June 5th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

How to get to a Planet in Peril

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/05/art.neilrawanda.jpg caption="Neil Hallsworth starting his work at a local school in Rwanda. June 5, 2008"]

Neil Hallsworth
CNN Senior Photojournalist

This is the first trip for Planet in Peril 2, and so far the trip hasn't started off well.

I have arrived at New York’s JFK airport, terminal 2, but finding a skycap who wants to help me with nine large cases is proving difficult. Not too mention, once I get someone, I have to go through the painful process of getting the cases through customs.

Next, to check-in....which always starts with the checking agent asking, "you have how many bags?” I tell him I usually have twice as many!

I go through security and I have SSS on my ticket, meaning I have been randomly selected for special security screening. The TSA officer apologizes as I assume the position and remarks, "I see you've done this before." I'm getting used to this now.

We're off to Rwanda, and what better way to start the trip than with a gin and tonic in the airport lounge. A tasty drink that supposedly also can be used as anti-malaria medication – or at least that's what I tell myself.

Looks like the flight is delayed. There is confusion! But eventually we board one of the hydraulic elevation buses and it is packed. I fight my way through with the camera; behind me a woman is stumbling with a huge wedding dress in bag. You can’t see her, just the bag. Someone in front of me thinks there is someone in the bag. She then pokes her head around from the back and smiles.

After an hour we board the plane. We have two-hour layover in Brussels before our flight to Rwanda. Any delay could mean we would miss our connecting flight and increase the chances of the camera equipment not making it.

We land in Brussels… decisions, decisions. Terminal A or terminal B? There is no one to tell us where our connection is, and it’s not even shown on the electronic display. We chose terminal A…and it turns out to be B. Aggggh this involves a lot of running to make the flight.

Next stop: the gate to see if all the bags have been loaded on the next flight the flight to Kigali. At first they say none of them made it… then they think all but one did! We have to board the flight anyway because it’s last call… I now have eight hours before I find out.

Finally in Rwanda, they made it, fantastic. Even a welcome arrival at the airport, something I’m not used to. Now we’re off to the hotel to get unpacked for the next days filming. And perhaps, another gin and tonic – just what the doctor ordered.

Editor's note: You can read about this and other Planet in Peril stories here.

Filed under: Planet in Peril
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Anderson, love your show! Some thoughts about what we do to our planet and the possible negative consequences we may suffer in the future. First, we drill and dig for oil, what happens when we (may) realize that in 150 years, oil was needed in our planets core to lubricate the plates? Just as we use oil in our engines, what if our core engine requires it to keep us moving, we dry up and all of a sudden we suffer deadly earthquakes, tsunami's, or the worst our planet just stops spinning or reverses? Second thought, Honda has recently introduced a hybrid type of motor that sucks H20 out of the air and then deposits water on the street in return. So, this catches on and lets say everyone in D.C. is required to have this technology in 5 years. The humidity there is somewhat about 98%, can you imagine what will happen to cities that suffer from this horrid feeling of being in a shower all day long, only to have every vehicle spitting out humidity on the streets keeping them slightly moist all the time. Water soaked roads lead to more accidents, poor road conditions, and bad tempers or road rage. With this thought about the hybrid, I wonder if large companies really just stop and think about what the new "GREEN" thing to do will do in 15 years like Diesel was said in the 70's to be the best thing for our planet only to turn out to be the ugliest burning fuel there is? I hope all the green things we do today don't turn our planet brown tomorrow!


    June 11, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Ratna, New York, NY

    Hi Neil,

    The real Malaria tablets are large, flat round and the most aweful tasting meds I had to indigest during my childhood. I broke them in quarters and placed them in the back of my tongue and gulped them with tasty tropical soda. And there was still a bad after burp, Blah!

    So far, I have only seen pics of our favorite furocious fuzzy Cooper wild-animal (strike-a-pose) and I am looking forward to pics of the African wildlife and the gorillas.

    June 10, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  3. Jacqueline

    By the way, Great stills!

    June 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm |
  4. Jacqueline

    I don't know Neil... Anderson with the drugs and you with the alcohol. And what's Mary Anne's story. You guys are beginning to worry me. 🙂

    June 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  5. Rekha Joy Raman

    Hi Neil,

    Cheers to you on one more gin and tonic on my behalf. I hope it shoos the mosquitoes away! Have a great trip to Rwanda and fun photo-journaling. Looking forward to your reports.

    June 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  6. june hallsworth (mum)

    high neil not to many gin and tonic .sounds a fantastic trip . .as i said if you need someone to carry your camera . take care keep away from the spiders .love mum x

    June 6, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  7. Annie Kate


    Its great that you are working on PIP2 – last years coverage and photography was fantastic and I look forward to seeing more of it this year.

    Hope the airplane rides get a little easier. On the 360 team I'm sure you travel quite a lot.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 5, 2008 at 11:50 pm |
  8. CaseyJPS - California

    Neil, this is refreshing and enlightening. You're obviously quite the character. I'm very intersted in hearing how the shoot progresses and I'll keep looking for updates. Frankly, it sounds like you need a personal assistant. BTW, gin only works in a medicinal manner when it's Sapphire or better.

    June 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm |
  9. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Wow, and I thought trying to make a connector from terminal 4 to terminal 6 in less than one hour with my daughter was hard.

    My hat (if I were wearing one) is off to you.

    Thank you greatly for going though all of that trouble and adventure to bring us the world and show us what is really going on so we can help to fix it.

    This Planet in Peril series is wonderful and informative....Keep up the good work.

    You should get a special pass and line for all that equipment, not an SSS on your ticket, that is just not right.

    June 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  10. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Well Neil, getting to a Planet in Peril appears to be perilous predicament! Here's a toast to all your hard work...Forgive me if I replace the gin and tonic for a smooth Merlot..Cheers!
    Stay clear of the creepy crawlies. They tend to be a travel companion, best left to reside on their home turf. Happy bugless travel.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Stacy

    Looking forward to another awe inspiring journey with you.Be careful out there and I'll be having a gin and tonic in your honor, Yhank-you for all your hard work.

    June 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  12. Chris - Hemet, Ca.

    Maybe you could do a article on Airline Travel in Peril.

    June 5, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  13. Sharon from Indy

    Planet in Peril 2...I didn't realize the second series was in production.

    As a still photographer, I do not check my lenses or one camera, therefore, the maneuvering of the lens/camera bag is always an obstacle course. I would rather be left with no clothes than without equipment. I am lucky enough to be able to carry on without too much difficulty.

    On one assignment out West, I had to take a "puddle jumper" into a small town in Montana. I couldn't fit my camera bag into the overhead compartment. The attendant said I had to check the bag to be placed in the luggage compartment. The way the luggage workers were throwing luggage into the small plane, I said, "no, not unless you want to personally pay for any damage to my equipment."

    Frustrated with my request and anxious to close the plane's door, she said I could strap my equipment into a seat. Luckily, I had an empty seat next to me. I realize this request was probably illegal in terms of air flight regulations, but my equipment had a comfortable ride, and I had the satisfaction of knowing I was able to dodge the equipment "separation anxiety" I experience when I fly.

    Happy travels! I look forward to the new series.

    June 5, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  14. missy

    Hey, Neil! Thanks for the update. It's always great to hear from you. Will Anderson be joining you by chance?

    June 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  15. lpfoong, Malaysia

    Gin and tonic = anti-malaria medication? Why didn't anyone tell me that earlier as it matters little to me now since I don't drink much anymore? Thanks for the tip though. 🙂
    It's wonderful to know that Planet In Peril 2 is in the making now and would like to just say that all of you did an amazing job with the first one and I bet this one will be great as well.
    Though it hasn't quite started as well as you would like it to be and I completely sympathize with you, and I hope from this day forth, everything will fall into place and go smoothly as it should for the rest of this project.
    Thanks again for the heads-up and I'm really looking forward to it.
    Take care.

    June 5, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  16. Lilibeth

    Another gin and tonic? I’ll need more than that after what you went through!

    June 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  17. Janna

    Mmmmm...gin & tonic... The efforts to deal with your harrowing travels are totally appreciated- Thank you so much for continuing to enlighten us with this amazingly important series. In fact, I think I'll make myself a gin & tonic in your honor when it airs.....I can't wait!

    June 5, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
  18. Susan


    Thanks for keeping us up to date on the production of PIP 2. I am looking forward to your new installment. The PIP 1 was great and very informative. Well done !!

    Sorry for your mis-adventures with your travel plans. Hope the gin and tonics do not run out.

    Keep us up to date !
    Thanks for your comments !


    June 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Delphine, France

    Gin and tonic as anti malaria drug! When I think about all the times I took Lariam or Malarone and they made me so sick... Thanks for the tip, Neil! But I'm not into Gin. If only Mojitos could have the same effect!

    More seriously, I am really looking forward PIP 2! I so loved the part 1! Thanks in advance for all the great stories you will share with us!

    June 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  20. Michael, NC

    Well, I can't bring any different praise to the table than what is posted above, so I will just say that I agree! I watch these PIP segments every time they are on, no matter how many times I have seen them before (which is a ton). They are a great wake up call to many citizens across the globe, and I love the team in charge. Keep up the great work, and drink all the "antidotes" you need to put on another eye opening show for your fans.

    June 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  21. anne,newfoundland,canada

    welcome back to the blog,it is great to see you post again.

    PIP was amazing the first time around,and I have no doubt that it will be again.

    I enjoy reading the "behind the scenes" efforts and appreciate the hard work it takes in producing a program of this magnitude.

    I hope you continue with some updates here as filming progresses.

    Are Phil and Charlie involved this time around as well?

    Take care of yourselves.


    June 5, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  22. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    Neil it is nice to see you back on the blog as well. Thank you for your tireless work in bringing us PIP 2. We all owe you a gin and tonic for sure 🙂

    June 5, 2008 at 10:31 am |
  23. SC Gal

    I have just switched parties because of the unfair DNC rules committee's decision.

    I think that Senator McCain has much better moral values and is an example of an American Hero.

    He is not the far right
    He'll be much better as a President that Senator Obama.
    Obama is scary and unfair to his party.
    His morals are also too vague.

    June 5, 2008 at 10:30 am |
  24. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Neil!
    Well, here you go again. That is, you and Phil. I believe the Planet in Peril series is terribly important and exciting. It's depressing too, just to know how rapidly WE are diminishing our earth home in such a cruel and destructive way.
    Thanks for going out on a limb to photograph it for us.
    You and Phil need to stay out of trouble this time. Try not to be such gracious "host"! ha! I didn't mean to scare ya~

    June 5, 2008 at 10:21 am |
  25. Marcia

    Sound like you all have the drill down pat. Hopefully the airlines and the government won't decide to change things while you're away, but hey it does make life exciting. Looking forward to this new installment of PIP.

    June 5, 2008 at 10:05 am |
  26. Kim

    I love reading about what's going on in the background to make the final product on screen possible. Please keep us up to date on what's happening, it makes me appreciate the Planet in Peril segments even more.

    June 5, 2008 at 9:52 am |
  27. Judy Stage

    Gosh Neil, what an exciting life you lead. I am anxiously awaiting Planet in Peril 2. I watched the original Planet in Peril series several times. Good luck and stay safe. Go easy on the gin and tonic.

    June 5, 2008 at 8:56 am |
  28. deborah,OH

    LOL! This started my day off right! (except for the blog I wrote @ 4 AM).

    I can ONLY IMAGINE the monumental effort it takes to put PIP1&2 into production. We do appreciate your efforts, Neil. You have my sympathy concerning airport adventures–oh, the stories I could tell.

    Don't be a stranger to the blog, Neil. We like to hear from everybody involved with PIP, including Anderson & Sanjay.

    Good Luck with PIP2! We are all looking forward to it!

    June 5, 2008 at 8:46 am |
  29. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Sounds like an experience requiring more gin than tonic. I've heard that anti-malarial rumor, too, but I'd still take my Malarone just to stay on the safe side!!! Stay safe and have fun!

    June 5, 2008 at 8:31 am |
  30. Rachel

    Thank You and all involved for your work, strengh, and truth.
    Your PP team rocks!

    June 5, 2008 at 8:10 am |
  31. Cindy

    Neil...long time no see!! I am so glad to hear from you again. I am glad to hear that you are going to be back filming PIP2. Your work last year was awesome. Can't wait to see you in action with Anderson and see your finished product in late 08.

    Have a great time...and don't drink too many of those tasty drinks you still have lots of work to do! LOL


    June 5, 2008 at 8:10 am |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.