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Updates from South Africa

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Over the next two weeks, several of our alumni are traveling to South Africa to see many of the World Cup games and experience the culture.  They arrived just earlier this week and are reporting back......here are some of their stories and pictures!

Good morning again my fellow followers from the United States.  We began the 2nd day around 8am with showers and breakfast consisting of just coffee....yeah no food yet in the apartment!  We phoned Carina to get us to the errands we need to get in order to survive this wonderful adventure!  While waiting for Carina to show up we took in game 7 of the NBA finals...did you guys know that the Lakers won it cause we didn't know till Friday.  Ahhh the time change and 26 hours of travelling!  We got on the road in our Nissian and followed Carina in her bakkie (pick up truck) to Sandton to get our World Cup tickets.  Brandon took the wheel for the first time and after a few routine left and right turns everyone slowly felt comfortable with him driving for the whole day (which he ended up doing by the way...we will get to all of that in a little bit...stay tuned).  After dodging all of the scalpers (Justin didn't scalp any tickets) outside of the ticket offices we got all of our USA tickets and we were well on our way.  We also charged up a cell phone that Carina had activated for us so that we can make international calls and also get in touch with Woody and Tim's brother Paul for the NZ games.  We met 2 fellows that were from NZ and they appreciated that we came so far to watch the all whites in the World Cup.

After the tickets we hit up the grocery store, Carina's store (where we sent out our initial email and there is also a photo attached of her Biltong.  Biltong is like beef jerky back home), and grabbed a few SA adult beverages.  We hustled back to the apartment to eat lunch b/c we haven't eaten all day and got fully equipped in our USA gear.  It was off to the park and ride...or so we thought........we are supposed to go to the Coca Cola dome which was 20 mins away from the apartment...when we arrived there was no one...I mean no one in the parking lot.....well besided 8 public transit buses.  Carina quickly hopped out and asked where the park and ride was....the bus driver let her know that they had changed it.  GREAT!!!  We are 2.5 hours from game time and we are supposed to be down by Ellis park in 30 mins for all the festivities!!!!   Carina let me know we had to go to a University and we need to go NOW!  Let the games begin...and an hour and a half later of driving through just about every street in Joburg and surrounding suburbs and Jen trying to read a SA map (she was riding with Carina) we decided to drive to the stadium and find a place to park around the stadium.  What this means is a little bit of a walk b/c they shut down blocks surrounding Ellis Park.  While driving through Over-the-Rhine areas over and over again we got close to the Park.  As we got close to the stadium..everyone and I mean EVERYONE was sprinting after our car to get us to park in their lots.  We are still following Carina still at this point...Brandon is about to have an anxiety attack from driving for about 2 hours!  Yeah...we listened to the entire Germany vs. Serbia game...the ENTIRE GAME WHILE DRIVING and Jen was still reading SA maps with Carina!  We found a parking lot that looked a little shady...but with 30 mins till game time we went in.  So here is the deal..you don't pay to park in this lot...you pay someone to watch your car to make sure no one either breaks into it or steals it.  Its like that around Ellis Park.  But we don't pay till we get back...we said ok and about ran to the stadium...20 mins till gametime now...we need to get there for the National Anthem!!!!  As the 5 of us went through security and got searched we all decided to find a meeting a point after the game since none of us had cell phones.  We found a green house to meet after and Brandon, Justin, and Thomas went on their way.  Meanwhile Jen....while waiting for Mike to decide if his bladder was going to cooperate or not (port-a-let or no port-a-let) before the game the other 3 were making their way to their seats.  Jen and Mike proceeded to the gate to show a ticket and get in.......when Mike asked his wife for his ticket which she promptly replied,"I don't have it"....enter freak out mode.  Mike:"What do you mean you don't have it?"  In the next 5 minutes just picture the worst moment in your lives and put yourself in Mike's shoes.  Trash cans, port-a-lets, everyone person wearing FIFA jackets, and running around like some bully just stole his lunch money from the play ground in 3rd grade.  When suddenly an angel from above named Maikai (FIFA rep) asked Mike if he was missing something.  He asked his name and Mike replied,"Mike Vessels".  He wasn't sure if that was his real name when he said it.  He pulled this ticket out of his vest and presented this ticket as if it was the holy grail.  Mike turned into Barney the big purple dinosaur and hugged everyone in sight.  It was pure ecstasy just like the 3rd goal the US scored....um....yeah.  So the game went on....obviously you all know the 1st half was not very fun but the 2nd half was an entirely different story.  We don't think we have ever been so jubulent in our entire lives.  Wow what an experience that was.  There are no words to describe the game.

After the game we talked to Carina and Ian and they were coming down to meet us at our car to ensure that we knew how to get back to the apartment.  Keep in mind they  live 45 mins away.  We don't have enough words for how these 2 have made our lives so much easier down here.  They have gone above and beyond any expectations we ever had.  We made it back to the apartment and all had a beer and watched the 1st half of the dreadful England vs. Algeria game.  Carina had a headache so they went home and we went around the corner to a pub and mixed it up with some locals.  It was a good time getting to know how people live down here.  We went home after the pub and all hung out watching various TV shows....the replay of the US game...and endulged in some SA wine.  We went through our photos from the day (totalling 176) we shared stories of days playing soccer at the University of Cincinnati and especailly reliving the moments with Tim b/c we will see him play on Sunday!!! 

Off to explore more of SA and see what else this wonderful country has to offer!

The SA crew.

Ps....yes the vuvuzela horns are blown the entire game.  We will be joining in at the NZ game on Sunday.

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