I am at 11260 meters up in the sky, travelling at a speed that would be 535 mph on the ground, looking out of the window at Heraklion in Crete (- I know because there is a google map – ) flying is exhilarating. I love seeing the environment spread out beneath me like a real-time geography lesson, there’s snow on the Alps, the Rhone really does flow out from the mountains to the sea, and the Croatian coast is, well, really dramatic. I find it amazing that humans have engineered a massive hulk of metal, and filled it with people, and baggage, and dressed it with fancy gadgets to make it comfortable, and that this can lift off the ground and carry us through the sky. If someone had told this to my grandmother when she was a child, she would have thought this was a crazy dream. Human beings are so ingenious.
Being up in the air feels like time-out-of-time. For the past 6 months, my life has been woven with lists of to-do’s, a chunk of my mind always forward planning, always aiming for the utmost efficiency of time and organisation. And now we are on our way. For today, there is nothing to plan and nothing to schedule. It is a huge relief. My body can feel it. Last night was the first night in weeks that I slept through without waking in the early hours with tasks on the mind.
The girls have been wonderful travellers so far. Things have been easy because we haven’t had to rush. There’s been time at the airport to dawdle, and to work out how the escalators work, or to ask questions about the security checks, to go to the loo umpteen times and to eat malteesers. We stopped in Brussels overnight and ate expensive dinner very late in a hotel. The girls giggled for hours after the lights were out. And today’s flight has been smooth so far. The girls who are rationed to one Disney film a year are binging on movies and airline snacks and relishing the fact that no normal rules apply, just for today!
Now I must stop so I can look out of the window. I can see the cost of Lybia (or maybe just into Egypt?) endless sand crossed by pipelines and dotted with the shadows of the clouds below us.
By the time we arrive in Kigali it will be dark. What will it feel like arriving in an African night with all my family? I remember when I first arrived in Cameroon when I was 18, we were landing at dawn, in a major city, and it was dark, no street lights, no neon, and it was hot, as if I had stepped too close to the plane’s engines… what an impact that had for me then. What will the girls make of it – the smells, the dark, the heat? I’m hoping that our online visas will be turned into real ones without too much of a challenge, and that Zishan (the British GP whose time in Bwindi is finishing) will really be waiting at the airport to meet us. Let’s see what awaits.