HomeSportSoccer#2017AfconGabon with Kevin Mapasure

#2017AfconGabon with Kevin Mapasure

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For all its faults and shortcomings, Gabon has got a good transport system. But getting to Franceville from Libreville can be quite a challenge, as I have discovered on this trip.

Kevin Mapasure
Kevin Mapasure

But I still have to make my point on some of the accommodation facilities you will encounter here.

What I discovered is that it’s either you are booked in a top-quality hotel or you will find yourself in a dingy place. I thought I could find something a bit in the middle. Not too fancy and not too bad.

Because of the language barrier, coupled with the fact that I only started looking for a place to put up for the night around 11pm, it meant I was going to settle for anything.

On my first morning, I had to get transport to Franceville, 800km away from the capital. My first option was the train, so I hired a taxi to take me to the station. It was deserted when we got there, nothing I expected.

I expected a busy train station, where I would be drowned in the bustle.

The taxi driver took me to the ticket office and from his facial expression, as he conversed with the lady behind the counter, I sensed I was in trouble.

This was a Saturday and I had to get to Franceville to catch up with the Warriors’ opening match against Algeria at 6pm the following day. The next train was only leaving on Sunday, an hour after kick-off.

Option B was the airport. And another 5 000 francs for the taxi man. We sped to the airport and he left me in the hands of the Caf volunteering staff. I was also prepared to travel by road, since it was day.

But again, I was told this was a non-starter. I had no joy at the airport either, as I was told the day’s flights to Franceville had already left.

I was stunned, there had to be a solution. I pestered the Caf staff until something came up.

There was one more flight to Franceville, a special one taking the referees for the matches.

At 4pm, we took off and travelled for about an hour to get there. There was transport from the airport to the stadium for accreditation and all formalities completed.

An Algerian journalist and myself asked for reasonable accommodation and Buke Buke it was. The name sounded a bit fancy to me, but what I was to encounter was far from my expectations.

When we got there, the Algerian guy started the negotiations. They wanted 100 euro. We said “No!”, and they suggested lower standard rooms, which we went to inspect.

It’s probably the worst I have seen and the choice was either that or the 100 euro one, which was not even that good.

I decided I would be brave and put up for one night and regroup the following day. I barely had a wink’s sleep. It was stuffy and it was not well ventilated. The bed felt like sleeping on a wooden bench and it was really a tiny room.

Morning arrived, after a long night, and it was time to bathe. At least, this time I had acquired a pair of slopes.
Once in the shower room, where the door was not secured, I took the quickest shower I have ever had.

I wanted to be out as soon as I could. The other reason it was so brisk was that I dropped the small, hotel-size piece of bathing soap I had been given, and I wasn’t going to pick it up.

That was it. That there was warm water came as a surprise to me, yet I didn’t even have time to enjoy it. After dressing, I went to drop the keys and the young lady, a beautiful one, I must mention, wanted to know if I was booking for more days.

Of course not, even though I promised I would return. I gathered all my belongings and headed for the stadium, where I would make a new plan. This was no hotel and I would not do it again.

Catch up with Kevin tomorrow, as he continues with his adventure in Gabon. Kevin is in Gabon to cover the Africa Cup of Nations for NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard

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