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World Cup Soccer Madness

21 Jul

So I’m a little late with this post but better late than never, right?

I didn’t purchase any tickets but I luckily managed to attend one of the World Cup soccer matches (my brother surprised me with tickets!) and though I’ll admit I’m not any type of sports fan, I had a BLAST!

I went to the USA vs. Slovenia match on Friday, 18 June at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, which unfortunately resulted in a 2-2 draw (would’ve been nice to see USA win).

Disappointing final score aside, it was a thrilling experience to be amidst all the energy and excitement (and noise) that occur when 60,000 people gather in an enclosed space…armed with vuvuzelas. Below are some photos from the game:

Enthusiastic USA fans


Soccer fan wears Makarapa Helmet


Soccer fan shows players support with his Vuvuzela


Vuvuzelas-a-blazing


USA fans


Most of the country seemed to be on a soccer high throughout the month of the World Cup, so it will be very interesting to see how quickly the energy fades over the next couple of weeks.

How long do you think the spirit of Ubuntu will remain?

Greetings From South Africa!

14 Jul

Within the past month of World Cup madness, I’m sure South Africa became synonymous with Soccer. I’ve been living here since December so an update is long overdue, and I’d like to start off by saying, South Africa (Johannesburg in particular) has so much more to offer than a couple weeks worth of soccer-themed activities.

This country has a very complicated history, as you can see from these artifacts in Jo’burg’s Museum Africa:

At Musuem Africa in Newtown, Joburg


That said, for the past couple months Soccer Fever definitely took over as the temporary law of governance. South Africans have shown love for their often divided country with a sense of patriotism I’ve only seen during the months immediately following 9/11:

Giant Jabulani Ball


Soccer fan


Ok, enough soccer-talk…

…and more on Joburg:

One would think that in such a metropolitan city, I would be constantly taking photos of the hip restaurants and goings-on…Yet and still, something I notice about Johannesburg time and time again is how beautiful the sunsets are!

(And obviously no city can compare to my hometown of New York, but the skyline ain’t so bad, either)

Joburg Skyline at Dusk


My second South African discovery?

Biltong – South Africans are obsessed with their high class version of beef jerky. Even in my pre-vegetarian days I was never a huge fan, but I will admit that it looks much more appetizing than a Slim Jim.

Biltong

Speaking of food…if you go to a Moyo’s Restaurant (there are plenty around the city) you can get in touch with your inner child and get some face paint applied while waiting for your entrée.

And just to clarify, they drive on the other side of the road here so I’m actually on the passenger side of the car…

Face-paint from Moyo's Restaurant

…and one great benefit of not yet having a South African license (though I’m taking lessons!) is that I can take photos out of the car window like the ones below:

On my way to Soweto

Soweto soccer match

Soweto Soccer Match

As we were driving back into town from Soweto, there was yet another beautiful sunset forming:

And all those minibus/vans in the photo are actually Taxis – the main form of “public” transportation here. Riding in these taxis can often be quite an adventure. There are certain hand signals one must make which indicate the direction you’re going in (pointer finger extended upward – into Town; downward – local area, just to name a few). But the most hectic part of driving in a taxi in my experience are the duties you take on if you sit in the front passenger seat, next to the driver. Sitting there gives you the extremely stressful responsibility of collecting and counting money, then giving change back to all the passengers in the taxi (which seat up to 14 people). If someone has underpaid, it could be your responsibility, as the driver’s temporary right-hand wo/man, to sort it out…Hence I always make sure to sit in the back!

For a foreigner, the taxi hand signals and routes can be very difficult to figure out, but once you get the hang of it you could tour most of the city. Below are some more photos from around the city for your viewing pleasure, before I sign off:

Johannesburg at night (view from West.Cliff Hotel):

Joburg Skyline at Night

Nelson Mandela Bridge:

Nelson Mandela Bridge

Graffiti ad for a tourism company:

Asheru (raps The Boon.docks theme song) performing at Party People in Newtown, Jo’burg:

Asheru performs at Party People in Newtown, Joburg

So all in all, South Africa has been treating me very well thus far. It’s a place I highly advise everyone to visit given the opportunity!

Until next time,

-Mbali