This is how I can summarize my weekend in the Florida Keys.
For my birthday weekend, I wanted to capture my spirit. I aimed high with visions of feeling free and adventurous, while being surrounded by people I love. Talia, one of my soul sisters from New York, ventured to Florida for the third time since I made the transition to the Sunshine State. Our mutual love of the ocean has consistently drawn us to the coastline, and we've been on a myriad of adventures throughout the course of our friendship.
We made this weekend unforgettable with a series of events highlighting the ocean, nature, and adventure! Our co-adventurers included two friends I met playing WAKA Kickball in South Florida. These men are profoundly incredible at going with the flow, making itineraries, supplying camping gear, and providing endless laughter.
Part One: Skydiving at Sky Dive Key West
The prelude to jumping out of a plane is undeniably nerve wrecking--stimulating the release of all kinds of neurotransmitters, and making your body feel tingly. My skydive instructor laughs at anyone who tries to “play it cool” before a jump--putting up a front like they’re a tough guy. Let’s get real. You’re about to jump out of a “perfectly good airplane,” as my Nana would say. It’s kind of against human nature, and certainly warrants a fearful anticipation. Plus, the fear ADDS to the entire sensation overall. Personally, my fear is dormant until we are flying above the clouds, peering out the window of the plane, and then… The plane door opens. Wind comes rushing into the aircraft, sharpening my senses. All of a sudden, reality hits me. Here I am, crammed into an airplane, sitting between my instructor's legs and beside my similarly insane jumping buddy (in this case, Talia and her instructor). A few seconds prior to the door opening, I was in state of blissful observation: I am peering out the window at the world beneath me. Looking 10,000 feet below, the ground is painted with streaks of blue, green, and sandy coastlines. There is an unreal, indescribable beauty below the puffs of clouds. The various shades of blue and green would require intensive blending if painted on a canvas. The expansive ocean reached to touch the sky in the horizon, like (the) God(s) was hugging the sea from Heaven. Lost in this state of marvelous enchantment, I nearly forgot I was about to jump into the void...
I decided Talia should be the first to jump out of the plane. For some reason, when I know I will enjoy an experience, I like to be the last to enjoy it and really savor every bit of it. This applies to many areas of life (especially eating ice cream), and, in this case, I wanted to see Talia take the plunge before it was my turn. When the plane door hinged open, she finagled her way with her instructor to face out the plane, and disappeared faster than I could say a single word. Next up was my instructor and I. With a “Let’s go beautiful,” we began scooting toward the ajar door. Wind ripped through the free strands of my pulled-back hair. I swung my feet out the door, placing them on a ledge with ataxic movements due to wind resistance from all directions. Perhaps we counted down to jumping, or maybe we didn’t, but next thing I knew, I was soaring in the clouds in boat pose. Head back, hips extended, knees bent, arms crossed against my chest. The initial step off the ledge sent a lurching, falling sensation through my gastric system. Then, I simply felt the wind and pure bliss. I was aware of nothing except the ground beneath me, and the atmosphere encapsulating my physical body. I heard nothing but wind roaring in my ears, and my eyes and mouth were wide open. I lost concept of time, feeling as if I was forever falling toward the ground, barely thinking at all. (I guess this is a good thing because I didn't have to open the parachute--something I will have to work on if I want to skydive solo... which I do. You have to be a LITTLE more keen and active to do that, eh?) When the free fall was over, our parachute opened, and we soared through the clouds. We found a circle rainbow buried in a cloud we surfed through. My vision was clouded (literally, hah) by white puffs of condensation, and I felt entirely free. I felt a deeper sense of gratitude, with my heart still pumping from the adrenaline of the fall. My face felt flush, my body weakened from the thrill. My breath? Long and slow. I continued absorbing my surroundings, jealous of the birds that fly above the Florida Keys on a daily basis for their view is overwhelmingly awe-inspiring.
All too soon, we landed on the smallest landing strip I’ve seen with ease. We touched down to safety, and words were incapable of describing the electrifying freedom I felt... According to my friends, skydiving in one word is: ZENFUL, INDESCRIBABLE, EXHILARATING.
We bid the skydive staff farewell (more like “see you soon” as I am destined to return in the near future), and offered an invitation to our campgrounds a mere 20 minutes away.
Part Two: Bahia Honda Camping
Thankfully, Talia is exceptional at video documentation and tallymark productions produced a video trailer of our weekend for your viewing pleasure:
Video Courtesy tallymark productions