Dec. 21, 2009
A Day without Urine or Gasoline
Started early, and actually had breakfast, which was unusual and very fortifying.
But man-oh-man was it HOT today! And not just the temperature. The group of people we focused on filming and interviewing today were the hustlers (aka, sub-dealers) at the car site, and we soon discovered that they have a bit between their teeth. First off, they feel, in general, a bit under-appreciated by the main dealers. Second, they’ve seen us coming and going for the past three weeks and seeing us interview everyone but THEM. Even though we went through the proper channels with this group, i.e. speaking with the higher-ups of this rambunctious collective, we encountered a bit of conflict. At one point a bunch of them started yelling at me about filming and then one particularly confrontational gentleman threatened to smash my camera. But a bunch of other sub-dealers muscled in and within ten minutes all was good and the guy who had threatened to smash my camera was quickly and kindly suggesting to me what would be good stuff to capture on film. Quite a change of attitude to say the least.
All the while, the road that runs along side our site was quickly becoming jam packed with all kinds of automobiles, but particularly, petrol tankers. You see, a little while back the Nigerian Navy had began extorting the oil tankers coming into port. Not foreign ones, mind you, but Nigerian oil tankers. And the federal government was doing nothing about this. The result: Nigeria was literally running out of gas. Long lines at petrol stations, a hike in petrol prices on the black market, and our own gas tank steadily evaporating under the Nigerian sun.
So as we were filming the more interesting (at least, visually) story was taking place on the congested highway behind us. I turned my lens towards the road and spent the next thirty minutes filming amongst the mayhem on the asphalt – noisy, dirty stuff with tempers flaring as drivers honked and tried to out-jockey one another.
At this point I realized that I’d consumed about four litres of fluids and it was now nearing 3pm. It was a day that was so hot that you need not look for a private spot to relieve yourself, you just sweat out all that you’ve taken in.
When we arrived home this evening I felt extremely grimy. My skin was covered with a thick layer or road dust that had clung to the five bottles of water, two coca-colas, and one lime seltzer that had oozed from my pours – less than fresh indeed.
Now showered, cooling under a fan and air conditioning, reading in bed sounds like a blissful way to prepare for our final day of shooting tomorrow: with the hustlers, of course.