Strange White-Streaked Skies

The picture below was taken from the balcony of our hotel room in Fuengirola in Spain. Whenever I find myself in the northern hemisphere, I’m always intrigued by the white vapour trails left in the sky by passing airplanes. This is something you don’t see in the southern hemisphere – not in Africa, at least. Perhaps someone from Australia or South America can contradict me?

I’ve tried Googling for an answer, but the most predominant opinion on the net seems to be that it is because there is less air traffic on our side of the world and we just don’t have the opportunity to see the trails. While I can believe that the skies above Europe are busier than ours in South Africa, I somehow doubt it could be the real reason. The streaks are called “contrails”, or condensation trails, and are formed when the water vapour emitted by jet engines freezes, much like one’s breath steams on a cold winter’s morning. Could it be that our air, even 30 000 feet up, is still warmer than that of the northern hemisphere?

Whatever the reason may be, I find it very pretty. And isn’t it strange that looking up at the sky can bring such a clear reminder of the fact that I’m walking on foreign soil?

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