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Rumours Rumblings and Scrabble

Posted on 13 Dec 2006 by .

I hadn't been looking forward to visiting Cairo - all that noise, heat and funny food. It was to be the first of three filming locations for a new video for Action Partners. (formerly SUM). From Cairo we would travel to Chad and Cameroon filming the work of various missionaries. Action Partner's communications manager David Baker and cameraman Tom Russell made up our crew, with myself as Director/Producer.

Cairo was a surprise. The food was great, the guest house we stayed in was run by the Anglican church - just like home, and the heat? Well I needed tobuy a thick jumper, and had two blankdts on the bed to combat the cold. A visit to the City of the Dead and the pyramids satisfied our tourist urges. And so it was time to leave for Chad. This meant a flight with Ethiopian Airlines down to Addis Abbaba, then a change of plane to fly via Khartoum to N'djamena. But there were rumours of hostilities breaking out between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Watch out for the Mig Fighters we were told. We did, and there were none. So far the war hadn't reached the skies, and we landed safely in Addis, made our connection and set off for Chad.

Chad is virtually desert, and one of the poorest countries in the world. It also has a history of coups, and surprise surprise, when we landed we were greeted with the news that they were expecting another one at any time. The French embassy in N'djamena was advising the expat community to have a bag packed ready for an evacuation. All sorts of rumours were flying around - the coup would come this weekend, no it would take several days for the rebels to come down from the north. It's safest not to travel no it's okay to travel. Get ready for power cuts and the water being turned off. Every day the French and American officials had meetings to try and assess the situation. The French and the Americans? There's a recipe for ...

Anyway, it was felt safe for us to cross the border nearby and drive down to Cameroon to film at a hospital there. So we, and our host Brian Beakhouse and two other Action Partners personnel set off and had a pleasant time and got some good material. On the return journey - and I should mention that because of bandits you are advised to travel with a military escort in convoy - we stopped for a break, and were told by a soldier that the border back into Chad was closed, and everyone had been evacuated! Well that dampened our spirits a bit especially as Brian's wife Anna, and three children were in N'djamena or were they?

We eventually reached the border no bandits having attacked us - and found it to be open. No-one had been evacuated, except the French Ambassador - and life was continuing as normal apart from the distant rumble of gun fire during the nights! However, we were strongly advised not to make a planned trip up country to film, a water project, as the situation was by no means certain.

With nearly a week until our flight home - and no filming to do - we praised God for Scrabble. Brian's wife Anna did a sterling job of feeding us and keeping us occupied even taking us to the deliciously cool pool at the Novotel Hotel. That was a real treat - especially in temperatures of 112F.

Well, we made it back home - and as I write - the impending coup has still not happened - though there is a strong rumour that ......

There are still some sequences to shoot in UK and the video should be complete and available by the end of August