By Jorge E. Pradilla
Bafana Bafana: A True South African Experience
South Africa is beautiful in every sense. Their culture, their animals, their scenery, their people. With the experience of Germany 2006 under our belt, my brothers and I decided to plan this trip differently. Instead of showing up for the very end of the World Cup, this time we decided to show up a few days early to experience other activities before the football matches. For South Africa, we split up planning responsibilities between the three of us, so one had transportation (plane tickets to and from S.A., flights within S.A., car rentals, etc.), the other had accommodations and activities, and I had everything that was football related.
Well, the below pictures will probably do more justice than me writing long paragraphs describing all the activities we did. We went sandboarding, shark cage diving, surfing, did an overnight safari, went to an elephant sanctuary, and tried to soak up as much of South Africa as we could in 5 days before the World Cup Started.
Ke Nako - A South African Expression Meaning “It's Time.”
After 5 days running around doing activities, It was finally time for football, but it did not start in the best of ways for us. My brother (the one that was in charge of transportation) got us to the airport at 6 am ahead of our 8 am flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Well, turns our the flight was at 8 pm, and we had already returned our rental car.
With a lot of time to waste, we decided to buy a football and play around the airport for a few hours (these kids were a blast to play with).
When that got old, we decided it was time for the football haircut again. This time we were better prepared though. We had a face trimmer to cut my hair short, and made cardboard cutouts to sketch the football on my scalp. Here you can see my brother Daniel in action.
My Hips DO Lie
Despite being from the same country as Shakira, I have to accept these guys could move their hips a lot better than me. The South Africans had this sense of pride, of self assurance, that made you want to be one of them. Despite their troubled history, this sense of pride and self-confidence is now common in the new generation of South Africans, and it is reflected in their dancing, their food, and the way they carry themselves. This picture means the world to me for one reason - I didn't ask to join their small dancing club, they grabbed me as I was walking by and started teaching me how to dance like them. That was consistent throughout our trip. South Africans realized it was THEIR time to showcase themselves to the world and show how special they were. Whether their national team was playing or not, the bars and the fan fests were always packed, and the celebration never stopped.
DURBAN | SPAIN VS SWITZERLAND
ELLIS PARK STADIUM, JOHANNESBURG | ARGENTINA VS NIGERIA
SOCCER CITY STADIUM, JOHANNESBURG | NETHERLANDS VS DENMARK
ELLIS PARK STADIUM, JOHANNESBURG | USA VS SLOVENIA
During this trip we were lucky to experience four great football matches (I will have individual posts about each of these games), but we were luckier to get to experience South Africa and its people for 20 days. Those 20 days will always have a special place in our heart for how much we were able to gain during such a small amount of time.