Spraying: Cotton, Rice and Mealies, and what ever else they came up with.
Within the Nile Flood Area.
I was flying from this grass strip close to the Nile and it felt like on the odd occasion it was moving, so I reckon it was partially floating when the Nile flood was high.
Usually my day started after eggs on toast and coffee, then as I walked out of the Hotel, one of the staff was there to hand me a lunch pack in a white square cardboard box, which I usually threw into the back of the plane and discarded during the day,
after eating them last year I was permanently sick, the pack consisted of a piece of cheese, bread, tomatoes, apple, banana, not bad really,
but every thing had been exposed to insects and sun making it unpalatable for me, even the fruit was over ripe.
I used to think that it would take a few seasons for my tummy to produce a bacteria that could combat the sickness!
so I didn't try eating them again.
The trip out to the strip was about 35 minutes with eight of us in a 6 seat 4x4,
The driver never seemed to stop talking and never seemed to watch where he was going either, it was like being stuck in a chicken coop,
Our arrival was always the same a series of hand shaking and Arab coffee, the fellow who I thought was in charge greeted everybody painfully slow! it used to drive me crazy he was my loader driver,
I had worked with him last year so I knew what he was like, I didn't know what the other guys did!
But the were there every day all day and went home in the evening after work finish.
My loader driver would brief me on the work whilst all these other guys were talking pointing and generally butting in,
I just ignored them I had trained my man to place the amounts of chemical being used per load, by placing the empty containers on the ground where I could see them, so I would know what I was carrying and how in much each load.
A couple of times a day I would jump out and check the contents of the containers and how many were left,
So that's how the season went, me flying all day, them doing nothing, I knew at the end of the season they would all expect a cash tip from me, which I always paid because I didn't want to have any problems.
Now you know where I am! let me tell my story:
Every evening when I stopped spraying I would wash out the aircraft and park it at the top of the strip with it's back to the corn crop that was the boundary of the top end of the strip.
One night I saw a small girl watching me from the crop, which was about 4 feet in height, I got out a orange which I had been saving all day and threw it in her direction, she never moved so I went around the front of the aircraft as if I was checking the engine and I watched her?
she was as quick as a jack-rabbit! grabbed the orange and ran for it disappearing into the crop.
Over the next couple of months I found out that her parents were more than likely living back of the crop,
as these people moved into their crops and built rush huts to live in, to be on hand to protect and cultivate their crops during the growing season,
My wee girl was around 4 to 5 years old no more,
I got into the habit of leaving my lunch pack on the back of the plane and she got into the habit of grabbing it! with just the hint of a smile.
She had black hair with some beads controlling it, she had very dark skin and and seem to have her brown eyes made up, she wore a red dress with a scrolling pattern on it, down to her toes, I would say she was a pretty little scallywag.
As the season progressed the crops got higher and thicker and if I was late returning in the evening she would be standing on the strip waiting for me, I noticed she had worn a small hole in the crop where she bolted out, she never spoke to me or acknowledged when I called to her, but she was there every night without fail.
I started calling her Ahmes it was just a name, I heard it and I liked it and she didn't seem to be offended by it? so Ahmes it was.
I used to look forward to seeing her there when I returned .
I would have loved to meet her family and hear their story,
I wondered if she had any brothers and sisters, living this ancient way of life also?
possible unchanged for thousands of years!
when the end of the season came and I made ready to leave for Europe, I went into the local market and made a pack up for my wee friend and her family, with dates and mangoes plus bread and a water bottle I even put my Egyptian left over money into the bag.
As I went to my aircraft after paying off the crew and made ready for departure, there was nobody looking thought the crop so I took the bag and placed it on the ground half way between the tail of the aircraft and the crop in line with the bolt hole of hers, as I returned to the aircraft I heard somebody coming out of the crop I turned to see a man must have been her Father he walked straight to me offering his hand he spoke a language I had never heard but I guess he was saying "thank you" to me, he was so black of skin with dark eyes smiling at me, he shook my hand vigorously and I smiled back at him he turned and called Ahmes and the wee girl filled her bolt hole smiling and came towards me like a cautious frightened deer, she stopped half way and picked up her bag, and raising it high in her hand shouted something to me, and bolted away.
Her Father smiled turned and walked away back into the crop, I climbed into my plane starting the engine, preparing for my take off, I turned side on to see the bolt hole once more she was standing with her father waving I waved and started my take off run.
If you have read my blog "Two nuns in Africa" you may remember the Coptic Priest? well! I told him this story and he asked me where I got the name "Ahmes from?" I said "I don't really know, I guess I just picked it up some where" "Well" he said "In the language of ancient Egypt! it means": "Child of the Moon"
How cools that?