The mall that is a just a few minutes from our hotel hosts an African craft market on Sundays. It was a very traditional setting, with lots of different vendors setting up their goods in a booth, encouraging you to “come here, look. Good prices!” Of course, haggling is encouraged.
There was so much to look at! Everything from beaded jewelry to wooden bowls to vuvuzelas and t-shirts. We picked up quite a few pretty things before stopping for lunch. After lunch, we wandered around the mall for a while. Eventually, we came upon another craft market. This one was even bigger than the last! We were rapidly running out of time, but we took a quick stroll through. Lauren is craving a scarf made of African fabric that costs less than 700 Rand. We’re still looking.
The hotel shuttle to the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game was scheduled to leave at 4:30 pm. We got back from shopping, packed up our warm clothes and headed out to the shuttle. We neglected to take African time into account: everything runs 15 to 30 minutes later than we’re told because, well…because it isn’t being run by a bunch of neurotic Americans, I think.
We left closer to 5:00 pm. We’ve been arriving at games with plenty of time to spare, anyway. Our shuttle drivers get us there quite early, as the traffic to Soccer City is rather bad (although it seems to be getting better) and it gives us time to take in the sights and get something to eat and find our seats and oblige the strange men who ask for their pictures with the two blonde girls before the start of the match.
Brazil fans are a lively bunch. Very vocal, very proud. Ivory Coast had quite the crowd backing them, too. It didn’t take us long to learn that Africans cheer for their own country first and for the other African nations second. Combine the Brazilian fans and the Ivory Coast fans together and you get a very loud Soccer City. It was easily the loudest match that we’ve been to. The vuvuzelas were out in full force at that match; whenever Ivory Coast had a free kick, the building would pulse with the hum of the vuvuzelas.
Despite having what was classified as a category 2 ticket, our seats were up high in the second row. It didn’t really matter much, actually. I doubt that there is a bad seat in Soccer City. Soccer can definitely be appreciated from higher up than is the case for some sports; it is actually much easier to see plays developing from higher up in the stands. It’s just harder, if not impossible, to read the names on the back of the jerseys.
It wasn’t anywhere near as cold at Soccer City for this match, an 8:30 pm start, than it was during the Argentina vs. South Korea match, which started at 1:30 pm. We brought extra layers and our hats and mittens but really didn’t need any of it. Isn’t that how it always works when you’re prepared?!
In the pleasant temperatures, we munched on crisps and cheese dogs again. We laughed at the very, very intense Brazilian woman losing her head and screaming about some call (or lack of call) by the referee every few minutes. We met a pair of Norwegians. We watched Kaka get ejected from the game. We saw a very, very strong performance from an amazing Brazilian team. The Ivory Coast is a decent squad, but Brazil was just so much better.
It was a busy, busy day. When the shuttle returned us to our hotel, we called our daddy to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and fell asleep shortly thereafter. Fortunately, Monday’s itinerary was wide open but for dinner reservations at 8:30. Time to sleep in! Time to relax! Time for Lauren to do homework! Or maybe just time to go shopping again.