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Monday, July 12, 2010
Parting is such sweet sorrow

Posted by Jeff Carlisle

JOHANNESBURG -- Forty days is a long time to be away from home. That doesn't mean that saying goodbye to the place that has been my temporary abode for nearly six weeks will be easy.

There is so much to like and admire about South Africa. The beauty of the landscapes, along with the friendliness -- and resilience -- of the people will linger long in the memory. But it's often the small, kind gestures that help journalists cope with the tournament's unyielding pace. Those are the moments that I'll remember the most, and saying goodbye to the people who provided them will be difficult indeed.

I'll always recall one of my drivers, Dolf, taking my colleague Luke Cyphers and I out for brunch on Father's Day, providing a welcome diversion from deadlines and late nights. I'll also remember the woman in the Orlando East section of Soweto who was kind enough to open up the shebeen she owned late one night to allow complete strangers a glimpse of South Africa away from the stadiums and news conferences. And I'll savor attending my one and only braai -- that's South African for barbecue -- and the ease with which I was made to feel welcome.

Since I've arrived here in South Africa, there's been lots of talk about the World Cup's lasting impact. And usually this is described purely in terms of the economic benefits for a country still navigating its way through the sometimes messy post-apartheid era. But if the moments described above are any indication, there is an emotional wealth that runs deep throughout all of South Africa. I expect that will be the currency that carries the country through difficult times.

So goodbye, South Africa. Thanks for the memories. And the little gestures.