NOTES ON A PLANE – THE LANDING by Rich R
ED NOTE: Rich continues with the last part of his plane journey- the excitement and nervousness of reaching his destination becomes more apparent as the hours and airmiles continue
NOTES ON A PLANE – PART 4
Off in the distance I can see lights. Must be Dakar, Senegal Africa. A quick land in the dark, like a huge bird flying into the night. Yes, we have landed on African soil. It’s time for the Dakar Security to check our plane. For what? Who knows? We’ve been traveling at 544 miles per hour at nearly 30,000 feet in the air.
Here they come, bright orange security vests on… just like those at sporting events in the States. As they approach the rows, people have to stand up. Have their passports in hand as well as their carry-on bags. Some of the inspectors are very short…actually too short to look inside the bins. One stood on tiptoe, opening the bin. I know he could not see inside but only to push it up and close it back again with a very thick accented “it’s ok.”
Just looking around, you could see some passengers are very nervous. Guards checking their seat cushion, the magazine holder…looking the people over. One guy, I guess the guard did not like his looks so told him to empty his ‘bag’ and ‘show passport’. The gentleman obliged as the guard went through his carry-on. Sitting there while the security check took place and refueling took well over 2 hours.
Finally, we are taking off. This was a very unsettling experience. Why? I have no idea… I guess because of where I was, I was alone with no family members and the unknown of what could happen in this foreign country.
The sun is starting to show over the cloud covered African skies! Beautiful sunrise. Reminded me a bit of Mt. Halelakula in Hawaii except I was flying above the mountains, not standing on one waiting for the sun. At nearly 30,000 feet in the air and it is 37 degrees outside. I was amazed because when we were flying over the Atlantic it was a negative temperature. When we were landed in Dakar at 4:30 a.m. the temperature indicator on the monitors said it was 97 degrees outside. I sure would not want to be there during the heat of the day. But, it IS Northern Africa and that’s where the heat always seems to be.
More people as I really become accustomed to the plane and my fellow passengers.
Pencil-nose lady – wire rimmed glasses, frozen smile, arms crossed, scanning the crowd.
Moustache man – thick, bushy moustache! It really stood out! Maybe mid 40’s. Walking around constantly, trying to make eye contact. Back to his laptop. Maybe he is writing something about the people on the plane as well. Who knows?
As I stand in line to use the restroom, the Harvard girls were doing circles around the cabin.
Mel? Well, he moved up another section with his youngest – even though they could sit anywhere BUT move to another area of the plane. Not good old Mel though. He made sure everyone knew he was moving up no matter what the flight attendants said.
Me? I moved to the others side of the plane – empty seats – behind the wing so I could see land instead of water as we were flying down the Western coast of Africa. Still over water in that section of Africa that kind of curves in. But I could see land approaching,rivers winding through the mountains….flying over the coast…looking at a map – here I was, just leaving the Ivory Coast! All I could think of was all the movies of Tarzan and the African adventurers – hunting the Ivory Coast for the almighty elephant tusk!
Time to destination – Cape Town, South Africa! Approximately 3 hours. Clouds disappearing and clear skies up ahead. Can’t wait to see land and mountains. Can’t wait to get my feet on land.
Captain announces “ladies and gentlemen” we will be arriving in Cape Town in approximately 2 hours. We are now flying at 30,510 feet, 531 miles per hour and have a hefty tailwind of 123 miles per hour. Looks like smooth sailing from here on.
The sight out the window was absolutely gorgeous! Bright blue skies. I could see the whole South Africa landscape – Table Mountain off in the distance…the Sleeping Giant!
I can see why people love flying over this part of the world.
Lion’s Head Mountain (really the feet of the sleeping giant)…the waterfront – seas of green and blue! Ships in the harbor. Out on the seas, awaiting arrival. Captain says we arrived a bit early and our gate was not ready so they would bus us to the customs and immigration areas.
AFRICA .. I am here!