World Cup Fever!

Since first landing in Johannesburg, one thing is clear – this country is ablaze with World Cup fever! Everywhere you go businesses are promoting the World Cup. All advertising has a flavor of football, shop windows display South African flags with digital countdowns of days and hours until kickoff. People on the street are wearing their yellow Bafana Bafana t-shirts in support of the South African national team. All pubs, restaurants and shops show football matches on their flat screen TVs.

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In Cape Town, street signs are pointing towards the stadium and the locations for the free public screenings of the matches. In the ticket sales hub, long lines of folks were camping out for two days in wait for releases of new tickets for the Cape Town matches where most of the South Africa matches will take place. The food stores even have free tastings of foods from all the 32 participating countries, one country per day – today Swiss cheese fondue, tomorrow Slovakian potato cakes.

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Even the newspapers are full of World Cup stories, for example that the sangomas, healers, were brought to the Johannesburg stadium, Soccer City, to bless the venue and the World Cup, and make sure that everything goes well and stays secure.

Two days ago, we spent a whole day in line with a bunch of South Africans, waiting to buy more tickets. Although the wait was long, this was one of the highlights of the trip so far. The South Africans are good people. They are friendly, calm, patient, and generous. As they say, they don’t expect any terrorist acts during the World Cup because they don’t have any bones to pick with any other countries. They just get along with everyone.

We’re getting increasingly caught up in the excitement. Thirteen more days until the games start. And we just picked up our tickets two days ago. Sheer joy y muchos goles!!

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Feel it – It is HERE!!!

And the World Cup is on! Being in South Africa at this moment is absolutely amazing. The pride of the South Africans is out of this world. They feel that they have really accomplished something that no one thought that they could do, and they are showing the world that Africa is not the dark continent anymore. This is a modern, functional society, and the World Cup is going to open everyone’s eyes.

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Everywhere we go people are nice. More than nice. They are over-the-mon happy that foreigners have come to visit their country, their city, their village. Everyone is giving us a thumbs up. Literally.

We, as tourists, have become symbols for the change they are hoping for. New opportuinities, equality, jobs. A future.

People want to shake our hands, take photos with us, talk to us, even if we don’t speak the same language. Everyone goes out of their way to help us – a cleaning woman even pulled out her own cellphone and called a business owner who had closed their business.

It’s a historic moment for South Africa (and Africa). And we’re so thrilled to be part of it.

Feel it. It is HERE!!!

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Win or Lose – Bafana Bafana 4 Life!

All hope was put on Bafana Bafana’s shoulders. Everywhere – on cars, on office buildings, in banks, there were signs saying “We support Bafana Bafana”, and “Bafana Bafana – make us proud!” The team was going to solidify South Africa’s position in the world. On top, of course!

We watched the opening match between South Africa and Mexico at the Bloemfountain Fan Fest (open air viewing), in one of the poorest townships. We may have been the only tourists among tens of thousands of locals.

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It was raining hard. There was thunder and lightning. And it was the best party we’ve ever been to. The deafening hoots of the vuvuzelas drowned out the commentaries from the match. People were dancing and singing. The only quiet moment came when Mexico scored their goal and tied 1-1. But after a couple of minutes hope was up again and the celebration ensued with a force.

Although Eduardo looks (and, according to them, sounds Mexican), everyone was warmly welcoming and friendly. Even more so when Eduardo took off his jacket and revealed his Bafana Bafana t-shirt underneath.A lady liked us so much that she called us later to make sure we got home safely.

While it doesn’t seem like South Africa will qualify for the round of 16, we still support them to the end (and beyond)!

Go Bafana Bafana!!!

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