Friday, September 11, 2009

flyin' high...

this is not the sort of thing you like to read in an aeroplane when you're about to do a lollypop flight in a cessna caravan around the highest single standing mountain in the world. i mean, little aeroplanes and tallest mountains aren't two things which should go together. usually. and if they are going to meet, then surely external position data should be, well, at least Valid?
it was a relief when the propellers starting spinning that the invalid thingymajig blinked off and other little obviously relevant signs flashed up.



first born turned 13 today. he is an official teenager. his present was a flight around kilimanjaro. what happened to a fishing rod, a jar of tadpoles and pass the parcel, one might ask? anyway. i never say no to any flights of any sorts. he was allowed to invite five pals along.

i know what you're thinking. i thought it too. imagine if this plane flies into the mountain? it'd be all of us gone in a flash. and everyone else's kids too. i repeated my hail marys on take off. i always do. i've even been known to clap on landing. along with all the indians and italians. and my kids sitting with their heads inside my handbag.


it was perfect flying weather. a dreamy indian summer afternoon. l, the little french pilot demonstrated how to use the oxygen masks. we were going to be that high. in a very little plane. d the other pilot said that if he spoke french and l started speaking afrikaans, i would know they were short on oxygen. jeez. jokes all 'round. rah rah. chortle chortle.
(the big looming blob on the LHS of the screen is mt kilimanjaro and the little blob near the plane is mt meru. again. not a little mountain. it looks awfully close, don't you think?)

away we soared up and up and up and up and bloody up. i had my ipod firmly plugged in. always good to die with music in your ears. and even better, to live with music in your ears. and up we went until there, just above the clouds we spied her peak. kilimanjaro.
everyone had oxygen masks on at this point. everyone was all eyes and breath. we were close so close. and so high. our little plane looked so brave on the gps map. so brave and so little. as we edged closer. and closer. and higher.
until we reached so high my ipod froze and refused to work...it didn't matter.
what lay below me, next to me, what seemed a breath away from me, was more than enough. and i can tell you, there really really isn't much snow left on the top of kilimanjaro, people. the glaciers lie shattered and wrecked yet enormous and old and magnificent. the desert is dark, foreboding and unforgiving. i will never climb that mountain.





and there we are. slap bang on top of the mountain. brave, little and flyin' high....
not a bad friday arvie, eh? i'm sure i wouldn't forget turning 13 if was danu pops. no. i'm sure i wouldn't.
the kilimanjaro winds rattle my windows tonight, the ngorobob hill small. and flying dreams shall surely take me tonight. surely.
toodely old pip, y'all. bisous X.X.X. flyin' ones x j































































21 comments:

remistuff.blogspot.com said...

Speachless
Thanks

Bill Stankus said...

Which is best, the giving or receiving? The answer, in this case, is very obvious - You are a terrific mom (and person)!

family affairs said...

Amazing. What an adventure. You did precisely what I did when in a little plane and that was to frantically take pictures! They're great. What a momentous memory for a new teenager Lx

family affairs said...

PS - can you imagine the drama in the suburbs if I suggested a flight on a cessna as a party option for any one of my kids!! The health and safely monitors would blow up! Tempting. V V tempting. Lx

Janelle said...

thanks remis for swingin' by. i tell you. it was pretty inspiring up there. another planet. so close to heaven. x j

aw shucks thanks bill! x j

yeah lulu! c'mon! it's in your nature. i know it! lots love x j

karen said...

Totally awesome description and photos! Incredible to virtually experience it with you - what an amazing birthday present!

PurestGreen said...

(o)

ewix said...

Greetings to the birthday boy.
What an adventure!
Needless to say, my first thought was your first thought, yes, always crank up the music when in extremis.
However, you did it and it sounds WONDERFUL
I love the way you write so honestly about things.

Dumdad said...

Wow, what a birthday gift!

Anonymous said...

Wow Janelle! Quelle belles photos! Must have been pure magic up there...
btw, I just started working for a holiday company and sometimes we organise trips to East Africa. Maybe we'll meet one day...
Hope the first week back at teaching wasn't too bad [my mum was a teacher for 30 years, so bit familiar with the scene...]

Best,
Michele in Montreal

Lori ann said...

That was incredible! Happy Birthday to your boy, what were his reactions?
I loved your photos, words, everything. I know that feeling when fear turns into awe, when you forget briefly what it is you are doing! When we flew over Vic Falls in May I had the same sort of experiance, and then once in a helicopter we flew over an erupting volcano, i think i might have hugged the pilot after that one!
Fantastic post Janelli
xoxo♥

Lola said...

Oh. My. God.

THAT was surreal, fantastic, breathtaking! What a superb mum you are, Janelle. I am in awe at those photos, inspired and moved by your story, upset that the glacier is receding and curious as to why you will never climb that glorious mountain.

I have always dreamed of scaling Mt Kili with my son when he turns a decent age (he's 4). Maybe a flight around the crater in a cessna for his 13th birthday might be a viable alternative!

Happy birthday to your very lucky son. Was he happy? That photo of the pinnacle emerging from the clouds... may I post it to my sidebar (credited of course)? I like to remind myself of the beauty of the place where mankind began.

I am still trembling.

Thank you— seriously!
Lola xx

Janelle said...

thanks y'all for swingin' by and leaving comments...lovely lovely! and lola of course you may post it to your side bar...credited of course! oh. climbing mountains isn't something i go for...and particularly not ones like kili...they look beautiful from the bottom and naturally from above...but climbing? ah. no thanks. but completely admire anyone who does. think they're all a little mad. xxx j

Mud in the City said...

Wow. What a present! If that's for the first born turning 13 you've set the bar pretty high for subsequent celebrations!

Janelle said...

true mud, so true! and it's quite hard to go higher than 19,500 feet eh? but then again, am always of the opinion that life is short and when these opportunities arise, why not go the whole hog eh? ya just never quite know what's around the corner. life too short to be too conservative i reckon. its there to be lived to the full.... lots love xxx j

Nancy said...

Wow, wow, wow. I would love to have seen those sights, but having a fear of prop planes, alas, I will have to do it through you. Thanks for taking us along.

Is that a meteorite hole on the top?

Happy birthday to your young man!

Rob Inukshuk said...

Awesome...in the true sense of the word. Well done for remembering to take pics.

Janelle said...

hey nancy and rob..no nancy...kili is a dormant volcano...! xx j

nmj said...

What a fab bday present for your boy. I would have had my eyes shut the whole time and prob missed seeing those dazzling peaks, & would have hugged & kissed the pilots for getting me down safely. My brother pilots small planes as a hobby so I know how thrilling/terrifying it is! x

Reya Mellicker said...

It is not suitable for land dwellers to think of climbing, is it? It might as well be on another planet. Wow and wow and WOW.

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

very very very cool present. very cool pix. well done. and thanks. he's a lucky teen x