Namibia to Niger flights are known for their turbulence. Airlines travelling between the capitals Windhoek and Niamey advise their passengers to wear extra-cushioned pants to tolerate the bouncing.

Nangolo, a Namibian boy of twelve years, missed this message. He was too excited about his first trip into the heavens to notice the corporate advisory finely printed on the bottom reverse of his paper ticket. He was finally headed to Niger to meet his long-time pen pal Boubacar, a lad with whom he’d been swapping scribblings for five years. In reality, Nangolo could have used a cushioned stomach prior to departure. He’d been vomiting profusely from the anxiety of leaving the familiar beloved dirt of Windhoek and handing control of his life to a captain of a flying vessel, a stranger in a strange costume adorned with curious pins and patches. During the flight, the rattling of the plane intensified Nangolo’s misery. Neither the complementary cranberry juice nor the flight crew’s words of comfort were enough to quell the nausea that gripped the boy.

Upon arrival in Niamey, Nangolo disembarked onto the tarmac with the other passengers. The whirling of his stomach had not yet subsided. Boubacar stood just outside the airport’s terminal doors. Recognizing his pal from photos, he ran up to Nangolo. The boys shook hands and embraced briefly. Nangolo, still nauseous, vomited promptly on his friend’s right shoulder. Boubacar had predicted an alternative greeting.

A fortnight hence, it was time for Nangolo to return to Namibia. Recalling his earlier aerial expedition, the boy’s stomach grumbled. Nangolo set out on the 2,700 mile journey. This time, he would stroll.

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