The Best Laid Plans

[6.22.2010, 4:11 PM] filed in Life
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Our First World Cup Game!

[6.22.2010, 6:10 AM] filed in Life
Sorry it's been so long. A lot has happened so this might be a long one. Here goes!

First of all, the USA vs Slovenia game was INCREDIBLE. I've never been at a sporting event with so much energy before. Austin, myself, and our two North American friends Lindsay and Wendy hopped on some buses to Ellis Park Stadium. The girls had gotten their tickets separately, so we didn't get to sit with them during the game. We arrived a few hours early though, so we got some beers and food and hung out to people watch outside the stadium. Their were bright colors and crazy costumes all over the place, but the most interesting character we saw was probably The King himself, Elvis Presley! We all made sure to get pictures with him. On a side note, things have been way too busy here for me to get any pictures up. It will probably have to wait until we get back home to the States.

The atmosphere for the first half of the game was crazy, but it paled in comparison to the second half when the US started coming back! We were pretty much surrounded by US supporters. When the tying goal was scored, several rows of American supporters behind us got so excited jumping around that they fell down over the chairs into us! (alcohol may have been a factor) And of course when our winning goal was repealed everyone went apeshit and there was much yelling and booing and patriotism all around. Despite the draw outcome of the game, just being there was one of the coolest things I've ever done.

After the game we met back up with Wendy and Lindsay and got some dinner. Our North American comrades are really fun girls and it's awesome that they're here! They know all the inside info like where to go for good food and shopping. They also know the bus schedules and showed us how to negotiate cab fares. We are collaborating on a cool project with them that should be posted soon.

The next big news concerns our road trip, but I'm going to post that separately. It's quite a story, stay tuned!

More News from Africa!

[6.16.2010, 11:38 PM] filed in Life
A couple days have gone by now and they have all been amazing! I will try to give a quick recap.

Almost right after I wrote the last update, Austin and I walked to the final place nearby. It turned out to be much nicer than the other places. There are upwards of 150 shops in a giant three-story mall. It has a very different feel than American malls though. Much of it is underground and has odd twists and turns unlike the relatively open, straight design of the malls I'm used to. In the middle of this shopping district there's a large outdoor courtyard with big screen for watching games (a fan park, as it's called). The screen is surrounded by tables served by any of the three upscale restaurants nearby. Everything is surprisingly cheap, too. We had steak for several meals in a row because fillet mignon is around $12. It's been really excellent steak so far too. It feels disloyal to Kansas to say so, but it's at least as good as the steak back home. Anyway, we watched the Slovakia v New Zealand game there with two beautiful girls, one from each of those countries.

That night we met some other people from our guesthouse. There are two girls down the hall who are here for an extended stay to work at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. One American (woohoo!) and one Canadian. The four of us met up with a guy who works for the owner of our guesthouse last night and he took us to a pub. There was much drinking a merriment! They are all great people and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun before our visit is over.

The guesthouse owner is incredibly nice and helpful. She has been very concerned with making our stay as interesting as possible. She is full of suggestions on places to visit and seems willing to go our of her way to serve her guests. Today Austin, the American girl, and I joined her for a sushi lunch, a visit to a great little African market, and a driving tour of Johannesburg.

Tonight I think we will go back to the fan park to catch the South Africa v Uruguay game. Tomorrow we will probably visit a gold mine and the touristy-type things that are near the mine. Apparently there's a whole theme park with roller coasters and everything. Our guide today made sure we understood it wasn't as good as Disney World, but I don't care at all. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun.

That's it for now. We're about to head out to watch the game. I miss all of you back home!

South Africa!

[6.14.2010, 11:55 PM] filed in Life
After a little over 34 hours of travel, we finally landed in Johannesburg International Airport! There was some hassle because Austin and I never seemed to be holding the same boarding passes until right before we boarded. I had to check in at Chicago to get the next boarding pass (that Austin already had) and he had to check in at Munich to get a boarding pass that they gave me in Chicago! But we finally made it here.

My first look at Africa was out of an airplane window. It was sunrise over Zambia and the reds and yellows were exactly the colors I associate with the Dark Continent. The opening sequence of The Lion King came to mind.

After landing two hours later, we disembarked and were ecstatic to find both our checked bags had made it all the way here! We also had no problems getting local currancy at an ATM or getting our reserved game tickets from FIFA. We got a cab from the airport but the driver wasn't familiar with our guest house. Fortunately, Austin had printed directions from the airport and we made it here without any problems.

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Memorial Day 2010 Camping Extravaganza!

[6.07.2010, 9:59 PM] filed in Life
Not much to say, just a picture album update! Click the picture below to view the whole set.

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Album: Memorial Day 2010 Camping Extravaganza!

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