After spending an entire day yesterday trying to do something we’d been planning for weeks, today’s impromptu shopping trip went fabulously. Well, the photography company has completely disappeared and no one sells piano music and my feet are still impossibly large, but still. I got two things that had been specifically requested by people back home, and that’s kind of amazing.
I took the bus back to campus, thinking only of a shower. But then I got off the bus at Baicheng and one look at the beach made me forget about that. I called Aleid, who just happened to be at the beach already! I joined her as quickly as I could, and we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun, sea, and sand.
When I found out I was coming to a tropical island this year, a few people made comments along the lines of “You’re going to be a complete beach bum!”. That really took me by surprise, because I’m not really a beach person. If I’m partial to any part of the US, it’s the Heartland, and I think I’ve only been to the ocean once down in Rockport, TX. I can swim fine but I don’t adore it, and while I like my skin bronze I would never seriously devote time to getting it that way. So yeah, sometimes I feel like Xiamen has been wasted on me. I’ve had several memorable occasions on the beach, but today was my first time swimming in the ocean here and really my first time sunbathing.
It was great, though. I’ll have to do it again!
I cleaned up in time for a pre-game dinner with the Netherlands contingent, followed by the Netherlands-Slovakia game. (Following quotes are from the NYT live updates during the game.)
Pre-game musings: For the Netherlands, as always, the question is when. When will it all go wrong? Fatalism and realism go hand in hand when it comes to Dutch soccer which, when played well, can be some of the best you’ll ever see. Every four years the Netherlands cobbles together skillful players and cheerful fans and high hopes, and every four years something seems to go wrong. Like the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, the Oranje always seem to find a way NOT to win it all.
The first half wasn’t too exciting, with the Dutch basically in control but not doing much with that.
Minute 29 – [The Slovakians] just won a free kick in the Netherlands’ half, however, so Stekelenberg has put down his drink and folded up his lawn chair just in case. He stands it next to the goal so he won’t have to go far to retrieve it in a moment.
One of the most interesting events was when they stopped the clock momentarily – a big deal in soccer!
Minute 35 – The game is stopped briefly to give the far-side linesman a new flag. But heaven forbid they ever stop a game to see if a ball, you know, crossed the line or not.
The second half saw another beautiful Dutch goal, and generally more action from their stars. I’m learning them by name, under the tutelage of Diederik: Sneijder, Robben, and Kuyt. Kuyt’s name is the world for the calf muscle, which apparently is pretty fitting.
Minute 59 – Van Persie drills the free kick right onto the fists of Mucha, who is then run down by a charging Kuyt (is there any other kind of Kuyt?).
Minute 60 – Kuyt runs so hard he could play for the U.S. Except he scores from time to time from the forward spot, so maybe he wouldn’t fit in.
It was looking like a 2-0 finish, and Diederik was excited about moving up in the pool. But the referee called a penalty on the Dutch keeper and (dictated by some logic I can’t grasp) this meant one of the Slovakian players got to kick the ball at the goal with only the goalkeeper to try and stop him. He tried, and failed: 2-1! This was the score I had predicted (using the very scientific method of writing “2-1” for every single game in this round), so maybe I’m beating Diederik again? Even a broken clock is right twice a day!
One of the Slovakian players (Hamsik) had a Chinese-looking tattoo on his neck, sparking a discussion between Aleid and I. I did some checking online when I got back and found some pictures to scrutinize, but I also accidentally looked at about 30 pictures of the neck of another Slovenian player (Skrtel). Apparently he is kind of a beast, as evidenced by this list of Chuck Norris-like hyperbole.
Also – as of today, I have been keeping a journal for 6 years. If I were still using that old livejournal account, it would be 6 today! This will be post #2,080 – covering 6 years, 3 schools, 5 countries, 3 boyfriends, and countless memories. My journal is where I write about what makes me happy and complain about what stresses me out. It’s where I write my plans for the future, and it’s where I look back on earlier entries so I can laugh about what became of those plans.
It’s been fun writing for people to read again, but my journal will be around long after I go back to the States next month.