Find Out What Happened When I Went Skydiving For The First Time in Swakopmund, Namibia
I had considered the idea of skydiving every time a friend of mine would tell me she jumped out of a plane. Usually it was a gift for her birthday or a special occasion, but I never nailed down on my bucket list, that skydiving was something I had to do during a milestone in my life. I didn't panic at the idea of it or get sweaty palms. I guess I always felt more ambivalent about it. I'm not entirely sure why, but as I got older it started to become less and less important to me.
In the early part of November 2016, I was camping through southern Africa and whilst traveling through Namibia we had a stop in the town of Swakopmund, which was known for having access to some adventure activities. Our leader brought us into a tour booking agency to check out the schedule of options and what the availability and sure enough skydiving was on the list. I didn't give it much thought when I first read it over. In fact, I was leaning towards sand-boarding on some dunes not too far from town.
There were already a few folks in my group starting to sign up for skydiving, as they had their minds already made up. I didn't have skydiving in the budget. And it wasn't on my bucket list at all. To be really honest, when we walked in I thought I could skip any activities that weekend and just sleep in the bed all day after hours of driving and many nights of sleeping in a tent. But as I was reading the brochure and hearing the enthusiasm of the mates who just committed to jumping out of a plane, I spontaneously thought, "well, why the hell not?" and walked over and put my name on the list. Just like that.
It was pretty early the next morning that the van would come and get us from our accommodation and bring us back to the activity office to sign our paperwork, weigh in, and make our payments with Ground Rush Adventures. I opted for the package that would give me photos and videos. And then we were driven over to the location where we would hop out of the plane.
There were 5 of us from our group that would jump day; two other ladies, one from Switzerland and one from Australia and two gentlemen, one from New Zealand and one from Ireland. How is fun that? And there were about 3 or 4 other couples that would be jumping that day as well. Ironically, there were two students on study-abroad in South Africa with us, one of which went to UCLA, and we're still in touch (small world)!
One at a time we were brought over to be fitted for a jumpsuit and grab our equipment. Then we would sit at picnic tables waiting for our turn to go. Ironically, I was chosen to go first. I expected the plane to be bigger, with all of us going up, and all of our jumping out right after each other one at a time, but this was probably something I saw in a movie or maybe in another friend's video. But the plane was small and only big enough to hold the pilot, the camera-man, two people who were training, me and the dude that would be on my back. It was also officially the smallest plane I had been in. So many firsts!
Once we got in the plane and started cruising up, I honestly can't remember how long we ascended for, it fell very quiet in the plane. Granted it was noisy from the engine, but I remember more of a peaceful and serene feeling and I was careful to take in the scenery and the gift of this opportunity to experience both Namibia by sky, but also to have the physical capability to be able to do it at all. I thought about my guardian angels, that I would be protected, and if I was going to die, at least it was a very cool way.
The next thing I knew the plane started to circle around and Frank, the man I was jumping with, started to maneuver us towards the door. I felt very calm actually. Maybe more calm that I thought I would be. Frank asked me if I was OK because I was so quiet and still. But I genuinely felt focused and ready, more than anything.
The door opens. The camera-man hops out on the wing to make sure to film my descent, I sit in Frank's lap, put my head back, and down we go!
This part is probably going to be super anti-climactic for you, but alas, here we are... Nothing dramatic happened and it was straight fun! The only thing I can say about the free-fall is that I wish it was longer. It was so rad. Once the parachutes opened and we stabilized, I told Frank while we were on the way down, that I completely understood why he did this every day. What an "office" to go into.
We soared through the sky, taking in the scenery and appreciating every second of what was left of the decent. I smiled the whole way down. And before I knew it I was pulling my knees up to come in for our landing, which was also very smooth. As soon as I touched down I shouted, "I want to do it again." But when I looked out at the faces of people waiting, I was met with horror. They were pretty scared and quiet and not ready for my giant enthusiasm. So, I tried to assure them all that it would be a gorgeous experience and embrace the fear.
After all of us got our chance to jump (it was a long day of waiting and by the way, everyone else jumped two at a time in the plane) we were taken back to town and we headed out for burgers and shakes at a local burger joint to celebrate. We were both delirious from hunger and the joy of the jump, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. What a day?!