Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Little Magic

When you are having a bad day, its the little things that can turn it all around.

In a little town near Equatorial Guinea, I watched two pygmy women walk across the apron with baskets full of bananas. We chatted for half and hour, then I watched gob smacked as they stopped a taxi and piled in.

The last I saw of them was eyes and big smiles, just peeping over the dashboard, waving goodbye.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Being A Pilot

I love my job; who wouldn't?!

There are days when it gets me down. When I ask myself why, for the sake of a mediocre salary I willingly live far from those I love, from home comforts and true friendship. Why each day, and many nights, I find myself battling through 60,000ft thunderstorms threaded with lighting and bashing heads with idiot passengers! But then I think to myself, I’m a pilot!

That in itself seems cool enough to justify all kinds of inconvenience. It’s something I have wanted to be since I can remember. It’s a cliché, but I must confess to fitting the cliché perfectly. As a little boy there was no greater treat than to ride in my grandfather's plane, while on the ground, I built endless models and pestered my parents for the ultimate toy, a radio controlled plane.

For the sake of my job I have moved much too often, loosing friends and saying goodbye to places where I was completely content. But then I have made new friends, more than any guy deserves and seen so many incredible things. How many people have experienced what I have? Flown over oceans, both Indian and Atlantic, into jungle villages and tropical islands, along great portions of the Congo and Zambezi, and watched the sun rise over Kilimanjaro to name but a few.

For the love of aviation I have lost true love and don’t clearly see how it could happen again. This is a hole that is hard to fill. But then, on a golden afternoon when the controller clears me to take off and my plane reaches for the sky, all I think of is that I am flying, and it fills me with a soaring joy.

If you have never flown you just cannot understand the obsession; but an obsession it is. One day I hope to have recovered enough from the addiction to perhaps give it up, or get my fill from the occasional fix. I desperately want to spend weekends with good friends, and evenings playing scrabble with my family in a real home; to wake up with someone I love and to be back for dinner. When that finally happens, I’ll hang up pictures of my adventuring days and rebuild that radio controlled plane that, on my first flight so many years ago, crashed into a million little bits!

But, until then; I’m a pilot! I love my job. Who wouldn’t!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Gabonese and Manners

Thursday morning and this marks the beginning of my fifth week in this most unfriendly of African countries. The French could only aspire to such levels of arrogance and non-chalance that the Gabonese exude. If it were not done to such absolute perfection it would offend greatly, but instead just leaves me thoroughly impressed. How is it possible for an entire country to be so consistently and unequivocally aloof?

A few months ago I was lucky enough to hike the Otter Trail which competes very strongly as one of the most breath taking places I have ever been. There are no superlatives that suffice in describing the scenery and drama of the trip. However, that is just an aside and brings me to my point.

One evening, over a lip scolding cup of camp tea a heated discussion took place with Annie, my politically correct aunt. I had stated, without fear of contradiction that Nigerians are not to be trusted. Annie, was of course outraged! She was shocked that I could so casually put an entire nation in a box. Doing so, she said was not just unfair but incredibly dangerous as it painted large groups with the same brush and was the beginning of discrimination and the possible perpetuation of more sinister acts. I enjoy a good debate and argued strongly, with much flailing of arms that she was wrong, I was right, and that I am sorry but if she could not see that then she was just not giving it enough thought!

However, recently something happened that made me see how ridiculous my stance had been. An email circulated amongst friends showed a group of Muslim people parading in London waving violent and despicable slogans. The thrust of the email was that the British authorities had become weak, and a more respectable government would have dealt with these people more harshly. Sent them home.

With the wave of anti Muslim feeling circulating around the world I confess to being guilty of supporting the under dog; but there is more to my sudden anger at this insensitive email. There has been an influx of Zimbabweans to Zambia in the the past five years, many good and some very bad. On the whole they have been a positive influence and have been offended at being treated like bad school kids just because of the behaviour of a rotten few. The irony of they then being the main proponents of the anti Islam email that tarnished a whole religion based solely on the action of a handful, did not escape me.

So, Annie was right. We should not put people in boxes or even attempt to classify them. All too often it is the minority that taint the reputation of the majority, and humanity has a bad habit of revelling in the negative. From now on I will believe the best in people, chances are I will be disappointed but its a happier way to live.

Gabonese however, on the whole, remain rude!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Masaai Boy

Tagging along on a medivac with Rebecca one day we landed at Loliondo, a hospital deep in Masai land. This boy came up and with a little encouragement allowed a couple of pics to be taken. The Masai dress their children in the traditional red shuka from a very early age. Interestingly, the red shuka that is synonamous with these people is a fairly recent introduction.
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