Thursday, April 10, 2014

Things You Don't Tell Your Mother ...

Our Plane and our Pilots ....

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti: Scott picked me up at the “Big Airport.” Though I hadn’t seen him since January 2011 he was easy to spot, an always-friendly face casually leaning against the wall in scrubs and a t-shirt. Flaunting his mastery of Creole, Scott hustled me past the cluster of porters jockeying to push my luggage cart and off we drove to a quick lunch at the Shack. My jitters were only slightly dampened by the Prestige at lunch as we arrived at the “Little Airport” for my flight to Jacmel … in a very, very “little plane.”

Prior to leaving the US, I had been asked to accurately weigh myself and each of my bags so that the pilot could determine how we would distribute the contents within the plane. I had dutifully bought a scale, weighed everything, and weighed it again … I was not going to be responsible for any aeronautic shenanigans in Haiti.

As we loaded the bags, I admitted to Roger that I was nervous – really, really nervous about this flying Volkswagen I was about to step into. The former Alaskan bush pilot was nice enough, mustering all the social skills of an awkward loner, he smiled and feigned reassurance. The teenage Haitian co-pilot was more personable with a big smile and contagious enthusiasm … there was no going back …what was I getting myself into?

So there I was, lap belt fastened securely across my waist, clenching my fists, saying silent prayers as the doors shut with their hollow, tiny smack and the propeller started to cut through the humid Caribbean air.  What seemed like a silly sprint down the runway sent us nose up, headed above the city in a slow climb. And then, we were suspended; high above Port … in a flying VW … I took a breath and momentarily believed in magic.

The flight was quick – 15 minutes of floating above Port-au-Prince, following the tropical coastline, and crossing over the mountains. I clenched my fists again as we spotted the surprisingly short runway in Jacmel. There was one quick correction of the plane's horizon and then we touched down in the most perfect landing.

After we unloaded the plane, I took my newly minted bravado and loaded myself into the bed of the pick up truck with all of our bags. In the moment, in that setting, things like seatbelts, helmets, big jet airplanes, seemed so “cautious” and the thought of sitting inside the truck seemed so “confining” … it was a quick re-entry but I was back in Haiti, hanging on to the side of the truck, immersed in the sites, the smells and the embrace of the warm, heavy air of Jacmel.

View from the bed of the pick-up :-)

1 comment:

dcr said...

OMG,! Love your mother. . . .lots of love.