First, I'd like to thank everyone in Joburg for arranging a wonderful week with nothing but sunshine while we were out there. From the sounds of it, it stopped raining the day before we arrived and started again the day after we left. As much as we miss a good highveld thunderstorm, rain is not a novelty or a tourist attraction coming from the Netherlands. So we really appreciated your cooperation in this particular area. My brain is still in SA. No doubt about that. I am in denial about this grey, miserable wet weather pissing about outside my window. And to those of you who are subsequently blaming me for taking the sun from Jozi, I'm sorry to say that I must've dropped it somewhere over the DRC cos it certainly ain't here with me!
Let's see... some highlights from the week...
Going to an old varsity mate's wedding.
These are always great as they are a good opportunity for a reunion kick up. They also make for great awkward opportunities - such as me asking a (formerly) good friend whether he was seeing anyone at the moment. "Um, yes... Tarryn. My fiancee. Who I've been with since varsity". Oh. Right. Her. Good. And obviously she didn't leave much of an impression on me. Whoops.
Having a twisting dance-off with one of the waitresses at the venue. Needless to say, she's black and she won. I tried. I just looked stupid.
...but not as stupid as the Fatkid who attempted a mop dance-off with one of the other staff waitresses. Yes. A mop. Dance off. Why? What do you usually accessorize with on the dance floor? Pah. Amateurs.
Going to watch a Bulls game at Loftus.
As much as I try to fight it, Pretoria is strong in my gene-pant heritage. So I coerced a bunch of friends and family and we went marching to Pretoria - where we spent more time commenting on the fans than the players. In our group of ten, we had 1 x Australian and 1 x AA-approved gentleman of darker hue. This is important to note, as the two members happened to sit down next to each other as we were engulfed in the sea of blue on the stands.
Now, we had explained to our interested Aussie that these people are VERY serious about their rugby. Very. Like, you see that large gentleman walking with a very small newborn baby (swaddled in blue, of course)? You see how he is holding the baby out to the Bulls mascot like an reverent Catholic might hold their child up for papal blessing at the Vatican? That child is going to be a God-fearing, Loftus-loving, horn-wearing, bakkie-driving Bulls fan for life. And despite how he may be inclined, he will not be gay and he will marry a lovely poppie from Hatfield. End of story. Being a Bull supporter is more than a "yeah, I watch 'em on the weekend sometimes..." kind of thing.
So when our Aussie decided to cheer as loudly as she could at the announcement of the Brumbies' names (the one lone voice in a stadium of boos), our resident AA-approved gent became a little nervous. I offered to switch seats with him - and before I could finish the thought he was out of his seat and standing over mine, muttering something about feeling like the X on his back had grown exponentially in relation to his proximity with the one Brumbies' supporter. I couldn't argue with that. As the game progressed, and the fans became more and more aggro at the Bulls (who were down in the first half), our Aussie supporter's cheers became just a little bit more muted. Even if the vloeking is in Afrikaans, anger does not need a translation. Ag, but you know, eventually the Bulle came through and it was only an early game in the Super14 after all, so any Bulls fans who did notice the Aussie in our midst seemed to find it more amusing than aggravating. It helped that she is cute and quite naaaice to look at too.
My favourite quote from the game came from X when, after yet another Bull try, I asked him if he would care to join me in celebrating with a clenched fist in the air while shouting, "Amaaaaaandla!". He declined, and with a wry smile explained, "I choose life." Again, I couldn't argue.
Good times. Also, I nearly got taken home by a lekker-ding covered from head-to-toe in blue body art (the traditional war attire for the most ardent of fans). Fortunately Mills was there to frighten him off with his massive bulk. It was good to be home.
The 2010 build up.
It's awesome. It's positive, it's enthusiastic, it's pretty. There are soccer balls everywhere. Even on top of the ferris wheels at Gold Reef City. We saw Soccer City from a distance and the Calabash stadium looks amazing. I've heard that the stadium in Nelspruit has a huge giraffe design around its perimeter. The Gautrain - progressing, ongoing, again positive. Brilliant in theory. Can't wait to see it in practice.
Yes, I can say this from a 'tourist' point of view. And yes, I would probably also be griping about the anticipated throngs of ignorami who will soon be flooding the cities, most likely pointing at ferral dogs and asking inane questions like, "is that a hyeeeeena?" But to the nay-sayers about whether we'll be ready or not for the influx of tourists, bear in the mind that the Greeks were still digging, erecting and constructing frantically just two weeks before they hosted the summer Olympics in 2004. And they had that little Goldmann-Sachs trump card up their sleeve. By the day of the opening ceremony, there was not a trace of construction to be seen. It's a massive project. No country makes it look easy. Not even the most financially lubricated.