Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Return to Matainui Day 1

I have spent the whole week preparing and packing for the trip to Matainui. the bus ride was exciting, everyone was talking about the activities they were going to participate in once we got there. Kawhia Harbour...what a stunning view, my jaw dropped, the foliage and rocky shore was elegantly carved into the graceful oceanic scene.

It was previously established that we would be flying to the island on a Grumman HU-16 Albatross sea plane. It was amazing it sat calmly in the water rocking with the movement of the waves, how could something so enormous float? let alone fly. Everyone was buzzing (especially Marek he was literally bouncing off the walls trying to tip the plane over!). As we boarded the plane and handed our luggage over to Mr Woody I felt the ocean spray against my face, it breathed life into my senses. I took a deep breath of air and told myself that this trip would be the best of my life.

We were all aboard the king of all aquatic planes. I sat comfortably in my window seat whilst watching the rising and falling of the waterline outside. I was reminded of my family back home (this was the only plane trip I had been on without them) I started to ask myself the questions like; what if something goes wrong? and will I ever see them again?however I soon refocused my attention to the journey ahead when I saw what appeared to be the silhouette of Sam Brennan flit through the curtain separating the pilots and the passengers."That can't be true" I said to myself, although I did not see Sam from that moment on...

All of a sudden the engines started, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, would it be this loud all flight? A few seconds later and...movement we were bashing the water off our bow or nose (whatever you would call it in this situation?) The plane was not a fish gliding, but rather an elephant using its sheer size and power to charge through the water. My seat was bumping now, in fact the whole cabin was shaking, the plane was pummeling misty water in all directions; I could see it flying past my window, obstructing any other view.

I could see clearly again we were flying slicing through the air. But sill the Humm of the engines was deafening, shaking my vision.

We were hours in flight, I was admiring the billowing sea below out of my small cabin window, It was still fresh in my mind the image of Sam entering the cockpit. What if he really was the pilot? I hadn't seen him since that moment.

What is that? I have never felt anything like this before it is like we have gone off the edge of the Earth. I am being lifted from my seat, I quickly slap on the heavy metal seat belt buckle. "I NEVER PASSED MY TESTS!!!" yelled the voice of Sam over the loudspeaker "WE ARE GOING TO CRASH!!!" he added. So that was what the mystery weightlessness was, now I understood why everyone as screaming, no, wait that was me! "AAAAAAHHHHH!!!".

All the lights went out! electrical failure! outside I saw fork lightning and black rainclouds. How could this be? the weather had changed so rapidly and it was forecast for sunshine.


We had crash landed, where? were we stuck? was I dead? the worst possible realities ran through my head.out of the window there was a spray of bubbles streaming upward, this could only mean one thing, we were losing air! We were underwater, we had to get out we were going to sink. I could see water leaking in, it was blurring the twinkling lights from the alleyway. The emergency oxygen masks deployed. Mr Woody then announced that he was going to open the door son that we could escape. A creaky thud sounded and the cabin was flooded, I struggled to swim against the push of the water, I had no time to find my bag. I feared I would never see many of my friends again. Filled with rage I powered deeper and threw myself out of the door. I was underwater, at least three meters deep, my lungs were screaming at me,it felt like my chest was being ripped apart. I felt light headed NO I was not going to die here and now. I swam up, desperately grabbing at the water above me but the weight of my clothes was overwhelming. I had seen the abyss below and was determined not to be claimed by its depths.

The remaining air in my lungs helped me float to the surface, I bobbed up like a cork coughing and spluttering water. I immediately started looking around for my group. I found Malik and Mac and we started swimming towards what appeared to be a mountain peak in the distance. "Wait ,Where is Asser?" I asked
"there is no time" said Mac
"we can't just leave him" complained Malik but none of us stopped swimming. I suppose we just abandoned him along with all the rest of our things, he was now alone left to die at sea.

The thoughts of Asser haunted my thoughts. I was sitting on the beach now looking out at the tail of the plane poking out of the ocean, the rest was obviously under the blue death. "I wish we could get our stuff back from inside" I said to the remaining members of our small group "that's a great idea!" replied Mac.

Soon we were all in our undies and attracting a lot of attention. Malik was elected lookout and guarder of our gear. As we grew closer to the waterline we were approached by Josiah, Leon and Sam. "We are coming too" they said, I was not convinced that they knew what we were doing but we could use some help, I was willing to share the goods.

The swim was tiring, the waves felt like heavy metal shackles holding me back, it was like God wanted me to fail. Eventually we made it to the plane. Whilst swimming I had studied the plane and made the presumption that there must be an air bubble trapped inside the tail of the plane in order for it to still be afloat. We would be able to use this air bubble to breathe while retrieving anything inside the belly of the beast (if there was anything at all). Mac went down first, it felt like an eternity until he resurfaced, we had already sent Leon down to help him out. Mac revealed he had a bag I immediately recognised it was his as it had the neat yellow stitching down the left hand side. He told us that there were many more bags down there and apparently the heavy cabin door had been ripped off its hinges leaving a nice big opening for anyone to get in and out.

I went down next, I hated it it reminded me of the crash, the sound of being underwater was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I was soon through the door frame and racing to the haven of air above. I was at the mercy of the sea... but it was soon over. I could breathe again, it was like sucking in all the great feelings you have felt in your life in at once. Leon was next to me but he said nothing, below I could see murky blotches floating inanimately, they must have been the bags. I took a deep breath and duck dived, I grabbed the first bag I could see... "Pssst Crrrr Rrrrip" What was that noise it was very eerie. I looked back and "oh no" my bag had deployed something, wait it was a parachute bag and I was trapped and going to die all because of my own seat, once so comfortable and exciting now taking my life. All the adrenaline rushed through my body, it gave me strength and I ripped the parachute free.

Once back from my traumatic experience I held onto the side of the plane for dear life, I felt like lead, too heavy to float. Me and Mac decided to swim back. The swim back was much harder the weight of the bags was unbearable. Although the swim was only 100m it felt like an eternity. The golden beach was my drive, I could see people from all corners racing to the shore over the dunes of powdered sand.

What have you got? What was in the plane? Were there dead people? the questions were burying me. Soon Sam and the others arrived back looking somewhat like an episode of Baywatch. Mac was quick on the scene "we deserve a share of yours, it was our idea" he ordered. Without question Josiah handed over one of the parachute packs, obviously trying to avoid a fight.

It had been hours since the crash and the blue sky was slowly losing its battle with the blackness of the night. The three of us had stopped in the light bushes to set up camp. There was a small clearing of long tall grass. It scratched us and gave us small wounds as we swung our machetes around with haste. Soon all the tents were up and we were all wandering around doing our own thing. Malik was sitting on a Ponga tree stump repairing the torn parachute with a nail and some nylon wire, I was gathering dry wood for our hungry fire and Mac was aimlessly swinging his axe at a Rimu tree that appeared to be hundreds of years old, usually I would have protested but given the situation I didn't care much what happened. The rustling of the leaves and the swing of the axe was the only sound existing in the forest now until... AAAHHH! Malik had slit his thumb with the nail the blood was staining his clothes hot red. At that same moment one million birds all I had never seen before came out of the trees filling the empty sky with a rainbow pattern.

The night was sleepless. I had had no food and the sound of my rumbling stomach was overpowered by the rest of the chaos around me, scurrying, flapping and grunting were all being generated from sources around me. But what sources?

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