Olivier's Log

99-05-05

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Olivier's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

The Jungle Birds...

Coming up North of Peru, we could feel the temperature rising and landscapes changing from desert type to bushy vegetation kind of. We came over a little town called Chiclayo near the coast. Approaching the large runway outside the town we suddenly had serious doubts about our position. Could they have two different airports in that place? That airport underneath looked like a serious military base. Several jet fighters were parked on the tarmac near the huge army hangars. I called the radio controller, asking him to confirm that Chiclayo has only one airport and that the one we were flying over, full of bombing "toys" was the right place. The guy confirmed immediately. "No problem," he said, "you can land on runway "One Eight". This is Chiclayo airport!"

As we back-tracked on the taxi-ways to the civilian area of the airport, we saw four jet fighters moving slowly to the holding point, nose up. Scary things! I could actually not get my eyes off these incredible machines. They were MIG 29's, modern Russian jet fighters going on a patrol mission along the northern border with Ecuador. For many years, Peru and Ecuador have regularly been fighting about a small piece of tropical forest.

Apparently, this minuscule triangle of jungle could be rich in gold, oil and other goodies. But the cost to exploit it would be too high. So, instead of wisely leaving it for future generations with adequate upgraded technologies, both governments are regularly fighting each other about this insignificant plot of rain forest. They spend billions of dollars to maintain expensive armies and air forces while there is so much misery in the streets of Lima and Guayaquil. It is really difficult to understand that countries are buying latest army technologies to show off power while incapable of supplying basic things such as drinking water to their people.

As I watched the Mig taking off, a guy from the Aero Club told me that the running cost for one of these machines is about a hundred thousand dollars per hour. And yet, no good water on tap...

I remember well my first visit to South America in 1979, ending up at the intensive care at Santa Cecilia Clinic in Quito. I made the mistake of drinking water from the hotel bathroom and got typhus that nearly took me out to the Cosmos.

 


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