One of the things I swore to do before I die: skydive. I suspect many people have had that thought, but few go out and do it. I have no statistics, just a hunch, since fear is a major influence on humanity. For valid reasons: fear keeps us alive to see another day, another week, another month, another year, another generation. Fear though, has kept us back, scared of what’s to come — the vast unknown. I’ll admit I always thought I would be too scared to ever skydive, much less abroad, and an even smaller percentage: by myself. But I did just that this February at Skydive Puerto Escondido in Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido Oaxaca, Mexico. Found in the coastal town of Playa Zicatela, where the sea glitters an aqua-blue and the sunsets are a sight out of a storybook, this skydiving center was a place where I was face-to-face with fear.
I woke up that morning with an assured sense of calm. “I’m going skydiving today,” I kept telling myself as I brushed my teeth. “I’m going skydiving today, how about you?” I replied to fellow travelers as I ate eggs and bacon at my hostel. “It’s happening…” I thought while riding in the taxi, watching the sun shine brilliantly. I imagined I would be close enough to touch her, the all-seeing sun, as I walked into the center.
The host checked me in, going over my reservation for my sunset jump. It was the prettiest of jumps. I saw skydivers float down to earth during beachside revelries with friends those previous weeks. Those jumpers always had the best views and soon I, too, would be one of them. I filled out my waiver and took a seat at the cafe area. There I chatted with Canadians who were seasoned pros — exclaiming that skydiving was a sport and a lifestyle that many should experience. They said I would do great and it was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I had to wait and see if this would be the case, and suddenly I was called up. My jump was ready and I met with my instructor, Vivis, a man with a kind smile and calm demeanor.
He would be on my back as I went up (and then down) for my tandem jump. He explained step-by-step what would take place, how to jump out (“like in the shape of a banana!” he exclaimed) and strapped me up into the harness. Imagine being a toddler and your parents have strapped you safely into your car seat, secure and unable to get out – that’s how I felt in my skydiving harness. I got the Video Gold package, so I would have a personal videographer and Vivis recording and taking photos of my skydiving adventure! The videographer filmed my reactions throughout the experience and told me to pose for some photos. I felt like a little skydiving celebrity! Afterward, it was time to catch the sunset as I headed to the van with the other skydivers.They spoke so passionately about skydiving (I think) in Spanish. The energy built up as the van took us over to the airport. I watched the people outside, who would keep their feet on the ground while I was above it all.
Once we got to the airport, we were shuffled to the plane. The sun was getting ready to call it a day, and we couldn’t miss it! I was the second on board, nervous yet excited. Vivis strapped himself to me, I wasn’t going anywhere. The videographer asked how I was feeling and I gave a wild smile and two thumbs up. Then the plane started and I was off to face this experience.
Sapphire seas sparkled below me, as the plane went higher and higher… 13,000 feet above sea level, to be exact. Sweat dripped from my palms and my breath steadied, I was doing it. No turning back. My mouth formed a permanent smile as Vivis and the videographer pointed the Go-Pros in my face, half nervous grins and half excited smiles.
Then the door opened.
At this moment, it got real. I would be jumping in less than five minutes. Wind thrashed around my ears, as people started yelling to get in position. The solos got up to the edge of the door and jumped. My jaw literally dropped to the floor and Vivis told me to slowly walk up towards the door. I could only do, not think, at this moment. My feet crawled to the edge as Vivis told me, “Banana… 1… 2… 3,” and we were gone.
In those 2 seconds, my instincts of death and life met each other in a tug-of-war as I tumbled out of the plane, towards the earth below. Except: it wasn’t falling, it was more like flying. Bliss and awe washed over me as the sky grew orange and brilliant. Vivis asked me how I felt and I cried out, “I feel like a bird!”
And I did, as I looked below where the city meets the beach, and the beach meets the sea, meets the sky. As we floated down towards the beach, a sense of peace overcame me. I’ve done it, and now it was time to land. Vivis told me to stick my feet out and to start running as we came back to earth. Luckily, we landed softly and the videographer asked me how it was. “Incredible, amazing!” I exclaimed as Vivis unclipped from me and I took off my harness. Passerbys asked how I felt and if I would recommend it.
Dear Beauty New NYC readers, I do. Skydiving is a test of courage, awareness, strength, and beauty. Beauty for adrenaline, beauty for hope, beauty for life, and beauty for nature; in Puerto Escondido. And yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you Skydiving Puerto Escondido for this glorious experience!
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