Sunday, January 30, 2011

Scarf Project Update

I apologize for not updating this sooner. I am excited to say we have gotten responses to our letters! We have written to Stuart Holden, DaMarcus Beasley, Herculez Gomez, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamie Watson, Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu. We've gotten responses from Alejandro, Jamie, Stuart and Maurice.

Alejandro Bedoya

The first response came from Alejandro Bedoya. To my amazement, he sent every student a letter in reply. He went above and beyond anything I was expecting. The kids were ecstatic! Above is a picture of the scarves and autograph pictures that he sent for each kid. Truly amazing. The package came just before lunch and the kids were buzzing. I TRIED to calm them down before taking them to the cafeteria but I don't think it did much good. When I picked the kids up, the cafeteria mentioned they were wired and had a hard time staying quiet. I apologized and said it was all my fault. I'd gladly take the blame for that one.

Jamie Watson
Our second response came from Jamie Watson. At the time we wrote to Jamie he was a member of the Austin Aztexs. By the time I put the letters in the mail, the team had been moved to Orlando. Luckily this package got to my classroom about 30 minutes before the end of the day on a Friday. I say luckily because when I opened the package and looked inside, all I saw were bags...and more bags of candy. The kids went wild. Pretty sure the kids may have been more excited about the candy then they were about the scarf, autographed pictures and letters that Jamie had sent. Again, personalized letters to each kid. Awesome. Even more awesome...a jersey for the teacher. Woo hoo! Sadly, the only pic I got of the scarf, letters and candy from Jamie has the kids in it and so I can't post it here. Sorry!

Stuart Holden

Our third response came from Stuart Holden. The kids were very excited about getting a response from Stu as he was the first player we had written to. They also may or may not have watched some of the Bolton vs Everton on the SmartBoard in our room. Shhhhhhhh. It was for research purposes!! The best part was when the kids were watching (for research purposes) they asked "Which one is Stuart?" I replied "The one with the blonde highlights." Their response: "I SEEEEEEEE HIM!" haahaaa.

Maurice Edu

Our most recent response came the day we were letting out for winter break. The kids had just finished their party and were hopped up on sugar. We had some time to kill before lunch so I put on the holiday episode of The Magic School Bus to hopefully calm the kids down. While they were watching, I checked my email and had a message from the front office. I had a package! Always good to be friends with the front office ladies! They know about my project and so they let me know the minutes a package has arrived. I even had the first 2 delivered to my room! Anyway, I had a parent still in the room because her daughter didn't want to leave since I had put on the she stayed, waiting for it to end. I asked her if I could run down to the office to get the package and she agreed. I quickly got the package and brought it back to the room. The minute I walked in with a box, the kids were no longer interested in the video. We opened it up and inside were 2 scarves, letters and autograph pics from Maurice Edu. I gave the kids the letters to read. We then decided to head down to the office to show our principals our latest response. On the way we ran into our art teacher who is from Scotland and grew up a Rangers fan. She was SUPER excited about our scarves. We shared our response with the principals who read some of the letters the kids got from Mo. It was a very cool way to end the semester.

I am so happy that we've gotten responses. Even if we don't get any more this year, I can say that it was a success. The way these US Soccer guys have responded was above and beyond what I expected. I am SO proud to be a supporter of such a wonderful group of guys. The fact that they would take the time out of their busy schedules to write my class back is just so amazing. These guys have made 16 new lifelong fans.

This semester is going to get hectic with TAKS test preperation. I can already tell it is going to be tough to fit in time to write the letters. No matter what, I am going to fit it in. My goal at the beginning of this was to have enough scarves for each kid to take one home. I will do my best to make sure we reach that goal.

Monday, September 6, 2010

School Scarf Project

I came up with this idea a couple of weeks ago while looking at my stack of soccer scarves and wondering what to do with them. With school starting, I started thinking of displaying them in my classroom and that lead to this idea for a class project. I wanted to post the ideas for this project here so that if anyone wanted more info about it....they could check it out here. Here are some of my basic ideas. Suggestions, hints or any insider contact info is greatly appreciated.

  • Students will choose a player to write to if they already have one they are interested in contacting.
  • If the students don't have a player they are interested in, we'll start with a country or city they are interested in and use that to find a player to write to.
  • Students will write letters/emails to the players. The students will ask for some information about the city they are playing in and how it is different than where they are from. They will also ask for a scarf to add to our class collection.
  • When we receive a letter and scarf, we will put a map pin on the world map already up in the classroom.
  • We'll take a class picture with the scarf and put all the pictures together with the letters in a class scrapbook.
  • Send a thank you letter to the player along with a copy of the class picture with the scarf.
  • Throughout the year, distribute special reward tickets to the students for good behavior/class work, etc. At the end of the year, hold a raffle for the scarves. Students will get to pick the scarf they want to keep. Picture of student with scarf will be taken to add to the scrapbook with a paragraph from the student on why they wanted that scarf. This will be dependent on getting enough scarves for each student in the class to have one. Current class size is 16.
My goal with this project is to improve students writing while incorporating geography, culture and soccer. Technology and research will also be incorporated in the project.

Will this project work? Who knows. I do know that our US Soccer players are some of the nicest guys around. Hoping they will take a few minutes to help our class out and then help spread the word to other players they know so that my goal of a scarf for each student can be reached.

Nowadays, schools get so caught up in the standardized test rut. So much of what I do as a teacher is focused on that. I want to do something fun and exciting for these kids that is still educational as well as motivational. I am hoping that I can pull this off while at the same time share my love of the beautiful game with my students.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The last few days in South Africa


Tuesday was the safari, We had to leave at 6:30 am so it was an early wake up call. I was prepared for the shuttle bus ride to the national park we were going to, I brought a blanket and had a sleep mask (ended up just using my beanie and pulling it down over my eyes). I slept most of the trip up there. We arrived at about 9:15am and headed out with our guide. There were 2 different vehicles being used. They had a small truck that held about 9 people and a large one that held close to 20 or 30 (guessing there). I got lucky and jumped into the small one. We headed out for about 2 ½ hours. We didn’t see all of the “big five”….but we did see plenty of cool animals. There were plenty of zebras, warthogs and wildebeests. We also saw a couple of elephants, including one that was in the middle of the road and started rushing toward another vehicle. There are plenty of animal pics here if you want to check them out.

After the safari we headed to a lodge in the park for lunch. They had a nice buffet there and it was very welcome after a long morning. After that we headed back to the hotel. We were supposed to stop at a place on the way back for some shopping but everyone decided that they wanted to get back as soon as possible for the South Africa vs. France game. The ride back was long and very uncomfortable. We had more people on the bus on the way back as a few people weren’t impressed with the other shuttle driver’s driving skills. We were pretty much like sardines in that thing and it made for a long trip back. There wasn’t any leg room either and the sitting all morning was frustrating me. We didn’t make it back for the start of the game, but were able to listen to the first two South Africa goals on the radio. The people on the streets when Bafana Bafana scored were so excited. There were also a lot of cars honking their horns.

After we got back to the hotel and finished watching the game we decided to head to the Portuguese restaurant for the 8pm games. We got there early and had some food and some beers while watching the games. Before heading back a guy (Todd) asked the owner (who happened to own the liquor store next door) what time the liquor store opened. He told Todd 10 am and the Todd mentioned how that was a bummer as we were leaving at 9 am for Pretoria and we’d like to get some stuff for the bus ride. The man said he was the one who owned the liquor store and that he’d open up for us to buy some stuff. Four of us headed over there to grab some stuff and then we headed back to the hotel. We took it easy that night as we had the US game the next day.


Game day again! Woo hoo! We met in the lobby at 9 am and left at about 9:20 to head to Pretoria. We stopped on the way there because some of the AO guys had raised money and brought soccer balls to donate to some kids there. We made that stop at the church/school and then continued our journey to the pre game bar. We had flags out the window the whole way there and got plenty of people honking and giving a thumbs up.

We got to the pre game bar at about 10:30 am and went inside. The place was fairly small and actually more of a restaurant then a bar. They were pretty overwhelmed when we showed up and more people just continued coming. They actually just started selling 2 packs of their beer since the line was so long! Since the beer service was going slowly we decided to check out what the Woolworth’s market had. It was in the same shopping center so we headed over there. They had no beer, only wine. Apparently you have to have some other kind of license to sell beer. Not being a wine drinker, I opted for a bottle of champagne and drank it straight from the bottle. Classy, huh? Haahaa. There were even more people streaming into the bar and I went out onto the patio area where Max and Sean were. There was singing and chanting going on…a fun environment. Sunil Gulati and Don Garber stopped by and talked with people. I also got to meet @HooverDam and @Tanya_Keith in person. Very cool.

At 2:15 we organized and marched to the stadium. It was awesome. So many USA fans. While walking to the stadium we started hearing police sirens. We looked back and saw a team motorcade coming through. It was absolutely awesome. And after ready Bob Bradley’s quote, the team was impressed as well. The stadium was not your typical stadium. The stadium was in a wooded area which was pretty cool. The stadium also had 1 bathroom and the lines were ridiculously long. Not cool. I may be exaggerating the only having one bathroom…but that is all I saw!

We went in and headed down to the bottom row. The ushers kept telling us to sit down and we were NOT happy about that. The game is a blur. So many emotions. When someone told me England was winning and we were still tied, things got stressful. I have to admit that once that 80 minute mark hit and we were still tied 0-0, I started to well up with tears. However…they weren’t ready to come yet and that’s a good thing. The end to that game was just an AMAZING, CRAZY, WONDERFUL, EXHILERATING, etc moment. Words can’t describe. We were all going crazy as I am sure everyone at home was as well.

We stayed in the stands celebrating for quite a while. The security/ushers were trying to get us not to stand on the seats. Not stand on the seats!!!! Crazy talk!! When they kicked us out of the stands we headed up to the concourse area and continued the party up there for while until we were finally told to go. We continued the party up the street back up to where the “bar” was to get back on the bus. Again…crazy fun atmosphere. We got back to the hotel and a bunch of people decided to go to the bar around the corner to celebrate. After being there for a few hours I headed back to the hotel to finally get some sleep. It had been a long but wonderful day. Pics here!


Departure day. Check out was scheduled for 11 but we managed to get it extended. Sean and Max headed to the airport where they had reserved a rental car. The were headed to the New Zealand game. We said goodbye to them and then headed to the mall one last time. We had some lunch and got a few more souvenirs. We then headed back to the hotel and finished packing up. Our shuttle was leaving at 4 to go back to the airport. We hung out for a bit then headed down to the lobby to check out and get our ride.

About 16 of us were on the shuttle to the airport. It was a bittersweet ride. Would much prefer to stay but I am also very ready for my own bed, shower and some alone time. We said our goodbyes to the people on the shuttle and then headed to check our bags. Thankfully Kevin had checked us in online the night before, so we didn’t have to stand in a ridiculously long line. When we were dropping our bags off I had my fingers crossed it wouldn’t be over the weight limit. But it wasn’t close. I guess my backpack was small enough that it couldn’t be too heavy…but I was still a bit worried as it seemed pretty dang heavy on the long walk to the terminal. So heavy that Kevin went ahead and carried it for me. Thanks Kevin!

We went through security and all that other junk then headed to our gate. We stopped at the VAT booth to try and get back some of our money…however you had to show everything you had purchased to get the money. I just grabbed the shirts and jerseys I had in my carryon and got the VAT back for those items. Not much…about 125 Rand, in a check, but better than nothing.

We continued on to our gate and saw a tv on the way that was showing the Italy vs. Slovakia game. It was the 50th minute or so and we saw that Italy was down. We headed to our gate and luckily there was a cafĂ© type thing there that had a tv showing the game. There was a lot of cheering when Slovakia scored….and again when they won.

It was soon time to board the plane. So…here I am on the first leg of the trip home. Sitting in my economy class middle seat typing out an update for you guys. Hoping to get it uploaded during our layover in Dubai. I believe we have a 4 hour layover, so as long as internet isn’t too expensive…you may get to read this before I get home!


Well, the internet at the Dubai airport was spotty at best, so I was unable to upload the pics, etc. Apologies. At about 9 am Dubai time (Midnight central) we headed out of Dubai for Houston. It was a long flight. I tried to sleep but probably only got an hour hear and there. Watched a couple of movies and just tried to stay sane for the flight. We got to Houston at 4:30 pm. My dad picked Kevin and me up and had brought Mia along. So good to see her! She pulled the shy girl act and didn't say much, but that's ok. Went home and then headed out to meet a friend for some dinner and a beer. Came home and went to bed. Glad to be back in my own bed.

Not sure what will become of this blog. I guess I'll update with WC watch party stuff for now and maybe any soccer travel in the future. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Also, I'd like to find someone (who I would pay of course) make a scrapbook of this trip for me. If you know anyone who would be interested (preferably in Houston), please let me know.

Here is a picture of my tickets from the games I attended while in South Africa.

From Misc

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sun 6/20 and Mon 6/21


We had been told that there was a good outdoor market in Rosebank on Sunday’s so we headed there early Sunday morning to get souvenirs. They had all kinds of handmade crafts, food, etc. Almost anything you would want. It was a great place. I saw some bags this lady had. They were made with the vinyl billboard material from last years Confederations Cup. She mentioned how she was negotiating with the City to get the billboards from the World Cup. Today, I realized I should have gotten her info so I could have gotten one later when she had those made. Oh well, will search the internet later. We all got some cool stuff.

After that we headed back to the hotel. Kevin and I went back to the mall to get stuff we couldn’t find at the market…but the mall was packed and everything was picked over. We had very little luck. I was frustrated because I had seen numerous shirts, etc earlier in the trip that I wanted to get for people and now they weren’t available. L

We went back to the hotel and then quickly got ready to go to the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game. We took the shuttle from the hotel to Gold Reef City and then hopped on the park and ride to Soccer City. The trip was pretty quick and I was able to hit the Fan Store at the stadium before the game started. I was mildly successful in finding a shirt there…just one. The place was a mad house. We then headed into the stadium and settled in for the game. I took a few pics…but not many. The atmosphere at this game wasn’t what I was hoping for or expecting. Compared to the Argentina game…this crowd was boring. They got excited when Kaka did something or was announced, but that was about it.

Not much else to report from that game. We left and hopped back on the park and ride and found our shuttle. We got back to the hotel and we were asleep pretty quickly. Even falling asleep with the lights on. That’s how tired we were.


Monday we woke up and headed to the SAB World of Beers brewery tour. It was a unique tour compared to other breweries that I have been to. It had its low point and its high points along the way. My favorite part was towards the end where the showed some recent commercials for their beers. There was a commercial for Castle Light featuring Vanilla Ice. The tour ended up in their Tap House and we each got 2 beers. They had a patio and served food but also had free chips and peanuts. We at a LOT of the chips. Here in South Africa the popular brand of chips seems to be Simba chips….with a pic of a lion on the bag. I am interested to know if the chips came before or after The Lion King. The flavor of Simba chips we had was Mexican Chile and they were very good. So good that Sean went and bought some this afternoon.

After the brewery tour, Kevin and I went to Melrose Arch. It is a pretty high end shopping center but we heard there was a place you could make/buy the traditional South African helmets that they wear at games. I really wanted one…but the ones they would make had to be picked up later and we wouldn’t have time. You could paint your own, but I was not ready to sit there and use their stuff. I started thinking I would make one myself at home. Then I could really take my time and do what I wanted rather than rushing to finish at the store. We had lunch and watched the Portugal game at a restaurant there in the center. We walked around a bit more looking at stuff, but didn’t see much so we decided to head back to the hotel.

We went back and rested and started discussing dinner. We wanted to go to a South African restaurant but couldn’t really come up with a place. Another friend came by and he had a few friends that were at the watch party area at Melrose Arch. Despite having to get up at 6 am tomorrow morning for the safari, we decided to go. We first went to a bar that is the official US Soccer Bar in JoBurg then at halftime we headed to a restaurant for some food. I had some delicious chicken stuffed with camembert cheese and wrapped in ham. It also had a cranberry type relish on top. Very yummy. We headed back to the hotel after that…and I decided to finish up and get this posted since tomorrow will be a long day. We leave at 6:30 to head to the Rustenburg area for a short safari and should be back in the afternoon. I am pretty excited about it…but need to get to bed. Enjoy some pics HERE. Not too many this time. Next time should be more!
Time here is starting to wind to a close. I have to admit…I am ready for my own bed!! Till next time! Cheers.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thurs 6/18 and Fri 6/19


Game day!! The bus was leaving at 10:30 for the pre game bar and we needed to pick up laundry so we headed to the mall first thing in the morning. We came back to the room and got last minute preparations done for the day. For me, that included getting my tiara and glitter tattoos put on. J We headed down to the lobby where everyone was gathered and waiting for the bus. The mood was excitement with a bit of nervousness. We boarded the bus, did a roll call and then took off for the pre game bar. We were jamming a bunch of US themed songs including Duece’s Don’t Tread on This. We got to the bar and half was tables and the other half was the bar part. I decided to eat a good meal to last me for awhile so grabbed a pizza and some beers. It was a fun time with chants and songs being sung throughout the bar. This continued for a couple of hours and there where a couple of news outlets coming in and recording footage and getting some interviews. We left the bar at about 1:30 to head to the stadium.

The bus on the way to the stadium was rocking and the excitement was building. We got the bus parked and went across for the street for a few minutes where the people there were playing Wave Your Flag and Waka Waka and dancing. Quite a few of us joined in and attempted to learn the line dance they were doing. After that finished up, the march to the stadium began.

We went in and enjoyed some of the pre game festivities around Ellis Park. We went to the MTN sponsor stage and I managed to score a little yellow case that came with face paint, wet wipe and ear plugs….essential game day things.

We headed into the stadium and found our seats….we saw a bunch of our friends near the front row….so after the game started we decided to head down and see if we could get a better spot. Most of you who watched the game know we were successful. The game seems like a blur. Going down two goals was very dejecting but all the people around us kept going with chants and songs. In the second half when we came back it was just amazing. When we scored the 3rd goal…we were ecstatic until we all realized it had not been called a goal. We didn’t know what happened. It was still amazing to have come back.

Walking back to the bus was pretty celebratory because of the comeback. Once we got back to the hotel we had a few beers and talked and watched the England game. It had been an exhausting day…so we stayed pretty low key.


First off…Happy 2nd Birthday to my niece Mia. So sad I am missing out on her birthday party today.

A bunch of American Outlaw guys were playing a game with a local club here, Fat Cats FC, at 11:00. We boarded a shuttle and then headed to Sandton for the game. The guys played a great game and it was a fun time. After the game, the guys traded jerseys and had fun talking.

We headed back to the hotel and then later we headed to the mall and ran some errands…, reload the cell phone, etc. We came back to the hotel and have just been hanging out since. Rey and Antonio are heading home tomorrow, so they are organizing and packing up. Sean and Max headed to a casino to watch the late game and do some gambling. We may head downstairs and watch the game and grab some food. In the morning we are going to head to a market to look for souvenirs and then head to the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game. That is all for now. Pics HERE!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wed 6/16 and Thurs 6/17


Wednesday was pretty low key. We (Me, Kevin, Rey, Antonio, and SEAN) went to the mall to get cash and looked at some more of the merch being offered up. Again, very frustrated with the lack of US I'd be buying some!!

For lunch we headed to a little Portuguese restaurant that we had found near the hotel, as it was conveniently located near the liquor store. They had the first game of the day on (Honduras vs. Chile) so we watched there and had lunch. While there some other guys who are in our American Outlaws group mentioned 2 extra tickets for the Argentina vs. South Korea game the next day. Kevin and I decided to go for it. Later the guy who had the tickets showed up and said he only had one. We decided to go ahead and take the one ticket and try to find one outside the stadium.

After leaving the restaurant we stopped by a local fruit and veg market (I did not buy anything, surprised?) then headed to the liquor store to get some beer for back at the hotel. We came back to the hotel and watched the Spain vs. Switzerland game in the hotel room.

Kevin and I went with some of the American Outlaws to the dinner place called Moyo. They had great food and great atmosphere....a great place to watch the Bafana Bafana game. Everyone got some traditional tribal face paint. There was also a large group of Mexico fans there and there may have been a few taunts thrown their way.

While we were gone to dinner, Sean went to pick Max up from the airport. Max has apparently been enjoying this new "game" called ICING. So Sean decided to go ahead and get Max at the airport when he picked him up. It was a successful icing with help provided by the shuttle driver.

When we got back to the hotel it was to a pretty crowded room. Sean's been with us the whole time and I regret leaving his name out before in previous posts. Sorry SEAN!! We had Rey and Antonio still here and now Max. We stayed up and had some beers. It was a fun time. Antonio and Rey had to get up early for the ride to Polokwane for the Mexico vs. France game so the crashed early. Sean and Max apparently continued catching up in the hotel lobby as the good college buds hadn't seen each other in over a year as Sean has been in New Zealand. They strolled in at some hour of the morning and promptly found a spot on the floor. Which ends Wednesday and leads to....


We started this morning with a quick trip to the mall. We needed cash for tickets at the stadium and we wanted to drop off some laundry. We got there right when they opened at 9 as our shuttle to the game was scheduled for 9:30. We got everything done and headed back to the hotel. The shuttle was there and filling up with people and we were told they'd make another run at 10:15, so we decided to wait for the second one. We grabbed some breakfast there at the hotel lobby and waited around for the shuttle. It ended up being late but we weren't terribly worried. It got there at about 10:40 so we were on our way to Soccer City again.

We started our trek up to the stadium and while walking Max would randomly say "tickets?" and we actually got a guy fairly quickly and he had 3 tickets...the number we needed. We got them and continued up to the stadium. Lots of Argentina fans pouring in. Max and Sean stayed outside to wait for one of Max's friends so we went ahead and headed in. We got into the stadium about an hour before kick off and the place was already going crazy with fans. We decided to check out Kevin's seat since it was on a lower level than the one I got outside. We went in and he had seat #2 on the row and there was nobody in seat 1. So we sat down and just hoped nobody came to claim the seat as they were pretty good seats.

I tried to get pics of cool things I saw around the stadium. The game was great and I had a wonderful time. Glad we decided to try and go. After the game we started the trek home. The shuttle was supposed to pick everyone up for the hotel back at the park and ride drop off. We walked to the park and ride line following the guys who had the extra ticket and were seated next to us as they had come in on the park and ride and new where to go. When we got there the line was long and some people decided to try and walk to the park and ride. Kevin and I opted to stay and wait in line as we went ready for a trek to Jo'Burg when we didn't really know where we were going, etc. The shuttle line took us about 45 minutes and we got on a bus right before 5. 5 was the time the shuttle had said they'd be picking us up. So we were sorta concerned...but knew there'd be taxis, etc at the park and ride (which was located at a casino). We got there at about 5:15 and found the Max and Sean who had decided to walk. They said a shuttle had left earlier and another one was on it's way. So were were waiting there with another group that had also taken the shuttle. The sun was pretty much down by then and it was getting REALLY cold. We called the shuttle guy a few times and he said he was stuck in traffic but he was on his way. Standing on the street in the freezing cold waiting for a shuttle for an a country you've never been to was a bit frustrating.

We finally got picked up at about 6:15 and headed home. We asked the driver about stopping at a beer store on the way back since by the time we got to the hotel and to the store, they'd be closed. He agreed and the shuttle stopped and a few people got out for beer. I was not one of them as I was tired, cold and hadn't eaten since breakfast...I just wanted to get back to the hotel.

We got to the hotel at about 7. Sean, Max and their friend decided to head out to watch the France vs. Mexico game. Kevin and I decided to stay in and watch it at the hotel and rest up for tomorrow. We ordered a pizza and they said 40 minutes. So I started downloading my photos and typing this update...just finished this CRAZY 4 layered pizza so now I am finishing this update. Probably going to try get some sleep after this game is over. Tomorrow is going to be a big need to rest up. We are leaving the hotel at 10 tomorrow morning to head to the pre game bar. Planning on getting to the mall before then to go pick up our laundry and also add some minutes to my cell phone. Oh!! Almost forgot. PICTURES!!!!

Hope this is keeping people updated sufficiently. I've found that doing it every 2 days is pretty effective and I can usually squeeze in enough time to get it done.

Oh....also!! Keep seeing this commercial on tv and in the stadiums and I just think it is amusing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday and Tuesday 6/14 and 6/15

Monday was the Denmark vs. Holland game. We checked in with the American Outlaws desk in the lobby and they said they were putting together a shuttle to the stadium. We were going to leave at 10:30 am. We had about 45 minutes and Rey and his cousin Antonio who met up with needed we tried to make a quick trip to the mall for an exchange place. Had some trouble at the mall and got back to the hotel right at 10:30...but the shuttle was a bit late. Once we were on the shuttle we had a bit of a trek to Soccer Stadium. Lots of traffic going into the area around the stadium and then once we got to the stadium we walked about a mile to the entrance. We went through security, etc and everything was smooth. We had some time before the start of the game, so we went to the FIFA fan store. I have been VERY disappointed in the merch selection at FIFA fan stores and other stores in JoBurg. The carry VERY little USA stuff. I am sure there would be plenty of people buying that stuff, so I am pretty baffled by that. There is a lot of stuff I would like to buy, but they don't have any USA stuff.

So we got into the stadium using the turnstiles/entrances stated to use on our tickets. However, once we got in, getting to our section was not easy. They had a whole section gated off for media but there were non media sections in between the gates they had set up. While trying to figure out where we were going Kevin spotted Sunil Gulatti. He asked me if I wanted a pic....I hesitated but then handed him my camera and ran and asked Mr. Gulatti for a pic. He kindly obliged. After that we continued the struggle to get to our seats. It was a mess and we weren't the only people frustrated by this. We finally got to our seats and settled down and watched the game. Great experience in Soccer City Stadium. The way out was crazy. After a few beers I made sure to use the bathroom for leaving the stadium as I knew the trip home would probably take a while. We slowly made the way out and back to where our shuttle was supposed to pic us up. While waiting for the shuttle I again had to make a bathroom run, however there were none in site. There was a parking lot of about 10 FIFA charter buses. I decided to walk up to a bus and see if they had bathrooms...they did and the few people on the bus were very nice and let me use their bathroom. After that we caught our shuttle for the ride home.

Holland vs. Denmark pics here!!

That evening I went with some other AO members to the Fan Fest in Nelson Madella Square. There was an ESPN broadcast booth and we actually found a table in the restaurant next to the broadcast booth. We had a fun time at dinner then headed home. Pics from this weren't saved to the memory card...and couldn't get them onto my computer, so they'll come later.

Today was our tour of Soweto. A lot of the tour was very depressing. We took a tour of a slum type "neighborhood" and actually went into a house there. Very depressing. The hardest part for me was seeing the kids that were around and introducing themselves, etc. I wish I could have brought something for them or given them something but I had nothing. One person in our group gave one kid some money and the tour guide scolded both of them a bit. The guy in our group for giving him money. His explanation was if the kids were regularly getting money like that...they wouldn't go to school. The kids at this point were on a break for World Cup. He scolded the boy for taking the money, etc.

We went to a lot of different places and the whole tour was very humbling and made me very appreciative for what we have in America. Tomorrow, June 16th is the anniversary of the student uprising in Soweto. More info about that uprising here. Our tour guide for the day was actually apart of the protest and gav a few of us some really cool insight.

We ate lunch down the street from Nelson Mandela's house then headed back to the hotel with a pass by the Orlando Pirates stadium and Soccer Stadium. We got back to the hotel near the end of the New Zealand game. I stayed in the hotel to download pics, etc then we went to neighborhood bar and watched the Ivory Coast vs. Portugal game. After the game we went to the neighborhood beer star and then to the Chicken Lickin place. We are now in the hotel room. We ate our fried chicken and are drinking some beer. Rey and Antonio showed up a bit ago. We are about to head to the hotel lobby to watch the Brasil game. That's it for today!!