Traveling To Austria : My Experience On A Virgin Passport (Part II)
Take-Off And Landing : My First Time On An Airplane
So we were able to locate our boarding gate and queued up for boarding when it was time. We passed through the necessary customs and immigration checks and lined up to enter the plane. We were directed through a narrow tube that kept winding left and right and would bounce you up with every step. It felt good, I felt good too.
Then we came to a door where two white female KLM crew stood, smiling at every one and muttering some words I could not hear from afar. By the movement of their hands, I could tell they were directing people somewhere. But where exactly? Perhaps the final stop and search point. But then I thought we have done all the necessary checks? These oyibo people too dey suspect blacks sha.
Little did I know!
It was now my turn, standing right on the door that seemed to be vibrating from underneath, I could not make out the nature of the cozy environment I just found myself in. Perhaps this is a scanning machine about to scan us for weapons?
I was still lost in my world of imaginations when the KLM lady demanded for my boarding pass. She looked at it and motioned me to the next door. Two steps through the door and the reality hit me. This is an airplane . I mean AIR GODAMN PLANE!
The first couch (if that is the right word) was almost filled up, as my seat number falls in the second.
Then that claustrophobic feeling started setting in on me. And with each step I took, I felt as if I was going into a tunnel of no return. I wanted to turn back and leave, at least to set my eyes on the starry sky one more time, if not the last time. But the long queue of passengers pushing through behind me only forced me to go forward. I had desired this moment all my life and the moment is right here. There was no going back.
I located my seat and settled down, then immediately went into the mood of prayer. A second later a woman touched me and with an American accent said I was seating on her seat. She was gentle. She was calm. Short of words, I handed her my boarding pass, she looked at it and told me that the next seat in the middle is where I should sit, right next to her. I adjusted.
And so the frenetic movements of passengers continued until everyone was settled on his/her seat.
A female attendant passed by my side and perhaps noticed me handling my smartphone. She offered to take a picture of me and and my family. We obliged. She asked if could help me with anything else. “Fly the damn plane to Holland and set me free”, I muttered under my breath.
Moments later, a voice from the cockpit started speaking and I could barely pick out few words. Perhaps, Pilots are trained to fly and not to talk. Same way doctors are trained to cure and not to write. Good luck trying to decode a prescription written by a doctor.
Then I heard words like drop in air pressure, oxygen mask, in case of emergency evacuation, emergency exit. I prayed even more, hoping it will not be our portion.
We were all set for take-off. The cabin crew did their job and prepared everyone. The pilot fired up the engine, taxied on the run way and up we went into the sky. Few seconds after take off, I felt the plane falling backwards, a feeling I would get in my subsequent flights.
But up and up into the sky we went, on our way to Holland.
The flights attendants were beginning to serve meals. The seat belt lights were off. We were apparently at the cruising altitude. I looked at the small screen in front of me again; 39000 feet above sea level. I felt my nose, to be sure I was still breathing. My heart beats became so irregular and I was beginning to sweat internally. I felt some hot liquid gathering around my waist. I needed to make use of the rest room, but I had no strength to move. I closed my eyes to sleep but was welcomed by the riotous voices in my mind. “What if you sleep and don’t wake up again? What are you doing here exactly? Do you know how far you are from land? Why did you even embark on this journey? What if the plane develops faults now? Will you ever see Nigeria again? Dear Lord! They rambled on!
I opened my eyes minutes later to find a flight attendant smiling awkwardly at me. I had placed my bible, prayer booklet for the Precious blood, prayer book from Fr. Mbaka and the pieta, right on the mini table in front of me. The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was there too. I held tightly to my 20 decades rosary. 5 decades is not enough at this altitude. It was a complete altar before me, except there were no candles. The flight attendant dilly dallied for few seconds hoping I would make some space for her to keep my dish. I didn’t bulge. Safety first! I can eat all I want when I land safely. She moved on.
Mum and Dad slept on comfortably. They had flown many times, so it wasn’t new to them. My sisters were all in prayers. Most passengers were asleep. Some watched movies on the in-flight television. Few others discussed in low tones and laughed at intervals. I wondered how they kept their cool and found strength to laugh, thousands of feet in the middle of no where. I admired a young guy and his white lover who were cuddled up in each other’s embrace at the other end of the row.
Finally, after God-knows-how-long, weakly I closed my eyes and slept off.
The time was 5:00am and we were about to land in Holland. I was so exhausted from fear and worry. I worried about everything that went on aboard.
I worried about the sharp sshhshhh sound coming from behind us, if it was the engine failing. The lady by me explained it was the toilet being flushed.
But why is the plane dancing shaku shaku in the air nah? She said is nothing to worry about.
“I don’t like the way the flight attendants are walking up and down with speed, is anything the matter”? She said they are just trying to be nice by hastily meeting with the needs of the passengers.
I felt relief when the pilot announced, “cabin crew prepare for landing” . Finally we would be getting off this plane to catch some fresh natural air, before boarding another one to Vienna .
If only they will give me my remaining flight fare, let me trek the remaining. Shebi, Vienna is not far again 🙁
At 5:30am, our Airbus A380 monster touched down at Schiphol Int’l Airport, Amsterdam.
I just had my first 7 hours on a plane, crossing different time zones and entering into a whole new world. It was to me an adventure, and I loved it.