As they well should be, South Africans are proud. The are excited. Sure, at some level the whole world (minus most of the USA, *sigh*) is excited for this great uniting sports competition, but they are REALLY excited. I mean... they are so excited they don't even have words to describe it, so new ones are created! Seriously. The World Cup and all things good around it can only be described by one undefinable word created for just this purpose: "AYOBA!"
So when I realized that the kick-off event for the World Cup - the Final Draw - would be taking place in Cape Town, two thoughts occured to me. One: it is going to be packed and chaotic downtown, and no one in their right mind would want to brave that crowd when they could watch from home and probably have a better idea at what's going on. Two: I wonder if my roommates would want to go with me, and if we could talk Clifford or Vixa into driving us.
Fortunately, we didn't have to ask: Clifford decided we should go and asked if he could take us. check!
So he did... and ten miutes after we arrived and had begun making our way through the crowd, we departed, planning to use technology as the only means to actually meet up again in these masses. We were there a bit early to make sure we'd be able to get in, and it was already PACKED! Its kind of hard to tell in this picture, taken shortly after we arrived, but we were pretty excited to actually be in Long Street for the World Cup Final Draw!
Fortunately, our thinking was right: we later found out they blocked the streets off and wouldn't let any more people in when it got over capacity at around 120,000 people. The last (unofficial) number I heard was that there were close to 150,000... but numbers don't really matter when it gets that high anyway. Basically, for as far as we could see in any direction, we could only see thousands of people. It was kind of intense and really awesome.
We obviously started all the way in the back, where the huge mass of people was pretty intimidating. By the time the draw started at 7 we had discovered how to avoide the ridiculous masses and found a hole in the crowd next to some great folks who were there for the festivities, but who (like us) really wanted to actually watch the draw. It was a perfect match as we battled to hear and would reveal results to each other as they were read. Pretty good draws, too: South Africa will play in opening game against Mexico! Uruguay and France are the other two teams making up Group A, while the USA will open group C matches against England with Algeria and Slovenia making up the other half of our group. Basically, that means we (USA) got a GREAT draw, and have an incredible chance of making it to the top 16! We got some funny looks for being so excited about this, but hey, what can I say? There are at least a few soccer fans in the US...
Following the draw, we slowly we made our way forward through the crowd; by the time our evening came to a close, we were about 10 rows from the front. Definitely an adventure, it was the perfect place to enjoy live music, meet lots of new and interesting people, and of course do the one thing we'd been wanting to go out for since we arrived: dance. So, here we were, mid-dance party, waiting for the final musicians of the evening to come on stage.
To our great (and pleasant) surprise in this giant crowd, we actually ran into a number of people we know, namely members of the Kalenga familiy or people we knew through SHADE/Woodstock Church that we didn't even realize were there. It was a great addition to the night, somehow making this city we live in feel a bit more like home.
We eventually closed the night with as much laughter and celebration as we started with, finally meeting up with Clifford, Sandra and Vixa. We were all exhausted but running on adrenaline, but clearly I seemed to have a bit more, as Vixa decided I should carry him up a hill. I talk big and had already smoothly made reference to how I of course could do it, the strength of a woman to carry a man or something of that sort. Fortunately, on this one I hadn't bitten off too much more than I could chew, and after stopping for pictures to remember the event by, it gave us all the more reasons to laugh together.
All in all, Dec 4, 2009 proved to be a memorable night, and as one of the posters on Long Street said, I am glad to be able to say, "I was there" the night it all began in Cape Town. It only makes me all the more excited about all that is to come with the World Cup only 6 months away!