Riding through a forest, inside a cave of darkness, a Belorussian winter night. The back of a Soviet time machine. A man, no markings of a taxi, at the wheel.

How many times have I dreamed this scene?

A pair of young officers, serious in stiff army green. ‘Dokument’, they request. I slide mine under the screen. Side eyes and a smile. Golden bald eagle, you get such looks.

How high stack the minutes spent wondering? Where is it I left the reason, so misplaced in my youth—

A prolonged review, no other travelers arrive. They register each page flipping…

Bored in Bondi

It’s raining in Australia and I’ve come to linger by the beach. Coffee shop to shop I hop lingering on the words I hear, conversations caught between falls of rain.

I’ve traveled the world over to find we all, after all, speak the same. The young people, they love to think about how we’re all these tiny dots, just specks, just specks on the planet. The old people, various shades of jade.

And I’ve got a stack of notebooks I’ve bought here and there; Beijing and Brooklyn and the places in between. And I’ve filled all the…

Despite the lack of day, stars still hung up on a Newcastle sky, Ken, 4.96 rating and prompt in a Kia Cerato, pulled up to the curb just where I stood, shouting, GDAY! How are you going?

Staying just a few blocks off the beach so you could hear the waves and smell the ocean, feel the night’s wind blowing, pulling closer my coat as Ken positively popped out of the drivers seat, eager to assist my suitcase into the trunk.

You sound European. Oh, it’s the US, actually. There it is! Hear it now! Which part is it then…

A cluster of elderly men smoking cigarettes on the corner obscure the entrance from view. I nearly miss it.

Overcoming the tiny entryway I arrive into the foyer, finding an elder man in leather coat and glasses telling an eclectic crowd: Grab an ale, grab an ale. Okay then, grab an ale. We’ll begin shortly yeah. Give people a chance to trickle in.

Mr Thomas’ Chop House

You’d walk right on by unless you knew to look. Just blocks from St. Albert’s Square you’ll find its green tiled cove. Walk down Cross Street, pass King Street, straddling the corner of St. Ann’s Alley. …

We discovered, over the course of our six weeks in South Africa, that couchsurfing was an excellent way to not be homeless.

Beyond being a place to sleep, we found couchsurfing (An online community facilitating free places to stay with likeminded travelers) was an unrivaled, convenient tool for getting beneath the surface of things. By way of the numerous couches and spare bedrooms we slumbered in we‘d been given default access into the varied lives of South Africa.

What was more, our couch tour became an accidental tour of contrast, allowing us to weave a narrative web of lives similar…

The weeks went by in a blur; a montage of matches, celebrations, late nights in hostels and bars.

June became July, and as the World Cup progressed toward the final the visiting nations decreased and departed, having lost. The number of games grew more infrequent; staggered out over the remaining weeks, each match more significant than the last.

The tournament begins as a frenzy of excitement, a trifecta of games each day, the persisting echo of 32 national anthems bellowing down overflowed roads. For nearly two weeks attendees exist in a constant chatter of who’s won, who’s lost, who’s next…

By June 26th 2010 thirty-two nations had been split in half.

Only sixteen countries remained, playing on toward the final. The rest journeyed home, their fans flowing behind them.

Some among them returned to their homelands to find nations with tempered expectations met. Others returned to find new hope cut short. Still there were others more, burdened with regret, who returned home with foreboding to find proud nations ashamed, heartbroken; stunned by an early exit, robbed of more games.

Somewhere between 2006 and 2010 the French had made a mess of things. The foundation revealed its cracks in 2008 with…

Among the colors of the rainbow nation one finds a strong orange thread of Afrikaans, a lineage tied to their ancestral Dutch.

Just four teams left in the semi’s in South Africa: Uruguay Netherlands Germany and Spain. Bafana long gone, Ghana recently out, the South Africans found their most obvious link residing within the Dutch.

What was more compelling in their selection, beyond ancestry, was Luis Suarez and the swelling feeling that he should lose.

Suarez’ handball, blatant and death delivering, replayed fresh in the nation’s mind. Images of Luis celebrating on the sideline spammed the television, jubilant as Gyan…

For two weeks the rainbow nation was full of new color; the color of jerseys, the color of flags, the color of visitors from near and far.

Following in orderly succession from Bafana’s kickoff, each team took their 3 turns to prove their game was most beautiful, to progress to another round, to return to their home nations proud.

Some among the crowd of 32 would surpass expectation. Others would stumble through, imperfect but not undone. And there were those, inevitably, who would fall short of their promise, returning home to lands of lost hope.

The streets, the hostels, the…

We woke up ready to leave Joburg for Polokwone, only to realize that we are idiots.

We’d booked nothing in advance. We couldn’t find head or tail of an option to book a bus or train online, and said ok, I guess you do it in person. Which was true, only there weren’t enough buses, and we’d waited til day of to pursue one.

Despite the fact that Polokwone is one of the nation’s three capital cities (Trivia fact for you- South Africa’s got three capitals) and Joburg the nation’s largest city, also despite it being the FIFA World Cup…

Megan Swanick

Bits of life from here & there.

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