Somehow, in South Africa, I was transformed into a complete daredevil who felt I could take on anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a scared person, but this was to a whole new level, I didn’t have a worry in the world. Who knows why I felt this way, maybe because I’d learnt if an opportunity arises you should always take it, maybe because my trip was coming to an end and this was my last chance to do anything out of the ordinary. So what happened kind of went like this (you can read part 2 of Louise doing crazy shit that’s a little out of character here.)
My last weekend at Kwantu and as we sat munching on our daily stew and veggies we discussed where to spend our last weekend. Someone suggested Plettenberg Bay, just a three hour drive from Kwantu. This quickly escalated to Plettenberg Bay with the possibility of a skydive. This idea was so insane in my head that it kind of made sense, it was so crazy that my mind was too lazy to think about the ins and outs of it, so we signed up, feeling ready to take on anything. Plet was a lovely little town and Saturday afternoon came round fast as we all lay on the grass watching each of our friends fly 10,000 ft into the sky, then moments later we’d watch a tiny parachute inflate right up there and we would all wave, like teeny tiny ants on the ground. I was waiting for the nerves to kick in, to have a full blown panic attack and bail out. But I felt pretty chill, I remember ringing my Dad and joking about saying my final goodbyes, he wasn’t worried at all, just jealous, so this fuelled my excitement even more. We went up in pairs, so me and Meggie began to get strapped up, of course not without posing for a few photographs first.
We had made a mutual decision that Meggie was to jump first; I needed time to prepare myself. Whenever I pictured skydiving I imagined hovering out the door for a few seconds, reconsidering my choices, hearing the guys going ‘come on, you can do this’ and eventually crawling back into the plane in shame as we headed back to the ground. That’s the problem, when you let your mind wonder you become tense, everything had been so quick paced that we didn’t really have time to think about this. Oh, besides poor Annie, my Kwantu mum who was scared out her wits, but hey she still did it, despite being absolutely petrified. It was also an opportunity we could not resist due to how bloody cheap it was, just £120. If we were being logical we would think hmmm there’s probably a reason why it is so cheap, maybe due to a black splodge on their safety record hmmm. However, there was no time for any of that, we were there, on the runway, ready to take off. It was a tandem skydive and there had been a minor bit of confusion as the guy who was jumping with Meggie had gotten in the plane first, I don’t think they had picked up on the fact we both wanted her to go first. Flying is one of my biggest fears, but I actually felt fine in this little tin, maybe it was the adrenaline rushing through me, but I wasn’t scared at all, still waiting for the nerves to kick in actually, which were still completely non-existent. The view below us was incredible, I stuck my head to the window and peered through the dirty goggles I had been instructed to put on. The coast looked like a sketch underneath us, the green scenery contrasting with the deep blue ocean, the shore glimmering in the sunlight.
As we soared, higher and higher I felt the tandem guy begin to attach me to him, clipping me in. The next part happened so fast I can barely believe it. I was completely oblivious to the fact I was going first, not Meggie so when the door flung open right to my side I felt a little shocked, but not shaken, I was ready to jump. It felt as though my feet touched the side panel for half a second, there was no reconsidering, fear or shame. The only thing I felt was the weight of this big guy throwing me head first out of the tin plane and straight into the blue sky. He had given me a few instructions to follow upon leaving the aircraft, cross my legs, look up and smile, this stopped your face hurting. This was irrelevant because I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face anyway. Skydiving seems like such a wild thing, but in reality it’s kind of peaceful, like floating through the sky, admiring the beauty below. I imagined feeling a pressure like no other as my body was sucked to the ground below. But it really wasn’t like that, the air resistance meant I barely felt as if I was falling. The only discomfort I had was a slight difficulty to breath, but this is normal as the air is super thin at 10,000ft, as you can imagine.
The free fall was over so soon as a hand presenting three fingers was beside my head. 3.. 2… 1 and whoosh our parachute when up, sending us back up and giving us a bit of a jolt. I cheered and laughed as we soared above the ground, just 3,000ft to go, I tried to look for the ant people but they were too far out of sight. I was able to control the parachute myself for a while as we made our way to the field where we had begun and I made a (cough cough) perfect landing. I was it was over, my feet hit the ground and life was back to normal, well besides the adrenaline rushing through my body a million miles an hour. As I watched Meggie come into landing I cheered and all I wanted to do was dance, it really was the most incredible feeling and I would recommend it to anyone. You literally don’t have the chance to feel scared and this is the best way for it to be.