From Travel

A World Cup Journey Continues…

soccer usa brazil world cup

Twenty years ago, my dad and I watched soccer take hold of America as the 1994 World Cup swept the country. There was something truly special about that team, especially to a seven-year-old still convinced she could be a professional soccer player. The faux-denim kits, Alexi Lalas’s ginger glory, and an emotional run into the knockout rounds – I loved it all and started to dream.

Sixteen years later, my athletic ambitions long destroyed, I hopped on a plane to Johannesburg, South Africa with one of my best friends and a backpack, ready to experience the first African-hosted World Cup. The next two weeks were unforgettable. Watching Germany-Ghana in breathtaking Soccer Stadium, meeting fans from all 32 countries at our hostels, seeing Ronaldo boo-ed live at Spain-Portugal, shark diving in “Shark Alley”, rounding up USA fans across Capetown to watch Donovan’s historic moment in USA-Algeria…I could keep going, but I’d just be repeating myself.

I left South Africa craving more. The soccer, the fans, the country – it was truly the trip of a lifetime, and all I could think about on my 32 hour itinerary home was…Brazil 2014, here I come.

Four years later, I’m about to embark on a three week journey through Brazil for the most anticipated World Cup of the century. It’s hard to describe the million thoughts running through my head – excitement to watch the game in its birthplace, anxiety for our safety when the country is in turmoil, and relief that four years of saving and planning is finally happening.

All that disappeared watching the opening Brazil-Croatia match today. I’m READY. I’m ready to chant every song in the books while we cheer on the Yanks with our fellow American Outlaws. I’m ready to watch Brazil play in their house. I’m ready to visit the mecca of futebol – Maracana Stadium. I’m ready to continue a World Cup journey, 20 years in the making.

I BELIEVE!

Here’s our itinerary, message me if you’ll be down there!
June 17-20 Rio for Spain-Chile
June 20-23 Manaus for USA-Portugal
June 23-27 Recife for Mexico-Croatia and USA-Germany
June 27-29 Belo Horizonte for 1A (Brazil) vs. 2B (Spain/Netherlands/Chile)
June 29-July 3 Salvador for 1H (Belgium) vs. 2G (Portugal/Ghana/hopefully USA!)
July 3-6 Iguacu Falls

Solo Adventures in Asia

Last year I dove head-first into my most adventurous trip yet (yes, more adventurous than great white shark diving). For 16 days I backpacked solo through Southeast Asia, hitting up Singapore, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Hanoi, and Halong Bay.

Before you give me too much credit, you should probably ask – why solo and why SE Asia? Well I’m a pretty spontaneous person, often to a fault, so when a dear friend of mine moved back to Singapore I booked the first flight I found for <$1100. Of course I did so without actually figuring out who would be joining me, so partially out of laziness and partially out of a natural inclination for recklessness, I decided to go solo. Thankfully this turned out to be one of my better decisions, despite receiving multiple YouTube links to the "Hostel" trailer (thanks guys!). This is my first post devoid of anything sports-related, so in honor of this momentous occasion I'm writing a classic dheerja.com list of the things I learned on my Eat, Pray, Love trip. Here goes!

1) Everybody loves football
One item in and I’m already talking sports. Shocking right? Anyway, I obviously mean football as in futbol, since the NFL Europe’s utter failure is a clear indicator of its potential success even further across the world. I guess at this point the global reach of European football shouldn’t surprise me, but I watched more EPL than I ever have in my life thanks to a plethora of early morning flights and aimless wandering. The flat screens covering the empty Shanghai airport at 5am, our taxi driver in Bangkok watching the Man City-Man U match on a suspended mini TV, the group of kids playing in the Hanoi park wearing Barcelona jerseys, or the Red Lion pub in Chiang Mai crowded with Chiang Mai FC supporters – football was everywhere. As cliche as it sounds, sports truly is a unifying force for different languages, cultures, and histories, and some of my best conversations with locals started with a simple “who’s your team?”. Of course the highlight was my tuk tuk driver in Chiang Mai, who professed his love for the one and only New York Jets when I told him I’m from New York. Global misery people, global misery.

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watching man city vs. man u in a bangkok taxi and hoping we make it out alive

2) Packing light is definitely worth your probable stench
Sorry for the no-brainer here, but you’d be surprised how many people I saw trying to cram rolling suitcases into hostel lockers or struggle to drag them to a longboat through the sand. One of my greatest accomplishments to date is my packing skills for this trip, and the resulting mobility came in handy while I was hostel-hopping every night. Plus when you’re flying China Eastern Air, not having to check a bag seriously reduces your anxiety level. As for your general cleanliness, Febreze does wonders, but to the guy stuck next to me on the 16 hour flight back to NY – sorry.

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call me mary poppins

3) Thailand is as touristy as it gets, but there’s so much to see beneath the surface
You can travel around Thailand for weeks and not hear a single conversation in Thai. It’s Cancun for Aussies and Europeans, with a huge backpacker scene full of people interested in nothing but reenacting The Hangover II. Even the food is Westernized in the touristy areas – you’ll find great spaghetti and meatballs in Phuket! Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast on Khao San Road in Bangkok and Koh Phi Phi in Phuket. But there were so many smaller moments and mini-adventures that unearthed a truly beautiful culture. Sometimes I stumbled upon them, like when I took a shortcut through an alley in Bangkok and joined a group of locals huddled around a TV watching the Pacquiao fight. Sometimes I sought them out, like when I made friends with a tuk tuk driver in Chiang Mai and had him drop me off at his favorite khao soi stand in the outskirts of the city. All it takes is genuine curiosity and a little sense of adventure!

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adventure! also known as the best way to terrify my mother.

4) Singapore is foodie heaven
Anyone living in NYC is inherently a food snob. Literally every cuisine in the world has a home in the city, and I truly believed New Yorkers had it best…until this trip. Thank you Singapore for shattering my foodie world! Laksa, chili crab, prawn noodles, stingray, chicken rice, nasi goreng, I could go on forever. Whether you’re on the street, in a mall food court, or at a five star restaurant, Singapore offers the best flavors of the best cuisines.

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stingray, prawn noodles, chicken rice – i call this the singapore 15

5) Baby elephants turn me into Agnes from Despicable Me
“IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!!!!!!!!!” My favorite adventure on the trip was (no shocker here) my day at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Elephants are just the best, and I was in total bliss walking through the gorgeous sanctuary in the middle of the mountains surrounded by elephants. If you really want to learn about elephants in their natural habitat, I can’t recommend the Elephant Nature Park enough. Most people end up on tours that put them on elephant rides or show elephants performing tricks, and I quickly learned how harmful that industry is for the animals. The elephants are often tortured and worked to death, and this sanctuary provides a safe haven for injured and orphaned elephants. We fed, bathed, and maniacally hugged the elephants as they roamed the valley, and it was a beautiful experience. Also the two month old baby basically stole my heart.

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pretty surprised i didn’t quit everything and become a professional elephant lover

6) Every American should visit Vietnam
Us Americans are used to hearing about the evil colonizers of Europe. We see the destruction they left behind when we visit countries like South Africa, India, Mexico, and really a good amount of the third world. But it’s not often that we see the devastation our own country delivered. Decades have passed since the end of the Vietnam War, or the “American War” as it’s called in Vietnam. But the lingering effects are jarring to see, whether it’s the schools of children still being born with birth defects via Agent Orange, or the glaringly low population of people from our parents’ generation. As an American it’s eye-opening to see part of your country’s history from the other side. The locals chatted freely with me about the war and the progress Vietnam has made since. Comparing my conversations with young working professionals, who were excited to talk to Americans about the future of the country, to those with older villagers, who were still experiencing damage from the war, exposed a wide spectrum of perspectives. The experience felt personal, yet enlightening, and I only wish I was able to see more of Vietnam.

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hanoi and the countryside

7) The best way to see a city is to walk it
Thanks to a pretty insane itinerary, I had exactly 24 hours to explore Hanoi. Instead of hopping on a tour or cramming my day full of museums, I made an executive decision to spend twelve hours walking and eating my way through the city. One of the best reasons to travel alone is the freedom to do whatever the hell you want, and I took full advantage. Hanoi is such a quirky city, and the people-watching alone made it one of my favorite days of the trip. There’s something about dodging scooters through an intersection, stopping to chat with the woman selling chestnuts on the street, or watching old people do tai chi by the lake that gives you a real view into the everyday life of a city. As tourists we’re often obsessed with visiting attractions and museums, and in doing so we miss out on truly experiencing a culture. I also ended up eating no less than five meals thanks to the sumptuous smells emanating from every corner, so really it was one of the best days of my life. Shout out to the pho stand that set my mouth on fire with its ladles of hot sauce, inspiring pity from all the locals. I’ve met my spice match, well played.

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i see you taunting me bucket of hot sauce

8) Thailand’s sex tourism is jarring yet important to understand
As a female traveling alone, I was pretty apprehensive of my inevitable encounter with Thailand’s sex industry. Safety concerns aside, I wasn’t sure how it would factor into my day-to-day experiences and, frankly, if I’d be able to avoid it. But by the time I reached Bangkok, after Phuket and Chiang Mai, I had already accumulated a pretty wide range of experiences that only began to scratch the surface of a complex sub-culture.
Everything you hear about the craziness of Bangkok – Patpong (red light district), ping pong shows, and offers for more being pushed at you in every direction – is true. It’s jarring not only being constantly surrounded by it, but also realizing how ingrained it is in tourist culture. You see the stereotypical couple of older Western man and young Thai girl everywhere, and the shows, massage parlors, and bars range from tourist attractions for the curious to destinations for travelers with a singular purpose. Bangkok has it all and pushes it in your face at every turn.
I fell in love with Chiang Mai the second I stepped off the plane. It’s a beautiful city with, for lack of a better word, more of a “rural” feel in comparison to cosmopolitan Bangkok. I spent a day walking around the local markets and hopping in and out of tuk-tuks, and while there’s a strong ex-pat and backpacker scene, I didn’t find an area that felt as touristy or contrived as Khao San Road. So when I ventured out in the evening in search of a beer and a Muay Thai match, I was surprised to find myself at the Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium surrounded by “girlie bars”. I quickly realized that while Bangkok has a thriving New York-style scene outside of the tourist areas for locals and young professionals, the heart of Chiang Mai nightlife is its red light district. I stayed for a beer to watch boxing and talk to some of the hostesses who were intrigued by my presence, but I was clearly out of place and left after the match.
As an Indian woman with light brown skin, there was an additional level of complexity to my experience, especially in Phuket. I was mistaken as Thai multiple times, and as a female on my own, I had to assert myself to avoid any seedy intentions. The few uncomfortable moments I had on my entire trip came from this mistaken identity.
In some ways Chiang Mai’s more integrated girlie bars, or Phuket’s backpacker bars with more behind closed doors, felt more shocking than Bangkok’s overt sex tourism. It seemed less of a gimmick and more a part of daily life. But of course Bangkok’s blatant pandering to tourist curiosity is striking when you stop to consider the implications of sex as a tourist attraction. It’s something I can’t even begin to understand completely, especially considering the short amount of time I spent there, but it’s important to think about when you’re giggling at the ping pong show flyer shoved in your face.

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chiang mai’s loi kroh road

9) You make friends from around the world when you travel solo
Contrary to popular belief, traveling solo can really enhance your social life, especially when you’re willing to put up with questionable hostel conditions! Instead of sticking with your group of friends, you end up meeting fellow travelers from around the world. I hung out with a new set of people every day of my trip and it was an absolute blast. Backpacking brings out a friendly and adventurous side in everyone, and I immediately overcame any shyness on my first day, when another girl traveling solo spotted me on the beach and invited me to grab some beers (thanks Janelle!).

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friends!

10) Street food is the best food
Important caveat for this one – I have an awesomely high tolerance for food that probably shouldn’t be eaten, and managed to come home with a perfectly healthy stomach. I take no responsibility for any parasites you accumulate from following my advice. Anyway! Pad thai on the streets of Bangkok at 3am beats a five star restaurant any day. I never paid more than $5 for any meal, and really the best ones cost me about 5 cents. I managed to consume the most delicious three-course meal of khao soi, unidentifiable meat skewers, and mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai for $1. Street food is a staple of Southeast Asia, so close your eyes, pray to the food poisoning gods, and eat that fried cockroach!

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crunch.

11) Southeast Asia is breathtaking
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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maya beach, james bond island, chiang rai, halong bay

Traveling alone through beautiful Southeast Asia was an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Everyone should travel solo at least once in their lifetime – you learn so much about yourself and in many ways you’re forced to break out of the usual routine and hesitations that prevent you from having a truly new experience. As a woman, it gave me a new sense of confidence and awareness, and I’m already prepping for my next trip.

My advice? Book a flight, pack a backpack, and prepare for some seriously killer food. The rest will figure itself out!

International Basketball Fan For A Day

I’m venturing into unknown territory here. Not only am I writing about something other than football, I’m attempting to do so without a list. It’s weird and I don’t like it, but for the sake of my extensive dheerja.com readership I’ll try to make this bearable.

I went to Turkey in November, you should go too. It’s beautiful and has the most incredible food and people and I’m not going to say anything more because you should just go. Anyway, we happened to go during the NBA lockout, so I immediately started navigating the inter-webs to figure out what basketball game we should go to (shoutout to Google Translate!). I may or may not have done this before booking a hotel, go figure. Unfortunately there weren’t as many lockout-driven NBA players headed overseas as I thought, but we did have the option of seeing…(drumroll please)…Sasha Vujacic! For $10! Sold.

Destination: Galatasaray at home vs. Anadolu Efes, somewhere in the outskirts of Istanbul

We started our journey on Istanbul’s version of the New Jersey Transit. The general lack of hair gel and spray tans left us with a relatively calm ride, except for the whole we-have-no-idea-where-we’re-going-and-can’t-speak-Turkish situation. But fear not, we eventually made it to the arena by following our survival instincts. And by that I mean we found fans! Lots of them!

My first purchase was a home team (Galatasaray) scarf. But before you berate me for jumping on the bandwagon, a practice I consistently denounce, take a look at the riot police. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. Must blend in.

Walking into the Galatasaray arena was like walking into the Garden for a Knicks game in the 90s…times ten. If the riot police were any indication, Turkish basketball fans are absolutely maniacal, and this game was especially insane for two reasons (it’s just a mini-list!):

  1. Both Galatasaray and Anadolu Efes play in Istanbul and have a relationship scarily reminiscent of the Jets and Giants. (Another reason I bought the Galatasaray scarf!) Anadolu Efes is the top dog of the Turkish Basketball League. They were in first place at the time, and have won the championship 13 times. They play in a gorgeous new dome built only two years ago, and are sponsored by Efes, Turkey’s version of Bud Light. Galatasaray was very much the underdog and their fans had that hunger you only see in people who have never experienced sporting bliss. It’s a dangerous thing, just ask Cubs fans. Or me.
  2. The Turkish Basketball League is genius. It gets me every time I think about how US sports fans have failed to fully latch on to hockey, soccer, or any other fringe sport. Soccer is HUGE in Turkey, total shocker I know. Just like any other European country, soccer is to Turkey as the NFL is to America. Turks live and breathe with their soccer team. So instead of creating brand new franchises and trying to build a fan base from scratch, almost all the Turkish basketball teams are affiliated with a soccer team. Same name, same colors, same chants…same fans. Genius! All the diehard Galatasaray soccer fans are suddenly diehard Galatasaray basketball fans, and when they bring that same level of passion to an indoor arena it’s awesome. Thought I haven’t seen the effects firsthand, I know other European leagues do the same, including FC Barcelona, and I’m sure it’s done wonders there as well.

Back to the fans. Nothing, literally NOTHING, even close to this exists in the US, and we are seriously missing out. I can’t remember the last time I was this pumped for a game, and I had zero vested interest in either teams (except for my scarf!). Our seats were across from the extreme insanity fan section, but you could hear the chanting everywhere that started during pregame warmups. Yes, pregame warmups. That time when every American fan is still in traffic, tailgating outside, or in line for beer. Not these fans…

The first half of the game was pretty awful basketball all around, as expected, but nevertheless entertaining. It was a joy to see Sasha’s glorious locks slowly jogging up and down the court, though sadly there was no Maria in sight. Sasha and Zaza Pachulia were the two recognizable guys from the NBA, and were the best players on the court by a long shot. The lack of skill was pretty brutal, Sasha was the only consistent shooter and Zaza the only rebounder. There were some pretty amusing points of disorganization, when players would frantically look over at the coach mid-play, or when Galatasaray was down ten with four minutes to go and started throwing up airball threes. But the frantic style of play on the court only enhanced the mania in the stands. The lack of effort and controlled skill in the NBA would do nothing for these emotionally-driven fans. They wanted to scream in agony at every missed jumper, charge forward in rage at every bad call, and scare the crap out of an easily spooked opposing team. In an admirable display of devotion, they created a human vuvuzela effect, whistling during EVERY Anadolu possession. The entire game.

At halftime we decided to sneak into the extreme fan section, where I became the lone female in a mass of sweaty bodies standing on the highest piece of structure (or person) they could find. Railings, slabs of concrete, shoulders of strangers – anything that offered prime access for their taunts to reach the court. We jumped up and down with them for the entire second half, screaming gibberish along with their chants. Oh it was fun.

My favorite fans were the 3-4 guys assigned to different parts of the section, charged with leading the crowd. They spent the entire game facing the crowd, conducting the chants and shaking their fists to threaten anyone who wasn’t simultaneously jumping and singing. Intimidating but also awesome.

With two minutes left in the game and Galatasaray down by less then ten, one of the refs made a blatantly wrong out of bounds call. Shit hit the fan. Half the crowd charged forward while the other half threw everything they could find onto the court and the opposing team’s bench. The refs were forced to stop the game and players from both sides started pleading with the crowd to calm down. We thought we were in for a serious brawl until the riot police took over and formed a border around the entire court. And stayed there for the rest of the game.

Final Score: 69-61 Anadolu Efes

It was a disappointing loss but the singing continued as the crowd slowly pushed out of the arena. If you ever find yourself in Turkey or another European country, make time for a basketball game. You’ll come home slightly depressed that you can’t express yourself at an NFL game with the same level of mania, but you’ll get some great chants to scream at your TV!

DK travels the world

I made a pact with myself to make one big trip a year until I’m too old to know the difference between Connecticut and Cambodia, and after realizing I was on a plane almost every month this year I decided it was time to track my post-college expeditions. Since my blog is the core of my self-importance I’m subjecting you all to this narcissism. (Hey at least it’s not about the Jets!)

2010
Detroit
Tampa
Vancouver
Los Angeles
Buffalo
Barcelona
Johannesburg
Cape Town
Miami

pre-2010
Toronto
Acapulco
Vancouver
Los Angeles
London
Montreal
Colorado

World Cup South Africa 2010

It’s been a little over a week since I left South Africa, and I’m at the crucial equilibrium of no longer being jet lagged and still remembering every detail. The trip lasted a total of 16 days, including travel days, and we split our time between Johannesburg (4 days) and Cape Town (9 days). Those 16 days were the best two weeks of my life. South Africa is a beautiful and dynamic country, and being there for the first African-hosted World Cup was an electrifying experience. I’m not going to give a minute-by-minute rundown of the trip because frankly I think that’s pretty boring and wouldn’t fulfill the dheerja.com company priorities – I serve the people. (Cue snide remark about my blog being boring. Go ahead, I can take it.) If you’ve read any of this site you know how much I love my lists, so here’s a list of things I learned in South Africa. Enjoy!

 

1) The World Cup brings together a pretty awesome collection of people
Soccer fans are fun and a little crazy. Soccer fans who travel to the World Cup are rowdy and pretty much insane. Soccer fans who travel all the way to South Africa for the World Cup? Absolute mayhem. It’s the kind of atmosphere where you love your team and love everyone else around you. You make friends from all over the world – Europe, South America, Australia, America, Mexico…and every person you meet has a crazy story and a fun-loving personality to go with it. Best story we heard? Meet Ian, a quiet British kid staying in a tent outside our hostel. On the way to dinner we’re all talking about our lives, our jobs, where we’re from, etc. A good 45 minutes into the conversation we finally learn that Ian spent the past 365 days biking from England to Cape Town. Yes, biking. Oh and he made a pit stop along the way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. At some point in the Sahara he ran out of water and didn’t think he would make it, until he came across a group of nomads who took him to a Moroccan army base. If that kid doesn’t have a blog I’m quitting. Our other favorite encounter was with some boisterous Germans after Germany vs. Ghana. The story begins with Craig, who has a strange fascination with the German national anthem, and spent a good amount of time coming up with his personal version (part 1). When we ran into these Deutschland fans we immediately begged them to teach Craig the anthem so we wouldn’t have to hear “Volkswageeeen” any longer. They happily agreed (part 2). To complete the cultural exchange they surprised us with a German accented rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame (part 3). Trust me, you want to watch this video.

 

2) South Africans love their meat
The first word I learned was braai, the Afrikaans term for barbecue. I learned it before I learned how to say “Where’s the bathroom?”, because braai is significantly more important than any essential bodily function. South Africans barbecue an average of three times a week, so all you grill-crazy Americans are officially owned. Factor in that they can barbecue through the winter AND have ostrich, kudu, and all sorts of game available…you can just give up now. We had our braai experience at Mzoli’s outside of Cape Town where you order meat by the pound, wait two hours for it to cook while you drink at the beer garden, and then devour it caveman style.
MzolisMzolis

 

3) Soccer City owns Cowboys Stadium
Step aside Jerry Jones, Cowboys stadium might be snazzy but nothing beats the aesthetic beauty of Soccer City. You can see the stadium from all over Johannesburg and it catches your breath every time. Designed to look like an African pot, it seats almost 85,000 fans. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US, where all the focus is on giant flat screens and high priced club seats. We watched Germany vs. Ghana here and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
Soccer City stadium

 

4) Sharks look like stuffed animals
Seal Island, home to 60,000 Cape Fur Seals, and Dyer Island, home to thousands of African Penguins, form the shallow channel called Shark Alley off the coast of Gansbaai. Shark Alley is home to the highest concentration of Great White sharks in the world…hello Shark Week. We went shark cage diving with Brian McFarland, a shark hunter turned researcher when hunting was outlawed, and it was easily the coolest thing I’ve ever done. The sharks were surprisingly not terrifying at all, and I’m pretty sure it had to do with the complete lack of movement in their eyes (they’re almost blind), so they looked like giant stuffed animals. They were pretty nonthreatening and could have easily bitten off a foot or hand since we were holding on to the cage bars. Here are a couple pics, keep in mind my underwater disposable camera had no zoom…
shark divingshark divingshark divingshark diving

 

5) The world is scared of the potential in US soccer
One of my new-found Brazilian friends put it perfectly after the US lost to Ghana: “You Americans use a bazooka to kill a fly.” If the US devotes itself to soccer similar to football, baseball, and basketball, we WILL dominate. The amount of money and athletic talent in this country is unparalleled, and so much of it is wasted in the NBA and NFL funnel. If you take half the kids whose football and basketball careers end in college and put them into soccer from the get-go, America will be at the forefront of the international scene and will internally develop the sport itself to another level. It’s already there at the grassroots level, almost every kid growing up plays soccer for a few years, there’s just no incentive to keep at it. The soccer market needs to grow significantly, and it probably won’t happen after this World Cup. But the US team is only going to get better, they just need some young talent to fill a couple roster holes, and the time will come when Brazil 2014 hits. The entire world knows it, I had countless conversations with people from Europe, South America, Africa, etc. about this topic, and they’re all nervously anticipating the inevitable rise of American soccer.
Donovan

 

6) It’s a rude awakening each time you realize how recently apartheid ended
On our way to Soweto we drove by the prison in downtown Johannesburg. Our driver shuddered, “I hate that place. So many bad memories.” We asked why. “I was imprisoned there for a year.” We asked why. He proceeded to tell us a story about his teenage self playing soccer in the park with some friends when cops walked over demanding to see their identity cards, a regulation under apartheid that specified an individual’s racial group. They had left their cards at home so they could play soccer and were thrown into jail. He’s in his early 30s. By far the most jarring part of this trip was the constant realization that apartheid happened in everyone’s lifetime. Every generation has a story to tell and every person has a vivid memory of South Africa 16 years ago. It’s an unsettling experience to talk to someone your age about their memories of the Soweto uprising. We visited the Apartheid Museum and for each date on the wall I could recall how old I was and where I was in my life.
Apartheid museumApartheid museum

 

7) Craziest fans – Spain and Brazil
We encountered fans from all 32 World Cup nations, and by my scientific and well-researched standards, the most enthusiastic (i.e. insane) fans were the Brazil and Spain supporters. Brazil is an obvious one, they’re the Yankees/Lakers/Cowboys of soccer. They have (originally bandwagon) fans from all over the world and have the strongest history as the only team to appear in every World Cup and with the most championships. It’s a sheer numbers game, more fans = more crazy people. But then there’s Spain, a team with zero World Cup championships (until now). Maybe it was the very real potential for that first championship that lit a fire under Spain fans, but they were at another level of fandom. We were lucky enough to get caught in the middle of a massive group of Espana fans outside the Spain vs. Portugal match, so I’ll let you see for yourself.

 

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