I'm late blogging today, so you will have to trust me with the predictions (since the Algerian/Slovenia game is almost over). Our game didn't start until 8:30 last night, but since we went by bus we couldn't strike tent and move on at our own pace at games end. We didn't make it back to Randburg and our hotel until 3:45, which those of you who know me, understand is way beyond the boundaries of my usual schedule.
All of you know the final score of the game, but let me fill in some of the color. Rustenburg has a small stadium in comparison to many of the others, or Kyle Field for that matter. It holds just over 40,000 people, but the fans had it rocking last night. English fans are so much more experienced, with organized chants and songs and strategic placement of their flags over the rails. My guess is that the tickets were fairly evenly distributed between the two sides, but the stadium looked more "English." It was only after the American goal that you could hear that there were as many Americans as English. We saw fans dressed as Uncle Sam, Abe Lincoln, and English knights. The sense we had at the stadium is the one we have had every where we have gone. People are so happy. They have so much pride in their teams and nations.
I had bought a U.S.A beanie (knit cap) to trade at the end of the game for an England beanie. I found a guy sitting near us (we got to our seats two hours early and he was there early as well). He looked like a true-in-the-blood fan and a bit like Wayne Rooney, and most importantly, he had a beanie I wanted. I offered him a trade before the game, and he agreed--if England won. I think he was sure we would be trading. During the game, he and his compadres acted like real English football fans--joyful and cocky at the first score, and after the evener serious, some times red in the face, often using colorful language. At the end, I looked in his direction and held out my cap. He took his off his head, and I thought was going to turn away. Instead, he handed it over, shook my hand, and told me his name--Paul.
This morning, I got up easier than I expected, mainly because Walter and I had a date. We were meeting with Samm and Mark and Deqlan. What a treat. I know that in general, one shouldn't go about meeting up with people they only know from the internet, but in the NB world, you just have to punt that rule. Once you have fought this disease, you have much in common with others who have trod the same path. Once you have followed their stories, you know them. You share the walk they have walked, the fears and tears, the waiting, the caution of neutrapenia, the joy of a clean or improved scan. You can feel an affinity with a fellow NB parent that you can't have with your closest neighbor.
So we met the Higgins at Brightwater Commons--a local area with shops and a central commons with a green area, skate park, and carousel. As Walter and I walked up, we spied Deq on the carousel, eyes lit with excitement. And anyone who has traveled will tell you, it is so much better to learn of a new country through those who live there than by depending on tour guides and guide books. I have found a new country and continent to place a couple of Erin's Dream Lanyards, and in exchange I have a beaded bracelet with South African colors and its flag's symbols. I have also just met and old and dear friend. Thanks Samm (and hello to Nanna, another long-distance Erin fan!).
Davis and I picked up a little ground yesterday on our picks. I haven't actually gotten a score correct, but I did get the outcomes right yesterday. Davis also improved. Our picks for Erin didn't pan out (we are working on a second dimension for her picks. I will let you know.).
Germany-3 Australia 0
Germany-3 Australia 0
Erin-Algeria/Slovenia tie, Ghana win, Australia win (not a great prediction, but the Aussie's wear a green away uniform, plus there's the allure of picking Australia because Nico lived there last year).
One final thought: The stadium's scoreboard and clock was non-operational. It some ways it was just like a EDDOA game. If you didn't start your watch when the official blows his whistle, you have no idea how much longer the half/game will last. For once, I remembered--both halves. Ask Lisa V., this is a personal record for me.