When I was 16, I wrote a list of “30 things I want to do before I’m 30”. Some were easy, some harder, and some near-impossible. As of the 10th of February, 2015, I had completed nine of them.
We woke up this sunny Tuesday in Brazil and were planning on having a relaxed day, as it was my, Georgie and Lina’s last day together. We went down for breakfast and as we were eating, noticed an advert on the wall for “Skydive Foz.” We looked at each other and it was decided. Today, we would jump out of a plane.
Ten minutes after this spontaneous decision was made, it was all booked; we were being picked up at 3.30. We chilled out at the hostel pool all morning, reading our books and soaking up the summer sun. At 3.30 on the dot (nah jokes, this is South America), we were picked up and whisked away for the most expensive, but exhilarating 10 minutes we had ever spent.
After signing away our right to life “I, Chloe Harrison, understand that there is a risk of death involved in this activity…”, the papers we were filling out were whisked away before we had even had time to read the terms and conditions. “The storm is coming in, you don’t need to read this just sign! As long as you’re fit and healthy you’ll be fine.” We blindly followed these instructions and prayed that the grey clouds would find a different field to drown.
We were hurriedly strapped into our wedgie-inducing harnesses and told (a grand total of one time) the procedure for how to “correctly fall out of the plane.” “Head back, knees bent, back arched, tap on shoulder = head down, arms out, understood?”
“Err, guess so?”
The first group were herded across the field and into the tiny aircraft. Watching this was like watching a tardis, people just kept climbing in to this tiny vessel. Although the plane was about 1m by 3m, ten people plus all their kits managed to cram in, and it zoomed off. We watched in awe as the plane did circles above us, before dropping 6 hamster-poo people into the air. These black dots slowly grew, until they landed elegantly on the ground ten minutes later. It was now our turn.
The next ten people were crammed into the metal flying machine, each of the novices strapped tightly to an instructor. I now know what it feels like to have a conjoined twin; suffocating and awkwardly intimate.
The lunch I had just eaten didn’t feel so happy in my stomach, as I was about to conquer two things that make me nervous all at once: small spaces and small airplanes, oh…and a free fall from 10,000 feet. There was no going back now.
When we reached 5,000 feet, the straps were all pulled tight and I could barely breathe – there was no chance of going anywhere without my instructor-shaped backpack. 5,000 feet higher and the door opened; a rush of air filled the aircraft and the playmobil landscape, miniature rivers and pinprick buildings, gleamed at us from below.
Lina was the first to go; I heard her scream drift rapidly away, and before I knew it I was being shovelled forwards. “Ready?” I hadn’t even answered before I felt us falling. Gravity worked its magic and in a split second we had reached around 200km an hour. I opened my eyes and peeked through my plastic goggles; breathing in clouds and watching the world approach me at lighting speed.
This free fall lasted less than 20 seconds although it felt a lot longer. Suddenly the tug of the parachute pulled us back upwards; and we were floating amongst nothingness below our huge life-saving piece of material. I instinctively glanced behind me to check my instructor was still attached; I was reassured that he was as he did a “thumbs up” 2 inches from my face, bearing a tattoo on his forearm reading “F*** YEAH!”.
F*** yeah indeed; we were flying.
The next 10 minutes were then free to enjoy the beauty of the Brazilian landscape. Floating above Iguassu falls was definitely something I had never imagined myself doing!
We got closer and closer; the pebbles turning into buildings and the crumbs turning into animals. Raindrops became lakes and splinters became vehicles. Suddenly we were landing; we escaped our quiet parachute bubble and the world became real again.
16 year-old me would be proud. 10 down, 20 to go! I also semi-achieved my childhood dream of being able to fly… well, I like to think so. There’s definitely a few more things on the list I’m hoping to do this year; 2015 is just getting better and better.