Oh God, They’re Inside!

A few years ago, I went on one of those terrible affairs known as “family vacations” with, well, my family. At the time this included both my parents and three cousins. Mind you that I was only 12 at the time, but even then the whole thing seemed strange to me: if we’re stressed out from being near each other all year, how can we hope to relax by going to the same place? Oh well, grownups will be grownups, I guess.

We chose Brazil for our destination. I’m told that it was a lovely place and that we had the most wonderful time. And the views? Oh, ever so enchanting. But again, I was 12, what did I know? I do seem to remember that the ice cream was pretty good. What wasn’t good was the flight, around 13 hours in coach in a rather small aircraft. Oh well, the clouds were nice enough.

We were flying to Maceió, a town in the state of Alagoas, and as we approached the airport the wind suddenly picked up. Anyone who has flown in a rather small aircraft knows how strong winds can be rather unnerving, especially if you’re a 12-year-old kid with chronic back pain and sleep deprivation due to horrible seating. So there we were, being almost tossed from one side of the airplane to the other, some of us praying, some of us crying, and at least one of us high as a kite from sleeping pills…and then we saw the airport. That was all it took to send most of the passengers over the edge.

Below us, and approaching fast, was airport Zumbi dos Palmares—which literally means “Palm Tree Zombie.” Death did seem like our fate, since you could scarcely call it an airport—or even a “building.” A single, large metal shed and a runway that seemed shorter than 300 meters, ending abruptly in the tree line where the forest began. With all the wind and rain, things did not seem promising. I’ll never know how the pilot did manage to land the darn thing. I was thinking that they would have to literally anchor it to the ground, as the plane kept on rocking after the passengers left it, just due to wind alone.

Eventually, my parents and I were safe on the ground, and the plane took off again for another four-hour flight, to another state down south where my cousins were going to visit someone. During that flight, my older cousin called my father, and then something happened that eventually became my clearest memory from that voyage: my cousin suddenly screaming from the other side of the cell phone: “Oh God, they're inside!” As it turns out, it wasn’t zombies but some rather large mosquitoes that must have gotten inside the plane during the layover and that now were forcing my cousins to cover themselves with their coats. Can’t say I was exactly crushed to hear of their plight. After all, exotic ice-cream awaited me.

Categories: Airplanes, Trips

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