Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Traveling Around SA Is, Uh, an Adventure

OK, yes, there's crime. The second-highest murder rate in the world -- both as a percentage and in raw numbers. (Trailing only narco-state Colombia in each category.)

And, yes, some teams are going to bring their own paramilitary security forces (as detailed in the previous entry on this blog).

And we hate to keep coming back with bad news, but this actually is news. As in "just happened."

A couple of examples why it is difficult and dangerous to travel a significant distance, inside South Africa: A plane crash and a train crash.

First, the train crash.

It occurred Monday on the passenger line between Johannesburg and Cape Town -- which is only the most important rail line in the country.

South Africa already had a reputation for barely functioning rail. Slow, expensive, doesn't take you where you want to go. (Sounds like the United States.)

And now trains are running into each other?

Be careful, England fans, trying to get from Game 1 in Rustenburg to Game 2 in Cape Town.

Here is the link to the plane crash ... which was "only" an Airlink commuter plane running off the runway in a place called George.

What I don't get is how 35 people were "ejected" but only one hurt. This also happened Monday. Yesterday.

Anyway, a day later, the transport minister says he is considering grounding the Airlink fleet. A day after dismissing the off-the-runway thing as no big deal. Hmm.

Also, this probably is a good place to mention that Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated is on the record as saying he will do whatever he can to tar the reputation of South Africa's main airline, South African Airways, which he dealt with, apparently, during the Confederations Cup. He said he hated it on just about every level.

So, if you are going, and you need to commute any distance around the Texas-sized country ... well, good luck. Trains spotty and dangerous. Planes spotty and dangerous. Driving in a big country with some second-tier roads and lots of crime? Sounds dangerous, too.

Not all teams will be dragged around the country during South Africa 2010. The U.S., for example, has all three of its group matches in a fairly small area in the northeast.

But if you have to make that Joburg to Cape Town trip ... again, consider yourself warned.
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