Wednesday, December 22, 2010

World Cup Diary - Part 5

Well rested, re-energised it is time for Cape Town. Will the World Cup finally have gripped some part of South Africa?

We stay in the Big Blue backpackers. It has some fantastic reviews on the website. The hostel is run by an alcoholic man. His face is weathered as if he has been out at sea for days, there are deep cracks in his face. Almost as deep as the flaws in his logic as he engages in one long monologue. At first, I think they are conversations. There is no pause, no let up. He talks about anything, in the space of a few seconds veering from how Japan's team draws its strength from its samurai past to how much he loves bourbon for breakfast. His voice is amazing, the kind of accent that belongs in a Victorian garden from the turn of the century. It is the kind of voice you imagine talking about the colonies in a simultaneously dismissive and quizzical tone.

The receptionist/bartender is a lovely Canadian who has come on a holiday and never left. She has deep brown eyes and brown curls and most of the day there are lonely backpackers loitering around the reception talking about mostly nothing with her. The other receptionist is a short English girl who has family in South Africa.

We venture out around the Green Point area and go to the pub to watch the Korea versus Uruguay game. Every tv is showing the rugby, South Africa absolutely pummeling some unfortunate team. We have to ask to get the tv turned onto the game. It's a fantastic match. Unfortunately South Korea let themselves down with some terrible defending for both Uruguay goals. It would have been amazing to see them go through. We all know Cha Du Ri was a better player for the opposition... some of his crosses still haven't landed. He tried hard though, and every team needs a comedy player.

We hear Long Street is the place to go and so we head to the Dubliner. The place is absolutely packed and beer is about $1 Aus. It feels like your duty to consume and take advantage of this amazing low price to compensate for the extravagant pricing of the stuff in Australia. It's USA vs Ghana and I desperately want USA to win. They have the finest team they have probably ever had, led by Landycakes and Dempsey. Americans are passionate about the game and are endearing in their use of terms like 'power strike to the upper 90', 'midfield stripe', and 'PK'. It would also be great for the rest of the world if America did win it, so they would start giving them some respect instead of patronising them... oh wait.

Patrick Demspey is a fine actor if you want to believe that. I've never watched the anatomy show, my only encounter with his acting skills was his quite ludicrous portrayal of an ordinary man. In this advertisement, his friends are shocked and puzzled by his sudden transformation into an attractive man. He winks without moving his eyelids and replies - Just for Men.

We christen Clint Dempsey 'the Doctor' in tribute to his sharing of a surname with McDreamy. As we drink beer after beer, a few Americans join our chants of 'Give it to the doctor' as America have chance after chance. The cheering for Ghana drowns out our chants and I am crushed as Ghana get an ill-deserved victory against the valiant doctor, who did everything in his power to haul the US through.

The rest of the night is just flashes. I remember the club being mostly packed with guys but somehow remember dancing with two beautiful girls. I remember losing my magic coat, the coat that has saved me through many a cold winter, with deep pockets filled with everything you could ever need. I remember getting a lift home to the hostel but somehow getting a lift further up, ending up in the hills near the university campus. Finally I remember catching a cab back somehow to the backpacker lodge.

The next day is when I made the decision to never drink again. After 10 years of drinking, it was all becoming too much. It was not fun to lose control, to lose memories of the night, to lose whole hours, to lose magic coats, to lose money and maybe friends. Not to mention the hangovers that lasted well into the next day, or that what I really enjoy on a night out is good conversation with some friends, instead of just relying on alcohol to create the fun and silliness for you.

It was all part of the life changing experience that was Cape Town.

Being hungover certainly wasn't the best way to experience shark diving. Going out onto slightly choppy water to be handed a wetsuit and then jump into shark infested water, where only a cage separates you from one of the deadliest beings out there. I am a big fan of sharks though, I think their overbite makes them seem quite charming and I always think that they could beat a lion if their surfaces were matched (sort of like how Federer and Nadal played on a half clay/half grass court). I will have to do it another day but Ray did seem to enjoy the shark dive.

I had been trying each day along with the usual ritual of Facebook and internet gambling on everything relating to the upcoming matches to squeeze in some time to try and buy tickets to the upcoming matches. Finally, I was able to buy tickets to the game in Port Elizabeth between Brazil and Holland, the first quarterfinal of the World Cup. The game was to be played on the day before our flight out of South Africa....

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