superbowl throwback

In honor of tonight's big game, here is a throwback to Super Bowl 2012, or the time I hiked through the African bush solely for the sake of the story.  

Originally posted on Cupcakes with Kendall, February 6, 2012. 


Superbowl Sunday — the day when all true Americans unite over football, commercials, and overdone halftime shows. Even here in Africa, adventure seeking Americans long to participate in the fun. The biggest dilemma? A 9 hour time difference.

Yesterday afternoon, a few guys were bantering about their plans for a 2 mile, middle of the night trek to a nearby campsite. The owners were Americans who agreed to keep the generators on if 3-4 guys wanted to come use their TV. Never one to let an adventure pass me by, I told them that I was coming along.

Did I even know who was playing? No.
Did I ever watch any football aside from the annual Superbowl (which I typically only watch for the commercials)? No.
Did I want to be the only female in the group? I told them I would find another female to come along.
The boys scoffed, “No women really care enough to give up a night of sleep, right?”

Plans were set — meet by the kitchen at 2 am, bundled up, headlamps on, galoshes secure — ready to hike 2 miles through the bush. The nurse required us to take a walking stick to fend off any wildlife we may encounter along the way — the mysterious river hippo is known to graze in that area throughout the night.

I went to bed at 9:30, still unsure if any other women were truly determined to wake up. The men assured me that I was welcome, no matter how many other women actually showed up. At 1:45 my alarm went off, I layered on some warm clothes and headed towards the kitchen. A group of 14 people stood in a circle awaiting the adventure — the number of women more than doubled our group of guys.

The fear of potential snake sightings kept me from truly relaxing for the hike. This area of the bush is known for its vine snakes which hang from trees and look just life branches until you grab onto one for stability. There is also a tree dwelling cobra that Masumbo’s owners have been after for quite some time. I purposefully positioned myself between 2 tall men who could fight off anything that got in the way.

The path was about six inches wide and the brush 3-4 feet tall, with branches draping over us in  every direction. I felt somewhat like the European explorers we’ve been reading about who hiked through the bush of East Africa in search of the head of the Nile. Then I realized that I was thinking like a bookworm/nerd and I needed to get back in to sports-lover mode. We kept careful communication throughout the course of the moon-lit hike. “Slippery rock” the leader would say, and a warning was passed all the way down the line. “Thorn branch,” “deep ditch,” “ravine on the left.” We trekked on with caution, though I’m sure we created such a rukus that even the lazy old puffadder would be sure to scurry out of the way.

We made it to the campsite just in time for the kick-off (wait, that’s what it’s called, right?). The owners chuckled at the size of our group, welcoming us to sit down on their couches to enjoy the game.

The problem with watching the game outside of the US is that we have to watch it on ESPN International, which does not play any American commercials. Instead, they have four commercials that they repeated over and over again during every single commercial break. I might not know what new advertisements have been premiered on my own continent, but I can tell you anything you need to know about the Indy 500, MLB’s Opening Day, or Spain’s futbal clubs.

Seeing as I was with a group of students from New York, I chose to root for the Patriots — always desiring to be different from the crowd. However, once the game began, they all announced their allegiance to New England. Of course, in the end, this did not serve any of us too well, but we can at least say with pride that it was not our team who scored the world’s most awkward looking touchdown.

At 6:00 in the morning, we made our journey back to Masumbo. The branches and grass soaked our clothes with dew, but as we hiked on we got to watch the sun rise above the mountains. At 6:30, wet and exhausted, I fell back into my bed to catch a couple hours of sleep before the full day of classes to come.