It's a pleasant journey from Pretoria to the Mozambique border on my double decker Greyhound bus, comfy seats and a great view. There are sheep and cattle and then some ostriches in the Lowveld approaching Nelspruit and it gets warmer as we go north and descend from the Highveld.
We pass The MBOBELA Giraffe Stadium at Nelspruit, former home of the PSL Div II team named THE DANGEROUS DARKIES who are now defunct. Who is going to play and attract crowds in this small city in Mpupalanga now the BIG WORLD CUP SHOW has left town? It's chaos at the border and long lines going and coming to get a visa stamp and cross into Mozambique, maybe 90 minutes before we take off.
There are banana plantations roadside and it is dark and 2 hours late when we arrive in MAPUTO, which used to be called Lorenquo Marques. It was a Portuguese colony for hundred of years until the revolution and fighting in 1964. FRELIMO, The Mozambique Liberation Front which organized in exile and kicked the Europeans out.About 250,000 Portuguese left within 12 months or so. Then they had a civil war with RENAMO from 1977 for 15 years until 1992, and the place fell apart. Now there is a democracy but it's a bit of a shambles.
I hadn't a clue and looked for some big building with bright lights on arrival. I was on Av. Karl Marx and saw a big hotel a few blocks away. Too pricey I am sure, but they would speak English. The man at the front desk did so. I told him I was looking for Residencial Palmeiras on Av, Patrice Lumumba No 948. and would he call them. It had good reviews on line. He did, they had a room just for one night and it was 3-4 blocks away. The pavements are broken with pot holes and stolen man hole covers, so DON'T BREAK AN ANKLE is my immediate thought.
Passing Av. Vladimir Lenin down Av. Patrice Lumumba and find the place, a tranquile up market bed and breakfast with only 6 rooms. Just in time to see the penalty shoot out from Loftus between Japan and Paraguay in my pleasant room. I am hungry and go out again, turn right on Lenin past the British High Commission compound, over Av. Ho Chi Min, then Av. 24 Julho and a little snack bar. Menu California looks good. Hamburger with cheese and egg and salad and fries and a glass of Nector Cocktail Exotic. I must mention a college age hero of mine, Patrice Lumumba. He was a Congolese who died many years ago, killed either by the CIA, the Soviets, the Cubans or maybe SMERSH ???
It's the match I have waited for, Portugal v Spain but I fall asleepin my room and wake up to see the full time report 1-0. What a great and filling breakfast and setting in the morning. I chat with Celia Rocha the manager of Palmeiras and then I am joined by Al and his sons Alberto and David 20 and 18 years old. Season ticket holders at New York Red Bulls, and Portuguese-Americans from Paramus N.J.who support Sporting Lisboa and also in for a few days from South Africa. It's going to be a great day, if I can change money and avoid the pot holes and mention Eusebio and Mario Coluna and any other former local World Cup heroes born in this former colony on the Indian Ocean.
due to problems with internet in Maputo, I have re-written the blog with italics and spacing.