MMQB, World Cup Edition (cont.)
Before I left for this trip, an infectious-disease doctor in Boston told me not to eat salads or drink tap water in South Africa, and be cautious about all meats, and make sure if I ate meat, it was well-cooked. I got shots and/or medication for typhoid, hepatitis and tetanus. When I told the infectious-disease doctor I would not be doing anything particularly outdoorsy, like hanging around with lions or giraffes, he let me go without malaria or yellow fever shots. These are some of the things I've done here:
a. Eaten raw springbok, tender meat from the brown and white gazelle that is so famous in southern Africa. At an African restaurant, I saw some on the buffet line, and I mean, how often are you in South Africa with what the waiter raved about being the national meat of the country? I had to try it, and it was terrific. Sort of like tuna tartare.
b. Fed a giraffe.
c. Let a lion cub take my fist in his mouth, rub it with his sandpapery tongue and try to bite it with dull new teeth. A couple of cubs, actually. This happened Thursday at Lion Park northwest of Johannesburg, where you drive through a large nature preserve and you can see all sorts of native animals in their natural habitat. The cubs (see photo) were quite playful. At one point, one of them locked its teeth around my watch and tried to bite it free of the strap. The dried cub slobber is still on the bottom of the silver face.
d. Eaten a lot of salad. Sorry, doc. The lettuce looks so good, and the grape tomatoes are twice the size of the ones I usually see.
e. As for the bottled water, I've been pretty good 90 percent of the time drinking only that. But three or four times I've had lemon water from pitchers in restaurants. No problem.
So no, I have not been a very good patient.
"That sound is the sound of TVs all across the USA switching channels... except in Cleveland.''
-- @KGertsen, Kevin Gertsen, late in the first half of the USA-Slovenia game, after Slovenia went up 2-0. Cleveland has a large Slovenian population, and there is a Slovenia consulate in downtown Cleveland.
The sound of TVs all over the USA clicking back -- I assume -- could be heard about a half-hour later.
"What is the drink of choice with no coffee?''
-- @Glennr1809, Glenn Robbins, asking something that a few of you have asked in various forms, so here's my answer about drinking in South Africa, coffee and otherwise.
The coffee is not good as a whole. I've had lattes in nine places in nearly two weeks, and the only one worth a darn is a double latte from Mugg & Bean, a trendy coffee chain throughout the country. It's got dark and strong espresso, and the milk is fine. I'd call it midway between the Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks lattes, but when you've had some of the swill I've tried around the country, believe me, the Mugg & Bean latte is terrific.
Re beer: Most of the South African beer is very Bud- and Miller-ish. Grant Wahl did get me to try a Mozambique beer Thursday night at a cookout at the home he and some of the SI staffers are renting for the World Cup. Pretty good pale lager -- with a strong flavor and some bite. I've stuck to Peroni on tap -- it's brewed here under license from Peroni in Italy, and served very cold -- and a couple of mostly bland locals, Castle and Hansa. No great beef about the beer. I love Peroni, and when I saw it was brewed in South Africa, I didn't feel so bad about it being my beer of choice.
We've also enjoyed some good wine here. Golfer Ernie Els has some reasonably priced (Big Easy red, $18) quality wines that we've looked for and liked. Dr. Z would be proud, sort of.
1. I think, well, I know the U.S. controls its own destiny heading into Wednesday's 10 a.m. EDT match against Algeria, which tied England 0-0 on Friday night. A win, and the U.S. is in, no matter what happens in the England-Slovenia match. In case tiebreakers are needed, however, here's how it works:
a. Goal difference in all three group games.
b. Most goals, total, in three group games.
c. Number of points in matches between the tied teams.
d. Goal difference in matches between tied teams.
e. Most goals scored in matches between tied teams.
f. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.
2. I think you must think I'm kidding about that last tiebreaker. But you can look it up. True fact.
3. I think if you're like me, you must be wondering why Tim Howard gave up such a soft goal to start the game. Turns out, as he said, he never saw it. "Lost sight of it,'' he said afterward, and I buy it. There had to be some reason why he froze on a ball he would have a chance to deflect over the goal.
4. I think Michael Bradley is a little powder keg personally, but you can't take away from him the biggest goal in recent U.S. soccer history. What a beautiful one-toucher by Bradley to tie the game at 2.
5. I think these are my non-soccer thoughts of the week:
a. I Tweeted this the other day, when Albert Haynesworth decided to skip the Redskins' mandatory minicamp, but for those who missed it, here's my take on a man who has been paid $32 million in bonus and salary over the past 16 months and is boycotting the team because he's not happy with the shift from a 4-3 to 3-4: He's an idiot.
b. Congrats, Lakers. I hear that was one inspired performance to win the NBA title. I can't help but feel some sorrow for the Celtics, who now will have to be torn down a bit.
c. When I left America two weeks ago, the Red Sox were struggling and I'd never heard of Daniel Nava or Felix Doubront. Nava and Doubront were in the starting lineup for the Sox -- two game out of first now -- as they met the Dodgers on Friday evening at Fenway.
d. And no, if I was there, I wouldn't be cheering for Manny Ramirez, who quit on the team more than once.
e. Pretty strange to come halfway across the world to be in the best health club you've ever seen, but that's the case with the Virgin Health Club in our neighborhood here.
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