Stats from the first fortnight in Africa (Bechtel only)….
Games seen in person: 6
Goals seen: 9
Men in elephant costumes embraced by: 2
Men in elephant costumes gored by: 1
Miles flown: 12,214
Total miles in car: 1,745
Miles driven: 357
Times I’ve driven on the left side of the road before this trip: 0
Times I’ve turned into oncoming traffic: 1
People I had to ask how to put the rental in reverse: 3*
Percentage of cameras that have died: 50
Approximate number of kudu seen: 10
Approximate pounds of kudu eaten : 11 (biltong)
Jerseys purchased as impulse buys: 1 (Ivory Coast)
Jerseys purchased after convincing myself it was the prudent thing to do: 1 (Slovenia)
Pushy dealers who’ve offered me their cell number in case I ever need to “get right”: 1**
Meals eaten at Nando’s: 2
Meals I plan to eat at Nando’s in the next three weeks: 25
Nights spent in Hobbit-themed hotel: 2
Meals eaten at Hobbit-themed hotel: 1
Entrees that could be identified at Hobbit-themed hotel: 0****
Middle Earth jokes made: >1,000
Lovely Slovakians named Ivan chatted with: 2
Hats received as gifts from men named Tibor: 1
Longest stretch without shaving: 5 days*****
Posts with the word “horseshit”: 2
Times my backpack was searched as I exited a stadium: 1******
Photos taken of sunsets: >1,000
*In my defense: The last time I drove a stick was in a Formula Ford race car at the Skip Barber driving school. That was like 14 years ago. And mind you, those cars were incredibly tricky. They had six gears, and to shift through a sharp turn at 120 miles an hour, you had to break with your right foot, hit the clutch with your left and then before you could drop it from, say, sixth to second, you had to roll your right foot over onto the gas—while still braking—to rev the engine, because if you were to throw it into second with the engine turning that fast, you’d be picking spring valves out of your forehead. Point being: Look, I know there’s nothing worse than a guy who can’t drive a stick. And I can drive a stick. I can drive the hell out of a stick. But not for ages. And apparently in the last 15 years, someone decided to rig it so you have to push the stick down to get it in reverse. Someone could have thought to tell me.
**Apparently that’s why they’re called pushers.
**It was only one shoe, not the pair, and Mravic tells me that Gladys, the cook/housekeeper at the SI House™, has somehow fixed it. I’ll find out when he and [The Boy…] arrive in Cape Town.
***There was no menu. The server wasn’t sure, other than “some sort of red meat.” It had a bone in it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t tasty. But it could have been orc meat for all I know.
****Too many grey spots in the beard to keep it.
*****I thought it was strange, so I asked why they would be searching bags on the way out of the entrance. The woman said, “Some guy stole a flat screen.” Makes sense. Though I’ve always felt that if you can wedge a flat-screen TV into a backpack, you should be allowed to keep it.