Sky diving has always been the number one item on my bucket list, and I’ve always sworn to do it someday. However, as Tom Cruise aptly put it in Knight and Day (2010), ‘someday’ is a dangerous word, because it’s really just code for ‘never’. I am however on a quest to live life like I’m dying, as dramatic as that might sound, and I finally got to do it with the lovely guys over at SkyDive Diani. Here is a what my totally badass (because I’m now at a Jason-Staham-in-Furious-7- coolness level, no?) experience was like:
I run from our villa through Forty Thieves Beach Bar and stumble along the sand before getting to the SkyDive Diani office all sandy, sweaty, disoriented and a little late. I quickly say hello to the team and dash off to the washrooms to cool off and change into yoga pants. I cannot go skydiving in my skirt, for obvious reasons!
Ingvild, one of the owners, gives me a long waiver to sign. I chuckle at the different ways the form describes ‘death by falling’, before finally just signing along every point without actually reading it thoroughly. The way we all always check that tiny little box to accept terms and conditions we haven’t actually read. When you encounter that form, you should probably not read it. If you’re paranoid, you’ll likely talk yourself out of jumping!
Upon heading back out, my instructor Gary helps me into a harness which is so tight that it’s digging into my crotch. It’s a struggle not to walk like some guy that’s just been circumcised. I wonder what the lad next to me must be feeling!
We’ll be doing tandem jumps today. The other guy’s instructor is called Mark. We hop onto a van and set off for Ukunda airstrip. I learn that Mark has over 5,000 jumps under his belt, while Gary who actually used to be in the British Army jokes that he’s only done four. Not cool, Gary…this is not the right time to be making such jokes!
The four of us arrive at the airport then make our way to a small doorless aircraft. The other two get in first and we end up right by the door. I am eerily calm. I left the villa running towards Skydive Diani like I was just out to run some quick errands at the supermarket. I haven’t allowed myself to think about this yet!
The view of Diani is so beautiful as we fly higher into the sky. We’re going 12,000 feet up, and as we get above the clouds, it starts to get really cold. My feet are freezing. I am barefoot, you see. Gary harnesses me to him, gives me a pair of goggles and some last minute instructions. He is recording the experience on a GoPro and he is pumped! I’m feeding off his enthusiasm, because otherwise I would just be in a state of delirium.
Soon it is time to jump, and Gary tells me to inch towards the exit. OH MY GOD! THIS IS HAPPENING! WE ARE ABOUT TO JUMP OFF A PLANE! My entire body is now dangling off the aircraft while he is seated by the edge of the door, and I am only harnessed to him by straps. It is at this point that the weight of what is about to happen hits me, and I have never been so scared in my life. Before I can freak out and demand that we crawl back in, we exit. WE JUMP OFF THE FREAKING PLANE!!!
Free fall is brutal! First of all, it is very cloudy so I can hardly see a thing. We’re speeding towards the ground at about 120mph, and I initially hold my breath before realizing that I need air. I try to breathe with the wind blowing hard against my face, which is not exactly a pleasant experience. We’re flipping sideways and upside down and you get the sensation that you just jumped into a never-ending hole, like you’re in dream. Next time I will keep my eyes open and enjoy this part a little more!
Gary pulls the parachute after a minute and we stop mid-air. I scream the F-Word about three times at the top of my lungs. I finally look down towards the ground and it is beautiful! I wish this moment would last forever! This right here makes it all worth it. We’re able to have conversations at this point, and he lets me steer the parachute. I pull it slightly left and we float in that direction and vice versa. We slowly glide back towards the beach, and it is all very serene!
We finally land back safely onto the sands, and I am in a state of reverie; screaming, high-fiving everyone and occasionally breaking into awkward energetic motions meant to be dance moves. I can barely remember being ushered back to the SkyDive Diani premises. My video is edited in about two minutes, and I soon bid goodbye to everyone and start making my way up the beach towards the villa.
I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TO EVERYONE! Don’t keep putting it off for someday. Just book your jump today man.