The Year of the South African World Cup

This year has been one of fantastic adventures and difficult challenges. Alisa and I began the year in Washington DC having started entry level jobs at the most innovative technology company on the planet, but with no real plan for the future other than to save up and return to Africa, where hopefully we would find employment. When the email came from FIFA on the 5th of February notifiying me that I had won tickets to all the matches I had submitted for during the random drawing, it gave me what I thought would be new purpose to life. I finally had confirmed tickets to return to the country I had fallen in love with only 3 years earlier. It would finally give me a reason to book my plane tickets and set off, hoping that Alisa would tag along for the World Cup part even though she sought to find a ‘real’ job in Washington DC. The year took on new meaning when just seven days later, I received another email accepting me into the African Studies Program at the University of Califorinia – Los Angeles.

I had lost hope of getting into graduate school when I saw my GRE scores flash on the screen the previous December. I thought I had blown my money on apps and the test as well as the chance to improve my chances for ‘real’ employment in the near future. So when UCLA sent the confirmation email of my acceptance, I was relived and surprised that I had got in. That surprise grew when just a few weeks later I learned that the Masters of Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California had also extended it’s acceptance letter to me. Suddenly I had a reason to return to the United States after the World Cup, and I set out to convince Alisa to embark on this journey of a lifetime. Continue reading

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Journey to Mpumalanga to Ease the World Cup Sorrow

27 June

The day after our elimination started with us arriving home at 4 am, and sleep walking into bed. Waking up 6 hours later, I had no desire to get on with the day, preferring instead to sleep until the disappointment from last night did not sting as much. It was hard to place one factor as being the most heart wrenching. Perhaps it was the fact that the team again didn’t come out ready to play at the opening whistle. Perhaps it was the way everyone in South Africa and the continent had turned against the US team (being serenaded to taunts by Ghana ‘fans’ at the end of the game will be something I won’t forget soon). Or more so, perhaps it was the quick turnaround been the amazing bliss that the win against Algeria produced and not less than 48 hours having been eliminated to a team that was beatable on the night. The disappointment causes even more reflection of what might have been when the bracket as a whole was examined. Continue reading

The Vuvuzela Blows No Longer For The Red, White, and Blue

USA – Ghana Recap (1-2 AET)

Woke up at 6 AM because Alex forgot it was Saturday and had factored in an extra hour for Joburg traffic. Leaving at 7AM to Kroonstad the roads were perfectly clear and Alex could actually go the speed limit of 120 Km. In addition, we were able to see the beautiful sunrise over the city.

We arrived at the KFC in Kroonstad just after 9 AM, expecting to wait an hour for the English to arrive, but just as we started to take out muffins and yogurt for breakfast the two young English guys from Hodge Podge Lodge pull up. Alex and I were both surprised to see them thinking it was quite a coincidence that they should pull into the same KFC as us, but since we have had a few of those by chance meetings with people on this trip it wasn’t too weird. When we saw them get out of the car with tickets in hand that is when we realized that this was England Alex. The last few days Alex and I had it in our head that England Alex was the older gentleman that we met at Moonlight Backpackers! Continue reading

US – Algeria Recap & The Return to Bangkok Wok

An early rise was required today to make the 500km trip north to Pretoria, so on the road by 720 and we made the return trip up the N1. We hit some of the densest fog I have ever seen in my life just as we ended the highway in Bloemfontein. Then we actually drove through piece that was being windswept by the Sun and burning off. Then we hit another fog bank, but the road took us beneath it. It was an extraordinary side, being in a small valley with a think bed of clouds directly above us, with the morning sun stating to cut through an illuminate the lowfeld. Quite a start to our day, and we arrived in Joburg just after morning rush hour, allowing us to do the quick jaunt around the western bypass and up to the Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof where our B&B was located.

It took a bit to get inside the place, as the domestic workers knew nothing of a guest house nor the name of the place we were at, but two young girls arrived who apparently knew of our coming arrival, and helped get us our room and then offered to take us to the game as it was just a 4km drive down the ridge. We thought this was very generous and would allow us to avoid the hassle of the park & rides. This would have consequences though for us post-game. Continue reading