Thursday, September 15, 2011

15 September 2011 - Cocos again

It is not the just the weather that has changed. One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival this year is the cool and familiar immigration stamp. Yes, the sexy (I know I am shooting myself I the foot here) unique Seychelles Coco-de mer stamp is back. It seems that the people have spoken or at least that someone listened and acted. It is a huge feather in the cap for the Seychellois and the country as a whole. (Read the story I did September 21 in 2010 titles More coco nuts…) It sure looks pretty in my passport.
While on the subject of coco-nuts, Dirk and I have been cautious when parking near the beach – always looking up to see if we are not underneath a ripe, ready to fall coconut. We have been joking about the fact that more people die from falling coconuts than shark attacks. If we are so vigilant at looking out for sharks while surfing and swimming why not look up while on the beach too?
Case in point, it sure pays to be observant, which was exactly what I told myself, in chastisement actually, when my eyes met the wind sock – it was straight as an arrow, way past my safety cut-off point. Unlike other times when looking at the windsock from within the safety of the car this time round we were in the airplane, strapped in and ready to fly. I was blaming Dirk of course, but only partly. Ultimately I am the pilot and have to take responsibility for being here. (This morning I asked Dirk to do the windsock check while I prepared the plane. He reported that it was fine which I just accepted. Of course afterwards he mentioned something about looking at the windsock during a lull…) But we were out there and kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The wind was buffeting the little plane while I struggled to keep control. A small hill upwind was the cause of these gusts and for now I thought it best to get out onto the runway and into the cleaner air. The plane was threatening to roll over from the strong crosswind, leaning precariously to one side. If a strong gust came through it would be all over so my eyes scoured the tilted swaying grass for those approaching unseen gusts. This was an old trick for strong wind flying. By watching the upwind grass you could see the swirling eddies approach and prepare so as not to get caught off-guard.
Behind me, on the back seat was Mark, one of the interns with the MCSS. Mark is a great guy. Not just because he surfs, or that he is an old-hand at air-traffic controlling and knows his way around airport procedures, nor the fact that he is the only male living with four beautiful ladies (they are part of the MCSS intern crew). Despite these experiences Mark comes across extremely modest. Dirk and I like Mark.
Mark made it clear to me too that it would be nice to see what it’s like on the other end of the radio. He could not wait to fly in our little orange plane but this was going to be a bit of a fire baptism. Needless, before he could say much we leapt into the air. While climbing I was being kept busy by the frisky air. It was surprisingly bumpy even for the windward side of the island, a side that is usually calm and smooth given that the air has just passed over thousands of miles of open ocean with not a piece of land or rock to disrupt the airflow.
We rock and rolled our way to 1500ft.
“How are you doing Mark?”
“I’m fine thanks!”
Ah… Sometimes you just have to love the fact that ignorance is bliss.

Wish you were here!

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