Shakira’s Waka-Waka played on a bamboo xylophone, sung by a Zambian (which made it sound more like Cameroonian band Golden Sounds’ Zangaléwa — the song it was adapted from), was suddenly muffled. A Batoka Sky ground staff had just plonked a headset on me skull and was making sure ’twas sitting tight. Over his shoulder, in the distance, I could make out figures under a tree shade. To my relief, Luna was still there. Armed with drumsticks, she was wildly beating the xylophone’s bamboo tone bars like she would beat a piñata.
She was totally sabotaging the guy’s performance, yet the Zambian seemed like he was the one being entertained.
Why we ended up booking a microlight flight — which by the way costs a whopping US$150 per person — well… It was Amazing Race’s fault. Season 27, to be specific. Wherein team members flew above Victoria falls on a microlight plane in search of the route marker partially covered by mist/waterfall spray on Knife’s Edge Bridge (which we visited earlier that day). It just looked like something I had to do before I die (hopefully without dying from it!).
As the ground staff pushed our miniscule plane (actually no more than a powered hang glider whose flight is controlled is by weight-shift) to the dirt runway, I started feeling anxious. I don’t have acrophobia, but the thought of leaving my five year-old mumless scares the shiz outta me (my husband and I requested not to be up in the air at the same time, so that whatever happens to any of us, our child will be left with a parent). We prolly taxied for about a minute.
I held my breath as the plane took off. As it shakily ascended higher and higher, all me hair strands rose out of exhilaration.
The landscape that unfolded before us was familiar. I’m not speaking in a metaphoric way, I did see the Victoria Falls from above two days prior, aboard our Johannesburg-Livingstone commercial flight (I was luckily seated on the left side of the plane). Yes, the scene was familiar, yet the feeling was accompanied by a totally different rush.
Up at cruising altitude, I froze. As in, I was feeling cold. My hands gripped the bars under my seat in the hope that they will stay warm there. But my whole darn being was exposed to all the elements. Why the heck didn’t they make us wear the overalls?, I actually had the time to think about that while up there.
Five (or was it 6? 7?) minutes in, we reached the falls. I was still shivering quite a bit and my guts felt funny. Pascal, a local ex-military pilot, was talking to me the entire flight. He pointed out geographical features here and there (plus wildlife on the ground!) and narrated a few historical events (also from time to time, he’d tell me to look at the camera mounted on the wing and wave). When we hovered directly above Victoria Falls, he said, “Spread your wings and fly, Gay!”. As I did, we tipped to the right and circled the falls’ full length. Whilst that was going on I wondered, if I was gonna puke, where will the vomit go? Yes, I also had the time to think about that.
For the first time ever, I felt like I was flying. I was experiencing life at a rate of several OMGs per minute. Batoka Sky’s “Flight of The Angels” lasts only fifteen minutes, but it was the longest fifteen minutes of my existence. I know I’ve said a mouthful, but I do hope you view the video. It speaks louder than my puny words.