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.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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.


  1. Mmmmm bunny chow. What are the accusations against Uruguay?

  2. The match went to extra time, on the last play of extra, a Uruguay player stopped a ball from going into the net with his hand. Ghana was awarded a penalty kick, but missed. It went to a pk shootout, where Uruguay won. Have you had Bunny Chow?

  3. I'm really glad that you've been getting so much help from people who are total strangers to you. I think you just tend to draw good people towards you. I hope that trend continues (I know it will, :)