Monday, November 22, 2010
It’s strange how we adapt to our situations in life and I’ve learnt to do things that are out of reach for me in tandem with someone who can. I still can’t see myself riding a bicycle for two but going skiing or jumping out of a perfectly serviceable plane is entirely different.
A few weeks ago I mentioned to Tim that we should go skydiving, and he said, “If you can find a company that will take you then we’ll go”.
It took me less than five minutes to Google skydiving in Switzerland and top of the list was the name ‘Skydive Switzerland’. I clicked on the link, found the telephone number and started dialling the number immediately before realizing that I was calling Interlaken, which is Swiss-German. French is still not my greatest, but German just doesn't happen. Fortunately, I spoke to Elliot, who just happened to be British and he assured me that a tandem skydive was possible. I handed the number to Tim saying that I would fall in line with his arrangements.
Our main concern was the weather and once the date was set, we kept an eye on the forecasts for the Interlaken area.
Yesterday dawned, and it was very Grey and miserable and by nine o'clock there wasn't much change. But then Tim’s phone rang and the jump master gave the okay for the jump and Tim, Miriam and I piled into the car and headed for Interlaken.
Two hours later, small patches of blue started to show through the Grey and our spirits began to lift. Another 15 minutes and the Sun was streaming through broken clouds, and all the Grey came to life.
We had time to kill and Tim took a turning and off we went going nowhere in particular to see what we could see.
All too soon it was time to turn back and head for the airfield and present ourselves for a serious adrenalin rush. We met up with Elliot and I was introduced to Hans my tandem jumper and…everyone else’s names elude me. Talk about short term memory loss, sorry guys.
Okay, getting dressed up for a parachute jump is not the easiest in a wheelchair but many hands make light work and having some strong guys around didn't go amiss. It wasn't long before I was trussed up like the proverbial chicken heading for the oven, except that I was heading for -15 and not 180 for one hour. I know that duct tape is all-important for repairs and holding things together but as a piece of skydiving equipment?…… I'll say no more.
Getting into the plane was a piece of cake. I was simply manhandled like a sack of potatoes but with care. A push here and a shove there and I was half sitting between Hans’ legs and on his lap. A few minor adjustments and some tightening of my harness and Hans and I were one. A little more duct tape kept my arms secured too my chest, all we had to do now was to wait until we reached 4000 m.
The view over Interlaken was stunning and as we climbed higher, the vista opened up. Pictures will be forthcoming in a few days.
Hans opened the door, the noise and cold air rushed in, goggles steamed up for a few seconds and then cleared. The big picture hits right between the eyes and I see a large expanse of big blue sky. My legs were manoeuvred onto the step outside the door and Hans’ legs were on either side of me. Jeepers, I’ve just put my trust and life in the hands of Hans whom I met just half-an-hour ago.
I heard the words, “Let’s go”, and Hans pushed off from the step……
DARE THE EDGE!!
There’s just an instant that you hang in space and then gravity beckons, grabs hold and then pulls like a herd of wild horses in full flight. The air rushes past like a raging river and there are eddies and whirls that buffet you. We spin left and then right and I try to keep my head up for the camera that I know is right in front of me… “Damn! Left the duct tape on the plane”. The Boy Scout motto is so not funny right now.
The headlong rush ends with suddenness and there’s that same instant of hanging in space and then gravity again calls but with a gentle voice this time. The peace hits you, it’s so quiet, so calm and so nothing and yet, so everything. We spiral a couple of times and the 360 degree view is awesome and I see both lakes and the town of Interlaken.
Hans touched us down on our derrières with the tenderness of a soft kiss on a maiden’s hand, kind of felt but not felt and life recommences back on Terra Firma.
This is one envelope that I’m going to push again but I’m going to have to pay for this one first. I’m thinking 2 days may be 3.
ONE LIFE, LIVE IT!!