“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE” (part 2 of 3)

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Recap: This was a real event: After ridiculing friend Martin’s weekend skydiving one Friday night in a pub he publicly challenges me to come pick up one half of a R10 (close enough to USD10) note on the drop zone – if I dare. Being painted into a corner, I had to accept the dare (meaning that I was going to do a jump) and was picked up early on Saturday morning. I did some training and due to a possible rainstorm in the late afternoon, the co-ordinator decided that we would jump immediately.

Now read Part 2 of 3.

Quick vote. Tonight we’ll have a BBQ, so let’s do it now.

My toast just got burnt!

“OK tog up, we will jump soon”.

Into the shed.

“Hm, you should have a 32 foot canopy for your weight. We only have a 28 footer”.

“Hm, you take a size 6 boots. We only have a spare size 10. With no laces.”

“Guys, anybody got two pairs of thick sox for Kris to bulk up his boots. And can someone get two pieces of soft wire that we can use as laces?”

Summary for the reader: Drank Friday night till midnight. Short on sleep. Long on hangover. Left a worrying Mom at home. 2 hours in a car. Bit of theory. Bit of practice. Bit of lunch. Brewing storm. 28 feet canopy instead of 32. Size 10 boots instead of 6. Wire for laces. 2 pairs of sox. And a brewing storm. Sorry, I think I repeated myself here.

Perfect! What can go wrong?

So. Off comes the Cessna’s door and we all pile in.

“Kris, you get in last”.

LIFO. Last In First Out.

I am sitting in a plane with no door. And I have to jump. FIRST. If I freeze there will be some very angry jumpers behind me who have all paid for their jumps.

Neat trick.

Climb. Circle. Climb. Circle. Climb. Circle.

“Ok get ready. We are nearing the drop zone”. I start to move out the hole where there once was a door. And a gush of wind changes my nervous smile into a lip-flapping cavity. I reach out, grab the strut and put my right foot on the step.

“OK, GO!”

I let loose of the strut. Fling my arms out. Arch backwards and see and hear the plane roar away!

Piece of toast. Hope it stays unburnt.

FLAP! And I stop falling. Suspended in the air. I HAVE DONE IT! Or rather I am busy doing it!

I look up and see the canopy flapping freely. There is no sound. But the ropes are a bit twirled and I start to spin around slowly. 90. 180. 270. 360. 450. 540 degrees. And slowly back again.

THIS IS IMMENSE! Is this what birds experience with every flight? The FREEDOM. The VIEW. The CALM. The EXHILIRATION!

HOOKED! LINED. And SINKERED!

Can we do it one more time!

The stunning panoramic view lets you merge into a 3-D one-ness with it all. You are hanging in the air. This is fun! More than a sport! It is Living with a capital L.

But why is the earth coming nearer so fast?

Can this please last for a bit longer?

What is that sound?

“Keep your feet together! And legs stretched out!” yells someone from below.

Oh yes. Theory. Practice. Feet together when you hit the ground. Collapse at knees towards the right.

Then collapse the chute by pulling on the straps closest to the ground.

Theory. Practice. Theory. Practice. Practice. Practice!

I try to climb up the chute but it does not help.

I extend my right leg to protect my hip and left leg (which is 1 inch shorter than the right leg due to a childhood ailment).

Thump! Hm. Not enough collapse at the knees.

The wind drags the chute along towards a cow. I landed in a cow patch. Lucky I missed the brown bits.

Collapse the chute. Collapse the chute! Bump. Bump. And I come to a halt.

My right foot is at a strange angle. I try to get up but cannot stand on it. And as I look I see two things boring down on me from opposite angles. A flatbed truck. And a bull! A jealous bull!

Who will win?

“Ok guys, get him on the back of the truck. Ok lets go! And lets get him to a doctor”.

During the rather bumpy ride I try to figure out how to get my foot standing up into its normal position. No luck. Well wait and see. Its ok, don’t worry.

What will Mom say about this?

What is now going to happen about my emigration to Australia, which is due in 6 weeks?

We enter a medical facility next to the doctor’s house. I am put onto a high medical examination bed. I can hear a TV blaring. And then a huge eruption! Oh yes the Curry Cup is on today[1].

A “YES! We won!” emanates from the room and the doctor sways through the door.

“We have won! We have won!” And it is quite clear that he had something more than milk and cookies to get him through the match.

I supported the losing team that year and here I was in the camp of the enemy about to be treated by an “enemy doctor.” It all started to make sense.

And so opens another chapter in the Saga of Saturday.

[1] The Curry Cup was South Africa’s premier domestic rugby union competition trophy for which the provincial teams or substantial teams within each province competed throughout winter into October. It was the ultimate in domestic rugby union and the final match was closer to a civil war than a closing match for the season.

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