The views were greatly varied on the flight from Geneva to Bangui, much to Barney’s enjoyment. However, the sites below the plane’s belly added to the pang of longing he had for his home.
Leaving the Swiss city, the flight path crossed the Alps on its brief trek above France and into Italy. The white caps of the mountains were a sight to behold, as were the handful of mountain towns that had been established over the years for the adventurous and the wealthy. Barney could see small specks amongst the white of the ranges, likely snowboarders or skiers. Areas allowing such activity were a rarity in Australia, far away from his homeland on the northernmost coast.
The mountains crossed into Italy, with the white and grey elevations descending into the patchwork greenery of fields. The quilt-like appearance continued all the way through the mainland, interrupted only by winding roads and many cities. The first prominent city flown past was Florence, where the Roman style architectural style remained apparent. Further along was the seaside city of Pescara, with a more eclectic mix of building styles. The fields passed around the prominent agricultural city of Foggio, before continuing on to the seaside town of Taranto and its pair of lakes on the heel of the country.
The fluctuating emerald hues gave way to the undulating sapphire waters of the Ionian Sea, the waves urging the plane and its passengers towards the western islands of Greece. Flying above the islands of Ithaca and Crete, and the many mountain ranges near the ancient site of the city of Sparta, Barney smirked at their link to the ancient lore of the country. The stories were believed to date as far back as the 8th century BC, yet his people had established their home in Australia almost 31,000 years earlier than that.
The waters returned as the plane made its way towards Egypt. The wide view of the north African coastline showed the life giving effect of the Nile River, with the lands surrounding the delta as green as any of the landscapes in Europe. The coastline moving towards Libya was predominantly bleached desert sands. The flight continued above the delta before landing in Cairo, the sun beginning to set above the innumerable minarets spread throughout the city.
Barney walked leisurely through the terminal after collecting his luggage. The connecting flight was not due to leave for another couple of hours. The flight would be following the path of the Nile River before moving onto the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, and then heading inland towards Bangui. He silently cursed the indirect route, meaning the trek he was doing as a favour to Claudio would drag out. He was sure there would be an extra 25,000 kilometres by the time he returned to Arnhem Land.
The flight between Cairo and Nairobi took place under the cover of night, so Barney used the six hours of flight time to catch up on sleep. He was woken by the landing gears touching down at Jomo Kenyatta International. It was still pitch black outside, and the clocks in the terminal indicated it was just before four in the morning. The connecting flight onto Bangui was still almost four hours away, but he did not want to sleep. Being in a completely unfamiliar location, he wanted to be sure none of his luggage disappeared.
The hours dragged, with the only activity being the early morning flights out of the airport. The staff arrived at around five, many of them with a coffee in hand, to begin their preparations for the expected rush of morning flights out to the many capital cities of both Africa and Europe.
The sun began to rise as the request for travellers to Bangui was made. Making his way to the required departure gate, Barney noticed that there were not many people on his flight. It meant he could stretch out, but that comfort did not mean much on a flight lasting not much past an hour.
As the flight made its way across the centre of the African continent, Barney had a degree of appreciation for the naming of the area as ‘deepest and darkest’. Despite the site of Lake Victoria, the second largest body of fresh water in the world, much of the area was hidden. The forest canopies all across the area were extremely thick, the true land under its foliage a mystery. The early explorers would likely have been fearful of what awaited them. Barney remembered Liban’s words about the consensus of the natives they encountered back in the days long past, and was not sure if such an opinion would have been true of everyone.
The plane began its descent into Bangui, and Barney was surprised by what he saw. The area kept the tell-tale thick forest at the city’s edge, following four rivers heading towards the city form its north-west. Looking at the city roads and houses from this height, much of the city streets were coated in a fine film of red dust. It had the effect of looking like a much larger version of Nhulunbuy, which gave him a small degree of relief from his slowly increasing homesickness.
After the plane had landed, he collected his luggage for the fourth time in less than a day. He looked to the clock, and saw he still had an hour before he could contact the company and see if there had been any change in Léana’s condition.
– X –