I stepped off the plane and out of the airport. The heat hit me, it was like a physical presence and somehow made me oppressed and claustrophobic at the same time. I took off my jumper before I left the plane but instantly my T-shirt felt heavy and too thick. My jeans were so hot that my legs stuck to the insides. Before I’d left I’d remembered mum saying that it was a bad idea to wear jeans, “you’ll be far too warm.”
I’d shrugged and said, “maybe, but there’s no way I’m wearing shorts.” That had made as both laugh. I’m not the thinnest of girls and the prospect of me in shorts is definitely a laughing matter.
“What about the cotton trousers?”
“Yeah, but white trousers aren’t really my thing, not here anyway. Once I’m in Cyprus I’ll wear them.” I’d smiled and given Mum a hug. Her final comment had been, “it’s hotter than you think out there.” Standing on the pavement with a relentless sun beating down I agreed with her. I’d expected hot but you have to double that expectation to get anywhere near this heat.
A cry came from my left and I turned, smiling and throwing a wave in the direction of the voice. There, coming toward me, was the thin form of Mary, a co-student and now a co-worker. “Was the flight okay?” She asked.
“Yeah. Long though.”
A guy behind her stuck out his hand. I shook it, glad that his grip was firm and not limp. I hate limp handshakes, I never know what to do with them. Do you finish quickly or do you tighten your grip to see if they are just being odd because you’re a woman. “This is Paul,” Mary said.
He smiled, “you must be Charlotte?”
I nodded, “but call me Charlie. Everyone does.”
He gestured at the bags at my feet. “These yours?”
“Only two?” He said sounding surprised.
Mary scowled at him. “I hadn’t realised we were rationed on bags,” she stated primly.
Paul just rolled his eyes. “You brought eight.”
“Eight!” I squeaked.
“Yeah, well, just in case,” Mary said defensively.
We made our way to the car. “It’s hot.” I said trying to fill the silence.
Mary looked surprised, “oh no. I thought it was cooler than yesterday.”
“She’s right,” Paul said. “The temperature is cooler. Still tomorrow it’ll be back to normal.”
“But it’s roasting now!” I protested.
“Don’t worry Charlie,” Mary said, “you’ll soon get used to it.”
Looking around the dry landscape I wasn’t so sure. There was no green. None at all. Just yellows, oranges and browns. The air didn’t smell sweet but dusty and dry, just like when you walk into an attic for the first time. Already I miss Wales’ green and damp air. I really wasn’t looking forward to this. All my enthusiasm and wonder at having been asked to help on an archaeological dig in Cyprus was rapidly disappearing. Getting in the car I looked back at the airport, briefly wondering if it would be a good idea to just leave.
“You want the AC on?” Paul asked me as he started the car.
He smiled and hit the button on the dash. Slowly the car pulled away, kicking up yellow dust.