Thursday, June 08, 2006

Blogging live from Nigeria!!!


(Actually, I might as well be blogging from 1990, saying "not!" like that. Shit wasn't even funny in the first Bill and Ted.)

As you may already be aware if you read the Bongo blog, I missed my flight. And taking a cue from good ol' Mr. Pilatus and Mr. Morvan, I blame it on the rain.

Most of Massachusetts was on a heavy flood warning yesterday, and when I went out in the morning to run a few errands I almost drowned just walking up the street. Of course this horrid weather had a significant effect on the traffic situation... I actually got to the airport really early, but my luggage didn't (I had like SEVEN huge bags - even with the airline charging a $160 excess luggage tax per each extra bag over two, it still works out cheaper than it would have cost me to send the same amount through a shipping company). With my stuff stuck in traffic, I had to abort my check-in and try to reschedule.

They tried to put me on another flight, but that one was going to Lagos rather than Port Harcourt. No good. Then they came up with another one going to Abuja. Even more no good. The next best thing was a flight to Port Harcourt on Friday. Which means I would arrive on Saturday afternoon.

Did I mention that we have a big casting call in Calabar on Saturday morning?

Actually, by this time I wasn't even sweating it at all... I felt strangely calm, in fact. The only thing that worried me a bit was the fact that I knew Bongo and Koko (and especially Koko) would probably curse my anus to be infested with the flies of a thousand camels. (They were pretty cool about it, though.)

When I got home, I just crashed into a sleep that was deeper and sounder than I had had in a week (and for a whole THREE HOURS too!). The past couple of days had been particularly hectic.

Monday was a bad day... Trying to pack all the shit I need to carry was really getting me down and I found myself wanting to rend my garments, tear my skin and flesh open and let my soul fly free across the countryside. "Why the fuck am I DOING this?" I asked myself over and over again.

Later, I chatted with Bongo. (It's always a pick-me-up when me and the Congoman talk about film and he goes on about Claude Lelouch's approach to framing shots and how he prefers the term montage to "editing" and why he likes to sit in the first three rows at the movies and I talk about my love of deep focus and my dislike of Le plan américain how the introduction of sound forever ruined the potential development of a unique cinematic language and we manage to find common ground in our mutual love of contemporary Korean and Thai films. It's at times like that that I remember why the fuck we're doing this - because we love this shit; we live this shit.)

We were talking about getting Bongo's applying early for Bongo's US visa so we can work on post-production together when it suddenly hit me: I hadn't applied for a visa myself. I hadn't applied for a Nigerian visa.

Y'see... I'm Nigerian, yeah. I grew up there and everything. But I was born in the States and I have a US passport. I've never had a Nigerian passport (I tried to get one twice over the past five years - once through my dad and once through Koko. I sent my passport pics and everything. But it seems like both times the process broke down at some point.) So while I'm busy getting all excited about "going home," the fact is that technically I am a foreigner at "home" and thus, I need a visa.*

It takes 3-5 days for the Nigerian Consulate to approve a visa application.

This was on Monday night.

I was getting on the plane Wednesday afternoon.

In short, i was screwed. Visions of me not being able to get into the country danced through my head... All this work we've put into this thing... All for nothing, because once again I got so caught up in trying to make this thing happen that I forgot about a few basic administrative tasks.

To be fair, I think I subconsciously minimized the importance of the visa in my head because last time I went "home" in 2001 I called the consulate for a visa and they asked me "Are you a Nigerian?"

"Umm... Yes," I replied. "I mean, I am a US citizen but I'm a Nigerian. I don't have a Nigerian pass..."


"I'm an American citizen."

"Okay, you need to get a visa. Send us $100 and your passport to be stamped. What's your name?"

"Uchenna Chi..."

"Oh, so you ARE a Nigerian? Why didn't you just say so? Are you sure you want to bother getting a visa?"

They kinda acted like it was no big deal... As long as you look and sound Nigerian, it was all gravy. Plus, if I got harassed by customs once I got into Nigeria, it's pretty easy to "make nice" with them, if you know what I mean. But what if I got quizzed about my visa by the sticklers in Frankfurt (Germans!)?

I was screwed.

But, Allah wakbar, my mom knows someone who knows someone who's married to someone at the consulate, and they said they could approve my visa on the spot so long as I got my ass to the consulate.

Like I said: this was Monday night.

My flight was Wednesday afternoon.

The passport & visa section of the consulate is only open from 9 am - 1 pm.

6:05 a.m. Tuesday morning, I was on the first Amtrak to the Big Apple.

I don't like too-long blog entries so I'll stop here, get some dinner and finish the story later.

*I'm gonna ruin the suspense here by noting straight up that this little yarn does end with me getting all my papers squared away, including my passport. So if you're a hater and you're planning to snitch me out to the authorities, nyah nyah nyah, you're too late, beeyotch!


Seven said...

dues're paying dues....
That's all these missed flights are about...
It makes for interesting converstaion when you're being interviewed after the film blows up....

Fleur d'Afrique. said...

LOL @ footnote. had a really rough time man. At least you got the visa sorted out. I agree with Seven, this makes good stories to tell once the project is finished lol. Good luck with the rest!

Sha said...

wow..this is like a action movie blog :)

AFRICAN said...

Don't stop blogging when you get there and good luck man.