It was very early in the morning and I kept alternatively looking at the plane’s television screen, showing the names of places on our route. Next, I looked through the window at the land below, from my seat in the Saudi Arabian flight from Jeddah to Toronto.
The plane flew over the Suez canal, Acaba, Alexandria, then the Mediterranean Sea beside the coast of Italy. All the above places fascinated me with their
importance in being part of the infamous world wars, medieval history, fables and voyages,. However, I was thrilled, when the flight course mentioned my favourite countryside ‘ France ‘. I peered out of the window trying and hoping to get a glance of the cities I had been to last summer. I was a bit disappointed that we were flying over the south, central part of the country and heading westwards towards the coast. However the thought of the many, first experiences in my life presented another portrait and the anticipation of the events added another dimension.
It was the first time I was at the new Jeddah International airport, my first time on a Boeing 777 – 300. It was also my first experience flying across the Atlantic Ocean into the North American Continent and my first visit to Canada. The “no alcohol ” flight which was attended by inexperienced stewards,did not matter much, as the joy of this virgin experience made me feel as if I was floating on a magic carpet.
I enjoyed watching the clouds of the early morning which looked like a field of sweet cotton candy and tried looking out for whaling ships or whales when ever the sky cleared, giving a view of the great expanse of the ocean. I remembered the days when as kids we were asked in school ” What did the Pacific Ocean say to the Atlantic” and all of us answering in unison ” it said nothing, it only waved”. Smiling to myself I realized the truth that the Atlantic looked very tame and free of waves when compared to the stormy Pacific Ocean over which I had flown earlier.
Dozing a while, on and off the eleven hours of flying over the Atlantic I was thrilled to see the American continent. The announcement that we were approaching the continent woke up my excitement. I thought over the days of yore, about the tired sailors, voyagers and their families. I further tried to fathom their boring days and nights spent over months of sailing through storms, upon the endless Atlantic waters, below the timeless skies hoping to reach this new world. I tried imagining their feeling of agony and their ecstasy when they would have experienced the loud call of ” land ahoy “. Maybe on sighting land they would have shouted and danced out of joy, fallen on their knees in prayer or wept or jumped into the waters to swim ashore. Frankly speaking, I felt no less happy than the first people who landed in America; not because of the long journey, but because I was going to explore, experience and enjoy a land I had never been to before me.
I enjoyed watching, the rugged Rockies, snow capped mountains partially frozen lakes, rivers and mountain streams, as the flight went cruising past above them. I noticed large tracts of evergreen forests and naked maple trees being stripped by the autumn season of all their colors. I also saw that the trees were simultaneously being clothed in a garment of snow, heralding the approaching winter and wondered at natures ways in covering any
shame or cold that the trees may have felt. As we flew along the colorful lights of Quebec and Montreal flickered like fire flies readying to celebrate the season of Christmas.
It was about eight in the morning when the flight approached the destination and the captains voice this time around, sounded to me as “Toronto Ahoy”. Overjoyed I looked out to get the best view of the entire city. The wonderful harbour, CN tower, tall buildings, long roads and beautiful weather all spread their arms wide to welcome me into this part of the world.
The touch down was as smooth as skying on silk and the immigration was even smoother. The weather report predicted snow for the first time this season over the north western region above Toronto and this was very welcome to me as a tourist. I tossed my jacket on to my shoulder, collected my baggage and picked up a lot of brochures and leaflets promoting the very many attractions in Toronto.
I felt no jet lag and the day being young I decided not waste time catching a metro but waved in a cab to head straight to the down town hotel. I freshened up and was out on the street but this time around I took took the sub way metro which was fast, economical and rapid between stations, seemingly well connected to the hot spots of town.
New world Ahoy” and yes it was, beckoning me to explore its pleasures. I wanted to make a snowman, drive on wet roads, explore small towns and catch the excitement in Niagara. To my surprise it snowed that afternoon and I knew that my new found fantasy which was woven around this new world was going to be one of the most exciting
tours of my life.