Jonas was in the zone.
He had been searching for his pilot’s licence for the past 20 minutes, but to no avail.
Sitting at a small kitchenette table, sipping her morning tea, Jolana watched with amusement as her husband muttered to himself, totally oblivious of her presence, as he crawled underneath their hotel room bed for the third time; desperately trying to find the document she knew was not there.
Mainly because she had hid it on purpose.
They had arrived in Tofino BC for the first time two days ago and had booked a room at the Wickaninnish Inn. Today they would be checking out and flying across the mountains to Campbell River on the eastern shore of the island.
As she watched her husband’s legs protruding from beneath the bed, Jolana’s mind drifted to the past. It was almost six months to the day since she had retired as Director of Flight Operations for the Czech Republic’s National Carrier: Czech Airlines. After 25 years of postings throughout Europe and the Middle East, she had felt the time was right to begin enjoying life at a slower pace.
A month after retirement, accompanied by her two closest friends, Jolana decided to take a road trip from her home town of Prague, to Germany. The time spent on the road was great until they were just outside the eastern outskirts of Berlin, where their car decided it could go no further. After contacting roadside assistance, they were met a short time later by a local representative who took them into Berlin. His name was Jonas.
At first she thought him to be a bit too intense. But as she and her friends chatted with him on the drive in, they found out he too was recently retired. He had flown transport aircraft in the German Air Force for 25 years. That certainly provided insight about his personality.
Jolana would never have thought such a regimented, orderly person would be interesting to her; given her somewhat carefree nature and penchant for mischievousness
Jolana stirred from her memories and found Jonas looking up at her from under the bed with a knowing look on his face.
“You would not happen to know where my pilot’s license is, would you?”
“License? What license?” She replied, feigning innocence and trying not to smile.
Jonas took all of this in stride. In the five months he had known her. He had moved beyond bemused tolerance to unabashed admiration. When he first met her on that German roadside less than half a year ago, her spontaneity and mischievousness ran counter to his ordered and logical way of thinking. He had mistakenly assumed, Jolana and her friends were just your typical free-spirited, holiday makers. When he found out that she recently ran the FlightOps department of a major European Airline, he immediately readjusted his thinking and saw her in a totally new light.
That unexpected encounter out on the Autobahn, turned even more unusual when not two months after first meeting her, she had proposed to him. She took my stunned look as affirmation before I was finally was able to mumble an acknowledgement.
Her ongoing penchant for surprises one day came in the form of a gold-lined black velvet box containing a silver key. She had presented this box to me on our wedding day. The key accessed a private hangar at Euro Jet’s Intercontinental FBO at Prague’s Vodochody Airport.
Inside was a Czech Let L-410 Turbolet, a twin-engine short-range transport aircraft. She had known about my days in the military as a transport pilot and somehow acquired the 100th aircraft off LET’s assembly line as her gift to me. She has never revealed to me how she pulled that off.
We have been travelling in it ever since.
As I crawled out from under the bed, I smiled back at her, confident in the fact that my license was not lost, but quite safe. I also knew that Campbell River would just be another opportunity for her to hide something else, or surprise me once again. Either way, because of her, this retirement was never boring.