It’s no secret that Aruba was one of my favorite ports this contract. The last couple weeks on the Adventure made me love the island even more!
My second to last port day in Aruba, I finally went skydiving! This has been a dream of mine since I turned 18, and since I celebrated my tenth anniversary of that birthday (in other words, I turned 28) this year, I decided it was finally time! Skydive Aruba came highly recommended, so I got in contact with them about two months in advance to make arrangements. Large groups of 6 or more get a discount, so I rounded up as many friends as I could convince to jump out of a plane with me!
The day of the dive, I was awakened with a phone call. One of the guys that was supposed to come had to stay onboard for a work emergency. Luckily I had a waiting list. The first friend I called was feeling under the weather, but the next person on the list was ecstatic! She was the wife of our Chief Electrical Engineer, and was going home the next day after spending 3 weeks visiting her husband. He was one of our biggest fans, coming to almost every show, so I was happy to help his wife have a memorable last day.
Because of varying work schedules, we were picked up and dropped off in shifts. At noon, I was picked up with 2 other dancers and a girl from youth staff. There were 3 men from Skydive Aruba waiting for us in the van. They quickly started making jokes about how long they’d been working there (ex: “It’s my first day!”), and how safe it was (ex: “We only had that one incident… this week.”). The jokes were making me relax, but had the opposite effect on some of the other girls!
One of the other dancers and the youth staff girl dove first. My other friend and I left them at the airport and drove over to the landing zone to wait for them. We were updated on when they took off and how high they were, and when it was time for them to jump, we went outside to watch! They were both elated after their experience. Seeing how happy they were and then watching videos from their jumps, I was even more anxious and excited to do it myself! After they purchased the photos and/or videos, we got back in the van. On the way back to the airport, we dropped one of the girls at the port and picked up the two remaining group members, Electrical’s wife and a cadet.
At the airport, we had a brief explanation of how they would put on our harnesses and what to do when we jumped out of the plane, and then we went through security. The guys from Skydive Aruba had us step into harnesses they laid on the ground, and quickly but carefully strapped us up. We then walked outside and onto the plane. There was only one seat onboard, and it was for the pilot. The other 4 of us had to sit on the floor with our knees bent in at our chests. We taxied to the runway with the door of the plane open. Since I was seated close to the door, I was a bit disturbed that it was not closed. When I asked why, they said they would leave it open until takeoff so the plane didn’t get too hot. We had to sit on the runway for a few minutes, so I soon understood their reasoning. The small plane got very warm very quickly! When it was our turn to take off, they closed the door, securing it with Velcro, and then up we went!
The flight up was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It took awhile to reach our height of 10,000 feet, and my nerves were building the entire time. As we were passing through some clouds, my dive instructor pointed to a small hole in the bottom corner of the door. “Put your hand out,” he said, “you can touch the clouds.” He also pointed out Venezuela, visible near the horizon.
When we were almost at 10,000 feet, he had me turn around so he could secure our harnesses together. He reiterated what to do when the door opened, and then it was time to go! I had to pivot to put my feet on a small step below the door. I was warned to put pressure in my legs, since the wind would be strong, but was shocked how hard that actually was! “Ready?” he asked, “1, 2, 3, Go!” With that, we rolled off veering to the right, and as instructed, I arched my back, pushing my hips forward “like a banana”, and we began the free fall. When I received a pat on my arm, I opened them to the sides, and was able to fully experience the freedom of the fall. The wind rushing past, the entire island visible below, the crystal blue water blending into the sky… it was exhilarating! After about 30 seconds of free fall, he opened the parachute.
Once I caught my breath and he adjusted the harness to be more comfortable, he let me take control of the parachute. By pulling down on one side, we went parallel to the ground and turned. It was like being on a rollercoaster! I played with the turns most of the way down, but also enjoyed a few moments of just cruising through the air, so I could enjoy the incredible view below.
When it was time to land, I was told to tuck my knees into my chest, so he would hit the ground first. Just as his feet touched, he told me to put my legs down and push up. With that, I was back on my feet. The whole experience was such a rush that I couldn’t stop grinning! My cadet friend filmed my landing, and laughed at me as I went over to them, saying he’d never seen me smile so much.
The other dancers and I stopped for a late lunch as the remaining two went to the airport for their jump. My feeling of ecstasy lasted through the meal, and through the night. I wish I could always hold on to that joy!
If you find yourself in Aruba, contact Skydive Aruba. You won’t be disappointed! It was one of the most exciting and memorable things I’ve done in my 4 years of travel.