Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lots to report, lots to report.

The reunion with Siri was fabulous, a sort of calm before the storm. She was sad to say bye to her grandparents, but happy to be headed towards her mom. She still managed to sleep for 2+ hours on the train which made the next leg of the adventure possible.

That was a quick reunion with her mom, then out to our next hotel, a re-fitted 747 right next to the airport. We mainly wanted to try and cut down on travel time at the ungodly hour of 4am the following morning, as the airport is way the ass out of Stockholm proper. Cramped quarters, but the company was right.

There`s a shuttle leaves from that hostel every 15 minutes as of 5am. What they neglect to tell you is that the stop is a full football field`s length away from the hotel. I don`t know how many of you have travelled for almost a month and a half with a 3 year, planning for a shoot on 2 continents over 2 and a half weeks, but those of you who have might have some idea of the volume of shit we have with us, and the impossibility of hauling all that gear all that way. Those of you who haven`t simply have to take my word that the next 20 minutes were hell, expensive and infuriating.

But we made the plane, and what a joint. Annika swears the end of the world is nigh. Part of her reasoning being that the lack of passengers on every trans-continental plane on this trip have been pretty much nil, so everybody`s nesting or stashing greenbacks in their mattresses. All I know is that I was profoundly grateful to have this much space for our little team.

Pretty nice, eh. Not to mention that Kenyan Airlines is da bomb. Chillest flight crew in the world, including a dude in the 3D emergency procedures video who starts out looking like he`s making time with the stewardess, and ends up super-chill, taking his time while he inflates his life vest, seemigly in grave danger in spite of the `take a load off man` look in his eyes. Meanwhile, the steward serving us lunch says `something to drink,“ so I say “red wine.“ Annika says something too, and he puts two bottles of wine on my table. Annika takes one, and the guy says “oh, you wanted wine too?“

Like I said, pretty chill.

In any case, all that space made it easy to pick our spots for the single best view I`ve ever had from a plane, bar none, by a longshot…

Goddamn Sahara, complete with shadows on the ground from cloud `cover`above. The sheltering sky indeed. Siri was passed out and the others were working (chumps), so I was free to run from window to window, looking for the best angle I could find to see the spectacle below. It just goes on and on. A landscape that always looks the same but is constantly changing thanks to the wind and time. Made me feel pretty small. So I decided to at least document the chumps, working away.

And the next thing I know, we`re in Kenya, and everyone is still chill. Pretty quick VISA deal, nightmare predictions notwithstanding. Pretty quick baggage claim, but I guess the almost total absence of passengers didn`t hurt on that score. Then a swoop and a zoom and we`re back at the hotel. It`s right in front of the Israeli embassy so it has the reputation of being the best protected hotel in Nairobi. I can`t account for that, but it is pretty beautiful and quiet, aside from the frogs, doing some kind of maniacal croaking ritual out near the pond. We all hit the sack pretty early, thinking about our first excursion into kibera the following day.

* * *

There`s nothing like waking up after sleeping on the hardest bed in existence. You really feel your back, and the flatness of your cheek on wood, the twist of your ankle on unyielding surfaces; just enough to get you bright eyed and bushy tailed about the day. Annika complained of a kind of wooziness, a spinning head, either because of the altitude or… who knows what, but not since she smashed, and I mean SMASHED her pinky toe on the bed frame this morning. It’s still really difficult for her to walk, and the swelling is still going up. Great way to start off a new shoot… But she held it together.

And I went down to get a bag of ice for her toe. The guy at the counter says “… OK, 125 shillings.” I look back at him, sceptical, and he’s holding his ground. Any thought I had of saying “fuck you” went out the window when I thought of Annika’s pain, so I said “sure, but I forgot my cash back in the room: I’ll be right back”. When I do get back there’s another woman at the bar, so I say “a glass of ice please…” and she says “ok.” Simple as that. I go and hold it on Annika’s toe, and fifteen minutes later: the phone. It’s ice boy, looking for his cash. Says if I don’t pay he’ll have to. I say let me talk to your supervisor so you don’t have to. He says ok. 10 minutes later the supervisor calls me. I’m saying this is ridiculous when he tells me if I’d been sitting in the bar it’d be free and fine, no problem. But they had to order the “bucket” (plastic bag) and the ice, and there’s NO WAY TO CANCEL IT. It took a while and more phone calls and me turning into “why the fuck can’t you just put it back in the goddamn freezer,” but the order was cancelled. All I could think to myself was “way to come accross as a colonialist asshole, asshole.”

This morning we also met “big” Willie, our new sound recordist, another, you guessed it, chill dude. Luckily he’s equipped, having started a company with some friends, so he can fill in the blanks from equipment ultra generously lent to us (thanks Fania!!), with a few fancier accessories. We only met him for a short time, but I’m looking forward to working with him. Welcome aboard man.

We had a quick lunch, then piled into the van and headed out to Kibera.

I’m a bit too tired to give my overwhelmed impressions of Kibera right now, but I’ll leave you with a few pics to whet your appetites, and freak out Sirianna’s grandparents. The details will follow mañana.

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