Sunday, May 6, 2007

Floating on Air

I had a wonderful, exhilarating experience the other day. Our friend, Bob Barbanes, as an Anniversary present to my husband and I, took us up in the helicopter to get a new, refreshing view of our island.

It seems that the longer one lives in one place, the more complacent they become towards their surroundings. Guanaja has its beauty, but living so close to it one tends to forget what is there and becomes so accustomed to their surroundings that, like most things in life, you begin to take it for granted, thus missing the real beauty that is there before us. Bob gave us an inspiring view of Guanaja and renewed the beauty of it in our eyes.

I, for one, had never been in a helicopter and was quite anxious to experience the feeling of relinquishing the pulls of gravity that keep us bound to this earth and getting closer to the beauty than I knew was around me.

Years back, a friend of ours and I arranged for a hot-air balloon ride for my husband’s birthday. We were quite excited about the opportunity to float about the earth in a soundless environment. However, on the day of the scheduled flight, the fog rolled into Orlando in an uncharacteristic manner and the flight was cancelled. So the only view I have had of the Earth from above was from an airplane.

The day of the flight was quite breezy and my husband thought it would not be a good idea to go up as it would be a rough ride. I called Pilot Bob (an endearing nickname I have given him) and he assured me that in spite of the wind, the day was perfect and it would be a good photo opportunity. We met him at the airport as he had to pick up the job supervisor, Devant. We took Devant back to Clark Cay after his commercial flight arrived and Bob removed the door from the helicopter to enable my husband to photograph the island uninhindered.
Initially, on the flight from the airport to the Cay, I was astounded at the effortlessness of this machine to go back and forth, up and down and from side to side. It was like floating…..or, as Pilot Bob would say, it feels like riding a magic carpet. It was an exhilarating experience and the ride, in spite of the wind, was as smooth as silk. Pilot Bob is indeed a great pilot as he handled this craft with finesse and ease. I am sure that it took a great deal of work to keep it on a steady plane and to provide us with such an effortless ride.

This is a photo of the "center of our little universe". Bonacca, or "The Cay," where the seat of government resides, along with stores, shops, clinic, airline office, etc.

If God wanted man to fly, this was the way to go. We flew the length and breadth of the island and my husband managed to take 134 photos. All but 2 came out, sharp and clear. I also saw this island as it should be seen. Like a jewel in the ocean, it lay there in all its beauty. The colors of the water were breathtaking and the land rose up in hills and valleys to provide us with spectacular views. From above, all is peaceful and, like a fine painting, was laid out in vivid beauty. From one end to the other I was taken by the lushness of the island. Even bare mountains like Grant’s Peak had their own bleak beauty.

This is my favorite shot of the island. It is taken from the West end looking down the length of Guanaja and the mountains in the distance. Some parts of the island are more beautiful than others, but each part has its own wonderful character and here I was floating above it to marvel in its complexity.

This is the East End of the island with a light house on the point (you can barely see it). This end is quite rough with rolling seas and constant surges of surf.

Around the corner from East End is the town of Mangrove Bight. Mangrove Bight and Savannah Bight are connected now by a wide road which runs through the town of Mitch. Mitch was created after the hurricane and a lot of people from the mainland came to build their small homes here when the land was fairly given away! The road off to the right goes to Northeast Bight where about 15 homes are. I have no idea why someone saw fit to cut a large road to this area as there is absolutely nothing there but a few poor homes. The road was to have been covered with concrete but has not been as money ran out. That is another story.

When Pilot Bob announced that we must return to the airport as fuel was running low, I wanted to believe he was kidding me. I wanted to fly around some more investigating crevices and places I still had not see up close. But the pull of Earth is strong and the need to return to the home base a necessity.

He gently and with great accuracy put the craft down and the end of my ride had come. Bob gave me a renewal of my love for this island by showing me the beauty I had forgotten. I thank him for this wonderful experience and for Mr. and Mrs. Boss who left this wonderful machine behind to not only assist those in need but to give some of us a breath-taking chance to see the island as it should be seen.

Now, where is that hot-air balloon?


  1. That sounds like a wonderful anniversary present. I love the photos! Will you be posting more?

  2. I'm jealous! What a nice thing for Bob to do for you. I've only been in a helicopter once for a tour of Maui. It was beautiful, but honestly, I was a little scared the whole time.

    The photos are gorgeous!