Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dumela Pula!

Stifling. Oppressive. Sweltering. These words describe the time between 0800 and 0300. That leaves five blessed hours a day where one can function at 100%. Two and a half of those hours must be used for sleep. Sleep before three a.m. might be lack of consciousness, but it ain't rest. Finally in those early morning hours the day cools off.

I do my preflight check and planning in that window just after dawn. I concentrate on the things that need my full attention before the sun begins baking the earth and my brain along with it.

Robinson sent out a safety notice concerning operation beyond 46 degrees. It says basically that they have no idea how the machine will perform above those temperatures. Maybe when I'm done with Botswana I'll apply for a factory test pilot position with the Robinson Helicopter Company.

I can tell them how their machine performs at and above those temps. It does so with great protest. It doesn't want to operate in those conditions any more than the pilot does. Have you ever tried to do anything moderately demanding above 46 degrees? Good luck. It's even too hot to fuck.

You know where the wealthiest people are buried in this country? I pulled to the side of the road, trying to get a better look at what crops were being grown. I thought, I don't know, African ginseng or...then I saw the headstones. Everybody puts up these little shade tarps, two-dimensional coffin covers above ground, so loved ones can spend eternity in the shade. The rich (dead) folks get the spots under the tree.

The cumulus clouds built with tremendous speed. Wispy clouds turned into towering thunderheads. The wind cranked up from the East, bringing more evaporative moisture with it. Then the wind just stopped, everything was calm and the air smelled of burnt ozone. The silence broke with a gust of wind from the opposite direction. Lightening and rain pummeled down. Little puffs of sand rose up in protest when the first drops began to hit, but soon the earth was saturated and just had to lie there and take it. I stood out in it, looking up, getting beautifully, wonderfully soaked. The downdrafts brought violent coolness.

The first rain since April, the storm over nearly before it had begun, less than twenty minutes all told. But now, an hour later in what is normally the hottest part of a very hot day, it's quite pleasant. Seven months of dust washed clean from the now bright landscape. No wonder this place uses the same word for money and rain.

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