Fiji was probably to most adrenaline-based two weeks of the entire trip (which makes sense – the program I was on was called “Pacific Adrenaline”). On the very first day – literally less than 5 hours after landing in the country – we went parasailing, reaching about 50 feet above the ocean:
A few days later, we traveled to a small village in the middle of a jungle in the highlands where the only thing to do all day was climb waterfalls and jump off them. And, of course, every time we went swimming, the little kids from the village insisted they had to join us.
During the three days we stayed in the village, I’m pretty sure I jumped off the 30foot waterfall about 50 times. How did I convince myself to jump from such a far height so many times when my entire body was telling me to cling to the edge? The answer is simple – if a four year old child could do it, so could I.
All of our crazy adventures in the two weeks lead up to the penultimate of adrenaline rushes – skydiving. In the summer of 2011, there was only one country in the world that allowed inexperienced skydivers to jump from 15,000 feet in the air, and by some strange twist of fate that happened to be the very country I was visiting for a teenage travel program specifically designed to give us an adrenaline rush. So less than a month after my 18th birthday, I ‘conquered’¹ my fears and jumped from 15,000 feet above the ground, out of a moving plane, strapped to a thankfully extremely experienced instructor, and soared through the sky for an entire minute of free-falling (or plummeting, your choice on how to describe it) towards the earth below me. And let me just say right now – if the instructor hadn’t literally pushed me out of that plane, there was absolutely no way I would have jumped out of it on my own.
And while, unfortunately, there are no photos of my skydive, if you ever visit me at my family home in North Carolina, I’d be happy to show you the 5min long video of it!
¹ The reason this is parenthesized will be explained in pt. 3 of the story.