Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Angola: Day 7
All I can do is smile.
If you read yesterday's post, well, it was more of the same today. Only worse. Won't bore you with all the bad-day-at-work stuff. Just know, I've never seen anything like the city of Luanda in terms of congestion and chaos.
I had two tasks to accomplish today and I was 0-for-2, sitting in traffic for almost the entire day before telling Ricardo "Enough, just get me back to the hotel. I can't take it any more."
That's not to say we didn't have a few laughs along the way. The first good one came when I told Ricardo I was just going to take out a wad of Kwanzas and start buying everything that was offered to us as we sat in traffic. Shower heads. Cell phones. Batteries. Brushes. Pots and Pans. Remote Controls. Plastic Toys. Watches. Car chargers. Art. CDs. DVDs. Fruit. Coca Cola. Gum.
"No, no, Mr. Jeff," Ricard said, laughing. "Don't do it!"
Then I threatened Ricardo that tomorrow, I would bring my entire stash of candy and power bars out on the road and do a little selling myself. "You make me laugh, Mr. Jeff," Ricardo said. "And this is good for me, because I am very stressed."
Ricardo and I got our best laugh, however, when we finally made it to Ghana's team hotel. No one from the team or the press was around, but former U.S. (and Mexico, Costa Rica, Nigeria, China, Honduras, Jamaica, Iraq) coach Bora Milutinovic immediately saw me as I got out of Ricardo's pickup. "I know where we need to go," Bora said, excitedly. "I go with you!" Bora threw three suitcases in the back of the pickup. When Ricardo told him it would likely be stolen as we sat in traffic, Bora said, "No, no, my friend." Then he hopped in the single-cab pickup, crashing his knee into the stick shift. Yes, three adults across the one seat.
If you've never met Bora, I'll just describe the language he speaks as Span-Eng-French-ish. He told Ricardo the name of the hotel and Ricardo had no idea what he said. He took out a piece of paper and said it again. Still, no clue. Ricardo asked to see the piece of paper, but Bora's writing was nothing more than scribble.
When I told Bora my goal was to interview some of the Nigeria players, he got very excited. "Give me your phone, I will call Kanu for you. We will go talk to Kanu!" I gave Bora my phone and he took out his checkbook, which was filled with more scribble. He handed me the phone and started calling out numbers for me to call. None worked.
When Bora finally communicated where he needed to go, Ricardo whispered to me that it would take us all day to get there. Instead, Ricardo called his friend who owns a cab and told him to come and pick up Bora. We waited a half hour and sent Bora on his way.
Then it was back into traffic.
Game tomorrow in Luanda. We literally have to leave the hotel six hours before kickoff. I believe the stadium is 15 miles away.