I love flying (wish I could do it without assistance – but I think I already told you about my disastrous attempt at paragliding). There is something about sipping a Chardonnay at 30 000 feet that makes the creative juices flow. There’s food, movies, I have endless reading hours on the Kindle, 13% battery left on the MacBook and an informative map that tells me we are somewhere between Keyhole Reservoir and Pumpkin Buttes (seriously!)
Our journey did start a little auspiciously in the Durban downpour. When the pilot slammed on brakes as we were hurtling down the runway, pulled over and the cabin steward told us to take OFF our seat belts, I was seriously concerned – either the plane was on fire or they were thinking of making us change planes in the pouring rain just for the fun of it. We had visions of missing our Jo’burg connection and thereby missing our Los Angeles connection and missing our pick-up at LAX and missing a whole day of a (very short) stay with our dear friends Alan & Rynelle. But I was being pessimistic – God was still smiling on us even if the Natal weather wasn’t – the pilot merely thought that one of the doors was still open (so glad he stopped to check) and we were soon on our way.
Travelling is an absurd situation – it throws you together with arb people you wouldn’t normally encounter at such close quarters. At first I was mildly irritated to find that I was seated next to a chatty 5 year old with an appalling cough, being chaperoned by a mildly disengaged father who was downing a double whiskey to cope with his personal situation. Don’t feel too sorry for him – he wasn’t a single parent. How do I know that there was a mom back home in London? Because he confessed to his 5 year old that “we forgot to get Mommy a present from the Duty Free.” To which she replied “it’s not my fault – don’t blame me.” (Don’t you love it how kids today know all about Boundaries.) Dad got his own back by pointing out that neither was it his fault that she hadn’t done her homework (perhaps she was older than 5, though she looked a fair match for my grand-daughter, Emma.) We did manage to sleep quite well despite the cough (me with the aid of a sleeping pill and her with the aid of an enormous lollipop which was fortunately too big to swallow). By the time we were shuffling off the first flight and Dad was telling her to hurry up or she’s be late for school, my irritation had dissolved completely and I was beginning to feel fondly empathic towards the poor child. And I remembered cheerily that I was on sabbatical – I did not have to go to school today – just check in for my second 11 hour flight. Just as well I like flying.