What up, everyone?!
Josh Whisenhunt here, wanted to get everyone a quick update before I leave for Bloemfontein in a couple hours. Where am I? Well, the vuvuzelas are blazing quite close to me, people are drinking, dancing and singing and it is absolutely freezing! No, I am not right outside Soccer City Stadium, I'm at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
Literally there are vuvuzelas everywhere, even at my gate.
The journey is just about to hot up, as we (my travel companion and I) are getting ready to leave for Bloemfontein, the first stop in what promises to be a whirlwind trip around the country.
What's the plan? Well, four matches (Paraguay-Slovakia, tomorrow), a safari, lots of airplanes (small ones, eek!), authentic african cuisine (working on the horse balls for you, Mr. Heineman) and hopefully many new friends.
The trip so far has been more an exercise in stamina rather than a vacation. We departed JFK on Wednesday night, flew to Madrid, had to then go to Barcelona (missed that connection, great start!), go BACK to Madrid after a ten hour layover, then catch a 1:30 AM flight to Johannesburg. You might wonder...' Why in God's name would you fly to Madrid, then to Barcelona then BACK to Madrid if you were leaving from there the whole time?' Well, that's a great question, and one to which perhaps I will never know the answer, but you do what the boarding pass tells you to, right?
The flight to Jo'Burg was, in a word, quite long. The mood on the flight was great, there were Mexicans, Honduras, Dutch, Scots (Huh? I dont think you guys qualified) and of course, lots of red-blooded Americans. It was easily the most lively crowd I've ever seen for a 1:30 AM flight.
I took a sleeping pill (obviously), and it put me down QUICK. Unfortunately, at some point over DR Congo, I was also woken up with similar haste. The breakfast tray making the rounds? No, an unbearable feeling of dizziness and confusion. Like, horribly dizzy, drunken stupor stuff. Before I got to the lavatory to puke (my natural reaction, obviously), I hit the deck HARD, and next thing I know, I am laid up in the back of the plane, being force fed jugo de naranja (orange juice) by two beautiful Catalan flight attendants. Not bad for fainting on an airplane at 4 am! So yeah, I dunno what happened, but I feel great today!
The atmosphere in Jo'burg is a healthy one, the people have been so friendly, if at times a bit disorganized. We will be returning on Monday from Bloem, so hopefully we will get to see more of the city then. The priority last night was catching the US match (unreal!) and eating something besides airport food. The vibe I get from the locals is one of happiness (to be hosting the event) but also bitter disappointment in the Bafana (ummm, I dont mean to rain on your parade, but what did you expect?). They also seem to rate the US team quite highly, which I find fascinating.
Tomorrow should be interesting, as I've never been inside a packed stadium "full" (cough, kind of, kind of) of Slovaks and Paraguayans. I will do my best to update you post-match.
Until then, Jamba! (I think that means good bye?)
What up, everyone?!