Saturday, July 10, 2010

watching the games

As the world cup comes to an end this weekend, it's a bit hard to process. It seems like the World Cup has been omnipresent in South Africa's consciousness since long before we arrived in the country so it will be a bit weird to go on without it. In fact, it already has started to feel like the World Cup is over since we returned from Liberia. With South Africa, Ghana, and Brazil all out, most South Africans don't care about the final. Well I'm sure some are very enamored with the Dutch, but obviously that brings up lots of race issues in this country.

For us, the highlights of the world cup were the many different venues where and people with whom we watched the games.

Greenpeace at the high school for the opening match - Greenpeace set up a big screen and projector powered by solar panels on the roof of the school. Watching South Africa take on Mexico with a couple hundred people, a cross section of our village...children, grannies, young people, was an amazing experience. Everyone was so into the game, and when South Africa scored, the room was electric. Vuvuzelas, screaming, hugging.

At the Royal Bafokeng Stadium - Decked in our US finest, we went to see the US play England. We got into a few fights with the England fans around us (they were actually all South Africans since we were sitting in the cheap seats), but had a wonderful time. Watching the game live was exhilarating as there's just something about having to follow the ball for yourself without help from the camera that makes it more exciting.

In our bedroom - Much of the first week of the World Cup, after we finished up at the camp, was spent sitting at home watching games and relaxing with the two visiting PCVs who came to help with the camp.

At the primary school - Some of the people who were planning the camp with us worked hard to get a projector donated so that we could show games at the school. Though the kids didn't end up staying (I think they were mostly exhausted from the day), we watched the 1 o'clock game there most afternoons. Also relaxing, it was a chance to hang out with some of the volunteers.

In the OR Tambo international airport lobby - We found a coffee shop with a big screen t.v. and plopped down in time to catch the US Slovenia game. The seating area was open and as the game started people started to trickle in until it was packed with people standing the back to watch. Airport workers and international visitors watched together, and I think it was the most men in sombreros I've ever seen in one place as there were lots of Mexico fans in transit.

At various restaurants in Monrovia - Since there was no TV at Matt's house (or satellite), all of our game watching in Liberia took place at restaurants and bars. At the Syrian and Bengali restaurants, it was just us sneaking peaks at the TV while enjoying delicious dinners, but there were some memorable games...

At an English pub packed with ex-pats - We watched the US/Ghana game. The pub was packed, mostly with American, but a group of Ghanaians was there as well. Though we would have been happy no matter who won, it was hard not to get caught up in the USA fever of being around so many Americans.

At a fancy resort - We lounged in Matt and Alvina's honeymoon room watching games on the flat screen TV then headed out to relax on the beach.

At a popular Lebanese restaurant - We watched the Ghana/Uruguay game, and there were probably more people there than at the US/Ghana game. This time almost everyone was pulling for Ghana, and the outrage was palpable after Suarez cheated (except for from one lady who declared that he's "a UNICEF ambassador" so we shouldn't be mean to him). Though disappointing, we shared in that exhilaration and disappointment with the rest of Africa.

And now we are back to watching games in our bedroom as the final approaches tomorrow. And that's all for now.

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