Monday, November 3, 2008

Best Laid Plans (Part 12)


Although I think both Joe and I felt that we could’ve slept the day away, we got up early in the morning so that we could be at the Ministry of Information’s Office first thing. We needed to get our press passes and were told not to begin filming without them.

One of the first things I found most interesting about Ghana is that there are no real addresses – PO Boxes yes – but addresses, no. You can’t say to a cab driver, take me to 145 Prospect Street b/w whatever and whatever. And being somewhat anal, before I left, I’d tried to map the distance between my hotel and the Ministry so that I could have some idea of how far it was and how much time we’d need to get there – but alas, one cannot find a PO Box on mapquest.

For some reason, government people (regardless of the country) make me nervous. I always immediately find myself itching to confess a crime that I don’t even know exists. I also find that I have to keep myself from blurting out inane information that, while wouldn’t necessarily make me a criminal, would definitely make me seem like a nutter... Such as ‘when I was 15 I told my sister that there were no more brownies when, in fact, I had the last one hidden away in a cabinet for my own selfish consumption!’ So along with my official paperwork, I also carried with me my odd compulsion to admit idiotic wrongdoings. Joe on the other hand, was simply itching to start filming whatever possible. At least one of us was focused.

Thankfully, we were seen right away and the official that we spoke with was very nice while also putting the fear of god in me. She explained a number of reasons why, if we didn’t follow the rules, we could be arrested. She wanted an explicit rundown of where we were going to be filming, which would have been fine but for the fact that I had no idea. She said that if we were discovered to be filming outside of where we said we were going to be, our equipment would be confiscated and we could be arrested. I suddenly found my confession compulsion and my visions of a Ghanian prison merging into one holy-hell nightmare of epic proportions. I looked over at Joe so that we could share each others fears silently but he looked so relaxed that I became concerned he was gonna fall asleep. Apparently, the sound of the Officer’s voice, while making me quiver with anxiety, was like a lullaby for Joe. When she turned her attention away from us to find a typist that could put together our press passes, Joe smirked at me and said that she was just trying to scare us. I reminded him that they don’t serve pancakes in prison but he was unshakeable.

After informing us that the typist was not in the building and would be coming in from a different location, she asked again where we wanted to film. The Volta Region was too general for her. I explained that we would be in Ho and then in surrounding villages that we didn’t yet know the names of, to which she reminded me of confiscation and imprisonment. I was worried that we were at an impasse. I gave her Richard’s number – he was the Globe Aware contact in Ghana but her attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. Would we get our press passes? If she refused us would we shoot anyway? I looked over at Joe and, as if he knew what I was wondering, he winked at me. Well, maybe he and I would share a cell.

Amazingly, after about 20 minutes, without specifics on where we were going to be filming, we were handed our press passes. I hate when Joe is right.

Along with our press passes, she sent us away with her assistant in tow. I had asked her whether she knew of any good markets in Ho and she said that the best markets are in Accra. She also said that her assistant would accompany us to them (for a fee) and we could film it.

Well, well, well... At least I knew we wouldn’t be arrested (at least not that day) and Joe knew that we’d get some great footage. We both got what we wanted.