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.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


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.

1 comment:

  1. I always struggle with who to give my attention to in any variety of situations. It is so much easier to talk with people you know well/enjoy than with those you don't connect with as well. It is pretty evident by the wanderings of Jesus that he deliberatly chose to give his attention to those who were not the most popular.

    As I was reading your thoughts, I had a sense of how much it pleases Jesus to see us deny our first instinct to do what it is easy and fun for us and to care for those who few others take the time to love. I have to work on that.

    This may be the only time in the last 10 years that you are trying to go to bed early.