Monday, July 30, 2007

Farewell Ghana (& the Big Headed Greenback)

July 22, 2007. Accra, Ghana.

This evening we loaded our gear for the last time in Ghana and were whisked off to the airport, lead once again by Teddy Sabutey, our fixer. At the airport, Teddy worked his magic for a final time and we breezed through customs and all the long lines at the airport. It was nothing short of miraculous. We did however run into one small obstacle that at first even stunned Teddy. When we went to pay for our excess baggage (we checked 19 bags), we were a bit shocked to discover that the airport doesn't take credit cards. Not to be shaken easily, Brook, our Line Producer, reached into her own magic bag and retrieved more than five hundred dollars in cash to pay the bill. Not so fast . . . To our surprise, our money was no good. The reason: our US currency was of the older variety, the kind where the President's portrait is smaller than that of the new currency. "We only take the Big Heads," the woman at the counter informed us.

We'd run into this problem before in Ghana. It was never really clear to me if the preference for big headed Presidents was born out of a fear of counterfeiting or simply just a penchant for big headed Presidents. It was hit or miss whether somebody would take your money. None the less, at the airport we were in a bit of the bind. We all scrambled for our wallets in a search for Big Headed Greenbacks. Fifty dollars here, one fifty there, eighty dollars in my own wallet. We came up very shy of Big Heads. We decided to make a dash for a money machine to retrieve Ghanaian bills, however there's a limit to what can be withdrawn (about the equivalent of $150 US per day). To complicate matters there were no machines to be found in our terminal, and the clock was ticking. We headed back outside and to another terminal, where Teddy worked his magic and got us through security and into the airport through an Exit Only door. Brook and Teddy headed inside, found no machines, but lucked into an Exchange booth. With a fist full of crisp, new Big Headed bills, we were on our way.
Teddy is without a doubt one of the best fixers in the world, and probably the best I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Whether it was getting us permission to shoot in a difficult location with hours notice, or running interference when we got ourselves in trouble, Teddy performed with grace, dignity and style.

After drinks at the bar, we killed some time with this garbage can. It performed its role well in a dramatic and powerful story filled with excitement, love, loss and the inevitable tragedy that so often unfolds when individuals follow their hearts.

The excitement and possibilities implicit in new love.
A chance encounter leads to romance . . .
. . . and ultimately to love.
With the passage of time, love reveals itself to be fleeting, and a distance is created until . . .
The pain of a broken hearts.

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