Skydiving For Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Wherever you are and whoever you are with, we hope you’re having a great day.

Matt and I have been together for nearly 4 years (our anniversary is later this week), and V-Day is not when we choose to celebrate our relationship and love for one another.  Instead, we try to show our affection each and every day, which is sometimes difficult when you’re sharing a dorm room with 6 other people or hanging out in the common room of yet another hostel. Safe to say, finding a private moment for two is challenging when backpacking.

For us, February 14 is usually treated like any other day (although last year we did watch Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special on Netflix, and we might be doing that again tonight…). Despite the fact that we don’t celebrate this Hallmark holiday, today will be slightly different and we actually have two other things to be grateful for today:

We’ve been featured on Hostelling International Canada’s website

A few months ago, Matt applied on our behalf to write for Hostelling International Canada. He briefly mentioned our situation (being from different countries and travelling together) and they were interested in working with us on an article to come out in February 2018. We were instantly over the moon, and so humbled that they would want us to write for them. Heather contacted us, and we’ve worked closely with her over the past few months to shape the article. She challenged us to answer 20 questions about our relationship, travelling as a couple and tips we’d share – without looking at the other person’s answers. It was so much fun, but difficult not to talk to one another about it. Once we had emailed her our responses and photos, Matt and I exchanged answer sheets and got to read with the other wrote. He made me cry (in the best way).

The article came out on February 12, and it’s wonderful. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, you can read the full article here: Love Travels: Travelling As A Couple

We’ll be saying ‘I Love You’ at 15,000 feet, before jumping out of an aeroplane together

Yes, you read that right: today, we’re skydiving! Now before you panic for us, know that we’re already back on the ground, safe and sound! The skydive took place earlier this morning at Mission Beach and it was incredible.

We were ready to go, bright and early at 6:30am to be the first jumpers of the day! Four of our friends were also doing the same skydive, and we left together, which helped calm our nerves. The first half an hour was spent in the office of Mission Beach Skydive with Kelly, signing paperwork, watching videos of past skydivers and debating which photo/video package we would choose. At 7:30am we met our tandem instructors, who we would be attached to as we fall from the sky back down to earth. We were quickly fitted into a harness, taught a few important hand signals and put on a bus to the airstrip. As you can see, Matt is really excited, whereas I’m more nervous. LOL.

I never saw the parachute pre-jump but was given no reason to doubt any of the equipment or how competent the staff and crew were. I stepped into a harness which was tightened around my shoulders, legs, waist and chest. We were also given an inflatable life jacket, in case we landed in water instead of on the beach.

The drive to the airstrip was unsurprisingly quiet; I think it was finally hitting everyone that we were about to jump out of an aeroplane at 15,000 feet. Turns out, out friends were on the second jump so there were 6 other backpackers on the plane that we didn’t know, making a total of 8 ‘First Time Skydivers’. We lined up outside the plane a quick group photo, packed ourselves into the unbelievably small aircraft and took off within minutes. I’m thankful it was a beautiful, bright sunny day, and not a cloud in the sky. The view from the air was stunning, with the water, reef and islands on one side, and rainforest on the other.

Matt was the first to jump, and it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t even get one last kiss from him, because we were already strapped into the instructors and unable to move unless told to. Safety first! With a quick wave and a cheer, they were gone.

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Once Matt jumped, it all happened so quickly. Without fully comprehending what was about to happen, suddenly it was my turn. I was pulled close to Ray (my tandem instructor) and my harness securely attached to his; my feet were dangling out of the plane and I was waving to the camera as we pushed away and I fell into the sky!

Of course, Matt and I couldn’t see each other. I was the 5th person out, and while I tried to look out for him, we were both too taken with the views around us to really notice where the other was.

A smile was plastered on my face and I started to laugh once we pulled the parachute. My mouth was instantly dry from the wind while free falling and I almost drooled at one point because I couldn’t swallow (how embarrassing, but thankfully not caught on camera).

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The rush of the wind against my skin and the feeling of complete freedom is something I will never forget. The ultimate adrenaline rush. A perfect high (literally). I didn’t want to come back down, ever. Matt couldn’t agree more. He was given the opportunity to steer the parachute as they got closer to the ground and has already said he would do it again if given the chance.

The whole experience wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d thought it would be. Ray made me feel safe, and it was both fun and exciting every step of the way. He was so great! I don’t know how he keeps up the energy and positivity; he will have jumped out with 8 other people today, back to back!! CRAZY.

Back on solid ground, Matt and I immediately embraced in a huge hug. We return the equipment to the office, where I call my mum and tell her the good news – we made it! We sat in the cafe next door, enjoying a free breakfast, and wait for our skydive video to be edited. I had pancakes (for a belated Pancake Day, post skydiving ‘we did it’ celebration) while Matt enjoyed a large burger with a glass of coke. I was shaking with adrenaline and was thankful for the snack – obviously, we skipped breakfast this morning due to nerves.

I’m glad we decided to get the skydiving video, and not just photos. The experience was filmed on a GoPro from start to finish, which was attached to the arm of each instructor. We gave a short interview beforehand about how we were feeling, got footage of the plane taking off, gave our “last words” before jumping (mine were: Happy Valentine’s Day! Sorry mum and dad… you’re probably not going to want to watch this part) and of course, the entire free fall and parachute until we’re safely on the ground. All in all, it’s about 7 minutes long, but I feel it truly captured the moment and how we were feeling! We were also given certificates to commemorate our first jump.

Would we skydive again? ABSOLUTELY.

The rest of the day was like any other:

– We stayed by the pool because it was hot and humid out, passing around a ball and playing catch with our friends.
– I found a copy of The Da Vinci Code on the hostel bookshelf, which I’ll start to read tomorrow.
– We went food shopping in town and shared ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
– I listened to Country 104 (my favourite Canadian radio station) and they gave us a shout out, mentioning our skydive and the blog on-air!
– Matt and I talked about our plans for tomorrow, packed our bags and are now settled in bed.

I’m so grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given with our blog, and that we’re finally about to tick skydiving off our bucket list! Thanks to everyone reading, for following our adventures so far. Today, we’re sending love to you!

— Ally

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