What were the TB Guides up to during the Soccer World Cup?
While Ken was gallivanting around the country watching games with his brothers, I spent some quality time with my girlfriend in rural Zululand. Although the birding is great there, I was a little sad to be away from the action only to nd that the 'Soccer Fever' extended to bars, public places and indeed any TV screen in even the smallest settlements. The World Cup aected the whole country in quite profound ways. In a still very divided country, all feelings of animosity between racial groups were forgotten and everyone was on an indescribable high. For the Spain- Germany seminal, I found myself on the streets of Durban, within earshot of the game itself. South Africans divided their loyalties between the 2 teams but win or lose everybody seemed to be dancing in the streets at the end of the night. With Ken's brothers gone and my time in Zululand at an end, I 'high-tailed' it back to Cape Town to enjoy the nal on the streets there. After some thoughts about where our loyalties lay, we thought about our gloating Spanish
colleague, Christian, and immediately decided to support the Dutch to antagonize him. Fully decked out in our new bright orange clothes, face paint, Dutch ags and the compulsory Vuvuzelas (plastic trum- pets that make an inordinate amount of noise), we hit the center. The queue for the fan park was a joke, but on a major street they had put up giant screens for the match. It was an amazing atmosphere and we obviously turned a few heads as we were interviewed by TV cameras after the match. They obviously expected us to be crest-fallen but we were jumping up and down screaming "Ayoba!!" with dozens of South Africans behind us. Yep. World Cup in South Africa, a truly unforgettable experience.
Soccer (yes, I know it’s called football everywhere else!) is a long way down the popularity ladder when it comes to sport in Australia, ranking fth behind Rugby League and Union, Aussie Rules and Cricket. So, for the most part Australians only follow it when the World Cup is on. This means that for a month every four years, every Australian who knows nothing about soccer suddenly think they are an expert, well versed in the tactics and intricacies of the beautiful game (Australians are very good at this; you should see us when the Olympics are on!) and we also convince ourselves that this year we have the team to do well. Our rst cup game was against Germany, and on that day I found myself at the absolutely amazing Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argen- tina and Brazil. This place is denitely one of the most incredible natural spectacles I have ever seen, and the birding is great too! Spectacular lifers that day included Plush-crested Jay, Plovercrest, Blue Manakin, Surucua Trogon and the incredible Toco Toucan; the bill of this bird is so bright orange it looks like it has a light inside! Well, after a spectacular day of birding and sightseeing, my girlfriend and I returned to the bar at our backpacker’s hostel in time for the game, grabbing a beer and settling in with a bunch of other Aussie travel- lers to raucously support Australia in our impending triumph over the hapless Germans. I am sure you know the rest; we had to watch in horror as the Germans scored at will to destroy our World Cup hopes on the spot with a crushing 4-0 victory. After crying into our beers and wondering how it all went wrong, we all moped out of the bar realising we had got our hopes up for no reason yet again; at least we could forget about soccer for another four years!