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Friday, June 18, 2010

Vamo Nippon!

Day 7 - 13
*Clap Clap* Vamo Nihon! *Clap Clap* These were the chants that echoed throughout the stadium, well at least in my section sitting in the front row at the Japan vs. Cameroon game; actually I had row E (5th row) but the seats in front of us were open so everyone in our row moved up to the first and second rows. I couldn’t understand what they were saying so I had to ask the guy next to me. He said ‘bamo’ which could easily be the ‘b’ or ‘v’ sound. When I questioned him what it meant, he shrugged and continued on chanting. Vamo sounded more likely (I don’t know, is there a Spanish word close to this?) so I stuck with that and chanted along.

The game was exciting especially when Japan scored their first goal in the first half! But it wasn’t really all that I had anticipated; I didn’t really bond with the Japanese as much as I had wanted to or imagined it happening. I wondered if it was because they didn’t know if I was Japanese or not (I made very little attempt to speak to them in Japanese which maybe I should have) and so they had little to say to me? But I suppose it was a dead giveaway that I wasn’t Japanese when everyone sang along to the melancholy song that they call the Japanese anthem and I just stood there; I should have learned it by now…I actually figured the people next to me were Chinese when they didn’t sing along either. I also never knew any of the chants that they were crying out on their megaphones. I must say though that the people that traveled all this way are undeniably dedicated fans. What impressed me the most was when they unveiled a large blue flag that covered nearly an entire section! It was huge! Also, I thought it was great planning on their part to hand out blue and white balloons to the spectators sitting around them - mostly South Africans - who were by default cheering for Cameroon. Although they were cheering for Cameroon, they were waving blue and white balloons! Eventually you could see some switchovers mimicking the Japanese chants but adding some African flavor to it with their hip movements.

The game came and went and it wasn’t nearly as exciting as I remember the games that I saw at the Japan/Korea World Cup in 2002 with Terry and Lisa and again with Junko. Maybe it was because I felt really alone watching the game. The game with Terry and Lisa we were also sitting in the Mexican section (Mexico vs. Italy) and you know how Mexicans get when they have their tequila. I did proudly hold my Hawaiian flag though and I wonder if the camera got a glimpse of me; did anyone see?

The gods were definitely kind to me though because the weather was nice and it wasn’t too cold that I actually got to sit there without my South Africa jacket on (yellow and green = Cameroon colors). I actually wore the blue for the Japanese jersey – luckily I brought this blouse – and a long sleeve white shirt underneath. I definitely dressed the part!

Andiswa, a girl that I had met at the CUT on the first night had actually scored tickets just a few hours before the game so we met up at halftime and then again at the end of the game. We ended up going over to CUT afterwards to watch the final game of the night: Italy vs. Uruguay. Clayton who I had met just the night before came down to meet us as well. But since Andiswa had to work early the next day, she left before Clayton got there. Eventually Clayton and I decided to leave and check out some other places. He ended up taking me out to actual bars, places that I never get to see because I’m a single female traveling alone and it’s just not safe. It was nice to be able to see the nightlife and hang out with a local. At the bar that we finally settled at, we met two Americans - Jerrod and Sean -from Minnesota. It was actually my second set of Americans that I met that night because I had met two fellow Californians - Teri and Regina (great name!) - a few hours before at an internet cafĂ©. Not meeting any Americans the entire time I’ve been here and all of a sudden within hours, I meet 4! It was comforting to hear the familiar accent!

It was a long day…I got home at close to 1AM! Or that’s the time I remember finally settling in my room. I had started early that morning since I wanted to take the SAR50 double-decker tour bus around the town. It was actually a fabulous deal that included a free drink and it was too bad that again, I was the only one on the entire tour! It was unfortunate because this was such a great way to see the city. They took me around town and I could get off, have a look for an hour or so and re-board. I felt like a queen, driving around on the top of the open air bus waving my hand in a figure 8 fashion (no, not really) to the locals.

I was supposed to be leaving to Cape Town the following night but at the last minute (right before the game), decided that I wanted to go to the Eastern Cape (that’s where Andiswa is from) to break up the trip. After changing my ticket, I changed my mind again and decided that instead I wanted to go check out Lesotho (pronounced Le-su-tu), one of the two countries established within the boundaries of South Africa. Here in Bloemfontein, I am only a 1.5 hour drive away. So after realizing this, decided that I should go there and have a look for a few days. So I changed my ticket again (twice within 2 hours) and apparently had to pay the cancellation fee twice! Oh well, it’s better to pay that then decide after I’m further away that I want to go to these places and backtrack.

So now, I have decided to stay in Bloemfontein for a few extra days, go to Lesotho, go to the Eastern Cape and then finally to Cape Town. This is the one thing that is great about my traveling so far is that I am extremely flexible with my plans. Yes, I have lost some money making plans (which is why I don’t like planning too far ahead) and then changing them but this is entirely new to me. Usually since I have to rush back to work, I have very limited time and no flexibility. This is really the first time that I can travel with the wind…Anyway, good job today Japan! I hope you go further than the last World Cup!

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