Wednesday June 16
When I woke up I went and sat in the sun for a bit. The days here are perfect, low 60’s with warm sun. The nights are chilly, I’ve been cold a few nights, and it’s always cold in the morning, so the sun always feel good in the morning. P.W.’s car is struggling a bit these days. He says it’s the carburetor, fuel isn’t getting to the engine well, so the car stalls constantly. So we drove around and talked to a number of people about how to fix his car. We stopped at the market. The townships are really interesting. They are a picture of all phases of development. There are shacks with no floor, rain turns everything to mud and destroys the few belongings people have. There are single room homes built by the government, many people have added on to these, and many people tear these down completely and build new homes, some are very nice. As we stood at the edge of this market filled people selling whatever they can to make a little money, we looked out on a mall that would suit the needs of anyone in the US. It seems that at least part of the emerging black middle class is remaining in the townships, creating economic in these areas.
On the way home we stopped and got a traditional South African meal. They take a big chunk of bread, cut out a square out of the middle, and put stuff inside. I have seen a couple variations, but I guess the main thing is polony, whatever that is. They put cheese, garlic, atcher (mango relish) and chips (French fries) inside. I guess Primanti’s ain’t so original after all. I enjoyed it. We returned to the house, then P.W. and I went for a long walk around the townships and talked. We got back to the house in time to watch Chile beat Honduras, then I said my goodbyes and jumped in a taxi to go back into Pretoria. There was about eight people in the taxi when I got in, half of them got out, so the driver had a bunch of seats to fill before heading into town. We drove around for about twenty minutes only getting a few more. This was killing me cause Spain Switzerland was starting and we still had lots of travel time. Eventually he started toward the highway and picked up a couple more along the way. I jumped straight into another taxi when I got into Pretoria and got back to my hostel with about ten miutes left in the first half. Spain was still beautiful, but beauty doesn’t count for much besides my (and maybe others’) admiration.
After the match it was time to get focused on the real objective of the day, watch bafana bafana make countries dreams come true with victory over Uruguay!!!! We now know this did not happen, but that was the dream at the time. I went out with Milan, my Serbian friend who was also staying in the hostel, to try to get tickets for the match. It was tough, there weren’t many available, except for those few who were asking insane prices. I think everyone has a price that would make them content to watch on tv rather than in the stadium. We ran into a guy who was selling one ticket, Milan bought it for r850 ($120). We kept looking for mine for a long time, finally I found a couple negotiating with a man. They were South African, the man was trying to lowball them, offering r400 and not budging, I offered r800 off top, then we realized they were selling two, so I offered r1400 for them both. They wanted to go, but we offered right around that price that made them happy. I felt a bit bad buying from locals who actually wanted to go to the match, we discussed it with them for a while, not putting any pressure, just allowing our offer to sit. They discussed it in a couple languages, then finally agreed. In the end I think they were probably happy they didn’t sit through such a depressing match. Now that we had 3 tickets, Milan had to sell the original. He started off asking r3000, and ended up selling it for r1100. After about two hours of scheming, it was finally time to go in the stadium.
Milan was an interesting match companion. He loves pictures. His camera’s battery was dead, so we just had mine. I pretty quickly just gave it to him to use for the night. He took 46 photos and two videos. I took two photos. I only know this cause I uploaded them on the computer later. When we were walking into the stadium., I was focused on getting to our seats. Milan had other plans, he wanted someone elses seat. He told me to follow and unfortunately I did. We pushed through crowds, walked through rows people, forcing them to let us by, through a couple private boxes cause the aisles were too crowded, and finally to a 6 empty seats almost at midfield. As people arrived, we were pushed out of those seats and were lucky to find a couple nearby that remained ours the rest of the match.
The match itself was unfortunate. South Africa was just not quite ready for this tournament. I don’t question any of the players’ heart, but their nerves and inexperience showed. A man told me that this will be the first time a host nation has not qualified, that’s sad. Their captain is the one who has made all their crucial mistakes. In the first match, he was the one who kept the Mexican goal scorer onsides, and this match, he backed off and allowed Forlan to turn for the opening goal in this match. You can’t let any player turn and shoot from that range, especially one of the top forwards in the world. He is the one of the few with international experience, and while the rest of the team is holding it down, he is folding. SA’s attack was very disappointing as well. They did ok possessing through the midfield, but they were never dangerous. Against Mexico, they did well when they played over top on the counter attack. I think Uruguay noticed that and weren’t pushing any of their backs up the field, but you have to test a defense in every way. It’s silly to keep trying the same thing when you havn’t created any decent chances. Bafana just kept trying to break them down with short passes and it didn’t work.
I think I will stay far away from the next Bafana match, maybe they will have better luck without me