My Parasailing Experience
August 20th, 2011
I have been dreaming of flying ever since I remember myself. Parachutes and skydiving were for a long time a constant part of my dreams. It just so happened that I started "soft" - with parasailing. I did it with a friend of mine, because it was easier this way :-P
Wearing only our usual swimsuits, we came to the wooden quay right next to the Larvotto beach in Monaco. Luckily, the wind was just perfect, so we only had to wait some 20 minutes for the boat. Sitting on the warm wooden quay and watching a guy spreading our kite over the wooden wall behind us, I started freaking out – I have never done anything similar before, I only vaguely knew what it was about, I didn’t even watch any related videos! I mentally chastised myself for that. Still, knowing that my friend was with me, I more or less managed to seem calm.
The boat finally arrived. The instructors fastened our harnesses and then gave us the ropes of the kite to hold slightly above our heads. Another rope, a thicker one, was lazily slithering on the quay in front of us and ending somewhere on the boat.
“At the count of ten you start running, and don’t stop until I tell you to”, the instructor told us before disappearing behind us, “And don’t look back”, he added, making the feeble rests of my self-control vanish in a puff of smoke.
The engine revved and the boat started moving, making the thick rope slither faster and then stretch. My friend turned his head to me, his eyes wider that usual.
“I am scared,” he mouthed.
That’s when my knees started to shake – hearing such a confession from a dude really meant something! (to cut him some slack, I must confess that I kept him blissfully unaware of our upcoming parasailing experience until the very moment he saw our kite ;-) )
But before any of us had time to throw a fit of panic, the instructor boomed, “Ten!”
And we started running. I guess, none of us really knew what have happened and how, but all of a sudden, we were jolted up into the air and the waves were under our feet. We were gaining altitude. Excitement, tension and relief washed over us all together, and we broke into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Underneath, the boat and the sea were getting farther and farther, which felt spooky at first, but then we sort of got used to it, and started really enjoying the moment.
There is no word strong enough to describe the sensation – it is stunning, breathtaking, head-spinning, heart-stopping… The flight feels awesome – you feel so light and so part of the universe, you feel pure happiness and euphoria exploding inside you and enveloping you completely. You feel like a bird and the world looks different form this perspective. You are somewhere in between the sky and the earth, suspended on a rope, but oblivious to the gravity. It seems that time has stopped, life has stopped and there is nothing but the very moment you’re in. And you can’t help marveling in it, caught in its simple beauty and sensations.
We laughed like kids, happily dangling our feet and spreading our arms. The view was magnificent – endless blue horizon with tiny faraway ships on one side, and picturesque coast and beaches on the other side.
Our captain gave us a complete tour of the Monaco bay before turning back.
And then, suddenly, he was slowing down and we were mercilessly losing altitude. We looked at each other in shock and disbelief – the wooden quay was still far and we were somewhere in the middle of the deep dark blue sea that was steadily getting closer and closer.
“No!”, we moaned in chorus, getting ready to dive into the dark waters.
The water was not cold, yet the perspective of getting all wet after the flight wasn’t thrilling. I took a deep breath just in case (I can swim, and they had us put the life jackets on before the flight anyway, but the gear being quite heavy, I expected a little dive).
But then, just as my friend's feet touched the water, the engine revved back to life and we screamed in delight, gaining the altitude back again. Our captain was laughing too and the whole world seemed to rejoice together with us.
The last ten minutes of our parasailing, we gradually stopped laughing, but the feeling of pure bliss and delight remained just as strong. Avidly peering around, we drank in the view and the sensations - the cool caress of the wind, the distant whispering of the waves, the screams of the seagulls, the distant roar of the boat engine, the fresh salty smell of the air around us...
The boat slowed down and the water got closer. None of us wanted it to end, but the process was uncontrollable, like destiny itself. Forces much stronger than us were carrying us down, toward the wavy surface of the water below, and this flight was irrevocably going to stop there and then.
The descent seemed slow and gentle but we fell into the water so suddenly that I swallowed a mouthful of it - a mere heartbeat and the dark cold waves closed over our heads.
I kicked with both my legs and emerged over the surface coughing next to my beaming friend still entwined in the harness and the ropes of the kite.
We climbed on the boat that took us back to the wooden quay, grins frozen on our wet faces, swearing to ourselves that we would do it again and again, the memory of this first flight forever engraved in our souls.
It's amazing how this kind of experiences gives a sense of a new beginning. Suddenly it becomes a turning point that splits life into a "before" and an "after", and this "after" shimmers with bright new possibilities and excitement.