Friday, 17 July 2009

S.K.Y.D.I.V.E!!!! 8 July 2009

Oh yes, that´s right. On Wednesday the 8th of July 2009 I did a sky dive. Here´s how it happened.

During the walk in the National Park Condorito, Ed had mentioned to me that he was doing a sky dive the following day.

My ears most definitely picked up at this point in our conversation and I hurled a million questions at him... Where? How much? Have you done one before? Is it good to skydive here? Can I do it too?

Now, Ed had spent the last year living in Santiago as part of his degree in Spanish. He was spending the summer travelling round South America before returning home in August. Ed, who has a fear of heights, had been planning his skydive for the last few months. He came to Cordoba because of the skydiving. Apparently it was the best place to skydive in the whole of South America. And not only was it the best place to skydive, it was also the cheapest at 100 pounds.

I have wanted to do a sky dive for ages. It´s one of those things that I have always fancied doing. But one of those things that I never imagined I would ever actually get around to doing.

Here I was, faced with the opportunity to do a sky dive. I signed up for the sky dive as soon as I got back from my trek in the National Park.

I made the decision to do the jump before I had the time to really think about it. I got back to the hostel and told Petra. Then it sunk it, I had committed to doing a Skydive. Well, I hadn´t actually paid at this point so I could still back out. But deep down I knew there was no backing out.

I woke up on the morning of the sky dive and my first thought was: what if I had a heart attack on the way down. I know plenty of people that have skydived before and I know that there is little to worry about on the ´what if the parachute doesn´t open´ front, but what if i had a heart attack... that was a whole different kettle of fish.

I had a nice shower. If I was going to do a sky dive I had to be clean.

Then i faced my eternal dilemma... what to wear? Seriously, this was a big dilemma, and because i had convinced myself that i was going to have a heart attack on the way down I was not only choosing an outfit to jump out of a plane in, but also an outfit to die in.

Petra laughed at me lots as i tried out the different outfit combinations. Eventually I settled for black trousers, a white vest and a black thin jumper. I would also wear my fleece as well for a bit of warmth. I know, it´s hardly glamourous, but I figured that I would be wearing a jumpsuit outfit anyway so it didn´t need to be glamourous.

By this point it was 11am and I had two hours to kill before my pick up arrived to drive me to my fate.

I had to go withdraw some cash so I wasted some time getting cash out. I began to panic when i saw the queues for the banks. Every single bank in town had a ridiculously long queue. I waited 30 minutes for the cash machine so that killed some time.

Back at the hostel I decided to write a will which I emailed to Laura. I didn´t know if my insurance covered me for sky diving, but if it did I wanted to decide where the insurance money would go. Laura was the only person I told about the skydive. I didn´t contact Mum or Gwil about it... I decided resolutely that I would text them after the deed was done, after I had survived.

I wasn´t really scared, I was just excited. Really excited. And at the same time fixated on ´what if i don´t make it´. I had the occasional pangs of terror, but the thought of the thrill of the fall overtook the fear.

At 2.05pm my pick up had still not arrived. I was not impressed! At 2.30pm my pick up arrived.

Ed and I sat together in the back of a car with two Argentinian men who never said a word to us. The driver was the spitting image of Dara O Brien and had the same moody eyes and the other guy was very smiley but just didn´t speak. I felt like I was in a car with two gangsters. Ed and I chatted the whole way, it was nervous chatter, and then, we pulled into the aviation centre, both of us took a sharp intake of breath as both of our hearts ran into our mouths and the butterflies kicked in.

We got there and found two guys checking out parachutes and rolling them up. Still no one said a word to us.

Then Dara O Brien appeared and told us to sign our lives away on the consent forms. We both obliged and signed on the dotted lines with apprehension.

Then Dara decided that it would be a ´ladies first´ occasion and I was given a jumpsuit to climb into. I felt like the white power ranger in my suit and jumped around with nerves and excitedness.

We had to wait around for quite a while, but at 3.45 everything was ready for me to take to the skies.

I had had all the training and I recited the routine over in my head: hands across my chest, legs bent back, back arched, release the arms when my instructor taps me. I had it all clear in my head, but as the plane started across the run way it all fell out of my head.

In the plane with me was the pilot, my instructor (who i was attached to), my camera man, an Israeli who was on a 21 day sky dive course and his instructor. The 6 of us were crammed into the smallest plane I have ever seen. And as we chugged along the run way i was convinced that we would never get off the ground. It just wasn´t possible.

But we did.

My heart was in my mouth as the wheels took off the ground and we began to climb. There was only one way back down, and that was out the window.

I looked out the window at the incredible views. We were up above the Condorito Nacional Park. Yesterday I was looking up at the Condors, today I was flying with them.

Then all of a sudden the Israeli guy and his instructor started to move and they opened the door. As the wind streamed in to the tiny plane I was filled with terror. Total terror. I was going to get sucked out liek in some Hollywood movie. I wasn´t reaady. I was enjoying the flight, i needed another minute or two before i could jump.

The Israeli and his instructor did their jump and were gone.

The door was closed and we climbed higher.

Thank god, i needed it.

The moment when they opened the door was so scary. I sat in fear of that moment again. The next time the door opened it was going to be my jump. We got higher and higher, and i could see over the sierra grandes.

Then we reached 3000m and it was my turn. I was clipped to my instructor fully and my camera man opened the door and crept out onto the wing. As me and my instructor shuffled forward to the door i could see hte cameraman sitting casually on the wing waiting for me. I thought that sitting on the edge would be the scariest thing ever but it actually felt incredible... there i was on the edge of a plane with clear blue sky all around me, i was ready and i was excited. my arms were crossed and my legs were back, my instucrtor pulled my head back so i arched my back (i had forgotten about that bit, oops) we rocked forward once, twice and then we were out and we were falling.

The actual moment itself it a blye blank in my mind, all i remember is falling and looking ahead of me and seeing the camera man. the feeling was incredible and i had the biggest smile on my face as the g force pulled back my cheeks. i fell free fall for 30 seconds but it felt like it was only 5 seconds. it was such a rush and i already wanted to do it again. then the parachute went up and we were thrust upwards as the cameraman continued to fall.

With the parachute up I could take it all in. the ground below was miles away and the landscape was stunning from this view point. I was also alive. i felt incredible. i felt free and i felt sooooo incredibly happy. it was such an amazing feeling and we glided back down to earth after 5 minutes on a parachute glide. Knowing that i was loving it, the instructor took me for a spin and did some tricks and stunts.

Then, terror struck again. I was connected to my instructor with four clips and he starte to undo the bottom two. I was so scared and i tensed instantly. he told me not to worry, he had to do this so that we could land safely. very well i thought, but a bit of warning would have been appreciated.

I was predicting a Bridget Jones esque fall into a pig sty (which would probably have led to me catchin swine flu) but thankfully it was nothing like this, i was just a heap on the floor.

Oh my god it was amazing. I couldn´t believe it. I had just fallen from a plane through the sky. It was such an incredible buzz.

As I jumped around with pure giddiness Ed got ready for his dive. I got to view my photos and dvd straight away. it was so exciting to watch it again.

I couldnt wipe the smile from my face.

Even writing about it now gives me an incredible buzz. Simply incredible.

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