it has been one of the exciting episodes of the work that i do. the idea of crossing vast distances in a small fraction of time, and the comfort that it brings me is one of the sweetest things that i am thankful for.
but a different kind of flying came up in the week that was.
we arrived at the zamboanga airport around 7a on a tuesday. i slept through the manila-zambo flight. because i wanted to be awake when we board a chopper that will bring us to basilan.
with our stuff in tow, we made way to the airbase around 8a. i know that there is nothing much to expect. i also know that these birds have been flying equal to my lifetime, or probably more. and i have had stories of daunting moments of friends riding them. i also remember headlines of the few that went ahead these old birds.
still, i approached these oddly shaped aircrafts like me entering the doors of my employer, on the first day. i knew what is ahead of me, somehow, i know what it took for me to be here, but still the fright of something new, grips me and slowly churns and turns my insides.
and so i put on the blue, supposedly flotation device. aha, a safety feature, a good sign.
i almost took a leap as i stepped into chopper two. i took a seat on the army-like seat, all around me, were people in fatigues. mike and i, plus this lady were the only civilian in the chopper. i worked on my seatbelt, but its not the same easy buckle on a plane. i had to ask for captain edwin to help me buckle up.
i noticed the lady beside me trying to buckle up, but gave up after mincing with the contraption for a time. instead she put her bag over her seat belt and just looked bored.
then the cabin got busy, i knew that the ride was about to start. i was all smiles! this time i can smile without getting dust on my teeth (like the way it goes on a habal habal ride, but i digress once again). the chopper positioned its nose towards basilan as if an athlete getting ready to jump from a cliff. i gripped the edge of my seat and got ready for take off.
when i opened my eyes, i saw that we were just passing over sta. cruz island. unmistakably, the pink sand reflects its soft glow from the morning light. the sea glittered of aquamarine, the midmorning sun bearing down on it and casting a bright glow in its midst. mangroves, dwarfed by our flight grips the earth from down below. it seems like it was raising its branches to wave to our chopper. they seem to feel the insanity of the moment. when one is neither here nor there.
i saw the way the grass embraced the ground, like the way they do in movies. i saw how everyone went down from the chopper, with their stuff on their shoulders or gripped by strong hands. i observed, how i unconsciously put my hand over my cap, to prevent it from flying off... again like the way they do in movies.
in a matter of minutes, it was over. we were already in basilan, the loud, unashamed, boisterous whirr of the elisi died down. and we set off for our task for the day.
i took a bit of turn, and glanced back to our bird. see you in a few days.