Call me crazy, but I applied for tickets for the 2010 World Cup a year ago when the first sales phase kicked off. I tried my luck at 5 matches and came out successful for 3 of them. I dropped a few hundred bucks on an event I wasn’t even positive I would make it to. I didn’t care, I was willing to take that loss, as I thought by having tickets it would push me even harder to make South Africa a reality. Turns out, it worked. You see, I bought a plane ticket to South Africa today.
I still can’t believe I’m doing this. I’ll be gone for a month and a half, by far the longest and grandest adventure I’ve ever taken on. This will also be my first time heading overseas to a country that doesn’t reside in Europe. My time frame was dictated by the price of airfare. I leave Chicago on June 2nd and fly back from Johannesburg on July 17th. If I wanted to leave a day later or come back a day earlier, it would have cost me over a $1,000 more. I figured it could go two ways: I could pay the extra money and be back and working sooner than later, or I could stay longer, experience the World Cup from start to finish and make better use of the money. If I’m going to spend a grand of my hard earned money, I sure as hell better have some fun with it, because no matter what flight I come back on, that coach seat isn’t going to come with caviar.
For as much excitement as I have, I think I have an equal amount of trepidation. I’ve already mentioned about how this is the longest trip I’ll have taken on and my first outside of the US and Europe. While I love the spontaneity of travelling alone, I can’t shake this compulsive need to have the 46 days in a foreign land planned out in some way or form. On this date I want to be here, on this date there, etc. Plus, the sheer number of people planning on being in South Africa for the World Cup has me paranoid about lodging. I want to Couchsurf as much as possible, but I think I need to have a bed reserved someplace and take the loss on the deposit if it comes down to it. Transportation isn’t as efficient as it in other countries. The larger cities aren’t known for their great public transportation system and taking a train between cities can take over a day. Busses seem to be the best option. Then there is the whole safety thing. Every guide book I’ve picked up has addressed the issue of rampant crime throughout South Africa and yes, no matter where you are in the world, crime will be had and found. It’s up to the traveler to play it as safe as possible—don’t travel alone if you don’t have to, be a little more wary at night, keep your possessions close and on you and always be aware of not only where you are, but how you’re getting to where you need to be. Yes, I know that security will be heightened for the span of the tournament, but I also know that an influx of tourists can be a haven for pickpockets…
Nervousness aside, this is an undertaking that I’m excited to take. South Africa looks like an amazing country and I’m afraid that a month and a half won’t be enough and that it’s going to be hard to pick and choose the best things to do in my time. For now though, I’ve made the first step and can’t wait to be off and running!