If there is one absolute truth about me, it is that I like airplanes. I love them. To say I am ‘interested’ in any facet of aviation would be a huge understatement. I become like a child on Christmas morning whenever I fly & I always make a special effort to go to some aviation museum or aircraft watching spot while in a different country.
I saw an advert for the Botswana International Airshow, typed the location into Google Maps to see how long it would take to drive there & then told my brother we would be going. I didn’t give him an option, which is amusing for me because nothing irritates him more than border crossings in Africa.
At 2AM on a cold winter morning, we set off on the roughly 5 hour drive. There were hardly any other vehicles on the roads which meant the drive was easy & uneventful. One slight miscalculation meant we needed to stop on the side of the road for a pee break. It was then that I noticed how clear the sky was & because we were so far from any built up areas, we could view the stars without any distractions.
Dark. Silent. Beautiful.
The border was basically just a big confusion. I was expecting it to be similar to crossing into Zimbabwe or Mozambique – endless lines, touts & filthy buildings, it seemed more organized than that, but only just. We picked up immigration cards from the floor & managed to get a gate pass for our car, but we couldn’t find anyone to fill it out for us. I’m not sure if it was legal or not, but we filled it out ourselves & we were stamped into Botswana.
We got to the airfield, bought our tickets & found a good spot along the runway. Other people arrived & gathered next to us, they seemed to have about 10 children with them. Some of the children started pushing me which was okay at first, I understand they get excited & don’t really have personal space issues, but they started stomping on my feet & almost pushed me over. I’m not exactly proud of it, but I shouted “Stop pushing me! You’ll never make any friends if you just push people!”
Mature, I know.
This loud burst got all the children to look at me, particularly one little girl. She stared at me. So much so that she made her way passed the other children & stood right next to me & stared.
The airshow started & I was distracted for a while. We got our camp chairs out & got comfortable, so did my little staring friend. She got herself a spot on the arm of my chair. It was like she was posing for me, changing her pose every so often whist at all times maintaining contact with my eyes.
I tried asking her what she was looking at, but that was unsuccessful as she was either completely absorbed by what she was seeing or she didn’t speak English – In hindsight, it must have been the former. During the day, I came to the conclusion that I must look really peculiar.
The airshow ended & we made our way to the car again. I kept telling my brother how this child kept staring at me the whole day & he said it must have been something on my face. We realized he was right. I took off my sunglasses & saw I was wearing ones with a completely reflective lens. She wasn’t staring at me; she spent the day watching herself in the reflection of my sunglasses.