I should start my Brazil adventure with the admission that I spent most of my life afraid to fly. When I was a child I flew in a four seater cessna piloted by a boyfriend of my mother who was foolish enough to let her fly for a while. I also flew in a seven seat plane which flew from Papa Westray to Westray in the Orkney Islands, the shortest scheduled flight in the world. But I was very young at the time.
As an adult I developed a monumental fear of flying. I could come out in a cold sweat watching an aeroplane fly past on the TV. Literally. In the 90’s I turned down a well paid trip to Russia to shoot a video for Manchester University. I love Russia, the old Russia, before the wall came down. I really wanted to do it but I refused because I couldn’t get on a plane.
In the end my dad offered to fly me to London as a tester flight. I was old enough to know that I had to do something about it. My kids had travelled further than I had. So I agreed.
I decided to to pretend I was on a train and not acknowledge that I was on a plane at all. We boarded through one of those raised tunnel things. It had windows but I refused to look sideways so I couldn’t see the body of the plane as we boarded. It went well, I got most of the way to my seat before my father ruined it. From behind I heard him talking to the hostess… “Excuse me, my son has never flown before, he’s a bit nervous, could you seat us by the window”. The hostess looked around and appeared a little confused. Eventually her eyes settled on me and she realised his son wasn’t 5 years old he was in fact 42.
The flight was pretty uneventful. I forced myself to look out the window a couple of times but I could only see white, we flew in cloud the whole way. So I spent my time doing the Radio Times crossword like my life depended on it. I popped a beta blocker at one point when the plane banked but it was all ok. I survived, I even peeked out the window when we came in to land.
A few months later my wife booked us a holiday in Spain. It was our first holiday alone since our first child was born 10 years previously. I had been round central Europe by car before but I had never been to Spain. After the London flight I was pretty relaxed about it. I looked out the window a lot. I watched the sun set from above the clouds which was very cool.
So, a year later when Adelina and the kids were planning the trip to Brazil they looked to me to see if I was going this time. I had always refused before, because of work. This time they knew I had no work, so I decided if I didn’t find a job in time I would go with them. The credit crunch bit hard and the weeks dwindled. Eventually I had to admit to myself that I had nothing else to do. The kids were thrilled.
I was nervous.
And not just about the long flight. I was going to meet my wife’s family for the first time after 10 years of marriage!