Friday, March 16, 2007

Smart People Don’t Make the Same Mistake 3 Times

What’s a wasles?

It reminded me of the story my grandmother told me about when she was a little girl growing up in Mississippi, on the river, or next to the river, the Mississippi River, or maybe it was Arkansas. My grandmaw Florence was born around 1910, so the story she told had to happen in the early1920s because by the late 1920s she was married and having babies.

Her mother was a cook for the logging camps that worked up and down the Mississippi river, and her father came and stayed long enough to make her mother pregnant, and went whenever he felt like it. So, the kids were left to fend for themselves. And being that grandma, who’s nickname was Dixie, was one of the older girls, she and her older sister Maud were left to tend to the youngins whilst momma went to work.

I’ll skip the part of the story where they were playing with the shotgun and shot a hole in the mattress, and the part where a big rain came and their tent slid down the riverbank in a mudslide right into the river and I’ll start right at the part where they were crossing the train trestle over the river and the train came, so they had to lay down on the tracks and let the train pass over them. She and her little brothers and sisters.

That was what ran through my head when the Cessna Caravan nearly mowed me down on the airstrip the other day. Git yourself down girl, throw down that bike and hit the durt afore that propeller chops your head off. Do like granmaw said. And I did.

It wasn’t the pilot’s fault though, I tried to smile and give a little wave to reassure the pilot as he nearly had a conniption fit on landing. I think it was a fit, I would hate to think he was aiming for me as he headed straight down the runway.

After Yoga class I decided to take the shortcut down the airstrip, rather than take the coco-jarring bumpity bump beach path, the long way around the southpoint of Caye Caulker to the new Yoga Center that my friend Sally and her husband have built up on stilts with a stunning sunset view. On a sunny breezy afternoon the ride/walk is nice, but after an hour of sweating and rolling round on the floor tied up like a pretzel, I just wanted a shower. The sun was going down and the mozzies were revving up. So I did the right thing, I called Tropic Air on Caye Caulker to ask if they were having any incoming flights from International or San Pedro. They answered, yes, one JUST LEFT from International. O.K. I say to myself, I have 15 minutes, now haul yer azz gial. The runway is a little more than ¼ mile long and about 20 feet wide. So I started biking down the runway, riding West to East, having covered about 100 yards, I barely hear a low buzzing chainsaw kinda noise, because the breeze was blowing the sound back East to West. I look over my right shoulder just in time to see a giant pelican looking thing (painted cream and burgundy) about to plop down on me. And then granmaw told me to hit it, swamp to the left of me, airstrip on the right, dive dive dive. Its accurate to say that their interpretation of JUST LEFT was different than mine. JUST LEFT means within the last 2 minutes to me. JUST LEFT to them must mean when the airplane is about to land on your back, JUST DIVE LEFT.

Whew! Close call. The wingtips flop over the edge of the tarmack left and right by several feet so its not enough to just get off the pavement and into the swamp ditch. Standing up straight, the wingtips would hit me about mid throat. And I wont mention the propeller.

I should have gone back to the airstrip entrance on the west side, if I hadn’t been brain damaged, until the plane had taken off again. But I continued on my merry way, back up on my bike, la di da. What's one brush with death? What I was slow in realizing is that, in airplanes, what comes down must go back up, but first they had to taxi back down the airstrip (over my ducked body) to get to the west end, then rev their engine and get a flying leap to take off into the wind which blows east to west. Three times over and back, each time the pilot (who I’m sure is a very nice person in real life) scowling.

So if you’re a Tropic Air pilot based in San Pedro, the fat lady on the red bike promises she won’t do that again. And I mean it.

Art Credit: Popeye, Caye Caulker.

1 comment:

Hayden said...

sometimes my brain doesn't run on all tracks when it's got too much adrenaline - but man, sounds like you had the right instincts taking care of you!