Posted by: Larzizou | January 8, 2008

Swakopmund – Reloaded, Namibia

And you thought that was all happened in Swakopmund. No. In Swakopmund, I also learnt the concepts of friendship and hypocrisy through a tradition that I had never ever heard of : Secret Santa. For all the ignorant people like me, just click here and you will know everything. If you still have not figured out that portions of the text underlined in blue – like this – are links, you certainly (a) missed a lot and (b) have not realized how much I rely on Wikipedia. The fact that there is even an article about Secret Santa evidences for me that (a) people have too much time on their hands (I know – coming from me…) and (b) anything can be found on Wikipedia. Which is why I use it.

Back to Secret Santa, each of us receives a gift from another member of the group, not knowing who the other person is. Tonight, Santa Claus is Nic, Nic is Santa Claus.

africa-903-large.jpg

The Itches sisters are big children. All children want a piece of Santa Claus and their gift before it’s due. But they won’t.

africa-904-large.jpg

africa-905-large.jpg

I only put these two pics because (I think) I look good on it – and I may be wrong (sorry Gabbitch, I know it is not your best picture). Note how people look genuinely happy even though it is not really Christmas (but early December). Maybe it is because they are standing next to me.

africa-912-large.jpg

africa-913-large.jpg

At the restaurant, everybody is waiting eagerly…

africa-916-large.jpg

africa-918-large.jpg

… for the individual gift distribution on Santa’s laps.

africa-927-large.jpg

Paul challenged Santa’s identity. But racism has it that Santa cannot be black (although, without trying to spoil the ending, the Hebrew Hammer fought this stereotype).

africa-934-large.jpg

I got a rubber spider, probably symbolizing my – well known by then – aversion for bugs, spiders, etc. I still don’t know who bought it for me though.

africa-925-large.jpg

Santa got his present too !

cimg2795-large.jpg

Alright, we needed the fairy relief because now comes the real deal. Have you ever heard of adrenaline junkies ? People fear end envy us, want to know us personally but never dare because… we are unpredictable. After helicoptering, rafting, bungee jumping, gorge swinging, high-wiring and rap-jumping, all that in less than a month, you may wonder what’s coming next. How reckless-er can it get ?

Let´s just say our next activity involves a small unsteady aircraft. And me wearing a tight falmboyant outfit.

africa-944-large.jpg

Playboy photoshoot December 2007 – Part II. In case you are wondering why I use the same legend twice, I expect to attract traffic from research engines with “Playboy photoshoot”.

africa-946-large.jpg

Getting saddled, like a horse. Behind is Rory, my tandem.

africa-948-large.jpg

Let’s take a group picture now, while all of us are still smiling. It’s not gonna last.

africa-950-large.jpg

Rapid tutorial. When the door is open, pass your legs through it and lift your head, your harms and your legs. And fly !!!

africa-951-large.jpg

 

There will be six of us at the back of the tiny plane for the dive : Grant, Drew and I and our three tandem instructors. Since we are 30, the same plane is flying ten times successively. I am relieved to be in the second flight, the wait is barely bearable.

The first divers haven’t yet landed that the plane is already back and the six of us head to the plane. My legs are shaky. As we are ascending in the air to reach the 10 000 feet diving threshold, which takes us 15-20 minutes, I have never felt my stomach so empty. The sensation is similar to the emptiness felt in an elevator going too fast, except it is permanent.

Experienced divers in the group told me yesterday me that bungee-jumping was scarier because the ground was so close. I stare at Rory’s altimeter-watch : 2 000, 3 000, 4 000, 5 000, 6 000, 7 000, 7 500 feet… By the window, I see – beautiful – uranium mines and the desert sand. Looking down, the ground. Still too close. Rory decided I am the first of the load to jump because – I will learn later – I was the most apprehensive.

I cannot help but thinking at this guy we met yesterday at the hostel bar who had to tell us that his mainparachute did not open and that his safety parachute opened 11 seconds before it was too late. The “what ifs” scenari come to my mind in bulk.

Now, 8 000, 9 000 feet. Finally the distance seems reasonable. Time to get strapped to Rory, I turn back, he does it. Probably panicking, I try to open the door. Rory stops me : it’s his job. But a few seconds later, he opens it, I try not to think, pass my legs as instructed, get in position, and…

Everything happens so fast it’s hard to keep track. In the first few seconds, Rory turns below me but get back on top, thankfully. The free fall at 140 mph lasts about 35 seconds. At a distance, I see Drew and Grant and their instructors, in the air below us, even though they jumped after us. This strikes me as an anomaly, but they’re simply heavier and I don’t really have time to ponder.

Flying – or rather falling – can hardly be described, but it’s extremely agreeable, and completely different than the bungee-jump or gorge-swing free fall.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien. C’est pas la chute qui compte, c’est l’atterrissage (props to Eyal), I tell myself.

Suddenly, at 5 000 feet, the parachute opens up, and we hover. I won’t die today. Rory gives me the commands, i.e. the parachute handles, although he keeps his hands higher up on the strings. I go right, left, right, left, but it gets quickly boring : I don’t know how to accelerate. So he takes the commands back and shows me the “roller coaster”. Amusing. However, too soon we are at 1 000 feet and prepare to land. I lift my legs as high as can be done and… back to the ground. Wow. I already want to do it again.

africa-972-large.jpg

Back to earth. Can’t help but smiling.

africa-952-large.jpg

Rory and I. His experience extends over 1250 jumps (you need 800 to be an instructor).

africa-993-large.jpg

Nic is one of the only one from the group who doesn’t jump. He does not understand the need and tells Grant’s instructor ” – Why would one jump from a plane ? – Because the door is open.” Good point. In the picture, he is tensed because Leeann, his girlfriend, is about to jump. Grant and I cannot remove the blissful smiles from our face.

africa-954-large.jpg

Charlie’s Angel.

africa-959-large.jpg

It cannot be described, I told you.

cimg2830-large.jpg

A video…

I know it’s not me, but my high school friend Youri, who skydived in Rosario in Argentina. I have been too cheap to get the 105 USD video, so I don’t have one. Check his pictures, they are pretty impressive. He did the “chicken jump” (kept his arms to his shoulders).

Back on the road with our differences…

img_1856-large.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: