The day I jumped off a plane / by Mariam Harraz

Yesterday night was so magical, I woke up to the stars and beside people I really enjoy being around and it just felt like it was going to be an extraordinary day, considering we were finally going to have wifi and beds! The day started of really well with not having to take the tents down or pack our bags, we had breakfast and off on the road again.

It was Colleens birthday today so there was lots planned. Lulu had organised to surprise her with a sky dive. Yes we were going sky diving, it was an optional activity which 12 of us had planned to do, Lulu told the company to tell Colleen there wasn’t enough space for her to sky dive so she could surprise her. She also organised cake at the sky dive place and drinks. 

I had organised a text for my family of all the things I have been up to this week, and was just so excited to press ‘send’. On our way to Swakompund we stopped at Tropic of Capricorn. Tropic of Capricorn is one of the places in the whole world where the sun is directly overhead, it’s the southernmost latitude. It was pretty cool, but then we also stopped over at the worlds largest open Uranium mine, also the most natural radioactive places in the world. Now that was cool. We carried on driving and when we got closer to Swakompund we were greeted with the 10 most amazing driving minutes of my life, the salt pan. It was the smoothest road I have ever been on but also quiet scary because it could be very slippery, and the truck needed to be cleaned from underneath because the salt ruins it. We stopped at the Atlantic ocean which was a nice change of scenery and saw all the pink flamingos. 

When we were getting back on the truck Beth didn’t realise Bob was opened and fell into it, bruising her knee pretty badly. I was mostly worried because I wanted Beth to be around for sky diving but clearly nothing was going to stop her. So many inappropriate jokes were made about that later. We finally got to Swako and stopped first to book our activities and get cash out/ exchange. This took us forever but I was more keen on getting to the pharmacy on time to get my Malaria tablets, ya I got the wrong ones before I left to Africa, the ones that give you nightmares and anxiety.

This story of what happened in the pharmacy stuck with me for the rest of the trip and was even recorded on one of the most popular campsites we stayed at. Here it goes - I went into the pharmacy to buy some malaria tablets and after I was given them I was directed to a cashier, the lady says to me while serving me “I like the colour of your scarf” I will quickly mention here that Namibians are one of the most friendliest people I've ever met. Carrying on, being completely out of it and slightly confused I reply back saying “I like the colour of your skin too” she looks at me confused and says “What?” in a shocked tone then says “I said I like the colour of your scarf.” She was dark skinned. Me being awkward and slightly embarrassed I smiled and said “oh I still really like the colour of your skin.” 

Ya I think that combined with my mosquito net allowed everyone figure out my personality. We got to Amanpuri lodge and because we were staying in two dorms we had to rush to get the best spots, oh and it was the first time we can do washing so bags half open we were all running to get into the best spot. When I came in the Dennis’ realised I was wearing a scarf and was going to have to sleep with it on if I was with everyone else so they were about to leave the dorm room when I came in but I told them there was no need because me and two other girls took the smaller room to have our privacy which I really respected them for. 

After settling in we all spent a while on the wifi before we were told to sign papers and pay for skydiving, I didn’t want to tell my parents so I told my sister and brother which I got two very different responses from. After that we spent a while on wifi before heading off. It was Beth, Andres, Anna, Woulter, Hannah, Jo, The Dennis’, Ulli, Sybille, Lynsey, Collen, Lulu and me. We went in two separate cars and the moment we got to the place it was just such an amazing vibe, Andres, Anna and Beth are ready to go so we wish them luck and all our hearts are racing. 

We were all so pumped and every time someone went into the plane we cheered them on and every time they were coming down we all waited in a line to high-five them, good music was playing, the sun was out, the weather was so much cooler because we were by the ocean, it was all just so much fun. I’ve wanted to skydive for years now, I always try and save up but can never afford it and I wanted it to be somewhere beautiful, it was my turn and as I was putting on the suit my instructor mentioned to take my scarf off, so I replied saying there’s noway that’s going to happen, all the instructors were convinced that it was going to fly off, so I went outside to my group because I was worried and it was one of those moments were I really appreciated having people I’ve only met 5 days ago be so kind and understanding, they stopped what they were doing and tried to figure out a plan of how to keep it on. Finally it was my turn and as I got on I was pumped but the plane ride was sooo extremely long, my instructor who’s skydive name is ‘Jackass’ (yes it really is) kept making sure I was ok because of how quiet I was, but it was a combination of being tired and sitting in a weird cramped position. Lynsey dived off first and I just couldn't stop laughing, we had instructions on how were supposed to have our legs positioned, chest and head, and she just said ‘fuck’ right before she jumped haha. 

Suddenly it was my turn and I had to keep reminding myself the position, I wasn’t scared till the moment I had my legs underneath the plane and looked down, it was literally a fuck it all moment when we jumped, the best most exhilarating thing ever, we’re free falling for 3 minutes which at one point I think 'right we're going to be tomato paste in a few minutes' but then he pulls the parachute open and it takes us back up. At that point you can talk to your instructor normally and it was one of the most peaceful places ever, so high up with nothing surrounding you and amazing views. Seconds later my instructor jackass decides to do all these crazy turns with me and before I knew it we were back down again. Best 13 minutes of my life, literally.

We then had cake and sang happy birthday to Colleen, took some group pictures and it was time to head back and get ready for dinner. The ride back to town was hilarious we raced with a stranger and cheered him on every time he came next to our car. Back at Amanpuri we had about an hour to get ready for dinner and celebrating Colleen’s birthday, the sky divers joined us later which was hilarious because they kept cheering me on about managing to keep my scarf on. It was all in all such an amazing and special night, our true selves came out and we all bonded so well. 

At one point I was physically exhausted and it was time to head back and so I headed back with the Dennis’ and had a funny conversation. I’ve never truly appreciated a bed as much as I did that day, I had such an amazing sleep.