The Pilot’s Son

A tale for children to read on their travels
Text by Alice Ida
Photographs by Luca De Santis

One morning, when the air was clear and cool, Moises and his dad Juan the pilot were ready to take off in their plane. As they flew over the most remote and unknown area of the Rio, where the forest was so dense that you could not tell where one tree ended and the next began, they were met by a sudden storm. 

The tail end of the monsoon made them tremble in the sky, like mosquitoes under a fan, and a cheeky flash of lightning passed so close to the aeroplane that its engine seized up out of fright. Juan was an expert pilot but he didn’t realize that little Moises had been thrown out of the plane when they twisted around in a pirouette.

Good fortune and the parachute allowed Moises to make a delicate landing, slowed by the clouds, the leaves, and a great muddy puddle that made him slide smoothly right to the edge of the forest of mangroves. 

The first person who Moises saw once he had cleaned the mud off his glasses was Mira. A girl with dark eyes and a parrot perched on her head whose feathers were more colourful than the sky at sundown. 

She gestured him to follow her through the jungle to a small village of huts on the river bank. A woman with long hair and skin painted red was waiting for them at the entrance to the village with a message for Moises. “The wind tells me you arrived from the sky, and I’m happy that the earth has been your friend. The great metal insect has landed on the other side of the hill near the lagoon. The man who was with you is safe, and is tying some reeds together, I think he wants to make a canoe. Before the moon is full we will see him pass by on the river in front of the village. Until then you will be our guest and Mira, my daughter, will be your guide.” She stroked his head and entered the hut. Moises trusted those words, and yet he turned, stunned, to Mira: “But…How does she… know?” Mira burst into laughter and from then on they were inseparable.  

The days in the village went by happily waiting for Juan to arrive from the river and Moises learnt the wonders of the jungle and the Nawa tribe, together with  Mira and Pico, the parrot. One morning, while they were exploring the hill behind the village, Moises slipped on a mossy stone and hurt his leg. He felt a sharp pain where a deep cut had opened and at the same time a voice behind him called his attention.

He turned and couldn’t see anyone, but he noticed that a dark resin was oozing from a tree nearby. Instinctively, he took a drop and rubbed it onto his wound. “It stings!” he thought, but he didn’t have time to think about it because suddenly marvellous music that he had never heard before arose from the jungle. It seemed as if every plant, every flower, every leaf and every root was vibrating at its own frequency, and that the whole jungle was playing like an orchestra. Moises was ecstatic about the beauty of the music, and when he realized that the resin on his wound was sealing the cut, in the symphony he also recognized the voice of the tree that had called him to offer its medicine. He bounded joyfully to the village, his heart full of music.  

In the village was Juan, his dad, who had just got out of his reed canoe. 

They were reunited in a hug and Moises told him about his meeting with the Nawa and the music that he had heard in the jungle. Juan held him tightly and said, “Today you listened to the jungle’s voice, my son. Just like you, I heard that voice for the first time when I was a child, and since then I have been flying the skies to protect the jungle from fire and the dangers caused by man. That tree wanted to offer you its medicine, and you were able to listen to it. I’m so proud of you.” The time had come to leave. Juan and Moises said goodbye to the Nawa people, Mira and Pico the parrot, and they got on their way towards the city. From that day on, every time that Juan left to fly towards the jungle, Moises went with him to spend a few days with the Nawa, listen to the voice of the jungle and learn the secrets of the plants and their medicines, and laugh with Mira and the cicadas at sundown. 

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