To understand the full scope of something, you typically need to take a step back – highlighted by the business analogy of “the 30,000-foot view.” Well, I took this statement quite literally. To get the big picture of what was going on in Ambergris Caye, I figured seeing the island from 12,000 feet would be the closest I could get.
Despite the many scenic puddle jumper flights to and from the island, the number of mornings I watched the sunrise over the reef from the sandy island shore, and all of the underwater dive explorations, there was still a perspective I was missing.
My friend was coming into town from New York, and I diligently assembled a jam-packed itinerary with touristy activities that he would like and that I had always wanted to do but never managed to get to. Skydiving was one of them. Last November, a skydiving company from Colorado opened for the season on the island. They touted the best views and a safe operation. Convenient combination, right?
So, I signed up. (My friend ultimately didn’t end up going!)
The day of…
I was excited. Nervous. Happy. Calm. Everything in one. I had gone skydiving a couple of times prior in New Jersey and over Long Island, but never in a tropical, breathtakingly beautiful place like Belize.
I mentioned to my tandem partner that I had a couple of jumps under my belt, and he asked if I wanted to pull open the parachute. “Sure?” I apprehensively said. He showed me the ropes (quite literally), and the countdown began.
We reached 12,000 feet and scooted our way towards the opening of the plane, where a door should’ve been (but wasn’t) – 120 MPH winds blowing against our bodies and making a tremendous noise against the prop plane’s aluminum body.
“Ready?” my partner asks rhetorically.
Booties move to the ledge.
Legs dangle down and arms fold across the chest.
Eyes unavoidably glance down towards the reef thousands of feet below.
Eyes forward, remember to smile for the GoPro.
Back arches and legs push back.
Chilly air pushing against exposed skin.
Still trying to remember to smile for the GoPro.
Stomach continuing to drop.
Eyes wider than a fly’s, trying to take it all in.
30 seconds later…
Reaching for the rope to open the parachute, but not able to find it.
My partner quickly grabs the rope and our parachute opens up, instantly reducing our velocity and bringing us to a slow glide.
“Want to spin and do tricks?” he asks me.
I decline the offer, not wanting to get motion sickness, so we just float our way down.
As we parachute down, we engage in conversation about our love for the quirky, growing island. The growth, while apparent on ground level with the increased golf cart activity and new faces, was even more incredible from above. New construction from the north all the way down to the far south of the island, roads getting paved, restaurants popping up, docks being restored. Wow. Just wow. We point out our favorite hot spots and wave to our neighbors in the communities we call home.
We make our way to the landing pad on the northern, bayside of the island with a smooth landing. My tandem partner and I unhook from each other, and my colleague, who also just landed from her jump, proclaims she is now addicted to this sport.
It was a transformative day. For my colleague who overcame her fear of jumping out of a perfectly good plane, and for me to truly see Ambergris from 30,000 feet (well in actuality, 12,000 feet).