#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Angola: Day 8

So little I can write about today.

Ricardo picked me up at 1 o'clock to take me to the stadium for a 5 o'clock game. Traffic in town was bad as usual, but traffic out of town was nothing like it was the day Angola played Ghana, so I arrived at the stadium very early. For my non-soccer-writing brethren, there is no pre-game clubhouse access in soccer. You get to the park early, basically, you hang out 'til game time. So I hung out, ate a "Fahita" (very chewy) for 600 kwanzas, nearly fell asleep, and chatted with my Ghanaian friends.

Ghana beat Nigeria 1-0 to advance to the final. The non-biased Ghanaian press corps, dressed in team colors, waving flags and screaming at the top of their lungs, were pretty happy. I posed for a bunch of pictures with them. I'm big in Ghana.

Always good for a sports scribe covering a soccer game when the guy who scores the only goal in a 1-0 game (Asamoah Gyan) decides he doesn't want to talk to the press. Maybe the fact that half the press corps was hugging him left him speechless, I dunno.

Ricardo, as always, was there to pick me up after the match. Only he had a "very good friend," who was standing in the back of the pickup.

"What's his name?" I asked Ricardo.

"I'm not sure, I just call him Boy," Ricardo said.

"I thought he was a very good friend," I said.

"Well, he's done a lot for me today. He keeps the truck clean. He helps me," Ricardo said. Well, that was good enough for me. So I opened the window and asked Boy in Spanish what his name was. "Payzin," he said with a smile.

"His name is Payzin," I told Ricardo, who was now in stitches.

When we hit traffic, Ricardo shouted something to Payzin, and wouldn't you know it, Payzin jumped out of the truck, ran into a gas station and emerged with some cold Cucas for Mr. Jeff. We began the long trek home, through Luanda's dusty roads, always filled with people, always filled with life.

Ricardo blasted 50 Cent, which was cool, because I got to explain to him what an "Oompah Loompah" is what a "P-I-M-P" is...see, me and Ricardo help each other out.

Three days to go. Ghana and Egypt in the final Sunday.


Anonymous said...

I don't read blogs, and never heard of you before, but this was part of an email through Soccer America about ACN and Angola. I started reading your latest blog on the ACN and was drawn into it due to your description of the Angolan people, and was compelled to read all of your blogs from Angola.

I enjoyed and was moved with your relationship with Ricardo. I was born in Portugal and had family living in Angola for many years. So I have a distant bond with Angola. We, Portuguese, as a people, made a mess of that country for years, and after independence, the Angolans, continued making a bigger mess.

But the heart of its people is alive and is so well expressed by Ricardo through your words. I see him as a humble, proud man who sees a possible future for himself and for his pátria, Angola. Where an honest, hard working man, hopefully, can find a future in the chaos. Through his actions, he is proving that not all is bad, that there are still honest, respectful and caring people; that there is a future. Where people with nothing, which have suffered so much, will literally give you something when they have nothing to give, and need help themselves.

I was deeply moved when Ricardo gave you his Angola national team shirt, my Portugal and USA shirts are my treasures; I cherish them, I would (will) never give them away, to anybody! One develops a bond with what they symbolize; it's not just about soccer and people running about in shorts; a meaningless game, but you as a people, your commonality, your culture, your homeland, your pátria.

I understand the meaning of the shirt and what it meant for Ricardo to give you his shirt, it’s a piece of his soul and his pátria. It seems that you have formed a strong bond with Ricardo and I know this sounds childish, but I sincerely hope when you finish this assignment, and come back to the States that you too will cherish this "foreign" shirt, and what it means to Ricardo for you to have it, and not put it out with your next garage sale. By the way, if you were to ever decide to throw it out, I'd be seriously honored to have it.

I will be looking forward to your next Angolan post and as for Ricardo please forward the following from me: Um grande abraço de um português, agora americano, que lhe deseja boa sorte e um grande futuro cheio de possibilidades. Força Angola.

Antonio Quaresma

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