Flights, camera, action Nollywood style

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

To go is to see. So goes an African saying about experiences on a trip.

After the many adventurous stories I have heard about Nigeria, I was beginning to think that I was too smart or kept good company, that is, until this past weekend.

We land at Ikeja, Lagos, and are kept waiting to be picked up by our contact.

During this time I am not sure how many people corner me, begging me to exchange my dollars for their nairas.

With all the warnings ringing in my ears, I refuse - remembering the first time I set foot in Nigeria.

So I go to the airport bank to change money. The soldier at the door refuses me and Thami Kotlolo entry, whisks out his cellphone and then whispers something we can't understand.

Before long, we are introduced to a man who says he will help us. Of course, he fleeces us of 4000 naira.

This is only the beginning. When we get to my favourite hotel in Ikeja, the Savoy Suites, it is fully booked. We end up staying at the Elomaz.

Come Friday, without warning, we are told that we are finally going to Bayelsa.

The overwhelmed driver starts off by taking us to the international side of the airport, though we are going to board a domestic flight.

Eventually he gets it right, and takes us to the correct terminal. The airport is bursting at the seams and the Nigerians are in their element, talking at the top of their voices.

It looks like they are going to beat each other to a pulp, but it turns out to be a spirited exchange of words.

Come Saturday, we wake up very early to catch an early flight, only to find a congested airport. The up-side is that we get to see all the Nollywood stars, heart throbs and sex symbols battling it out just like we are.

In their coiffured wigs and huge sunglasses, they still get lost in the madding crowd. Suddenly I wickedly wish that South African Hollywood wannabe stars would also experience the same cold shoulder from a crowd that doesn't go ga-ga over them.

After the airport drama, we are finally on our way to the hotel. On the two-and-a-half hour drive from Oweri to Bayelsa, in the sweltering heat, I can safely say I feel a few calories melting away.

I guess the drama is not over yet. One of the vehicles in the convoy has two tyre-bursts.

Sweaty, clammy and thoroughly sunburnt, we gratefully park outside our hotel. We almost collapse when we learn that there's no reservation for us. The hotel is fully booked.

The excitement over the many interviews that one is about to secure with the cream of Nollywood, Ghana and Gambia's actors who have converged here dissipates like our sweat under the underperforming air conditioner in the hotel foyer.

It's back on the road. We realise that the last few kilometres of our trip were driven with a flat tyre. We subsequently take a wide berth from that cab.

Comfortably ensconced in the luxurious 4x4 following the protocol car to the governor's house, I know I am not the only one fantasising about a bubble bath.

Eventually, when I get to my huge, luxurious room befitting a Swazi princess at one of the beautiful houses reserved for guests of the African Movie Academy Awards (Amaa), the taps are dry.

By the time the problem is solved, I already look like a million dollars and you would not say that I took my bath from a bowl only a puppy could feed from.

On my way back to Lagos on Sunday the crew at Virgin Nigeria knot themselves into confusion checking us in.

In the end, just like in a minibus taxi, we are told we can sit anywhere in the plane. The fights die down now, knowing that we are at least all going back - safely.