You join me at the best possible time. Boarding a plane. Looking down the gap between the door and the jetway. Makes you feel strange going into, what is essentially, a large metal tube. Soon to be a large metal tube 35,000 feet in the air. A large metal tube that seems to have the same ant infestation as your kitchen cupboards.
Breathe a sigh of relief, you’ve taken off and you’re not dead. I tend to do that at least. Theres something deep within us all that can’t help but imagine “What if we started to nose-dive – or the tail brakes off – or this tilt turns into a barrel-roll”.
I feel silly confessing this, I have willingly jumped out of an aeroplane – twice! Both times attached to a man I’d met 15 minutes before. The second time in no more than shorts and a t-shirt. So for me to be planning the last few seconds of my life every time we hit the slightest turbulence seems absurd… I guess that’s human nature – stubbornly ignorant.
Twelve relatively comfortable hours later – watching 3 star movies. Documentaries on Planets & the universe. Pee’ing twice. Wondering why on earth only aeroplanes have headphones with two mini-jacks (rendering my new Dr. Dre beats useless) – We land.
The familiarity of stepping off a jet in a new country makes me feel like James Bond. I clutch Mary’s hand all the way through the airport. She’s been here before and knows the score. We fly through customs and lift our packs off the conveyor. Its time for the bit I’ve been waiting for since we landed. The one step after the air-conditioned airport.
Heat hits you like every english summer you’ve ever had all at once. This is where you pause. Turn to Mary (unless you happen to be with someone else) and beam a smile of relief. A smile of excitement. A smile of an adventure starting.
The inevitable happens after this brief moment of joy. A truly evil force in the world. One of gut wrenching slime and soul shattering filth. The airport taxi service. For the pleasure of bad driving, bad manners and bad smells – you seem to be paying the cretin roughly three times more than you should. My advice – either walk the 14 miles to your hotel or buy a used car on Craigslist the day before (it’ll probably be cheaper!).
The next part of the agenda is echoed around the world after a twelve-hour flight – sleep. Grunt at the hotel staff. Lug your belongings to the lift. Decipher the room keys unique method of access. Sleep. Don’t worry – the world will be out there when you wake up. Kiss Mary (that parts just for me) and sleep.