing Mexico in an exciting 1-1 draw. We went to a local park where they had set up a stage and big screens to show the game. The place was packed with local fans dancing, singing, and blowing their vuvuzelas (plastic horns that are really loud). It was quite a festive atmosphere, especially when South Africa went up 1-0 in the second half! Unfortunately Mexico equalized in the 80th minute. The crowd didn't stay silent for long and Bafana Bafana was unlucky to not with the game just before the end of regulation! Overall a great start to the trip and for South African football.

Tonight is the big game for the USA against the UK. The two teams haven't met since the 1950 World Cup where the USA won 1-0. The game is in Rustenburg, but we'll be finding a pub here in Jozi to watch it. Tomorrow we're leaving for Rustenburg where we'll spend a few nights and watch our first game out there (a defensive thriller, New Zealand vs Slovakia). Thats all to report for now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boston Ho!

Spent a few days in St Louis, leaving for Boston tomorrow! Spending a week there and then on to South Africa. Here are some pictures of when Bonnie was visiting out in Utah: