“The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become”
Dulles Airport, Washington DC– With only hours until my departure for South Africa and World Cup 2010, the words of one of the world’s greatest 80’s bands has never rang through more pure and true. I have been humming Toto’s “Africa” for the past two weeks in anticipation of the greatest month known to man! It is time for the World Cup!
Only insane people would spend half a year’s salary, fly all the way around the world, and expose themselves to human stampedes, being robbed at gun point, and possible terrorist attacks to experience a sporting event, but that is exactly what I and millions of others from around the world, will be doing over the next month, so I guess you could say we’re a little bit crazy. Regardless of how many times our flights have been re-routed or changed, and no matter how many times we have been switched hotels due to safety and health concerns, we won’t be deterred, because, DAMN IT, we love World Cup time.
*On a side note, after seeing Nike’s new World Cup commercial, how could anyone not want to go to every game being played in South Africa? That was without a doubt the greatest commercial ever made, and that was way before Homer J. Simpson made his cameo.
For those of you who don’t know, my name is Elliott Spruell and I am the Associate Editor here at 90:00 Soccer. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to South Africa to witness the first World Cup held on the African continent, and I have been even more blessed to share this experience with my mother, Sheri, my father, Jeff, and my sister, Madison, a journalism graduate student at Indiana University, who will be helping out with the blog due to the fact that I have plenty of soccer to watch, beers to drink, a graduate school thesis to finish up, and the main reason, she’s probably a better writer! This will be our second World Cup experience and doubtfully our last, after my dad, who I may refer to from time to time as the bizzarro Mark Lincir due to his intense positivity for all things US soccer, fell in love with the World Cup experience.
Our ten day journey around South Africa has us hoping on planes, trains, and automobiles, like a young Steve Martin. Our first event is not only the most anticipated match of the tournament, but is turning out to be one of the most anticipated group matches of the past few World Cups, The Stars and Stripes vs. The Three Lions. I will give a more in depth analysis of the match tomorrow, but let’s just say we’re all more than a little bit excited about the game (including the Brit sitting next to me at the bar in the airport as I type this, who instantly broke into a monologue about why he hates Landon so much).
On Monday, we board the plane for a three day safari in Kruger National Park. The first afternoon is devoted to an open 4×4 safari in search of sightings of the Big Five, which includes zebras, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, and lions. Subsequent outings will give us the opportunity to experience by jeep and on foot the wonders of the African wilderness.
*On a side note, I will be missing the Celtics’ Big Three taking on the Lakers while mid air. This will be my first missed Celtics playoff game in over three years. Good luck boys. Go Celts!
The lodging in Kruger is five star, equipped with gourmet meals, beautiful indoor/outdoor showers, giant trees growing up right through your bedroom floor, and an outdoor bar and patio, overlooking a watering hole which the lions frequent around dusk, waiting for stupid drunken tourists to make an ill step so they can also enjoy the resort’s five star cuisine. If I don’t make it back, I blame it on the tequila.
Our final scheduled event will be the USA vs. Slovenia match being played in Jo’burg. I am very excited for this match, as the stadium looks absolutely breathtaking and my recent viewing of Invictus has only fueled my fire that much more.
Well folks, as I finish up this paragraph, it is time for me to board my plane and head the far side of the world. When I touchdown in South Africa in some 18 hours from now, four years of waiting, debating, and analyzing will be over. For the next month, the world will stop what it is doing and turn its attention to the greatest party ever hosted, World Cup 2010. Make sure you check back tomorrow for all of the updates on Elliott’s Travels.