After nearly two months of really early mornings, cooking over coals or a camp fire, sleeping in tents, packing and unpacking the truck, I had the mother of all sleep ins, got up at 10am that's pretty late for me. I headed out and went straight to KFC for an early lunch, it was awesome, you really do miss the little things in life when you're away.
I did what I had to do while I was out and then came back to the room for the rest of the morning to catch up on things I had to do online, as I've had no real internet for nearly a whole month, so I had a massive back log. Two o'clock finally came and that meant it was time to go jump out of a plane.
I turned off my computer and went down to the lobby, Phil and Tara were also going and they came down a bit later. We got into a rickety old van and went around town and collected a few more people. We arrived at the sky diving place and signed all the forms that prevented us from suing should our parachutes fail to open, bought a couple of beers for the road and then off we went. Well, I say off we went, what I really mean to say is we sat around for an hour. This of course is the tactic whereby they let all the nervous people get annoyed and impatient so they forget their nerves. I wasn't nervous at all, so by the time it was go time, I was chomping at the bit.
We got back into the van and drove out into the Namib desert, there was a shed and an airstrip with a tiny plane on it. Phil and Tara went first, and got suited up, they got a brief explanation of what they were supposed to do and then, they and their tandem masters got packed into the plane, with no room to spare. A couple of people who were jumping solo from lower down went with them, one by one we saw tiny specs fall from the plane. Phil had somehow convinced himself that he was just going for a nice little scenic flight and he wasn't really jumping out of the plane….interesting tactic.
Both Phil and Tara got to the ground and had loved their jump. Had to wait until everyone else had jumped and I had to jump by myself. It was about 4pm, by the time it was go time for me. I got into my jumpsuit (no superhero outfit this time) and got strapped into the harness. I had paid to have someone jump with me and film me, and I met my cameraman, Cornelius. Cornelius was tall, with crazy eyes and a handlebar moustache. He looked and acted like a bit of a cowboy, especially went he seemed to come down out of the sky at twice the speed of everyone else. Before we went over to the plane, Cornelius asked me if I had any last words, Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back from breakfast, I said. Later on he asked me where the hell I had gotten that one from, guess he doesn't watch Red Dwarf, or know who Ace Rimmer is.
My tandem master, Dreis and I and a few other solo jumpers walked over, (in mock slow motion) to the plane and jumped in. There were five of us and getting us all a spot on the floor was like playing a game of human Tetris. I ended up having to sit of Dries' lap until the solo jumpers left the plane.
I watched the solo guys basically get pushed out of the plane by Cornelius, their chutes opening straight away. When the plane became less crowded I got off Dreis lap and enjoyed my little scenic flight over the desert and the Skeleton coast, I could see all the way to the Spitzkoppe, the Matterhorn of Africa.
It was obvious to both Dreis and Cornelius that I was still not at all scared, so they both made it their business to fix this apparent problem. Namely, by poking and tickling the pilot so that the plane dipped all over the place, this however, just made me giggle.
At last it was time to jump out of the plane, the roller door opened and Cornelius went first, climbing out onto the wing so he could film me. Crazy stuff. I shuffled to the door, hung my legs over the side, waved at the camera, put my head back and my chest out and fell into the void. It only feels like you're falling for a split second. I can only liken it to that moment when you're half asleep you have the feeling of falling and this jolts you awake.
The other 38 seconds just feel like you're flying and it's the most amazing feeling. This time I was flying with two people, one attached to my back and the other one falling backwards below me. I put my arms out and let the air rush past me, I closed my eyes and gave myself over to the abyss below. Our parachute opened and I was yanked violently upwards, the leg straps gripped me so tightly they cut off the circulation. Cornelius fell away from us and that was the last me saw of him until we hit the ground.
The control straps came down on the chute and Dreis handed them over. I couldn't help myself, I grabbed the right strap and pulled hard down and held it down. This sent us into a major spin and me into a fit of insane laughter. I continued this behavior until Dreis took the controls back, I even managed to pull down on both cords and feel slightly like I was falling again. We've got one crazy girl here, said Dreis. Hmmm…..that's the second time I've been called crazy by a guy who jumps out of a plane for a living.
We came in for our landing which I was much more graceful at this time around, I got unclipped and then hugged Dreis and high fived Cornelius who was waiting with the camera. Tara and Phil ran over and hugged me, Phil told me all they could hear was manic laughing the whole way down.
I went and grabbed a beer for the road and them jumped back into the van and rocketed back to Swakopmund. I walked into my room, looking really disheveled, How was it? George asked. fucking awesome! I said. I didn't have much time to let the adrenalin settle as we had a group dinner planned at Neapolitana. I got changed and headed over, I had camembert cheese, fried with cranberry sauce and a game meat mixed grill. The mixed grill consisted of Kudu, Springbok, Oryx and Zebra. I'd had Oryx and Springbok before, but my favourite ended up being the zebra, probably one of the most exotic meats I've ever eaten.
After dinner we went next door to the pub for free shots and a few beers. Most people left that pub and ended up back at the one at the hostel, played a few games of pool and participated in the Australia vs New Zealand Foosball Championships, I'm sorry to say the Kiwi's won overall. I was playing with Dan, who is also from Western Sydney, screw this I said, this isn't team Australia, this is team Western Sydney, lets break pool cues over their heads and burn the pub down. Everyone pretty much filtered off after that and I went off to bed.