16 August 2009

Amazing

Hello all. Today's post arrived in my mail-box just over a year ago. It was written in Afrikaans and once I'd found my dictionary and worked out what it was about I enjoyed it so much that I knew that it needed to be shared. I have translated it into English, but you can read the original (well worth it if you can) here. Any awkwardness in the writing is due to the translation, rather than that of the author.

Thys calls himself a South African accountant who is a world traveller / adventurer at heart. He doesn't have a blog - but if you enjoy this as much as I did please leave a comment below and encourage him to start one as this is a talent that shouldn't be hidden.

From: Thys [mailto:xxx@xxx.com]
Sent: 17 March 2008 01:49 PM
To: Thys
Subject: Amazing!

Morning,

What an absolute anticlimax today is after a wonderful weekend!

The weekend began with the Stormers (local rugby team) continuing their winning form, a good sign for the weekend that lay ahead. Friday evening I invited a couple of friends for a braai (like a bbq, but not) and we had a wonderful time, chatting, laughing while feasting on and stuffing ourselves with some pork neck chops. The wind was somewhat unpleasant / cold, but the 8 of us had a great time in the lounge laughing until late in the evening.

I spent Saturday quietly and did my washing. Late that afternoon I watched rugby at Edyss’s and that evening we had a braai over the road at Vaughn’s.

Sunday I got up early as it was PARACHUTING DAY. The weather was sunny with a light south-easter. Perfect for the occasion. I can honestly say that this is one of the greatest things that I have ever done. Was very nervous – the photo’s and dvd are evidence of this, BUT WOW!

First we had to search a bit to find the airfield on the west coast, it was badly signposted. We arrived, paid for the cameramen and then waited for the great fall. First it was Berlise and her mom’s turn and with great fanfare they were in the aeroplane and in the air. The rest of us stood below and looked and waited until they came back to ground. After what felt like an eternity the cameramen came in for their landing at breakneck speed as they needed to be ready to take pictures of the ultimate landing.

The landing was more fanfare than the liftoff, the relief evident on their faces while shrieks of delight reverberated through the calm surroundings. And then it is my turn….

Struggle to fit into the small airplane, legs feel clumsy and too long. I sit and stare at the rear of the airplane and note that there is a cable between the aeroplane and the tail, perhaps to keep the tail connected to the plane? Surely not, take a deep breath and try to relax. The flight up takes around 25 minutes, unbelievable views over Table Mountain, Cape Point, False Bay, Robben Island. The sea’s shades of green and blue are amazing. When we move to attach my harness to that of the instructor, I notice 2 screws that rattle. When last was this little plane inspected/serviced? Perhaps it is a good thing that I MUST jump…

But as the door opens at 9,000ft (3,000m) and the wind blows in at around 120 km/h, I hesitate again as the panic threatens to overwhelm. Breathe deep, relax, ITS FREAKING HIGH, feet on the steps, legs are jelly – won’t move against the wind. Very glad I don’t need to jump on own strength, but that the guy that I am attached to is doing the jumping – I just need to relax and be thrown out…. So relax now … and then it is too late…
The first few seconds we tumbled head over heels until he loosens a small parachute to help us fall with our stomachs facing the ground. Newton says that gravity is 9.8m/s, but we are definitely falling faster: 2 full grown men must surely fall faster than an apple! Then I begin to look around and see the cameraman just out of reach – high 5’s in the air, I fail to hear a couple of shrieks of delight that I utter (wonder how the guy’s ears felt) because it floats up past me. And far too soon the 30 seconds freefall is something of the past. The parachute opens (streams of relief, luckily only internally and not down my leg) and then we glide peacefully towards the ground.

Every so often we turn into the south-easter to slow our descent, Jerry (the instructor) is careful because we’re heavy. The rest of the way down to the ground is bliss, even though we occasionally hit a small air-pocket and it feels like I’m falling – the south-easter holds us in the air. Until we suddenly hit a bigger pocket and Jerry lets a swearword loose. I immediately grab my harness again, but it was over in a second and everything back under control. On the ground everyone wants to know why I am so pale?????

This is truly the greatest outing ever – better than scuba, better than skiing in the snow. The fact that we had a great crowd made it even better, for the 4 that jumped there were about 10-15 other people and children around. And the adrenalin continues to flow long after you're on the ground, just put the dvd on and suddenly everyone is very active again.

That evening went to Edyss’s and braaied some meat and frequently recalled the day. And today feels just so ordinary, dead ordinary, run of the mill. Can now completely understand that a person can become addicted to adrenalin… However, a lot of water will have to go under the bridge before I can do something like this again – my finances can’t maintain such an adventurous lifestyle.

That’s all. Nice week for all of you.

Thys
Ed's note: If you wondered, the braai is an integral part of a South African's life and you can just see Table Mountain to the right of the jumpers.

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