Parachutes, Potatoes, and Pickpockets… Oh My!

Just 6 days ago, I jumped out a plane that was about 13,000 feet above a town on the outskirts of Madrid.  During the 12 minute plane ride leading up to that 60-second experience of a lifetime, I looked out of the small window to my left and wondered, “How did I get here?”  Clearly I didn’t end up in a small, cramped plane, harnessed to a stranger by pure accident.  Skydiving had been on my bucket list for years now.  But this dream of mine stopped making sense when it finally registered that I was about to jump out of a plane.

Javier (my tandem person) and I were the last to jump out of the plane, right after watching my good friend Tommy and his person roll out and begin their plummet toward the earth.  We inched toward the open door of the plane until I was dangling in the air.  I put my head back and arched my body as instructed, and Javier pushed off the ledge.

In the first few seconds of the fall, I could think no thoughts.  None.  Just pure panic.  I desperately gasped for air and clung to the straps of my harness, until Javier pulled our first shoot.  He tapped my shoulder, signaling for me to spread me wings.  So I did.  And ironically enough, it was in those remaining seconds of my drop that my doubts concerning my own sanity disappeared, and I remembered why I’d dreamed of skydiving in the first place.

As we fell,  Tomás, the camera man assigned to me, floated around us, smiling and signaling for me to blow kisses to the camera until the second shoot was pulled.  As the ground grew closer, we spun around in lazy, calming circles.  The blue skies, white mountain tops off in the distance, and the green and brown spotted earth all blended as we spun, creating one stellar view.  Once on the ground,  I silently thanked the stars that I was alive and joined up with Kiki and Tommy for a little freak-out-fest.

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Tapas with my Leah, my lovely, longtime friend ❤

Some more highlights from the weekend? Food and friends, per usual.  Tommy, Kiki and I joined up with friends who are studying in Madrid this semester and together we did some sight-seeing, shopping, eating, and we tested the waters of Madrid’s night life.  It was so refreshing to be surrounded once again by the people who have made college and life as great as it is.  They were a beautiful dose of familiar.  And the food was absolutely amazing.  Spanish tortillas and tapas and churros con chocolate galore.  Seriously.  I didn’t realize how much I missed potatoes until fooding in Madrid.  Really, I could go on and on about my love for the food, but I’ll save that for another time.

As for sights, we took a walk through Retiro Park, checked out the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Cathedral, and wandered through the massive, open-air flea market, El Rastro.  El Rastro especially seemed to best compass the overall feel I picked up from Madrid while there: colorful, lively, and full of pleasant surprises.

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Gnomeo, some chocolate, and some churros
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Palacio de Cristal in Retiro Park

One downside of the trip was having my phone (in it’s wallet case) stolen.  Yep… Just four hours after skydiving, it was swiped during lunch in a busy restaurant, and one of my biggest fears going in to study abroad quickly became a reality.

My friends  dealt with my tears and calmed me down.  They provided me with endless laughs and always, without hesitation, did what they could to make the rest of my time in Madrid a good time. Especially my good friend and college roommate, Solis.  Seriously, a huge shoutout to her for remaining calm and rational when I wasn’t.  In my immediate frazzled state, she was safety.  And even long after the event, the kind soul made sure I had money in my pocket to get back home alright, and then some.  And then there are my parents.  My dad swiftly made the phone calls and decisions I couldn’t to cancel my card, freeze my phone, and come up with a plan for the rest of the semester. And my mom constantly checked in on me and assured me everything will work out every time we were able to communicate.  So basically, I don’t know what I’d do without these superstars in my life.

A major, personal take-away from this trip? Just like I had a parachute to keep me from going splat on the ground once I jumped out of that plane in Madrid, I was very soon reminded of the strong presence of the privilege and people in my life that prevent me from going splat in life. #EternallyGrateful

And now, to wrap things up, I’ll answer the burning question any readers might have in mind at this point. Do I now believe in money belts?  Possibly.  Would I ever go back to Madrid?  Yes.  Would I, upon returning, be satisfied with eating nothing but potatoes in their various Spanish forms? HECK YES.

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