Ilene Squires Photography

Monday, August 23, 2010

South Africa World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

During the last leg of our adventure in South Africa, we visited Johannesburg and stayed at Villa Domenico, a B & B in Bedfordview.  This comes highly recommended if you are traveling with a group  as it serves as a cozy home away from home. We were pretty fatigued following the week in Cape Town and the Kruger Safari so we arrived with intentions to relax, enjoy a couple of soccer matches and end our trip with a visit to Soweto. Although we had visited both colored and black townships in the Cape, there was a more somber feeling of despair in the townships of Joburg that could be attributed to the residual of urban poverty. With a population of 49 million people and a record of only 5 million taxpayers, it was no surprise that most South Africans live off of less than a $1.00 a day. Most of the people we met hailed from other parts of the country and had moved to Joburg in search of work. This included 60 year old grandmothers and 20 year old men who had been on the "system" their entire lives because they couldn't find work. Our visit to Soweto reinforced that apartheid's legal end had still not improved the quality of living for most South Africans.

Fortunately we were able to end our trip on a positive note with two World Cup Games: North Korea vs. Brazil and USA vs. Slovenia. Both exciting and once in a lifetime opportunities, despite FIFA's racket on scoring tickets. My advice for soccer lovers is to enter the lottery early and to get the best category possible since that doesn't always guarantee the best seats in the house. The difference in price is nominal. In the end, the money spent is priceless; tailgating in the streets of any other country with such limited oversight (read: no POLICE) is impossible. It was truly a global party with the sound of the vuvzela, samba dancers fully outfitted with headdresses and of course, Americans dressed as iconic figures. The USA game was predictably a ton of fun since we were amongst "our people" and the Elvis sighting was so great that when Elvis shouted "take a picture of my [insert obscenity here]!," I scurried for my camera and subsequently dropped the weenie Jorge had just waited 30 minutes to buy! I suppose I don't even need to say it, but I will, it was absolutely worth it!

We can't wait for World Cup Brazil in 2014! Come back tomorrow to see the last of the South African posts with a special feature on South African people.

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