Beyond the Clouds by Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, S.A.C. - Page 27

During one of my Vistations, I was given the rare opportunity to fly over the Amazon in a small helicopter, all alone, with only the pilot. My confrere- a parish priest- had a wealthy friend to whom it belonged, and with only a telephone call, it soon came hovering overhead and landing amazingly on the water. My confrere made a generous proposal: I could visit the small, Catholic communities by air, and finally land in the city of Manaus. As I had already traveled several hours by car, this would give me the possibility not only to return by helicopter, but also see the towns from above. Though the same offer was made to the other visitor with me, Fr. Vialiy Gorbatykh, only one could fit. He politely declined, and I- willingly or unwillingly- had to say yes. Just embarking into the helicopter parked on water was difficult enough! Had I not been the passenger, it would have only remained balanced by placing a jar of water on the seat adjacent to the pilot. With a forceful thrust, we were propelled into the water filled with crocodiles, piranhas, and anacondas. The helicopter uses the water like a runway; as it gains speed, the water level goes down. Otherwise, you are seated far below the water level! Finally, to my great consolation, the little machine became airborne with only a hissing sound. There we were! Flying over a river that stretches almost 3,000,000 square miles through South America! Every now and then we could see the small communities- each appearing as their own tiny islands- waving to us. It was a genuine, canonical visitation! Coasting through the sky, the pilot gave me control of the helicopter. I felt as though it was slipping out of the air. I dared to risk no further, not only for fear of my own life, but also for the office I was holding. In no way would I want the Society to spend a huge amount of money to organize another General Chapter. Re-assuming my role as passenger, the adrenaline of the experience never ceased! After touching down at our destination- via a mode of transportation seemingly far more perilous than a car- I found out that my fellow friend, Fr. Vitaliy, had a more disastrous time. He got in an accident, 27