Friday, 31 July 2009

PRIORITIES - WHO MAKES THEM

It has always amazed me the status the public (in actuallity I reckon about 1% of society- ie, judges, newspaper editors, professors, senior civil servants, and of course politicians of all stripe) place certain professions/careers/ jobs, based of course upon the wages paid to them, for the service they provide society.



This has been very apparent in British Columbia lately. In the news there has been news involving the BC parmedics and ambuance drivers negotiating for a new contract. In this same time frame are reports of "important persons" wages and perks that boggle the imagination.

The one thing that very quickly becomes apparent to any thinking person is that what one receives in pay, has absolutely no relation to what they contrubute to their fellow citizen and society a a whole. Indeed it appears to be the opposite!

One the one hand we have dedicated persons like the paramedics (and firemen) that daily work strange shifts, are called out in the worst weather in the middle of the night, to attend to THE injured or dying on a daily basis. Anyone who has been attended/rescued or has had a loved one saved by this concientious group of professionals probably have a life long feeling of gratitude in their heart.

This relatively small group of essential (as decreed by us the public) employees
are paid a modest salary of about $30 per hour.

On the other side of who is truly important to society are those "succesful" members of society that are fortunate enough to be 'Appointed' to various boards such as the BC ferries board of directors.

"Board members receive $48,000 annually and $10,000 extra when they chair a subcommittee. The board chair is paid $154,087. In addition, board members receive $1,500 a day to attend a meeting in person, and $750 to participate via teleconference" [Vancouver Sun July 30 2009]

Think about these numbers - one person is paid three times as much to stay at home and listen on the phone for a few hours, as a person actually doing the public an essential service . What do you think would be missed by the average citizen of this country - those listening in to a phone call - or the ambulance service?
Who is worth more - I mean actually worth more - when was it you last phoned a board member when a loved one needed help?

Now I must admit I have never attended any of these meetings. Although if they are anything like some of the board meetings I have read of, in sworn testimony recently, at a famous trial south of the border, these dedicated citzens are not overworked. I understand there are about 40 meetings per year, if they attended each meeting a member would make about $100,000 per year. Not a bad part time job.

However, we average brain washed members of our democratic society, as represented by the BC Governments Transportation minister, cringe at the thought of paying the actually important members of are society the same amount for a full time position.

SOMETHING IS VERY SERIOUSLY OUT OF WHACK SOMEWHERE!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

NEW LEASE ON LIFE

THE BEAUTIFUL GIFT BASKET FROM MELINA AND KEN -
HAD JUST ARRIVED ON FATHERS DAY

People might get the idea I am degenerating at a furious rate, but

that is not true. For some unexplained reason the past week or so

I have been feeling like a new person - peripheral neuropothy is much better (can walk better) - knees are better (somewhat) - lip cancer much better - staph infection on mouth and chin much better - eyes feel good- energy level is much better.


All in all I am a lucky Guy

Thursday, 7 May 2009

OLYMPICS - MONEY - LIFE -WASTED

Sealskin uniforms for Olympians? MPs give unanimous approval

Headline Vancouver Sun, Thursday May 7th 2009

This headline to me is more than beyond belief.

Just days earlier the E.U. (Euorpean Union) had issured a ban on the purchase of any products of the Canadian Seal hunt. This large group has without reservation, voiced the opinion of hundreds of millions of citizens of this planet, who dissaprove the slaughter of thousands of innocent baby seals. This slaughter, done for no good reason, other than the vanity of a minority of miss-informed individuals, and the political pressure from a section of this nation that refusess to leave the dark ages!

For our MP's to acquiesce to this pressure is beyond contempt!

I feel sorry for a group of men (I do believe they are all men) who, rather than try and improve their lives by retraining or education, cling to the wretched past where this slaughter was, and still, is a yearly bloodbath to continue a subsistence life style.

I like to believe Canada is better than this!

A little further into the newspaper an article (Jeff Lee's Blog) on the difference between the Provincial and Federal Governments idea of the free flow of information and the USA's idea - it appears the USA wins everytime - it really hurts me to say this!

In any event withing this blog it becomes clear the bidding process for the Cruise Ships to house the RCMP leaves a bit to be desired - and to get the information it required going to the USA.

But the interesting fact that emerges is that the rather exorbitant cost for this accomidation is about 80 million dollars.

For accommodation.

Compare this with the original cost of about 87 million - later revised to 175 million for the entire cost of security for the Olympics.

However as unbelievable as the above is, it pales in comparison with what the federal Government now estimates the maximum cost for security may reach

One Billion Dollars

Can you imagine what the public would have voted for if they were told before we won the Olympic bid of this cost - a cost that leaves absolutely no lasting benefit - none.

If memory serves me properly - this was about the original total cost we were assured could be made good.

Imagine what could be done with this amount of money that is totally wasted.
It sure makes one wonder.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

TO GIVE A CAPTAIN A HAND

THIS IS AN ACTUAL PICTURE OF THE ACTOR (MY PASSENGER) IN HIS COSTUME - LOOKING CONSIDERABLY BETTER HERE!
THIS IS THE GREAT MAN'S CALLING CARD!




CAPTAIN COOK


March 29th 1778 – Captain John Cook on his third great voyage of discovery, with the two ships Discovery and the Resolution explored the coasts of what later became British Columbia and Alaska. The ships made landfall in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. Cook and his crew in fact believed they were on the west coast of the North American mainland. A member of his crew, midshipman on that voyage was a determined twenty one year old by the name of George Vancouver. He looked plaintively threw the small porthole at the beautiful scenery. He vowed one day to return and explore this great land.

June 13/ 1792 - aboard Captain George Vancouver’s ship The Discovery in the straits of Georgia, off the coast of what is now Tsawwassen. It was a brilliant sunny day with just a little sea fog over the Eastern Shore.
“Captain, there seems to be a lot of mud in the water around these parts, must be a very large river running into the ocean nearby.” Said Wilson, second mate on Captain Vancouver’s ship.
“ Naw it doesnt look like much from here, anyway we have a lot of mapping to finish today without wasting time looking for little rivers in this wild savage place,” said the Captain, “ Keep to the Northerly heading.” However he indeed did sail into Burrard inlet and thus was the first European to arrive at Vancouver BC - named after himself of course! Regardless of this great discovery Capatain Cook over the years has remained the true hero of the West Coast of Canada!

July 1st 1978 Vancouver Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC).

“Area Control Center, Bennett speaking” I said.
“ Hey Bennett speaking, Roy speaking over here in the Tower” Roy said in his normal smart-ass tone.
“ You won’t believe who I have standing beside me almost in tears, and definitely suffering from a sever hangover”
“You’re right,” I said in my most condescending tone.” I won’t.”
“ Well its Captain Cook, and he has a big problem”
“And just what might that be” I said.
“ It seems he was to open some festival in Oliver at noon today. He was supposed to be on CP flight 6 to Penticton, which left about 5 minutes ago. Could you get the departure controller to ask the Captain if he will return to pick up his most distinguished passenger?” Roy said.

I guess I should explain how Captain Cook got into this mess.

The city of Vancouver had some form of international contest to hire an actor to play the part of Captain Cook to help celebrate his epic voyage up the west coast of North America. The winner turned out to be a young man from London England, Mr. Kelvin Andreu. Kelvin was handsome and dashing, loved the ladies and from the little he told me, was amply loved in return. His duties were to travel around British Columbia in his spiffy new Captain Cook suit opening festivals, new Seniors Centers, ride in parades and other similar type of nonsense. For this he was well paid, in fact he was very well paid.

“I would say the chances are about slim and none, but I’ll ask Dave to give CP6 your request.”

From the supervisor position in the Vancouver ACC one could, by pushing a button, listen to the aircraft and the Controller and could speak straight into the headset of any of the controllers on duty. I waited until a break in the chatter and pushed the ‘Departure’ button.
“Dave, Larry here, when you get a sec ask CP 6 if he will return and pick up Captain Vancouver.”
“Roger will do.”
“Empress 6 Departure, request.” I heard Dave say.
“Departure, Empress 6 go.”
“Roger, the Supervisor would like to know if you would return to Vancouver and pick up Captain John Cook, it appears he missed the flight.”
There was a short delay, not even other aircraft butted in, it seemed they were also interested in the reply.
“Ah that’s a negative Departure, the Captain says he wouldn’t even return to pick up Captain Crunch.”
“Roger check that OK.” Dave said.
“Did you hear that Larry?”
“Check it OK, thanks Dave.” I replied.
“You still there, Peter?”
“Im here.”
“It’s a negative on the return.”

“Boy this is going to kill this guy Larry, he is in tears, says he will lose his job, and be blackballed from the acting fraternity for life if he misses this date”
“ OK Roy tell you what – get him a lift over to the ACC, I’ll drive out to Delta Airpark and fly him there in my plane”
“ Right you are – he will be ringing the bell in ten minutes – Thanks Larry.”

I got one of the spare controllers to watch the supervisors phone and proceeded down to the main entrance just in time to meet the airport security van. George The driver came around and opened the passenger side door. “ I think this is for you Larry”. He said as a bleary-eyed 18th century mariner stumbled out onto the road.

“Are you Larry?” This apparition grunted with a distinct English accent.
I nodded
“Well I really do appreciate this but I don’t really think you can get me to my parade in time. Actually you see the parade is in Oliver BC. I was to land in Penticton and be met by some local officials and drive to Oliver in a limo. It all looks quite hopeless, we’re at least 25 minuets behind the airliner. ”
Looking at this poor wretch with slumped shoulders, glistening eyes and what could only be called a genuine hangdog expression made me want to help. Did I mention sour whisky breath?
“ Never mind all that, Follow me to my car we have no time to waste I have a plan.” I said. I did have a glimmer of a plan just beginning.
I would drive to Delta Air Park, we would untie my 225hp Beechcraft Bonanza single engine aircraft, jump in and be in Oliver within an hour. In fact if the greeting party were to drive to Penticton, stand around a bit before realizing the Captain wasn’t coming, drive back and report we just might get to Oliver before them.
So, we drove to Delta Air Park (rather rapidly) and skidded to a halt next to the aircraft.
I untied the tie down ropes , checked the oil, and did a quick walkaround.

“ OK Captain, jump in and close the door tight, cinch up your seat belt, oh and by the way do you have a real name?”
“Yes it is Kelvin Andreu I’m a professional actor from London, in fact I was the understudy to Sean Connery for the part of James bond.”
“Well that’s pretty impressive, this must be quite a come down.”
“No not really, I’ve been out of work for some time – and the BC government is paying me very well.”

We were started, did a quick runup, and in the air within five minutes.

“Ok Kelvin, when we get to ninety five thousand feet we will be cruising at about 190mph, your flight should be landing at Penticton in about 5 minutes. We are going direct to Oliver, they have a small strip only usable by light aircraft like ours, I figure we will be there before your welcoming committee has returned without you.”
“Oh man, I can’t believe my ears, if you can get me there I won’t lose my job I’ll be eternally grateful.” “In fact I will give you my plane ticket, and you can cash it in”.
We leveled off in about 12 minutes, and with a bit of a tailwind were truing out at about two hundred and ten miles per hour. The weather was clear with a few minor bumps as we got over the rocks, but nothing serious. Kelvin appeared to be a nervous passenger, maybe it was from the hangover I didn’t know, but I had a virtually foolproof cure for this problem. I would let the passenger fly. Usually this took their mind off their doubts and gave them some control (they thought) over the situation.

“Would you like to fly for awhile Kelvin?”
“No, that’s Ok you carry on.” He said, with a quavering voice and shaking hands.
“I’m sure you are cut out to be a great pilot.” I said as I passed the control column over to him. I should explain. The Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft had only one control wheel, it was on a swing over column in the middle of the cockpit. Only one person could actually fly at one time, ie no copilot position in the normal sense of the word. Kelvin did not say a word at first; he just clenched his white knuckles around the wheel and starred straight at the mountains ahead. After a few moments he dared a sideways glance over at me. His mouth dropped about a foot, his eyes seemed to get much larger when he realized I had no means to control the aircraft, and he was actually doing all the flying.
“Are you sure we should be doing this?”
“There’s no problem, if anything comes up I just depress that button and you swing the control wheel back to me, simple.”
There was just the drone of the engine for several minutes, and I noticed Kelvin was settling down and seemed to be enjoying the struggle to keep the aircraft straight and level.

Suddenly a strange thing happened – SILENCE – DROPPING - silence is very quiet when seconds before it had been quite noisy. Dropping from the sky can be a little disconcerting when seconds before one was flying fairly level, not to far above mountain peaks as far as the eye could see. The combination of these two occurrences simultaneously, upon a hung over, nervous, terrified, inexperienced passenger that believed he was in total control of the aircraft was I guess not unexpected.
He froze.
Unfortunately his hands also clenched the control column with a death grip. It appeared he lost all hearing. He looked straight ahead, with rather large eyes, but said nothing.
“No worry Kelvin, I just have to change tanks.” I said as I was tying to press the button on the control column with my left hand while trying to pull the column back with my right hand. Kelvin’s arms had gone rigid – that is straight forward – that obviously means he is pushing the control column forward – ie down – not such a great idea.
“Kelvin let go of the F---g controls” I screamed as I quickly changed my left hand over to transfer to another fuel tank. I was still trying to release Kelvin’s death grip when the engine roared back to life. NOISE, now that was good, SPEED BUILD-UP, that was very, very bad. KELVIN in control?. That was impossible. Mountains rising toward us at an alarming rate, plenty of valleys about, but they were not intent on attacking us it seemed.

There was only one thing to do I decided (now remember this all happened in probably ten seconds at most) so I punched Kelvin as hard as I could on his left ear. He immediately slumped forward like he was dead. This was not too good, he was about two hundred pounds pushing forward again. I did however have the button pushed in and managed to throw him back into his seat and brought the controls over to my side of the aircraft. I quickly regained control and climbed up the a reasonable ten thousand feet, we had only lost about two thousand feet.
Kelvin stirred and moaned a little, “Geez this hangover is killing me, my head is throbbing like I have be hit by a truck”.

“Don’t worry about that, we’ll be in Oliver in about fifteen minutes, you had better try and get yourself spiffed up a bit, we will probably land right at the starting point of your big parade”.
With this advice he started to try and get some of the creases out of his clothes, fluff up his hat, and lastly he spit what appeared to me to be most unappetizing gook on his hands, and sort of washed his face and slicked down his beard and hair. I almost threw up.

‘See over that ridge, that is the runway at Oliver, looks like a rather large crowd is out to see their hero”.
“Oh no, it does look like a large group, but I don’t see a runway, where are you going to land?”
“Well it looks like they are doing their organizing on part of it, but if we give them a little buzz they should make room for us”.
Well we did the little buzz routine, unfortunately I reckon they figured we were just some misfit that should know better than to try and land on a small runway covered in people. So I buzzed again (they had no radio) but much lower, than did a turn and landed at the far end – no problem at all. I slowly taxied toward the small grandstand at the far end of the runway with the windows and doors open. The raised fists and mouthed obscenities turned to cheers as they spotted the suddenly spry, grinning and hat waving Captain Cook.

Kelvin got out just as the party from Penticton was arriving to report Captain Cook had not arrived. I didn’t turnoff the engine, slowly turned around and took off the opposite direction.
As far as I heard Kelvin kept his job for the rest of the summer.

PS Kelvin never did give me his plane ticket.





HE DID THOUGH GIVE ME HIS BUSINESS CARD!



larry
bennett
Feb. 28 2009

Monday, 2 February 2009

I PROMISSED TO NEVER COMPLAIN AGAIN

INSIDE THE TRUCK JUST BEFORE WE LEFT FOR OUR TRECK THOUGH THE FOREST - IT WAS DARK (THIS IS A FLASH PICTURE BY JOHN PAYNE)- COLD - UNCOMFORTABLE
WHAT WE WERE DOING MOST OF THE DAY - WELL I TOOK PLENTY OF RESTS



OUR TRUCK ON THE ROAD ABOUT HALF WAY TO LEON - I AM IN THE VERY MIDDLE - NO SLATs TO LOOK or BREATH THROUGH - NOTHING TO HANG ONTO - ETC -ETC




FROM THE OUTHOUSE - The ex -pig and chicken house we slept in after our trek through the jungle on a rainy night. WHERE WE BEGAN THE TEN HOUR JOURNEY AT SEVEN AM.





Photographers met us as we arrived - word of our overloaded truck had preceded us. A picture of truck was on front page of next mornings paper.


NOTE THE TRUCK IN THE BACKGROUND - IT WAS STILL BEING UNLOADED!



THE WONDERFUL (AND BEAUTIFUL) LADIES WITH WHOM I SPENT THE LONGEST RIDE OF MY LIFE





















When I first began this blog it was to be just about my little tussle with Prostate Cancer. That chapter in my life seems to be over - at least for now. My general health overall has degenerated in the past two years to such an extent it is hard to believe that I was ever a strong, active, hard working (and playing) guy. I now have (starting from the feet) Peripheral Neuropathy, Pseudo Gout (both knees), Tendinitis/Arthritis (both shoulders), Lip Cancer, Glaucoma (both eyes). I just looked at what I just wrote - looks like I am a real mess - but I figure in a year or so I will be in much better shape. Anyway I can still read and write.


The other day I took a bag of old slides down to get put on a CD - just got them back a few days ago - they brought back a lot of memories.



These pictures are from Nicaragua in 1985, they brought back the following (mis)adventure.


I was a tired, hungry, cold, wet, and not terribly happy, 50 year old sitting on the steel floor of a one ton pickup truck with a bit of canvas pretending to be a roof. It was about 7:30 PM on a narrow winding road in Nicaragua, we were returning from working during the day digging a gas line. (See picture above) Our driver stopped and was talking to the driver of another truck going the opposite direction. He evidently told him about a "fiesta" that was being held at a farm about a mile or so off the road - he said we were invited. When we stopped a few miles later and were told we were going to walk a little ways into the jungle to a fiesta I had two immediate thoughts - a fiesta should be warm, dry, have food, and be fun. I was unhappy, had a very sore back end,cold, wet, tired, and miserable, (SEE PICTURE AT TOP OF PAGE) did not want to go back into the rain in the pitch black night - but hey this was an adventure - so we all started along the trail. How our leaders knew where we were was beyond me.


Eventually we came to a house in a little clearing - it even had electric lights, above a small bulb at the entrance was a little sign.


"PROTESTANTS ARE NOT WELCOME IN THIS PLACE".




I immediately became a card carrying Catholic.




There was very little in the way of food, so I didn't eat. The actual "fiesta" consisted of about 12 small children singing in a large room that had seats around the perimeter made of one two by four - got a little hard on the bottom after a bit. But the singing of the children and the one guitar really was wonderful. After about half an hour the children left into the dark rainy night and we were invited to sleep here for the night. We took up the offer. There of course were not beds but we put our sleeping bags on the floor of an old chicken coop and had a fitful sleep.




In the morning as I returned from the outhouse I took a picture (see picture above) I realized what a miserable place this was, and wanted to leave as soon as possible. We were told that a truck would be coming in about an hour ( at the path entrance) - it was going to the old ex Capitol city of Leon, where there was to be a celebration of some sort or other, we decided to go.






Now this must be made clear, I had absolutely no idea where we were (one of the many advantages of not knowing the language), had no idea where Leon was, or of course how long it would take us to get there. I did think the whole of Nicaragua was about three hundred miles from end to end so it couldn't take more that five or six hours to get anywhere.




We started out in the beautiful warm Sunshine and got to the highway - ie dirt road - about eight o'clock just before the truck arrived. It was quite large and looked very safe and inviting. It had a roof made of canvas to keep the sun and rain off - great advantage I thought. I was much older than all the others at fifty, except John Payne who was forty four.


I decided I needed some rest so went to the very back of the truck and put my pack sack in one of the corners, sat on it and I believe went sound asleep for a short time. The others with our group stayed at the back entrance, John and Tom I believe stood on the outside ledge for most of the ride. When I awoke we were coming to a stop and a few ladies and children got on. Now remember this was in the middle of nowhere - these people just showed up on the side of the road. This was a very large truck so I just said Ola and nodded off again. This seemed to happen about every five or ten minutes, and the inside of the truck was getting slowly filled. I noticed a strange ritual seemed to happen at every stop, each group seemed to sit around the outer edge of the truck, soon there was no place for newcomers to sit with there backs against the wall, or look out through the four inch openings between the slats. I was quite surprised at the number of people, I was being squeezed on both sides, a little girl on one side, and a rather large lady on the other.




As more people got on they would gravitate to the sides of the truck and stand over those of us that were sitting, and reach over us to hold onto the side boards. This made me feel a little uncomfortable, particularly with the little ones, as they could not reach over us. As more and more people got on it was apparent that sitting was taking up too much space, so I got up and motioned to a little girl to take my place, she stood on top of my pack sack, and gave me a big smile.




Now I was one row removed from the sides (and slots) of the truck, but figured no big deal could hang on over the little girl, and of course we would be in Leon probably within the hour. At the next stop a man got on the truck and was calling - Larry - Larry - now I figured he could not be calling me, but he saw me and came over - in very poor English he explained his little girl had very sever dysentery and he had heard I has some special medicine. How he heard this or found me is still a mystery. Anyway I did have some special drops for sever cases, I tried to explain how to only put a few drops in water - every two hours etc - I gave it all to him and he left after hugging all the air out of me. I hope it helped. Another ten people got on at his stop.




The truck was pretty full by this time, every one now was standing, I had moved back to the third row from the slats, but could still hang on, with a bit of stretching. It was sort of working out this way - the smallest children were next to the sides, from there they could see out and get some fresh air. The next shorter girls or ladies were next, after that I don't know if there was any logic at all. Did I mention it was now about two hours into the trip and getting quite hot.


The body heat and body aroma coupled with the bouncing and sliding was starting to make me a little nauseous, although I wasn't worried about throwing up - I don't think there was anything there. The trip continued in this manner - more on - more squeezing - Since I was about the tallest person on the truck, I continued to gravitate toward the center of the truck. This was so the others could maybe see/breath, or maybe hold on. I found out I had the advantage that I could hold on to the one-by-fours that made up the support for the canvas roof if I stretched. I noticed about this time that it sounded like new arrivals were getting onto the roof - in fact you could see the indentation of their bottoms in the canvas.




As more (I couldn't believe they were allowing more) and more people got on it became tighter and tighter until one could not turn, or really move at all. It was getting very hot and stuffy, and I had now been standing for at least three hours. We stopped again and suddenly there was a flurry of excitement - evidently there were people outside the truck selling corn and melons. The lady I was squashed against managed to make me understand that I could buy some of these goodies, if I had any money. So with great difficulty I managed to get my arm down from the roof, along my neighbours body and into my pocket. And getting it out with some money was even more difficult. She grabbed it and passed it from person to person until (I suppose) it reached those next to the slats of the truck. I also understand I did buy a considerable amount of food. Eventually I ended up with one cob of corn. As I was about to take my first bite, a sweet little four year old, in her mothers arms looked at me, so with a great effort I managed get my arm over another ladies shoulder and give it to her, her smile made my day.




I found out a few days later, that where we received this food was the little town of San Ramon, where we were actually billeted - I could have got out and retired to my little room and bed. How I could have got out I do not know.


As more and more people got on the truck - mostly on the roof and outside - the canvas roof began to rip and people began to fall through. Eventually there was no canvas at all and the people on the roof were sitting on the one inch part of the one by fours making up the roof.


At about this time it started to rain, just a light rain - not cold - but it made the road muddy and slippery. This is all conjecture, as I could not see what was going on - in fact I believe I was getting a bad case of claustrophobia, or just plain going insane. We did get stuck at one point and I understand a military tank dragged us out, in any event we did continue - the sun came out and it got even hotter.




Eventually I decided I just had to get up and on to the roof, unfortunately the last few stops we made people could not get into the truck at all, so some of them squeezed on the roof. Looking up it was apparent there was no room at all on the roof. This did not matter I just had to get up and out of this suffocating place. I jumped and grabbed the one by four at a small gap between two people. There was not enough room for my hand and I fell back. For some strange reason a lot of the ladies around me were all laughing and cheering me on ( I think), so I tried again. The people above had moved apart a bit and I was able to get hold with one hand for a few seconds, and tried to get my other hand onto the board. I fell down again. The two above now moved apart another few inches, so I could try with both hands. Why they did this is beyond me, as there definitely was no room even if I did get up. On my third try I got hold with both hands and pulled myself up until my face was above the board and I was trying to squeeze between the girl and boy sitting on the board. I couldn't do it, but this time since I was completely off the ground and above the ladies in the truck, I fell horizontally on top of all them. I was on my back on top of a sea of heads. I felt many hands trying to help me back up. They were still cheering encouragement (I think) and laughing uproariously. I eventually got both hands on the board and manages to squeeze up and onto the board - unfortunately I knocked the girl off and onto the people below. Well the truck was bouncing and turning corners etc what do you expect. The ladies below seemed to like this almost as much as me falling.


"Oh, I'm very sorry, let me help you back up."


I was much stronger than I am now! I don't think the group on the top of the truck were all that pleased that I had arrived - they didn't look pleased at all. But everyone sort of moved a little one way or another and I was able to grab the girl and eventually got her back up. She didn't seem to happy either.


But It was like heaven to me - fresh air - could see for miles - sitting down - wonderful.


I felt like a new person as I smiled at all my fellow outriders, a few smiled back as I used my vast mastery of the Spanish language "Ola, Ola".


It didn't take to long before sitting on a one inch board began to take its toll on my skinny bottom. In fact as I (and I noticed all the others) squirmed and tried to take some of the pressure off with my hands - difficult because there really was no room for you hands on the board because of the person next being wedged against you. I did manage to get my hands under my bum - for awhile this helped, however soon the pain on the hands, made one remove them and revert to squirming.


You must remember that this is all going on while the truck is turning- slipping, and most alarmingly tipping precariously in the turns. I very quickly learned that as the truck turned one way all the people on the roof leaned the other on the signal from one of the men at the front. I of course did not realize these people were actually keeping the truck upright when I was in the bowels of the truck with the riff raff on the floor.


Although I was in considerable pain, I wouldn't have gone back inside for anything. After an hour or so we got out of the hills and ran smoothly on the plain toward Leon. It was now about 5:30Pm, the sun was lower, the temperature probably a nice 30C, and I was beginning to believe I might survive this ride after all. Although I must admit, I thought of jumping off the truck more than once! I was sort of dozing (in pain) when the guy yelled out something. I opened my eyes and turned to look to the front - notice two things simultaneously - First - everyone around me was crouched down, - Second - a tree branch was about three feet from my face. I closed my eyes, whap, pain, falling, blood, laughing. Yes laughing, as I managed to crawl back to my perch everyone on the top of the truck, and many below were laughing at me uproariously. They really thought this was hilarious. I on the other hand did not. We arrived at Leon in about an hour, I jumped off the truck before we were quite stopped and almost broke my neck, but boy was it wonderful to off that truck and on solid ground. When the ladies I had been standing beside for most of the ride saw me they put a big bandage on my forehead - then I took their picture.


Leon was a beautiful city. At the time I was not sure if it was worth the ride. Although now from the perspective of several years - it was an adventure that I suppose in some way made me a better person. If nothing else when I am on a soft seat "sitting"on an aircraft and about to complain - I get a flash of memory and hold my tounge - for a few seconds at least!