|More money came out and they
finally fuelled it up. As we were driving out, it seemed like a sea of rowdy
people had to part and it felt like a lucky escape. There were, however, two
dodgy looking guys we didn’t know on board. One who kept staring at us and
making calls on his mobile phone. We were sure we were being set up. Rob, Max
and I were within whispering distance so we hatched a plan as to who would grab
who if things turned nasty. We suddenly realised with Amuda and Chamberlin
staying at the border, we had no one to translate and none of us knew where we
|The bus arrived in a small
town and stopped. The driver got out and pointed to one of the tyres saying
‘problem’. It was obvious to us this was a scam and the guy making calls must
have been in on it. We were ready to make our move. Even Max who seemed such a
calm and laid back man had his fists ready. It was crunch time.
|Just then the driver came
round with a pump and pumped the tyre. The guy in the back then held out a
mobile phone as if the call was for me. It was. Chamberlin was on the other end
saying ‘You guys ok?’, it suddenly made sense why this guy had been looking at
us and now we were in a place with a little more light, I recognised him as one
of the guys with Chamberlin at the port. This was Assad, our guide into town.
He would take us to the hotel. The other guy was the bus driver’s mate,
apparently all buses had them, it was quite a relief.
|We wanted to move fast as
Anne, who had been in Burkina Faso for the last 10 days without even seeing us,
was flying home that night. She was meant to have been there to help out with
the shoot and take film stock home for processing but, apart from the beach
scene in Ghana, there had been no shoot. It would be a wasted trip if we did
not at least get the three cans we were carrying to her.
|We went as fast as the
crappy old bus would take us and, somehow, got to the airport with less than 5
minutes before she had to go through. We could not have cut this any finer. We
just managed to hand her the stock with a quick apology for not having been
there, and she was gone. One small victory in what seemed like a losing battle.
The next morning we met up
with the local production company who had arranged the permission letter for us
to be able to shoot in the country. This had happened following a meeting in
Paris that Marie & I had flown out for, and we needed this letter to be
able to get our visas. For a fee, they would also arrange for the military
vehicles and guns we needed. Marie had told me she had been calling them and
getting no reply.
|They actually turned up at
the hotel early in the morning before we could get to them. They looked very
pissed off and launched into a tirade of some kind about ‘Marie no call’. I was
taken to their office where a translator was waiting. We then seemed to spend
the entire day with them telling me, through the translator how they were angry
about this, that and the other. The whole thing was news to me. All we had
asked for was the permission and 2 days of military vehicles with weaponry. We
didn’t need anything else.
|The bottom line was that
they needed around five thousand Euro (Approx $7,500) from me before we could
even leave town to cover the military expenses. If we didn’t pay, they would
not give us the passes we needed. They had to actually receive the money in
their account before we could leave.
|It was another five hour
drive to the apartment in Bobo Dioulasso and I had promised the others, who
were waiting there, we would be there today. Judging by the fact that, the
transfer Amir made to Africa had taken 12 days, things were not boding well. I
called both my banks but they could not get money over without me physically
coming into the branch in the UK with ID.
|Luckily, one of the people
in the company had an account in Paris and Amir made the transfer straight
away. We ended up staying there a couple more nights before we could continue
on our way. It was a very uncomfortable experience and it felt like we were
held to ransom. We were happy to part company.