I’ve been back from South Africa for about a week, and still have no idea when I’m going to finish captioning all 900 photos or writing up the trip report. In the meantime, here’re the mostly uncaptioned photos (broken into two sub-sections, in case you want more photos of us being jerks at soccer games than you do of nature and stuff), and here’re the answers to the top five questions I’ve heard about the trip:
1. All 3 US group games plus Netherlands-Denmark. We wanted to see Brazil-DPRK, but attempts to get tickets outside the stadium were for naught; more people were buying than selling, and the people who were selling were either too expensive, too sketchy, or both.
2. Got into Boston an hour before US-Ghana kickoff on Saturday and raced a guy with a Donovan shirt to a cab to get home. In the hurry, we left the bottles of duty-free Amarula that Mike bought in the cab. Feel like we kinda left on a high note, but the rest of the games have us feeling like we oughta stay the whole time in 2014.
3. The only bad things that happened to our extended party were things that would’ve happened to anyone at any WC. One pal had his wallet and phone lifted, and another took a nasty spill when she landed on the bottom of the post-Donovan crowd pile. Otherwise, the crime and danger factor was pretty low. There were definitely places we didn’t wanna stick around too long after sundown (like the neighborhood around Ellis Park) but not any points where we thought “GTFO NOW NOW NOW.”
4. The locals were all RIDICULOUSLY friendly and excited to have everyone come to visit. People would say “howzit” just for walking by, cars honked and waved if you were wearing team gear, and everyone would ask not only what you thought of SA but would you please tell your friends how nice it was there. And we mostly just stuck to Johannesburg, which, out of World Cup time, isn’t the hot tourist area. It was amazing how much people bent over backwards to help, from the random local lady who drove us into town to get our tickets after seeing we looked lost, to the gas station attendant in the middle of friggin’ nowhere who, when asked for directions to our safari camp, pulled out a Blackberry and grabbed a map instantly, to the caterers at the safari lodge who made sure I got meatless traditional fare, to the cab driver who stopped for ten minutes on our way out to the airport to let us grab last-minute souvenirs, Supermarket Sweep-style. I really don’t remember the last country I traveled to where people were just that damn welcoming.
5. Biggest fan group there? The ticket sales reports had it: USA. Massive, massive amount of Mexicans, too, and a lot of Hondurans. Many of whom, Hondurans especially, were there to wave two flags. We met people from just about everywhere except North Korea, obviously. Lots and lots of “hey who asked you” delegates, too, especially from South American countries. It’s the world’s biggest party, after all.