I woke up one beautiful morning, and I decide I want to go sky diving. Spontaneous. Right? I have a list of items I would love to do so bad like sun basking at the Bora Bora beach, swimming with dolphins, live in abroad for a year specifically a country where people are perplexed by my skin color and hair. You know those chaps that have no clue where Kenya is on the map? Those that ask interesting questions like how comes we can communicate in English and if our natural habitat back home is tree houses or if we see lions roaming around every day. Yeah, sure we do see lions all the time. The other day we made a hearty meal out of one after my little brother had a successful hunt. Some of these questions are unbelievable. I have always wondered why some people do not know about Kenya. Don’t they watch the Olympics? We have been rocking the Olympics for a long time. I imagine the conversation going like this.
“You want me to show you on you-tube how we kicked your country’s ass during the world’s marathon challenge?”
“But my country was not represented Riiba?”
“Hey. It’s Rioba. And even if you guys were there, we would have still kicked your behinds. Ask South Africans; you do know South Africa. Right?” and then from the confusion on the person’s face I will get frustrated and say “Ah! Never mind. Just know Kenyans are conquerors and Africa is NOT a country.”
Anyway, it’s weird that all over sudden I want to go skydiving. I want it so bad that I share it with a couple of friends. “You are nuts!” was my best friend’s response. One of my colleagues said, “So 30th December is the day you decide to die huh?” Another colleague said “Dude! The adrenaline is crazy. You will puke your dinner from days ago.” Another acquaintance says “why are you living like white people.” He even goes ahead and calls it “white peopling”. I spoke to Linda Matama of When in Roam Kenya and she encouraged me to do it. While we are at it, check out Linda Matama on IG. Yes, you will be green with envy and no, I will not judge you. She is my IT definition of traveling. Seriously, check her out. She is real-life travel goals.
I Google articles on skydiving to get a rough idea of what to expect. By the time I was done with a few posts my palms were sweating. The feeling is almost similar to when you google mild headache then the internet suggests you have brain cancer. Did I mention the nightmares I had about the experience? Yes. Nightmares. My friend Chebet kept telling me I am too dramatic. Chebet should know that 12000 feet up is dramatic. Well maybe I was being a little dramatic. I guess I have always been dramatic especially about the unknown. I was seventeen the first time I was asked to be someone’s girlfriend; I tossed in bed the whole night. I kept myself up at night wondering what it meant. What if I wear heels on our first date and I end up being taller than him? Yikes!! Ideally, my biggest predicament AT 17 was worrying about being taller than a dude. I don’t fancy surprises. I like to know what I am getting myself in to.
I go ahead and click on those facebook links that have been spamming our timelines to find out about my personality. What? Don’t judge me. People do weird things when they are anxious. So anyway I click and the results are perfect. “Winnie Rioba is a brave person who will not run away from a conflicting situation out of fear.” Guys! Even the internet knows I’m about to be brave and it believes in me. Again. Do not judge me.
30th December is here. My friends Chebet, Abdul, Millie, and Keith accompany me. After I dress up, one of my friends is like “Aih Rioba…si you are a diva. Unavaa hivo ukienda sky diving.” I roll my eyes. If I am going to disgrace myself out of fear during the jump, I better look cute. We had gone out the previous night, so I am a couple of minutes late. Abdul drives us to the venue.
Tip 1: DO NOT BE LATE.
Tip 2: Ladies, do not wear a top that shows your cleavage. You don’t want your bosom flying out of that plane as well.
Immediately we walk in some random dude yells “huyo ndio tunaenda kurusha nje ya ndege?” Moreover, Chebet adds, “Are you out of your mind jumping off a plane?” PERFECT! What I want to hear before I jump.I get to the reception, and I get introduced to my “new best friend” Mr. Sergey.
He has been skydiving for seven years with at least 3300 jumps. Trust me to ask”why on earth would you do that? I think once is enough.”
He says “let’s have this discussion after the jump.” then adds “If we survive.”
I say “IM SORRY?!!!!” He chuckles and taps my shoulder saying “I’ll do well.”
I am asked to sign the waiver, and this is where it gets real. For me, signing the waiver was so terrifying that I could not refrain myself from shaking during the signing. If there was anything that was going to change my mind about jumping was the waiver. In the process of signing, I look up and see a screen with names. I see my name next to Sergey under “LOAD 1″ This cracks me up but when you think of it, Sisi ni mizigo.
As if my thoughts are not enough, Sergey sees it fit to ask, ” Do you think we need the parachute?” The horror on my face must have been priceless. Finally, our ride to Ukunda airstrip is here. We get in, and I sit next to a lovely old lady. I remember thinking this woman has got more guts than most young-lings. So much for motivation.
Tandem skydiving is awkward from the word to go. In the jet, Sergey says “Come sit between my legs.” First I crawl into a tiny jet with no seats only to get strapped to a complete stranger who will be spooning me throughout the dive. The literal meaning of the phrase “I got your back.” A few minutes before we jump, the skydivers start fist bumping each other; I’m not sure if this the tradition but sisi kama mizigo, join in the fist bump.
As we are going up, I magically calm down. I think I have made peace with the fact that I have no choice but to jump and I seem to have made peace with it. The view is stunningly beautiful. In the midst of enjoying and recording, our Russian hunk feels the need to say “How old are you? You are cute” Skydivers are wickedly funny and unbelievable. Should he not be saying motivating things like, you will be okay? Or you got this? What kind of distraction is this? At some point, I forgot about the jump. Who I’m I kidding? It’s impossible to ignore. That jet’s engine is too loud. It’s like it was put there to remind people like me to question their life decisions.
Sergey gives me instructions of what I am meant to do before and after we jump. He repeats the instructions thrice. The first load jumps. Then the nice old lady jumps next. It’s not fun watching people jump before you by the way.
I’m next. Sergey repeats what I am meant to do then we jump. No on your marks, get set sijui nini. You jump! It is weird to some of you, but the free fall was my best part. The ADRENALINE is intense my GOD!! Too bad it lasted only 55 seconds. I could feel the gravity pull us down mercilessly. You know how you stick your head out of a window of a speeding car? The feeling is like three times that because we are falling at a speed of 150km/hr. I loved every bit of it. I was kept yelling “WOO-HOO” and “AWESOME,” but the wind was great at being the chief enemy of progress.
We then achieve stability, and I hear I did well. We are right above the Indian Ocean. The view is breathtaking. He does some amazing stunts, and I am yelling “THIS IS AWESOME!”. You’d think awesome is the only English word I know. We are having a conversation at about 7000 feet, and I cannot believe I was scared of this experience. After a couple of minutes, we land, and I want to go back up there and jump again. I have a chat with Peter (the dude who jumped first), and he mentions that he is going to pay and jump. I wish I had that luxury.
Remember earlier I mentioned that Sergey said we would touch base regarding why he has jumped over 3000 times? We did have that chat, and honestly, I would jump again. And again. Is skydiving safe? NO! you are dropping out of an airplane. However, you will probably not die because tandem skydiving is the most reliable form of skydiving. If I may add, It’s safer than driving in Nairobi.
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Till next time.