Out of Place

Coming in low over the sprawling, cluttered city, the plane shook as it swooped toward the landing strip. Craggily barriers hopefully demarcated the ‘airport’ from the surrounding metropolis and the heat began pulsing through the windows

The entire holiday, dare I call it that, had been excruciating, and the descent into this equatorial city indicated more to come! The runway communicated itself through the airliner’s suspension and we thumped back to earth. Juddering along as the engines were put into reverse thrust, we squirrelled to taxiing speeds. Another landing with no snapping metal or fire. Wonderful. 

At least I could submerge myself in the familiar territory of different people with different faces from different places – foreign languages pouring around me! Also surrounding me was a haphazard collection of walls and corridors, jumbled together with cheap bracing and wire. Ad hoc repairs and an endless selection of vaguely similar paint.

We eventually emerged into the engulfing heat of the city, full of sound and a distinct aimlessness. Industrialised cultures are full of people rushing to the minute — here they meander to the nearest hour. Adjust down and forget the time.

Almost thirty minutes after clambering out of the arrivals area, we were greeted, complete with business cards, by our driver. His worn jeans and faded polo at odds with the crisp, precise delivery of a business card provided in other cultures.

I think I like this place…

Almost two hours to travel forty kilometres. Four lane roads but six ‘lanes’ of traffic. Elevated roads covered with extended contra-flow. Nothing finished, everything covered in dust and dirt and baked-dry mud.

But no accidents, no sudden braking even – just a slow constant flow of cars, trucks, bikes, mopeds, and pedestrians moving forward and on. Avoiding potholes the size of actual pots, people chatting, heavily-weighed tricycles and the freezing aircon pouring into the cabin.