Monday was a rest day. No games, no tours, no commitments until our 8:30 pm dinner reservations.
We started our day at approximately the same time that we start every day here, 9:30 am. Breakfast is served until 10:00 am, so we’ve set our internal clocks to get us up just in time. We haven’t missed a breakfast yet. And good thing. I hear it’s the most important meal of the day!
Following our breakfast and our morning email check, we sat with our friend James in the hotel lobby for a while. Though he is from Liverpool, James was travelling with the group of New Yorkers (who had since gone home) and we had spent quite a bit of time with him. He was with us on our first trip to Ellis Park, for the USA/Slovenia match, and he had gone to the Brazil/Ivory Coast match the night before, too.
James mentioned that he was going to the mall and to lunch with Jackie (the proprietor of our original accommodations and the woman kind enough to take us to the Lion Park) later in the morning. We decided to tag along. We ended up back at the African craft market. Where we bought a few things (of course) and subsequently banned ourselves from returning to because we find it far too easy to burn through cash there.
(I should mention that we’ve since made plans to return this Monday because self control + Lauren + Alyson = does not compute.)
We had a nice, quick lunch and headed back to the hotel to see James off. Before he left, he delivered several flags to our room: United States, Spain and Argentina. He had no use for them at home; we promised to wave them wildly at every opportunity.
The rest of our afternoon passed quietly. Lauren did homework and took a nap. I blogged and checked my work email.
We headed to Melrose Arch for dinner at a restaurant called Moyo. We had actually tried to have dinner there on Saturday, but couldn’t get reservations. Moyo is an authentic African restaurant that came highly recommended by Jackie.
Lauren suggested that Moyo may be the Frankenmuth of South Africa. The staff wears traditional African outfits, which is probably embarrassing yet mitigated by the amount of business that they see. We were seated in the basement section of the restaurant, which was absolutely enormous and completely packed. The basement is decorated to look like a cave. A cave with flatscreen televisions broadcasting the Spain game.
We had drinks. We had dinner. We watched the Spain game. We had our faces painted – which is apparently an African thing (or just a clever trick to charm the tourists). We talked a Frenchman named Francois into taking our picture. We soaked up the atmosphere. It was really fun.
And about to get better.
Just as we were finishing up our meal, the Spain game finished. To celebrate, the restaurant played the World Cup’s anthem “Waka Waka” (performed by our hero, Shakira) over the loudspeakers. The wait staff gathered on the floor and started to dance.
“Go dance with them,” I told Lauren. We’d been dancing to that song for nearly a week. And it isn’t like talking Lauren into doing something like that is even remotely difficult.
So Lauren gets up with the wait staff and she starts dancing. Before long, she’s wearing a hat made of feathers. And drawing quite the crowd.
Before I could really comprehend what was happening, Lauren and I were standing at our table and posing for photos with a large group of men. Who formed a line. To get their pictures taken. With us.
There was also a large group of others surrounding us, taking pictures. (Thankfully, I took a good number of photos of the paparazzi. So funny. Can’t wait to share them.)
Here’s something we’ve learned since coming to Africa: girls with blonde hair and blue eyes are a bit of a rarity.
Especially to a group of men from Saudi Arabia, which is where the majority of our fan club hailed from.
It was one of those situations that you could only ever get into with Lauren. You all know exactly what I’m talking about. Just so unusual that you can’t really believe that you’re there and so funny that you’ll be rehashing it for years to come.
The night was magic. Pure magic. (Plus a bangin’ Shakria jam and one feathered hat.)