We conserved our energy on Saturday morning because we had a big day planned: USA vs. Ghana in the Round of 16 (meaning we would be expelling extreme amounts of passion and fandom for our boys in red, white and blue) in Rustenburg (meaning Bus Ride of Torture: The Sequel).
The game in Rustenburg didn’t start until 8:30 pm. We were taking the FIFA fan bus again, sadly, and it didn’t leave until 3:00 pm. So, we spent our morning lounging around the hotel – Lauren did her homework just like a good little student – and we headed into Sandton around 1:00 pm.
In Sandton, we had a quick lunch at a café on Nelson Mandela Square. We had been to Nelson Mandela Square several times by this point in our trip, but we had never seen it so crowded with soccer fans and locals. I’m sure it had something to do with the gorgeous, sunny, mild day. And the good shopping. And the many restaurnts. And maybe the ESPN studio that is located there.
We each ordered a drink with our lunch. In preparation for the bus ride ahead, of course.
Even the alcohol couldn’t make it better.
The ride was still long and cramped and boring. It still took well over two hours. (And by “well over two hours,” I mean it took three.)
The entire operation was slightly more organized this time around, thankfully. And we arrived at the stadium in Rustenburg with plenty of time before kickoff. As a matter of fact, we had so much time that we had the ability to stand in line for 45 minutes in a failed attempt to buy a couple of hot dogs.
I don’t know what the deal was with Rustenburg, but it was a bit of a mess. It was astounding, really, that the venue had hosted games for three weeks and couldn’t efficiently make/sell/distribute concessions. There were probably 10 lines that stretched 15 people deep. In the 45 minutes that we stood in line, we saw three people successfully leave our line with food. Two of them were employees.
Hansche girls do not like to be hungry. Hansche girls do not like to eat Cliff Bars for dinner.
And then the Americans had to go and lose that game! In additional time!
It was not an awesome day.
But there were still awesome parts of it.
It was awesome that the USA was playing in that game. From the time of the draw, Lauren and I always assumed that England would win Group C. We briefly entertained the idea that the American team could play in the game, remarking how cool and how unlikely that would be.
It was awesome to have another opportunity to wear all of the patriotic gear that we’d hauled all the way to South Africa. It was really fun to get all decked out in the stars and the stripes. Seeing all of the other Americans doing the same was always a blast, too.
It was awesome to have a perfect view of Landon Donovan’s successful penalty kick. We had the perfect seats for that moment: right at the penalty spot at the goal where he took that shot. Lauren got some great pictures of that moment. It’s too bad that the American team couldn’t score a proper goal.
It was awesome to watch Tim Howard play goalie. Because Tim Howard is awesome.
It was not awesome that the Americans lost. It made the bus ride home just a little bit more painful. As did the bitter British man who sat behind us and, just as we were sitting down, proceeded to loudly rant on about how stupid all Americans are. Slightly insulting. Definitely unnecessary. Ignorance is so ugly.
We didn’t get back to Nelson Mandela Square until 3:30 am. We took a taxi back to our hotel. Lauren ate pasta that had been sitting, unrefrigerated, in our room for 27 hours. (And never got sick. Is her stomach not amazing?) And I set our alarm clock for 7:15 am.
Yes. You read that correctly. 7:15 am.