Crossing paths with Mr. Eto'o

Fans greet Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o

By CHRIS ZIEMER

(Editor’s note: Chris Ziemer, Sonoma Academy athletic director and head girls soccer coach, is blogging for The Press Democrat at the World Cup in South Africa).

(June 16, 2010)

Durban, South Africa –

A World Cup ending to a World Cup day…

After a busy stretch to get settled in and organized, today provided a chance to catch up. I decided to watch the Portugal vs. Ivory Coast and Brazil vs. North Korea games close to my hotel.

Still plenty of action and fans from around the world, but a little more convenient and relaxing than heading to the FanPark.

As I was leaving the restaurant, I noticed a World Cup bus, of which there are many, but this was a team bus. Turns out it was Cameroon and they were having dinner two doors down from my hotel.

I hung out and within a few minutes the team exited the bus and were surrounded by approximately 50 adoring fans.
Of course, we all wanted to see Eto’o. All of the players, including Eto’o, were gracious and shook our hands, high-fived and took photos with people.

I counted 11 police cars in front of the bus and at least eight in behind as well as a small army of police officers who escorted them from the restaurant. They looked safe and relaxed.

Spain game, then paella…

Today I managed to accomplish something very important – find a place to have my favorite Spanish dish after the Spain game.
Just a few blocks from my hotel, there is a Spanish “tapas” restaurant. I’ve poked my head in twice already and asked if they had paella and the answer was “no” as they are a tapas bar.

Today, I bumped into the owner and he pulled in the chef to see if it was possible. I told them with Spain in town, not having paella was a slap in the face. They agreed.

Well, et’s just say that they decided to put paella on the menu for Wednesday night after the 4 p.m. game. If Spain wins and I have seafood paella, it will be a tough day to top. But I will keep trying!