The World Cup and Southern Africa

During the world cup I will be traveling around South Africa. After the tournament is over, I plan to travel over ground about 1800 miles up to Nairobi, where I will fly back to the states from in early August.

In this blog I hope to share my experiences, thoughts, and stories. I am not completely sure why I am here, I hope to know by the time I leave. I will focus on a few topics:
1) How do we develop people? (Education, Values, etc..)
2) Is there any absolute truth? I hope so.
3) Football

This will not be clean and edited, it is my journal. I will write very much in stream of consciousness, most statements I make are questions that I wish answered. Please feel free to add to my inner-dialogue.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wafahamu Keswahili?(sp?)

So I am at the best internet cafe I have been to in a long time, but I cannot use my flash drive, so I can't post my blogs. I am in Mbeya, Tanzania...Tanzania is the first country where I need to ask if people speak english. Now I wish I had worked harder at learning swahili. Most people still speak some english, but it would be nice to have better Swahili skills. I could have caught a train to Dar Es Salaam, which would have put me up over 30 consecutive hours of traveling, that would not have been much of a problem, but I want to see the country, and a good portion of that would have been in the dark. So I will break it up on buses and hopefully get there early afternoon on Sunday. Peace for now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I am here, going there

Greetings family, I am currently in Mzuzu, Malawi, I may make the big move towards Tanzania today, it would be another overnight bus ride, it all depends on when the train comes through souther Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. I have many partial stories written, I just have less time to work on such things these days, I hope to be able to share them soon. Well, I am off to figure out my next move, and possibly eat.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday July 27, 2010

Sorry, I didnt have time to Edit...I am now in Nkhata Bay, but I am about to head back down sout about 60 km to find the family of a guy I met in SA...Should be interesting.

This morning I woke up in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It is a pretty laidback place, I didnt see much of it though. My next major stop is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I am taking this week to inch my way north along the lake and I hope to catch a train to Dar once I cross into Tanzania. So today was my first day of that journey. At about 9:30am I caught a minibus taxi to the place to catch a bigger minibus in a northwestardly direction. The town I asked for is Nkhotakota. The dot on the map appeared to be on the map and it is north of Lilongwe, so it seemed like a good first start. I sat on the minibus for a long time. It had a capacity of about 25, so it took a long time to load. I think I was about the 5th person. After an undetermined period of time I went for a walk. I lost my flashlight at the hostel in Lusaka, Im pretty sure it was stolen, but regardless, I needed a new flashlight. I started to ask around, it turns out flashlight isn’t a common term, torch was in fact the most effective word. I was pointed into the market, which was strangely hidden behind all the buildings on the block. Most markets have been pretty obvious, not this one. As usual, one shopkeeper made it his mission to meet my need. He first brought me more of a table top light with about 40 LED bulbs, I asked if he had anything smaller, he went to a couple other vendors and scared up cheap flashlight with a sticker of the American flag and Obama. He ran a hard bargain, he charged me $10 for what appears to be a sub $5 quality kmart flashlight. I don’t do much haggling at markets, I figure the few dollars I could get knocked off for the fun of it are probably important to the seller. I don’t want to get ripped off though either. His price felt like a bit of a rip off, but I went with it. I walked quickly back to the minibus, I feared somehow there was a flood of people going to Nkhotakota and they may be waiting impatiently, or have jettisoned my bag and left. There was no need to fear, my 45 minute shopping trip saw little progress. I sat back on the bus, and read, and sat. People walk by trying to sell all types of things, it’s a bit entertaining. I would buy a snack occasionally. Women selling bananas on their head didn’t like me reading. While I wasn’t reading, I guess they knew I saw them and decided not to buy. While I was reading, about four times a banana lady came up to me and announced her bananas until I looked up and declined. I guess women like attention. I would like attention as well if I could carry a huge basket of bananas on my head. For a long time now, well before this trip, I have longed to carry things on my head. It is amazing the shapes, sizes and weight of things women carry on their heads. Unfortunately, I do not think there is a society in which it would be socially acceptable for me to do this. Maybe I will just have to practice in the privacy of my own home. I didn’t watch the time, it is helpful in any way, and despite my anxieties of wasting time, I really just have to be somewhere by dark. So at some point in time, the minibus left. This minibus had a letter taped to the front window next to the registration sticker. I think the letter explained why it was still allowed on the road. There are regular police check points, sometimes they stop vehicles, other times they just wave them through. At the checkpoint on the way out of Lilongwe, they stopped our minibus. The policeman read the letter, laughed, called his partner, who also laughed, they gave the driver a hard time and eventually waved us through. At each place the vehicles may stop (police check points, larger villages to let people off…) a wave of people come up to the bus to sell stuff. Today I had an ear of corn, a variation of French fries, and a Malawi Samoosa, which just has rice in it. The Samoosa was scary though because it is orange on the outside, and I had no idea what was inside. It turned out to be tame. I got of the bus in Nkhotakota with no clue what to do. Nkhotakota is a strip of about 3 blocks of businesses, with paths going back to villages in all directions. I am guessing there are touristy lodges on the lake, but that’s where I am. I got dropped off at 16:30, too late to explore much. A couple people asked me where I was going, I told them I didn’t know, they helped me sort it out. Its nice cause this isn’t a tourist area, so everyone doesn’t expect money in return for help. I was pointed to a motel right in front of me because it was nice and had good security. I spoke to the man at the gate who told me a room was about $25, I told him it was too much, after a few more exchanges that included his friend, they walked me to a place down the street where I got a room for about $3.50. It’s simple, and as you can imagine, I am very pleased with the price. No toilet seat though. I hung out with my helper, Prince, and his friend. More his friend whose name I still need to learn, because Prince was still at work at the motel that was too expensive for me. After it had gotten dark, I decided to go rest for a bit…I read for awhile and am currently sitting here waiting for Prince to call me, hoping we can get a drink somewhere, this room is a little small to spend too many hours awake in.

So I hung out with Prince tonight, it was cool, we had a beer, played pool with an almost round cue ball, I like the bar food here, except the part where its served by kids. They walk around with a tray of food, there are only a few, one had fish, the other hard boiled eggs, and the third samoosas. I had three samoosas. On our walk back I asked Prince what time he works in the morning, he said 5am. He works 5am til 9pm everyday. He is the chef at the motel. I will try to wrap my mind around that as I go to sleep tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quality of Life

Hey all, Sorry its been awhile, I am currently in Lilongwe, Malawi. I had a whirlwind trip around Namibia, then I went to Zambia, saw Victoria falls, then I got sick, I think I'm almost better, and that brings us up to date. I may fill in the rest later. Life moves fast on the road.

I would like to pose a question about quality of life....this is a very flawed question,of course there is not one definite answer, but I would appreciate any responses.

So what is the most influential factor in a person's quality of life?

I would like to say that the quality of an individual's relationships is the most important factor in one's quality of life.

Perhaps it is physical health, this past week I didnt care about anyone or anything, nothing else could possibly matter until I was healthy again.

You could use the hierarchy of needs...I forget how it goes...but basically a person can't think about things such as relationship until they have water and food, then safety....etc. But I think it's more complex than that.

So anyway, there is the question, choose one human need or desire and defend it as the most important factor in our quality of life. It should be 1-8 pages double spaced, size and font dont matter. Stay Well Family.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am now in Namibia, I think I am going to rent a car with a few others and cruise around the country for a couple days, I have a couple posts written, but I cant use my flash drive here, I will post when I can. Not sure when the next time I will have internet access will be, but I will be in touch then. Props to Spain.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday July 8

I woke up earlier today, 9:30 and changed hostels. I liked the owners of the other one, though they had a big argument of some sort last night, but the beds were squeezed too close together and the mattress was weak. I don’t think my new mattress is much better, but I have more space. I walked around town looking for a hat, I have been the whole time I’ve been here to shade my eyes from the sun, but I still havn’t found the one. Maybe I will before I come home. I stopped at a couple bakeries and tasted the local goods. Then it was time to climb table mountain. It is cool walking around Cape town, you turn and see this massive rock looming above you. I started to head towards the beast at about 2pm, later than I shoulda started. It’s about a two hour hike up, and I was at least an hour from the trail. There is a road that winds up to the entrance, but that was out of my way, so I just walked toward the mountain. I was very fortunate to run into a dirt road where the city streets ended. My road said no unauthorized something or other, but the sign was small and not too intimidating, so I progressed. It worked well, I hit the road I was supposed to use close to where the trail started. My starting point wasn’t the main starting point, but it connect after a bit. I didn’t know which way to turn when I T’d into another trail. I tried left. I ran into someone walking towards, I asked which way was up, he said the way he was going. I walked with him, our trail ended at a cliff, we turned around. We connected with the correct trail, but failed to stay on it long. I think we were both in a rush and trusted our instincts too much. We saw a trail going up and assumed that was us. It probably wasn’t a trail, more of a dry creek bed or something. We lost our invented trail a couple times, but found other trail like paths. Again, we ended up looking at a vertical rock face. We tried to go around it, that failed, he was in more of a rush than I so he hurried back down to find the trail again, I rested, then followed suit. I continued to follow anything that looked like a path. I knew they were not the path, but I figured if I walked in the correct horizontal direction, I would hit the trail. This never happened. It seems the trail waits until the rocks are less steep to continue gaining elevation. So I got myself in a bit of a tough spot where I had no choice to descend back to the real trail, eventually I made it. I walked back to where I made my first wrong turn. I had a nice place to sit and watch the sunset halfway up the mountain. As the adrenaline left my body I gradually felt all the bumps and scrapes the mountain had given me. Table Mountain won today, but I will have my day.

It turns out it was a good choice to find a shortcut to table mountain, the walk back was long. I had dinner at a west African restaurant, they overcharged me. I now have beef with west Africa. I got back to hostel and showered and am debating going out, but I don’t think I will, I am excited to sleep.


So I have two days to write about and lots on my mind, we’ll see how far I get. I was the only one at my hostel in Cape Aguhlas for much of Monday night. There were a few people scheduled to come around midnight. I had just made myself a cup of tea and I was gonna read. Then Barry came in with some sausage and steaks, it was time to have a braai (bbq). Barry is the man I had a drink with the previous evening, and I had met him at the hostel bar the first night I was there. He cannot really speak. I think what he told me tonight was he can hear out of one ear well, poorly out of the other, and there is something wrong with his vocal chords. Those who know him can understand him well enough, and he writes if all else fails. This didn’t help us because he only knows Afrikaans, and I only know English. We did much better this evening with our discussions, we improved our non-verbal communication and found some common words. I showed him some of the pictures I had taken on my trip, he showed me pictures of his wood carvings for a second time, I had seen them the night I got there. He made me a really good meal, and I was better company than he usually has, no credit to me, it was the circumstance of the place being empty. The first night when I met him I was talking with one the owners when Barry brought his pictures to show me. We included Barry in our conversation for a couple minutes, but then drifted into a conversation that excluded him. He even stopped us at one point and said he couldn’t follow our conversation, I can’t say we really adjusted to include him, it seemed too difficult. So with no one else there, Barry had my full attention. As most experiences, this one comes with a challenge. There are many people around us, I know a few, who don’t fit as well, or take a little extra attention or time, or may be lonely for one reason or another. It took me being thousands of miles from home, way in the middle of nowhere with no one else around to really give someone in one of those categories my full attention for an evening. I know it’s not possible to befriend everyone who needs some company, but I feel I could probably make myself a little more available than I do.

I was in bed reading when a crew of four arrived just after 11pm to the hostel. I was asleep within ten minutes of their arrival. They became important in the morning. I asked them where they were going next as we were all packing up our belongings, they shared my destination of Cape Town. I asked if they could squeeze one more in the car, they told me as long as my bag fit in the trunk I could squeeze in. It did, I was grateful to avoid a day of hitchhiking.

Cape Town is by far the best host city. It is beautiful, it has lots of good places to eat and sleep, good museums and other touristy things. There is a fan walk, 2.5 kilometers from the CBD to the stadium, fans do all their fan-like things in their fan-like clothes along with some other bands and costumed beings to create a fun parade type thingy. The fanfest is huge and fun, and you can go out at night, which is hard to do in most SA cities.

On Tuesday I just settled in, walked to the waterfront and around the stadium to see what the semifinal tickets were going for, I think I woulda had to drop at least $100, I didn’t want to spend the money so I walked against the fan walk back to the fanfest. The fanfest was full, so I scrambled to find a place. I watched the first half in a little deli/takeout type place while I had curry and rice. The tv was tiny and well behind the counter so it wasn’t the best view, but a couple more people came in and I enjoyed their arguments. I was thinking of staying because of the conversation, but the owners started to check the progress of a cricket match every couple minutes, so I left at halftime. I ended up in more of a fine dining establishment, I just got a cup of tea, with tip it cost the same as my curry. I was sitting right in front of a flat screen tv, so it was fair. I hoped Uruguay would pull it out, they played well, they are an example of how much of a difference a top forward can make. Forlan’s ability to score goals and good tactical football brought them to the semi-final without losing a game, and they lost a pretty even match to an extremely talented dutch side. The Netherlands disappoints me a bit though in the way have been cautious and tactical. They aren’t playing the free football that earned them their own style, each match has been very patient and defensive at times. It’s intelligent and effective, just not so Dutch. At the same time, that is a great job of adjusting style to players. France should learn from them.

When I got back to my hostel I was coaxed into going out. I am probably the lamest world cup attendee. I want to get to bed early so I can wake and see the country. Well, that failed this night. I woke up at noon. I went to the national art gallery and a couple other spots. The art was pretty powerful, it was a good representation of the beauty, pain, and people of this country. There were many quotes on the walls above the artwork, some were interesting. One artist said he could use his talents to paint the beautiful landscapes of the country, but really how could he when there is so much pain and injustice that needs to be portrayed. I struggle with this question constantly, not as far as my artwork of course, but in life in general. I think I need to address that separately.

One of my other stops was the Library. The man at the desk asked me if I would buy him a cool drink when he learned I was from the US. After a bit of chatting I agreed. I walked with him after he was off work to his home where he changed clothes. He is from Joburg, the Library here in Cape town provides a place for him to live. It's about 50 square feet. We walked and grabbed a drink and a snack, then parted ways. I hope to visit him again before I leave.

I relaxed for a bit, then it was time for the much anticipated Spain-Germany match. I think the better team won, Germany always at least plays to their potential, and often beyond. It’s amazing how they are always around at the end of tournaments. For whatever reason, Germany never seemed to be a real threat in the match. Maybe Germany had the wrong tactics, maybe mullers absence hurt them, maybe they were having an off night, or maybe Spain just played a fantastic match. Spain is always gonna have more possession, but Germany never put enough pressure on Spain to really get a goal. Ozil had their only clear chance and seemed more worried about holding off the defender than taking the good shot he had. I think Germany wanted to counterattack, but Spain never really gave them the chance. Spain deserved their win. And they are so beautiful to watch. The Fanfest was rowdy mostly for Spain, it was fun. This Spanish team could be dominant for a long time, although I think they will always be vulnerable because of their inconsistent goal scoring. In this tournament they finally find their goal in the last quarter of the match, and sometimes they aren’t gonna find it, like vs. the swiss this year and the US last year. That balance between beautiful and effective play is hidden somewhere within the game of football, we will all keep trying to find it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Missing July 3 post

I woke up early this morning with the hope of sleeping in the southernmost tip of Africa. I was out of my hostel by 7:15. I stopped for about 10 minutes on my way to the taxi rank to brush my teeth and watch the sunrise. I planned a similar day to the previous, where I would take taxi’s from town to town. This scheme didn’t last long. I got to the taxi rank and they told me I had to get on a long distance taxi to cape town and get off at Swellendam, where the road goes south to Cape Aguhlas. They put me on a taxi to a different taxi rank just outside of town. There was no one at this rank. I asked someone, he talked to someone who was driving by in a pick-up truck, and I was told to hop in the back. My friend in the pick-up told me that the long distance taxis didn’t start loading til about noon. He dropped me at the local hitchhiking spot. I had one companion there, he was from cape town, but was working in Mossel Bay. He was going to see his family. He had been there since 7:30, I arrived at about 8. I was thinking about the affect we were having on each other. I was an obvious tourist, standing there with my Ghana jersey on and a vuvuzela in my pack. He was an obvious working class South African. Other football tourists would be likely to pick me up, but not him. Other South Africans might be inclined to pick him up, but might be disgusted by a tourist who had the means to get here, but was taking advantage of people to get around. Many people have laughed at me as I’ve been hitching, I don’t think white South Africans really do it anymore. Lastly, two people must seem more of a burden to pick up than one. I thought of walking up the road a bit, but I was struggling with race issues. I was honestly thinking I could get a ride easier standing alone as a white man, not next to a black man. So I stayed next to my friend. Two younger men came at about 8:45. At 9, I decided I needed a sign to let people know I wasn’t going all the way to Cape Town, which would be the assumption because that’s where Germany and Argentina played today. I turned and walked towards the gas station we were standing in front of. I looked back and they were all hopping in the cab of a tractor trailer. I ran to see if they had space, but they pulled off before I got there. I stayed by the road now. Five minutes later four men with long beards came to the spot, greeted me, and walked about 20 meters passed, I think to establish disassociation. I was slightly hurt, but I bounced back. Five minutes later a small car stopped with only two spaces in the backseat. By the time it came to a complete stop, it was up by the other men, they rushed to the window and spoke to the driver. I figured they had claimed it, and if they got in there, there was no space for me. After a brief conversation, the car drove off without them. I realized the car had probably stopped for me, cause 1 person could fit, but my complacency lost me the opportunity. I had to get more aggressive. In another 5 minutes, a car stopped that was pulling out of the gas station and accepted me. It was an attorney with his wife, an auditor from the northwest corner of SA. They had flown into PE and were driving to the match in cape town. We had a nice chat, it was good to hear a voice in the growing black middle class. There are many growing pains in this young democracy. The ANC, Mandela’s party, pretty much has all the power. The country is I think 80% non-white, and the ANC delivered them from apartheid. They have no real challenge to political office. Side note: The voters choose a party, then the heads of the party choose the president, they don’t vote for an individual. Not sure how local politics work yet. So the ANC has no real accountability, and therefore, have been a reckless in certain areas. People from all walks of life have frustration with the ANC, but the majority of non-whites are not ready to put a white person back in leadership for fear of going back towards Apartheid. My impression is the more legitimate leaders getting bits of the vote are white. Also, the opposition is too fragmented. On a ballot there might be 50 parties to vote for. I have talked to a number of people who have voted against the ANC in hopes of better balance, but it’s not close yet. That’s my brief synopsis of SA politics, I’m sure with significant inaccuracies. He was also very interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how I felt about our involvement, and how other Americans view it. So other Americans, how do you view it?

My friends dropped me off on the highway with a km to walk into Swellendam. I got into town and must have looked lost (I try not to) because I was waived over by a couple football fans on the porch of a restaurant. They offered me a ride to Cape town, but I told them I had other ambitions and was off to find the taxi rank. Now many people had told me that I couldn’t catch a taxi to where I wanted to go, but I didn’t believe them South Africans get to where they need to go somehow, and people must need to get to Cape Agulhas sometimes. I found the taxi rank, no taxi’s went even in the general direction I needed.

I figured this may happen since everyone told me it would, so my back up plan was to try hitchhiking out of Swellendam on R319, the road that goes to Bredasdorp, from whence one can connect to R317, the road to Cape Agulhas. As left the taxi rank I examined my map and realized that R319 in fact does not come out of Swellendam, but it begins it’s southerly journey 10km further west on the N2. At this point I walked quite briskly back to the spot where the lads had invited me to hop in their car to cape town. There were no signs of them, so it was back to standing on the side of the N2. Just to be clear, I have only been hitchhiking around small towns and national parks, the same types of areas that would be safe to hithchike around in the US. I’m not doing anything too crazy. After about 10 minutes I got a ride in a DHL tractor trailer. The driver thought I was going to Cape Town and seemed a bit annoyed when I told him I was only going 10km down the road, I don’t think that was worth him stopping his big truck. I was glad though cause I had never ridden in one, so now I can check that off my list. I now wonder if his initial expression was the annoyance I initially assumed, or if he was concerned that I wanted him to drop me on that road. Once he did, I wondered why as well, and why I hadn’t just stuck with one of my three possible rides to Cape Town. I didn’t have a single car turn down my road the first ten minutes I was standing there. A couple came up the road and turned on to the N2, so I figured one would have to come the other way at some point. One finally did, and accelerated as it passed me. They started coming every few minutes, five or so passed me by. Then at last an SUV type vehicle with a man and his wife in the front, and an empty backseat slowed down and pulled over. I bent down to grab my pack and looked up in time to see them driving off. My guess is they were having a debate and the objections of one led to change of heart, it could have also been a mean joke. I stared until the vehicle was out of sight, thinking they might still be arguing, and the decision might be reversed again, no such luck. But the next vehicle was my chariot. It was an old rickety minibus carrying a crew from the rural town Barrydale. It turns out there is a fan park in Bredasdorp, and they were on their way to watch the afternoon match. I think it was about a four hour drive for them, I was just over halfway. I jumped in smiling and greeting everyone, aniticipating the normal I’m a stranger who just got in your car so lets get to know each other a bit conversation, but everyone just sat back. I was a bit puzzled, so I tried to spark it. I soon understood, as I could barely hear myself over the engine. I had a brief, difficult exchange with the leader of the group, I gave up and enjoyed the scenery.

We arrived in Bradensdorp at about 2pm. I went for a walk to find something. I did my usual walk around the entire town, I ended up eating on the first block I walked. I did find a produce store. I bought a bag of about 30 oranges for $1.50. Citrus fruit is cheap here. I brought a couple other snacks back as well to share with the group that picked me up. On the way back I stopped and grabbed my fish and chips at a take away spot right next to the fan park. I bought overpriced fish and chips when I was at the airport in London. I figured I’d sample England’s traditional fare while I had the opportunity. Little did I know there would be places in SA where my only Choice was fish and chips. At this particular spot my I could choose between five different types of fish to eat with my chips or I could’ve with one of the sausage options.

My peoples were all in the fan park when I returned, you can’t bring your own food and drink in so I left the oranges and other stuff on the bus. I hung out in the fan park and waited for the match to start. With about 20 minutes til match time, the teenage girls who had been on the minibus approached me and asked me for money to buy food. I told them had oranges and a couple snacks, on the bus, but they obviously needed more. I left them to start with the snacks and walked across the street to the grocery store. I got some bread and chicken. The chicken was r50/kg. I knew a kg is more than a pound, but I didn’t know how much more. I asked for 2kg. the woman put a lot of chicken on the plate, basically. Easily enough to feed 5 or so people. She weighed it and apologized to me, it was barely more than 1kg and it was all she had left. I spose I need to look up lbs-kg conversion. I brought the food back to the bus and chatted with the girls for a minute, then went and watched Germany beat Argentina. As a waiter told me today, Germany has a great gameplan….they get the goalie to come out of the net, then pass to a teammate to knock it in. They do have a good gameplan, it may be a bit more complex than that, it is definitely effective. I’m not sure if it’s worse to surrender a goal to Germany or Spain. Ignore last night, Spain was terribly out of rhythm, I’m sure Paraguay’s pressure played a part in that. Spain showed their ability to kill a game with their possession in their round of 16 match, and Germany waits so patiently for their chance to couterattck, and then the precision of their runs and ball striking/passing is brilliant. Now they play each other, should be fun, history says Germany, we shall see.

Now to reflect a bit, the topic of today is Generosity. I am on a vague, yet tight budget on this trip. I have plenty of money to finish the trip, but I have a furnace to replace and tuition to pay upon my return. In that way, I didn’t have the money to come here in the first place. South Africa is pretty developed place and it is growing, but there is still much poverty, poor living conditions, and people whose hunger is obvious by looking into their eyes. Thus far I have not been too generous, I have turned down most beggars, I have paid people regular price who are not well off for their goods and services, when throwing in even a few cents more would make a difference to them. I have accepted help from many people and not given them anything in return, understanding that my wealth greatly exceeds theirs. In part, the small gift I might give someone has no real impact. Their life wouldn’t really change in any way. And I can’t really afford to be generous with every person I meet. And I don’t want to substantiate the perception that tourists have money and might give some away. Africa has an amazing potential tourism industry that is starting to be realized, but tourists won’t enjoy their travels if they are constantly pestered. A man in the industry told me that every 8 people that come to South Africa create 1 job for one year. That seems extreme, not sure if it’s accurate, but it is a very healthy means of economic growth. That being said, I have always thought “if I could share this food with someone in a poor nation, I would, but it’s impossible, they are too far away, so I should just polish off this 2000 calorie meal.” Well, now I am here, and in a little more than a week, I am going to hit much more impoverished areas in Africa. How do I share what I have? How do I accept help from people who are struggling, and then not give them $100. Even $20 might be a whole weeks, or months wage for some of the people who have been generous with me. How do I look someone I the eye who has eaten less than my day’s portion in a week, and keep walking? Again, I cannot afford to help many people, maybe 10, maybe 15, even 20 perhaps….and I sure can’t solve any systemic problems. But I also cannot remain indifferent. Maybe I can start to share meals with people…not increase my expense, not buy people a meal, but simply share what I am eating with someone each time eat. We will keep struggling with this.

So after the Arg-Ger match I started to explore my options for the night. It was just about dark so I didn’t want hitchhike the last 30 or so km down to Aguhlas. The leader of the group I rode with told me to ask at the police station. So I did. There was an information desk right when I walked in, they told me there was a bus that brought people to the fan park from Aguhlas, so I should find that. I thanked them and started to walk out. They called me back and asked me where I was from, they were excited by response and opened the visitors book for me to sign. The book was empty, I don’t think it was a new page, I think I was the first traveler to stumble into their visitor information table.

I walked back to the fan park and found the bus. The driver agreed to take me, he told me the bus leaves after the last match, around 10:30. I left my big pack on the bus and went to a restaurant, ordered a small meal and typed for a while. At about 8 the driver somehow found me and told me the bus was leaving, not sure why they left early, but I was appreciative that the driver found me, not sure how he did. The bus was rowdy, three adults, lots of kids. I sat next to a ten year old boy, I wanted to be his best friend, he was really cool, but I didn’t know how to progress. I asked the adults if they knew the streets I had to get to, they did, and when the bus stopped outside of town, they arranged a ride for me to get to the hostel. They were the best ever. The people who run this hostel are great, it’s much more laidback, I would guess because its well off the beaten path. I enjoyed a drink the owners then had a fantastic shower and called it a night. It was a long day as you can tell by the length of the blog.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I think I forgot to save my July 3rd post on my flash drive, it should be on my computer still, so I will post tomorrow most likely. I am now in cape town so I should have decent internet access, maybe even wifi.

Monday July 5, 2010

My first night in this hostel was probably my best sleep of the trip. Last night was the opposite. Between a big moth flying around the room, a few people walking in and out of the room, and a some strong snoring, I didn’t sleep that well. I got up at 8 with the rest of my room and started scheming on laundry. I had stretched my clothes much further than is advisable, many items were worn more than once. One of the hostel folks had told me I could wash my clothes here. He was gone this morning, and the person that was here explained that they were backed up with their own stuff. The wasserkry (the Afrikaans word I was to look for) was just around the corner. I walked up the road that I understood it to be on, no love, then I thought maybe she meant a left on the main street, the were some words in Afrikaans, but none seemed close enough to what I heard her say. I then walked the other direction on the main street, stopped at the grocery store and grabbed a couple things. After about an hour of wandering I returned to the hostel and asked again, turns out it was two lefts, and it was in fact just around the corner. It seems there are not many laudromats, you just give your clothes to someone and they wash dry and fold them. It cost r100, I guess that’s fair.

I returned to the hostel, read for a bit, then set out on a bike ride. The front wheel was pretty bent and the rest of the bike needed some maintenance. I hoped it would hold me down for the day. It lasted just over a km before I got a flat tire. That got me almost to my destination, I wanted to go to the place where the bus from the fan park had dropped everyone off the other night, partly I hoped I would see my seat mate. I didn’t. Apartheid struck me a bit more on this bike ride turned walk, especially how much progress needs to be made still. This whole area is a vacaction area for those who want the peaceful beach scene. There is nothing exciting, just long stretches of almost empty beaches. Most houses are large and everything is well kept. Then, behind a wall, is the non-white community. I say non-white because there were a number of people classifications under apartheid, some have different meanings in the US, so it’s easiest to use non-white and white to describe the two groups on either side of SA history. Anyway, I had seen communities like this already, but this one seemed to really demonstrate how separate things still are. I am still amazed at the attitude of South Africans of all backgrounds, but it seems that most non-whites still live in the areas outside of towns where they would have lived during Apartheid. I don’t know how living areas might become integrated, but that is important. I think it is an important part of our progress in the US as well. My observation is that different groups of people co-exist in US, not live together. South Africa has a very long way back until people are living together. To add to normal barriers, the government has put tons of money into building homes in the townships. The townships have developed their own businesses, transportation, even malls. The townships are not going anywhere. White people are not going to move to the townships with a few exceptions of course, some non-whites may leave the townships, but most will stay where they already have their home. Maybe I need to start talking about this with some South Africans.

I walked all the way through this rural township?(not sure what to call it), getting puzzled looks, I guess I didn’t fit in. I walked to the beach area in the back of the town and was struck again, for completely different reasons. The beach was massive and empty, and that’s the way it was for as far as I could see. There was maybe 50 meters of beach from where I popped out of the dunes to the ocean. The beach at Ocean City MD was also quite wide, I spose most beaches are, but I guess it feels different when it’s empty. I spent well over an hour with the ocean, trying to get my orange peels to go out to sea, watching the tide, talking with it a bit. I figured this was a great opportunity to check swimming naked in the ocean off my list, but in the end it was too cold, so I kept my clothes on and stayed out of the water. I also had sharks in the back of my mind, I haven’t heard anything about shark attacks, but shark diving is a popular tourist activity around here, so they can’t be too far. In general, I am scared of the ocean, I’ve spent very little time with it and my ignorance breeds fear.

I eventually continued back towards my hostel, pushing my bike through the sand, entertaining myself with the tire tracks. One thing I have failed to mention is the shells. The seashells are beautiful, I have never been interested in collecting shells until being here, I had gathered about 15 in my walks and placed them on a shelf next to my bed. I collected a couple more on this walk as I was wondering if there is any way I could get them home safely. When I got back to my room they were gone, they must have been cleaned during the morning cleaning. I relaxed for awhile, then went on a walk and got a sandwich. I pulled some change out of my pocket to count it as I was walking, I passed a man who looked in pretty bad shape, he spoke to me in Afrikaans, I think asking me for the change. He spoke no English, he was the first such person I’ve met. People mostly speak Afrikaans around here, I have to apologize and ask people to speak English with me. I tried to get the man to come with me to the grocery store so I could buy him food, we struggled in our communication, he said petrol pump in English, I think that’s where he worked, but at the same time, he didn’t look like he worked. He started walking in that direction, I tried to tell him that I would bring him food there, he then realized that I was walking towards the grocery store, and he came with me. He tried to wait outside, I waived him in. We walked in and I handed him a basket, he thought I was having him carry my groceries. He kept calling me meneer, which I think is like sir in Afrikaans. I know I have seen the word in the Alan Paton books I’ve read. Eventually he realized that I wanted him to put things in the basket. He put in bread, then looked at me for my approval, I gave him a thumbs up, then he understood, I could understand that he was asking if I was getting anything, after he asked the question a few times, and I answered no a few times, he was confident that we were on the same page. He grabbed some pork chops and put them in, looked for approval, and again I gave the thumbs up. He led me towards the register, on the way he asked me for cigarettes, I refused, he hoped I didn’t understand and looked into my eyes for a minute, I gestured only food, and we checked out. We were obviously out of place as a pair, and the girls behind the register spoke with him in Afrikaans and laughed about something. When I went back this evening to get some bread for myself, the girls asked me for my number, I wanted to sit and talk with them and learn about their town and their lives, but it didn’t seem the right fit. I shook hands with the man as we parted outside of the store, his hand was completely limp like he had never done it before. There is no real point to this story like many of the things I write about. I wasn’t impacted in any way, I just want to remember the man, so now I’ve recorded him.

A friend of the hostel offered to take me to watch the sunset at southern point tonight when I met her yesterday. She folded on me, she said it was cloudy and wasn’t worth the effort when I called her. I was disappointed, I was looking forward to an event after having a day of nothing. I really enjoyed my day, no complaints, but going back to the point would have been nice. So I had one last walk to the nearby beach, I saw something in the ocean, two flippers sticking in the air, moving occasionally, my guess is a turtle, or a very confused bird, it also could have been garbage. I thought of going out to eat, but it would’ve been out of boredom, I have bread in my bag, so I just returned to the hostel, now I will get online and post, I havn’t been online for a few days. My peace and quiet has been nice, now it’s time for the climax of my South African journeys, Cape Town and the final week of the world cup.


This was the quietest day of the trip so far. I woke up late, I walked towards town to have breakfast, I decided I would peak at the beach, then I figured the southern tip wasn’t much further. I am staying in a town called Struissbei, the town of Aguhlas is just down the road. On the map it says there is 1km between the two towns. It turns out the walk from where I was to the point is about 8km. My short afternoon stroll turned into an all day walk. I got to Aguhlas in about 90 minutes I think. I was hungry and had a meal. Then walked the last km or so to the point. It is rocky, windy and rough. Many ships have wrecked there. I turned and started to walk back. I stopped at a grocery store and bought a roll, an avocado, and these tiny meat pastry thingys. They were good. I decided I should put the avo on the roll, that was good, but avos are a bit hard to work with without a knife. At least while walking. I got a few kilometers into the walk and a car pulled over and asked me for directions, I showed them the map I had which wasn’t helpful, they asked me a couple questions and offered me a ride. It was nice because I thought the hostel people were taking us out on a boat this evening, so I thought the lift might just get me back in time to catch the boat. But when I got back they said it was too windy. Darn. I chilled for a bit, then walked once more on the beach. I bumped into the deaf man attached to the hostel who invited for a drink. It was nice. That’s about it. I will leave at that for the day, enjoy the fireworks!!

Friday July 2, 2010

I woke up this morning in Plettenberg bay determined to get as far west as I could. I decided my next scheme would be to get to southern point of Africa, Cape Agulhas. I have to get a town called Swellendam, then figure out how to get South to Agulhas. It is way out of way, it seems there is no transportation there. We will see how it goes.

So back to today. I woke up and went for a walk around town. As all the towns are on the Garden route, it is beautiful. My first taxi was to Knysa. I asked the driver if I could get something to eat and come back in 10 minutes. I actually ran to an internet cafĂ© and posted my week of blogs. It took me 20 minutes. When I got back, the people in the taxi were ready to go and a bit frustrated with me. Every other time the taxi takes forever to leave. Oh well. It was only a 45 minute drive to Knysa, we rode in a car, I guess they change up the vehicles depending the route. From Knysa I went to George, it took the better part of an hour for the this car to fill, it was a 20 year-old Mercedes. We rode in style. Things were going well until I got to George. I expected a car again because that had been the trend, but instead it was a 15 passenger minibus going to my next destination, which was Mossel Bay. It was 2pm when I arrived in George, Mossel Bay was only 40 some kilometers away, I hoped to get to MB not much after 3pm and maybe get one more town west before sleeping. Unfortunately, I was the first person on the minibus. I knew had plenty of time on this one, so I walked around a bit. I walked past a barbershop at the taxi rank housed in an old freight crate. They waved me in for a haircut, I agreed to a shave and kept my hair. This time I was a bit more specific with how I wanted my facial hair, I pointed to a picture of a man with a goatee, the end result was good. There wasn’t much else to do, so I returned to my taxi, we were up to about 8. A man came at about 3pm asking how long we had been waiting and expressed his ambitions of getting to Mossel bay by 4. At 3:30 he did the math of how much more money the driver needed to start on his way, we were up to 12 people at that point, the cost was r30 per person, so we needed an extra 90 rand. He asked who on the taxi would be willing to put up r10 to get it moving, a few volunteered, myself included, one man agreed to r5, so the man in the rush put up the last r35 and away we went.

When we got to Mossel Bay I started asking questions about where certain things were located, like the center of town. I had a couple addresses of Hostels. As has been my experience on many occasions, one of the passengers on my taxi made sure I was safe. MB is basically a town with two main streets, navigation is very simple. My friend didn’t leave my side until I had arranged a place to stay and was on the right road walking in the right direction. At times this care from South Africans feels like too much, I like my independence and being escorted is sometimes annoying. When I step back though and think about what these individuals are doing, I am humbled. I am starting to think about how I interact with strangers in my country. I think the US is different in many ways, but I do hope to reflect a bit on my hospitality after experiencing the hospitality here.

So I ended up staying in a hostel in an old train right on the beach. It was kinda nifty, but tight quarters. The bathrooms were about a square meter, and there was only space for one person to walk through the corridors at a time. No problems, just a different feel. I arrived to watch the second half of Brazil-Holland. I admire Brazil, but I am glad they are out. Their fans are so sure of their success, they don’t really respect other countries. That’s what they get. At the same time, this was a Brazil side with slightly less dominant talent, and more focused on team football. I always like a team with such values to succeed. Robinho was never effective which really weakened them in all their matches I thought. He should have been that burst of danger, which is mandatory even with good team football. They are no doubt a great team and could beat most teams by just stepping on the field, but they weren’t gonna win the tournament without that extra spark to put pressure on a back line. I will ask the question with all of Brazil, would Ronaldinho made a difference? All I will say about the Dutch is I love Wesley Sneider. For Inter, and now for Holland he finds ways to get the ball in the net. For both teams it seems that he is the man that makes the play that creates the goal.

I went for a walk through town between matches. At the end of the two main streets is another pretty dramatic point. I sat and ate the bunny chow I just bought, not sure if I defined bunny chow before, they take half a loaf of bread, cut out the middle and pour in curry. It’s my jam, it costs about $2. It was a lovely dinner. I got back to my hostel about 15 minutes into Ghana-Uruguay. The goal at the end of the first half felt like the type of magic teams need to advance. At half time I ran back to my bed to grab something. Unfortunately I struck up a conversation with a German girl in the bunk across from me. She is doing interesting research on schools here for her masters in anthropology, it was just poor timing, because I missed half the second half. I’ve been in many hostels where I havn’t had an actual conversation with anyone, I must be the least social backpacker in the country, and suddenly I am stuck in a conversation during one of the best games of the tournament. Anyway, Ghana’s exit was sad, lots of people are saying Uruguay cheated, they played by the rules, I feel all was fair. There are times to intentionally break the rules in all sports, it was honestly a good choice by the defender. Gyan had his chance and missed, it’s a hard pill to swallow for the continent, here Bafana Bafana had changed to Baghana Baghana. But that’s football. Penalty taking is an art unrelated to any other skill in football. It’s the combination of placement and power, but most of all outwitting the keeper. In Ghana’s two misses, the players tried to put the ball in the corner, those shots would have been stopped even if they were inch perfect. The keep was able to read them too easily. I also think penalty stopping is an innate ability, I’ve seen average keepers who seem to stop many penalties and great keepers who are hopeless. Kingson guessed recklessly each time, giving himself away before the shot. He was never gonna stop a shot. It was too easy for Uruguay. I don’t know why, but Uruguay is far beyond Ghana in the art of penalties. Bedtime.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Sorry I havn't been able to post for a long time, but I just posted a weeks worth. I'm sure there are many mistakes, I only have a couple minutes to do this. Stay fly family.

July 1

Today I went to Tsitsikamma national park. There is no consistent public transport to the park, so I hitchhiked. It is almost 10km on the N2 to Tsitsikamma road from where I was staying in storms river village, then another 6km on that road to the park entrance. From the entrance, it is about 4km down to the main area of the park. After waiting about a half hour, I got a ride from an Argentine fellow headed towards Cape Town for the match tomorrow. I was wearing my Argentina shirt underneath my sweatshirt, he must have gotten the vibes somehow. He was very nice and even drove me the 6km back to the park entrance. The ranger at the entrance was very kind, he allowed me to store my large backpack in the ranger station, and I continued with my daypack. I walked the 3km you are allowed to walk on the otter trail without a permit. This whole area is very beautiful. There is a mountain range about 20km from the coast, so the coast is still hilly. Because of this, there are many canyons, crevasses and waterfalls the mountain streams ude to get to the ocean. They are all very small because of how close the ocean is to the mountain range. So there is a waterfall on the otter trail that is the turn around point. It was a nice walk, very challenging as well, lots of rock scrambling (traversing fields of rocks) and steep trail.

Next was the mouth of storm river. I will get the pictures up as soon as I can. I was at the highway bridge over storms river yesterday… is a massive drop with very little width. You can barely see the river. So today I saw where it met the ocean. There are suspension bridges that allow you to walk out over the water and look back into the canyon. Then from the mouth there is a trail that climbs very quickly to ridge above. When I got back down I rested for a bit as I watched the waves slam against the rocks. It is rocky all along the coast. I never want to go to the beach again, this is much better. The waves swell magnificently over the rocks just underneath the water, then crash against the rocks out of the water, spraying water in all directions. If you need to swim, there are fresh water and salt water swimming holes of all shapes and sizes. The whole sand thing is lame. This was a really lazy description of the scenery I saw today, it would be a way too much writing to possibly give it justice, the park probably has a website if anyone wants to see good pictures, I don’t think I captured it very well.

After the mouth I had to get to the entrance, then back to the N2, then find a place to stay. There was a trail that cut over a hill in the direction of the ranger station. I’m not sure if I saved any distance taking it, but it was a more interesting walk through some nice forest. I had close to 2km left on the road when I came out. I got to the entrance at 4pm, grabbed my pack and asked if there was any way to get to a town to the west. They had no ideas. I wanted to keep heading towards Cape Town, and get to a place where I could catch a taxi in the morning. I started walking the 6km towards the N2 with my thumb out. I must have walked at least half of it before an Australian lad driving with his South African girlfriend picked me up. They were unfortunately heading back east to Storms river village, so I hopped out at the N2 and hoped for the best. I enjoyed standing beside the road for a bout the first half hour, but as the sun was fading out of sight I started growing thinking of other schemes. I decided at 5:30 I would change my scheme to head back to SRV, I would be easier to get a ride there. But at 5:25 a car stopped and grabbed me. They were from Brazil, it was truly gracious of them to stop, I wasn’t wearing my sweatshirt leaving my Argentina shirt visible. They hadn’t actually noticed I was wearing an Argentina jersey until I got in the car. Lucky me. They were headed to Plettensburg Bay, the next major town. They let me use their use phone to arrange a hostel and they dropped me there. It’s been a long day, I think I walked over 20km. I coulda done the otter trail in 2.5 days. Regardless, I’m in PB for the night, we’ll see where I end up tomorrow.

Wednesday June 30

I meant to wake up at 6:30 this morning to go to the tsitsikamma park office to figure out what I could do today. I woke up at 10. I hiked on a few trails in the area, resisting the temptation to take a couple of the longer routes to ensure my safe return home before dark. I got really excited about doing this one trail, the otter trail, its sposed to be really beautiful. People reserve their permits 6 months to a year in advance for their five days on the trail. I hitchhiked to the park office, about 10 miles from where I am staying, to ask if there was a way I could hop on. The trail is only about 30 miles, I figure I could do it in two days easy, but it has 4 sleeping huts, you stay at one each night, and they are all filled every night. There is not really any flexibility. It’s probably better, I’m not equipped for camping. If I was able to go, I would have boiled a big pot rice and bought a jar of peanut butter to sustain me for the couple days. My mind is still racing with possibilities, but I think I’ma be easy. I could do the world’s highest bungee jump from a bridge. It’s tempting, but I think I will pass. It could lead to an adrenaline addiction. It feels strange to have no football, it’s probably good for me tho.

When I returned from inquring about the trail, I chilled with these brother who sell their arts in town. They do lots of carvings from different woods, stones and seeds. They paint all types of things as will. The one bro gave me a little shaky instrument made from a seed. I bought another one so I can jam. He tried to teach me how to shake them with the rhythms of the drum. I need more practice. I would have liked to chill with them more, they invited to dinner the tomorrow night, but I am probly headed out. But if they can get to the US, they will have a place to stay.

Tuesday June 29

I took my time leaving PE, I got to the taxi rank about 11am, and got on a taxi for Jeffrey’s Bay, the next major town about 80km away. This is one of the surfing hotspots, the home of billabong. There is a factory store where everything is half-off. I meant to get off in the town then decide whether or not to stay there or continue….but when I found out the taxi I was in continued a bit further, a drive through the town was good enough. My taxi ended in Humansdorp, where I got a taxi for Stormsriver because it near a national park. I think it was about another 100km. I sat on the back bench of the taxi, my two seatmates to my right I think were father and son. They offered me a beer, and we chatted off and on for the trip. They both worked in the tourist industry around Stormsriver. They told me bits about the area. They need to go to the next town (Humansdorp to the east, Plettenbergs Bay to the west) every month to get supplies, there are small stores close to them, but they are more expensive. They insisted I have a second beer. This made the last 30 minutes a bit painful due to a full bladder. My friends drained their’s in one of the villages we stopped in, but I just couldn’t do it with homes in every direction.

I saw a skinny cow for the first time.

I got to my hostel just in time for Japan-Paraguay. I would’ve preferred to be late. Without a preference in the match it was extremely boring. Both teams played good, intelligent football, but it just wasn’t entertaining. That was alleviated by the Spain-Portugal match. I thought Spain would win a tight match, I was surprised how many quality chances Portugal created. Villa’s goal appeared to be offsides, but they never showed a good replay here. Despite the bumping social scene at my hostel, I am getting ready for bed, I am excited to choose my adventure here in Tsitsikamma national park. I just realized I may have thrown away a bag that had jerky in it, so I’ma stop by the kitchen real quick and investigate. Goodnight Family.


I typed my Fri night entry at a fan park in Bloemfontein. After I finished, I walked up to the main area where there was a dj and a few scattered South Africans. At the fan parks, they often have performances before/after/in-between matches. I think most of the 15 people standing around were scheduled to perform after the last match. All the performances were cancelled due to the small crowds. South Africans do not like the cold. That is one of the flaws in this WC. They have all these great fan parks, but no one comes to them because it is too cold. During the days it feels in the 60’s and sunny. At night it feel’s in the 40’s. The sun goes down during the 4pm match (10am match there), so people are not really outside during the 4 and 830 games. All the fan parks advertise they will show all 64 matches. On a few occasions I have stood outside a closed fan park reading a sign that makes this claim. I guess they close when there are almost empty. Anyway, before I came I imagined watching most of the matches in fan parks with enthusiastic crowds, which I’ve done a couple times, but really only for South Africa’s matches. Despite being able to count everyone in a few seconds, I enjoyed this fan park. I had a conversation with a saxophonists, a comedian (who were both slated to perform later) and their friend. They left when their performances were cancelled. Then I chatted for a longer time with a couple university students. Both crews spoke about their challenges in SA and their perceptions of the US. It was the first time I had a conversation with substance for awhile. Everyone here wants to come to the US. Some for jobs/education, some to connect with the movies and music they know.

I wanted Chile to top the group so Spain and Brazil would play. Some are pleased they avoided each other with the hope they will meet in the final. It would be a good final, but its seems a long shot that both will make it with the quality of teams in their way. I would accepted one getting knocked early to see them play each other. I was glad Switzerland folded, they are among the least interesting teams to watch. Sorry Swiss Mike.

The matches ended and my university friends walked me the short distance to the bus station. The bus ride was a bit rough. There are a 4 or 5 major bus lines in SA. The one I have been using has two arms, Translux and City to City. Translux is the “luxury” line. There are two large comfortable seats on each side of the aisle, they play movies, it’s really quite nice. City to City has a third seat on one side, making everything quite tight, the seats are much less comfortable. I hadn’t thought to ask which bus my ticket was for because I had been given translux for all my longer trips. I noticed in the station that this ticket said City to City. A translux bus came at the same time mine was scheduled for, headed to my destination, East London. Just in case, I went out and showed my ticket, and was promptly sent back. A city to city bus came about 10 minutes later for East London, I also got rejected, there was one more on the way. So my bus came at about 12:30, 35 minutes late. This is the first bus that was late, I am impressed with how prompt the buses have been. I was glad to get on the bus, I was excited to sleep. The bus was already packed, it had started in Pretoria. I got an aisle seat close to the front, my seat mate took up a bit more than her seat, which was fine, but there wasn’t enough leg room. Luckily the back of the seats are soft so I could press my knees into the seat in front of me. I couldn’t find a comfortable way to rest my head, so I was in and out of sleep. I tried to lean my seat back, which actually moves the bottom part of the seat forward creating the slight recline in the back part. This was impossible because my knees couldn’t press into the back of the seat in front of me any further. Eventually the seat right behind the driver opened up as a passenger got off the bus with about 3 hours left in the trip. I hopped in that seat hoping that I could sleep a bit with the window to lean on. The bus driver got back on the bus with two cups of coffee. He handed one back to me and said something I didn’t understand. He then passed back 3 packets of sugar and a stirrer. I figured my job was to put the sugar in for him so he could keep driving. This was a disaster, as the cup was full and the ride was not smooth. I ended up with fair amounts of sugar and coffee on my sleeping bag which I was using as a blanket. After I got the sugar in I could not find the stirrer, so I gave it a soft shake and handed it back to the driver. He waived it off, saying it was for me. If I had known this I surely would not have removed the lid to put in sugar. There were two drivers on the bus, one sleeps in a compartment in the back while the other drives. I think the second cup was for the other driver, but he did not wake up at this stop. So I drank the coffee, not knowing what else to do with it, and not knowing what impact this might have on my ambitions of falling asleep. The sun was starting to come up as we wound through beautiful hilly landscape. I was glad I was awake for those couple hours, I did sleep for maybe an hour before we arrived.

I arrived in East London at about 9:30. I went to my hostel, showered, and figured I would see a bit of the town before falling asleep for the entire day. I ended up walking the town for the entire day. There wasn’t much to see in East London, I spose it’s a nice beach vacation destination. The national rugby team was playing in town that afternoon, so I made it to the stadium as the game was about to begin. I asked around about tickets and learned it was sold out. There were a couple scalpers asking for more than I wanted to pay. I spoke to a couple guys who were trying to buy tickets. They introduced me to the man who I will refer to as the Big Scheme. (BS) It was arranged I would pay r200 for my entrance once we were inside. BS simply said “trust” and away we went. He gave me half of a ticket, they tear the tickets when you enter. We had not entered. There were four others in our crew. He explained something to the people where they take the tickets and we walked through. He explained something to these people at a fence which was not the regular entrance. They opened the gate, and we went through. The next stop was more difficult. It was a turnstile with security. He pushed me through the turnstile as he was arguing, I gave my half ticket to one of the guards as I went through. While still arguing, he went to the next level of security, I think to find someone he knows. Former rugby players make up the next level of security. After a bit of talking with these large men, someone he knew came out and said something. A few minutes later, we were allowed to continue. Our crew of six then walked up the steps towards the corporate boxes. The security guard protecting these boxes tried to stop us, but he had no luck. He walked backwards up the steps trying to explain to the big scheme that he had to have a ticket, but BS was explaining to him why we should be there….I think. Eventually the guard gave up. BS and his friend then began to walk into boxes. The inhabitants of the boxes were surprised each time and promptly asked them to leave. We were forced to go back downstairs and enter the stadium where the regular folks enter. Now this is a very small stadium, Probably as big as a small college stadium, I would guess 10 to 15 thousand seats, mostly bleachers. We walked around to the main bleachers. BS went right to the best seats, right at midfield, and asked the ushers to arrange something for us. The bleachers were absolutely packed, and despite persistence from the BS, we were eventually escorted to the only section with a few empty seats behind the one end zone. I was given the seat closest to the field, with BS and the rest of the crew a couple rows behind. I sat next to a very nice university student, we talked during the game. He was good company. After about 15 minutes, BS came and took me to get food, because, the lines would be too long during halftime. He didn’t really ask me, just told me to come, so I went. On the way I told him I really didn’t need anything, I had eaten recently, but in part I thought this was the front so I could pay him in a way that wasn’t too awkward. I eventually agreed that I might enjoy a sausage. BS got one as well, I offered to pay for them , after a couple minutes we were up to 5 sausages and a porkchop. While in line I brought up the ticket. Eventually he said not to worry about the ticket, just pay for the food. I thought this was fair, since I never had a ticket, he just talked us in. I couldn’t have done that, so I was more than happy to buy some sausages. The game was cool, rugby players are big. The rugby team is nicknamed the spring bokkes, and the fans are quite passionate. Rugby and cricket are probably the top sports in SA, with football just behind. Most South Africans will tell you that Rugby is the white sport and football is the black sport. After the match I couldn’t find BS to thank him and get his contact info, I was sad about this. I had agreed to come to church with my the student I sat next to, so I would catch him tomorrow.

It was about 4:45 when I was leaving the stadium, I wanted to get back to the hostel before it got dark. East London is on a bend on the coast, I went to the stadium straight from my earlier wanderings, so I used my impeccable sense of directions to find the best route back to the hostel. A few minor miscalculations probly added about 20 minutes to my walk, but I got there.

I finally had a short nap, then it was time to watch US-Ghana. I went to a rather nice restaurant on the beach. Despite my imperfect appearance, they accepted me, they knew why I was there. I ordered butternut soup and peri peri chicken livers. I am usually open to eating most things, but these inner meats are quite new to me. I had heard someone saying how good peri peri chicken livers were, so I figured this was my opportunity. I can’t say I downed them like a champ, I finished them all, but the texture started to bother me towards the end. The sauce was good though.

The match was good. The US started slow, but they really should have won the match in the second half. I was disappointed in Ghana, with a one goal lead they should have controlled the tempo, slowed things down, possessed as much as possible. They looked uneasy, just clearing the ball and allowing the US to attack hoping they wouldn’t score. They were fortunate to get to extra time. Gyan’s goal was fantastic, he had a small window and he did everything right. Then Ghana did what they should have done in the second half, they knocked the ball around and ran out the clock. I am proud of the US in this tournament, they brought their best and with a little better play in both boxes they would still be playing. If they get a truly dangerous attacking player they could be the real deal. Maybe if Jozy keeps developing and Freddy Adu figures himself out to bring some creativity, the US can be a threat in Brazil.

I woke up a bit on Sunday, my friend from the rugby match told me church started at 8:30. I woke up at 8:30. I packed my stuff and hurried out of the hostel. He told me his church was on the main street in town…I walked the length of it and failed to find the church. Instead I went to a Baptist church when I got tired of looking. After the service I learned I had passed it, it was a few blocks back. I spoke to the Pastor for a bit, it is an older church and he is trying motivate the troops. He preached from scripture then pushed the vision statement for the second half of the sermon. Attached to the church is a community center which seems pretty cool. They do a bit of everything, it seems they try to meet all the communities needs. I am interested in the idea of community service groups specializing and collaborating with other groups to meet other needs, that’s for another time.

I decided to take minibuses(public taxis) along the coast to Capetown. My first stop was Port Elizabeth. It was about a 3 hour ride on the minibus to a taxi rank just outside the city, then another 15 minutes into town. PE is a nice place, large port, nice beaches, hills rising away from the coast. I didn’t really connect though. On Monday I walked all around the town and the waterfront. While I was walking along the beach area, a man selling crafts complimented my Nigeria jersey. I thanked him and shared my appreciation for the super eagles. He then offered me anything craft item on his blanket in exchange for the shirt. I presented two problems to him. The first being it is hard for me to carry things because of long journey and small capacity. He showed me some smaller items that were made of very strong wood, and once wrapped in bubble wrap and tape, would be indestructible. I then asked him what I might wear if I gave him my shirt. A couple minutes later I left wearing a small red tank top that didn’t quite cover my torso and a small wooden hippo well-secured in bubble wrap. I think I should get a Brazil jersey, they are extremely popular here, and see what I can get for it. Or maybe I can make an offer for someone else’s shirt. I now had the problem of being far from my hostel with a shirt that probably offended some who saw me. On top of the appearance, I didn’t smell too nice. I am out of deodorant, and for past couple days I have been rubbing plastic on my armpits hope I get some remnants of what was once on the stick. My first chore of the day was to get a new stick, but I was too impatient to wait in the lines at the store I stopped at. For this, I apologize to the greater P.E. community. But there was nothing I could do, Slovakia and the Netherlands were starting in about 20 minutes and I had to find a place to watch. There was an amphitheater next to the casino on the boardwalk, I got there just before kickoff. When the dutch scored their first half goal, music started playing and four girls in “sexy” outfits got up danced for about a minute. Frightened of what might happen at halftime, I left as soon as the first half ended to head back to my hostel. I walked farther than I thought, it took the taxi about 20 minutes to get me back, I missed a bit of the second half, but it seemed a rather dull match.

After a brief rest, I headed towards the fan fest in PE for the night match. Along the way I grabbed a bite to eat, spent an hour online, and found a store without a line to buy deodorant and chocolate cake. I was excited about the Brazil-Chile match. Chile had looked dangerous in all it’s matches, they were obviously vulnerable with their attacking style, but I thought it would be closer than it was. Chile looked scared most of the first half, like they were playing a team they couldn’t beat. If they had played with the same swag they came at Spain with, I think it woulda been more of a match. Oh well. I went out for a drink with a few lads at my hostel from England, Australia and Quebec respectively. I ordered a beer, it turned out they only 750ml bottles. It was good conversation, we talked about football. I was bored with PE, so it was time to move on.

Last Friday

I’ve had a nice day in Bloemfontein, I wandered around, stopped in a couple museums, had a steak, pap(along the lines of rice, but not really) and beans for $3. I’m pleased now because I’ve barely spent anything today, I sleep on a bus to East London tonight(r210) and I’m staying at a hostel tomorrow night for r110. My goal is to average $50 per day, not including match tickets. I don’t think I’ma go to any more matches, I’ve been 7, spent $580 on tickets, I think that’s enough. This is by far the best world cup to be at to see matches, I keep hearing that in Germany last year, scalpers were getting 1000 euros for group stage matches. We’ll see though, I may have a walk around the stadium for the semi-final in Cape Town to see if I find anything reasonable. I had planned on being in Port Elizabeth for the round of sixteen match (Uruguay-South Korea), but that bus was sold out tonight so I’m going to East London for a day. It’s about 300 km east of PE, then hopefully I will get to PE on Sunday.

Despite the long odds I was hopeful Cote d’Ivoire would get through. They have had terrible luck. In ’06 they were in a group with Holland and Argentina, this time with Brazil and Portugal. I truly think they folded in not being more adventurous vs. Portugal. I think they may be a hair better than Portugal and that was the win they needed to advance. Portugal had the better schedule, in hindsight at least. They got a weakened brazil side, no Kaka, Robinho, or Elano. Brazil also had nothing to gain in that last match. That second half may have been the most boring half in WC history. Cote d’Ivoire still folded. They were immature against Brazil and couldn’t match Portugal’s goal total against NK….I’m just upset they didn’t get through, I think they could’ve been a very dangerous team in the knockout stages.

I’m excited about the Chile-Spain match. I have an hour and a half of sitting and waiting, but they are both good sides and they both need a result. I don’t think it will be quite as good as Ghana-Germany, but we will see.