Flying with Scary Girl at 30,000 feet

What fun we have had in Argentina!!

The land of tangos, exotic women, beautiful breathtaking scenery, coked up taxi drivers, bag snatching, and visits to Argentinean Police stations where we met very friendly and helpful police men and women. But the zenith of the whole thing, in a rather perverse manner has been our airline going bust, and then not, as VARIG has been bought. Then we heard VARIG have stripped their service and are laying off 8,000 members of staff, which is awful. But then no!! They are not stopping their service and we may be able to get home, hurray. But we are very suspicious, and do not trust Lufthansa, who have not been very helpful through all this.

It seemed to us that we really could be stranded in South America, but we did feel reassured that our (extra) travel insurance that we took out with VHI in Ireland, may help us. No chance. We found out that we are only covered for the last leg of our flight home (Frankfurt, Dublin) but not for situations such as industrial action, withdrawal of service or any damn thing that might actually happen to you when traveling. Useless. We did learn that ACE insurance is the best as it covers you for any eventuality, so we are wiser and it is best to be philosophical at times like these (after the waves of anger and frustration have subsided. of course)

To add to fun and games, over the Andes, we have had some of the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. I should explain that I am not a nervous flyer. Over the years I have made peace with the simple fact that I have to completely surrender my control when I step inside an airplane. This was not an easily won state to achieve, as I feel that a fear of flying is a rational thing. You are in a tin can flying at vast speeds and the wings of the plane don’t even flap, so in this instance, what’s irrational about being afraid? Anyway, I can deal with it and it’s statistically safer than driving etc now we are all assured, right? No way.

I challenge any man to sit beside my beautiful lady wife Lorraine during a moderately bumpy flight, and not, by casting one glace at the anxious terror in her eyes feel the cold creep of fear and doubt about the whole thing enter your heart. She will fidget in her chair, claw the arm rests and sip water from the ever present bottle of Ballygowan in such a nervous manner that the simple act of drinking can become a matter of life and death.

And then there are the pre-flight rituals.

She wont touch the plane before she gets on, nor will she look into the cockpit lest the the sight of the “Wizard of Oz”, will cause the whole machine to fail. Maybe she is right, however, and it is sensible to be afraid. I listen to devotional Bengali music, and she wrestles with the bottle of water. To each their own. But the Andes, oh the Andes.

We have all had some bumpy flights. Once coming back from Nepal we had nearly an hour of gut wrenching bumps, but this 5-minute white-knuckle ride put that into sharp perspective. It was so bad the plane seemed to fly sideways and the wail from the engines as the pilot desperately tried to fly lower fast, was deafening. I actually think the pilot lost control of the plane. Now I know why we have seat belts as most of us would have been scraped off the ceiling of the plane without them.

It was over very fast, but it was intense, also watching the movie “Alive” in an attempt to “face the fear” didn’t help. Thanks Hallmark!!

Afterwards in a great little Italian restaurant in Buenos Aries, called Broccolinos, we had a chat with a very nice Texan who told us not to worry about turbulence as he had taken a turbulence class, being a nervous flyer himself. Its thunder storms you gotta worry about. He plane was hit by lightening going to Miami once and the storms near Japan can be very bad. The pliots have storm detectors so they can weave in and out of storm hot spots.

In the wake of the new terrorist attack fears, I feel so sorry for Lorraine who now may have to give up the simple consolation of her bottle of Ballygown. Doesn’t seem fair.


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Joshue O Connor

Musical Web Monkey with a special interest in Web Standards. For more work stuff see For more music stuff see

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