Let me tell you, how an acrophobic like me ended up skydiving in Cape town!
I am terribly jittery even if I have to look down from my 14th floor apartment, but somehow breaking free from these psychological shackles, I decided to skydive – jumping from a plane, mid air, at a height of 9000, 10,000 or whatever 1000 feet. (Because after a certain height, it does not matter if its 9000 or 15000!).
South Africa is a powerhouse of various adventures – Be it shark cage diving, game viewing in the middle of the jungle, bungy jumping, or of course, skydiving!
With a little nudge from the friends that were accompanying me on this trip, I enrolled for this skydiving experience, but all the time I was incredibly nervous about it!
Thankfully, on our 17 days’ trip to this beautiful country of South Africa, this skydiving experience found place in the last leg of the trip. So well, we had a blast all through our road trip from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, but then creeped in the nervousness!
The first day we reached Cape Town was filled with awkward silences, as we knew that the next day is ‘The Day’! All of us were half ready to back out, but then came in the pride. The thought of jumping off a plane definitely gave us the heebie-jeebies. I lay all night thinking of scenarios and trying to feel the intangible experience it is going to be!
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Cape Town weather was all foggy, rainy, misty, when we woke up next morning, and definitely hostile to jump off a plane! Ummm… sigh of relief perhaps! But, obviously, we acted upset, for having missed skydiving! 😀
We pretty much just relaxed for the next 3 days, as the weather did not allow any other activities as well. We made it our business to make to-and-fro visits to the V&A waterfront mall, and to eat especially scrumptious food.
And then, on the pen-ultimate day of our Cape Town stay, comes the call from the organisers saying – “It’s your lucky day!! Looks like the sky is clear and we can do it today!”
We had almost made peace with not skydiving on this trip and were already discussing ideas to extort our paid advance from the organisers. But well, God had other plans! And we, instead of licking ice-creams & window shopping at the mall, were seen shit-scared and flying down from 9000 feet!
To bring it to perspective – A 10 storey building is 100 feet. So perhaps make an imaginary tower of 90 such buildings (or 900 storeys) and jump off! (You could not see it, right! Me neither!)
Now, skydiving cannot happen in the middle of the city ! So well, the said spot was around an hour and a half outside the city, and well we drove in absolute silence, with butterflies having a rave party in my stomach.
One of us (my husband), who was not going to do it, also came up with this incredibly encouraging speech by Will Smith and my advice to every potential skydiver out there – DO NOT MISS IT!!
All of us, sporting a brave face, signed a form that read – We could die, and they (organisers) will not be responsible. We are the ones who have decided to risk our life and limb for pleasure!
Well, it did not say this, but it certainly implied!
And then, with clammy palms and a face that had drained all its colour, we proceeded to be ‘prepped’ for the dive. They tied us all over with all the attachments for tandem skydive, and checked our parachute. (Critical step – you know right what happens if it does not open!)
Oh and , we, of course had not eaten a bite! Remember the days when you had an exam and you were so nervous, nothing went in your mouth. Well, imagine that feeling 10 folds now! Whereas the person who was not going to do the dive, was stuffing himself with hotdogs, while I could have easily puked on his face!
Once all set, we were introduced to our partners on the dive, who are experienced divers and they also carry the go-pro to shoot the video while we jump. Oh, what a jubilant person he was! I was terror-struck and he kept asking me to smile for his video. He should be glad he is alive, because he was the one to make sure that I landed on ground breathing!
Then came the 20-minutes flight ascending to our target height, and I couldbarely enjoy the view, which is by the way STUNNING, because I was just too nervous! While this happened, we were suddenly assigned numbers – numbers in order of jumping off! And, it just dawns that this is really happening – you are not going back now!
But, to my surprise, gradually this frightening feeling melted into numbness. And I felt nothing! Until… Until… this guy opened the door of the airplane! My adrenaline was at its soaring best at that moment and then people just started tumbling out like cement bundles at construction sites, and just like that – I WAS NEXT!
With clear instructions about where to hold, when to jump, and other non-important things, I was sitting at a plane’s open door, as my skydiving partner counted 1..2..3.. and …. I do not know when, but I was already in the air!
The first thing I remember seeing is the ground , moving towards me, as I accelerated at around 9.8 m/s2 (Remember physics!!?), racing through the timid clouds around me!
And then I came back to senses and looked up, forgetting I was falling , and realising I was ‘flying’!! Those vivid feelings still linger somewhere in my soul. And I even posed for pictures when my life saviour, with whom I tandem-dived, directed his wrist with the go-pro, towards me.
The fact that I am here re-telling my experience, my parachute did not ditch me, I safely landed, after swaying mid air for a few minutes, and have been thanking my stars ever since – For friends who accompanied in this madness, for a clear sky, for my courage to do it… Because, this is the high you need in life! How liberating flying can be, how exhilarating pushing fears aside can be, & how brilliant our achievements can be, if only we let ourselves take charge!