Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jumping out of Planes

When we landed at the Ukunda air strip that Monday morning for an amazing vacation, I can safely say that jumping out of a plane was probably the absolute LAST thing on my mind. I was ready for some sun, sand and sea (read ocean), relaxing, and not budging from the resort at all! Skydiving's been on my bucket list for a while now, but I'd never actually set a date, you know? It's not like I said, hey, I'm gonna go to Diani and go skydiving. It literally just kinda happened...

As we're getting into the car to get to our hotel, a guy walks up to us with fliers for Skydive Diani. I have NO IDEA what came into my mind... but I looked at my sister, she looked at me, and that was that. Spontaneous isn't usually a word I use to describe myself. I mean, hey, I'll go grab coffee with you if I have some time and nothing planned, but spontaneously deciding to go skydiving?! I have no clue where that came from.

We inquired about it and made bookings almost as soon as we got to the hotel. This was really happening!! Another thing extremely uncharacteristic of me- I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it! Most of my friends were left wondering after they saw this cryptic photo on my Instagram (after I'd done it).


We landed on a Monday, and decided to jump on Wednesday. Now I had no idea what to expect, at all. I'm at the beach right? So a t-shirt, shorts and sandals seemed entirely appropriate at the time. When we got to the Skydive Diani office, we met the instructors and the staff who were incredibly cool and helpful. Did I mention incredibly cool?! I mean, these guys actually do this practically every day!! This is their LIFE! WHATT!! 

Heading off!

After the talk (smile and be a good banana is what you need to remember), we hopped in the car to go to the air strip. At this point, we'd been told to lose the sandals... I guess it would've been terribly awkward/painful if some poor civilian got slapped in the face with one of mine. (So yes, I did go skydiving barefoot and in shorts). 

At this point, I'm so excited that I don't think it's really hit me- I'm really doing this!! As we get into the plane, reality began to set in, but in a good way. In the main cabin (room? space?), we were six, and it was a cosy fit. My sister and I, our respective instructors (we'd be jumping in tandem since it was the first time), and two others who were jumping with us. 

Our view from the plane as we went higher

As we went up (and up and up and up), I was awestruck by the view. Did I mention that there was no closed door? So not only did we get to see the view going up, we got to feel the atmosphere, and that made it a little more real to me! And holy shit, did it get cold. Next time I'm taking my parka! Okay, maybe not, but you get the point. 

Before I knew it, we were at 12,000 feet, and my sister was out. HOLY SHIT WAIT A SECOND WHAT WAS I DOING?! I'm sitting at the edge of a plane with my legs dangling out, looking out at the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. There was adrenaline and excitement and awe and wonder and nervousness all at once (although I'm happy to report the nervousness faded away... I think the biting cold helped, gave me something more to focus on). 

And then we jumped! I have no words to describe the experience, really. The first thing that hits you is the speed, and the cold. I believe you're hurtling through at a velocity of about 200km/h. Give it a second or two though, and that's when you'll fall in love. My cheeks and ear lobes were flapping around furiously and I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn't even realise I could let go of my harness! My instructor literally had to pry my hand off. It was incredible! That rush, that energy, the thrill of it... I'll definitely be going back. 

I'm flying!
When the parachute was deployed, we slowed down (naturally), and had more time to appreciate the view and chat a little bit. Seriously, it was so gorgeous up there, I wanted to stay forever! Those of us who live in Kenya are truly blessed, and we don't even realise it. 

Look at that view!

The landing was really smooth, and I was so glad I jumped!! Definitely an experience worth every penny, and I can't wait to go again. The team at Skydive Diani were incredibly amazing and professional. Thank you for an amazing experience!!

After the jump, pretty much all day, all I could say was: HOLY SHIT I JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE!! (Or some variation of the same.) The buzz lasted for DAYS, and I still feel it when I look at the pictures or the video, or even think about it enough. 

If you're considering skydiving, my two cents? Go for it! And definitely try do a jump at Diani if you can. 

I DID IT!!



Right after landing. So happy, and still on a rush!





Monday, August 15, 2016

Diani Days

I don't know if saying I'm back is quite appropriate- I never really left! I've finally come to a place where not writing doesn't make me feel guilty. I write because I enjoy it, and so, it's hardly a chore that I'd feel guilty for 'neglecting'. Besides, I think trying to force it creates posts I'm not as excited to write- and you're probably not as excited to read!

It's been an eventful few months, but in a great way. Some good news to share (and to thank my support systems for)- I've transitioned from marketing to management consulting, and as of this month, I'm a business analyst at McKinsey, and very happy about it!

Since I knew I'd be working full time from August, I decided to take the month of July off. I indulged myself- went shopping, went to the spa (more than once, definitely), took a vacation (more on this later). As a result, I'm completely energised, and have even managed to (finally) get back into my exercise routine!

More about the vacation- as soon as I found out my start date had been pushed back from mid-July to the beginning of August, I called my sister and told her we were going down to the coast. We had planned to take a short vacation, but thought timing wouldn't allow it. Well, it did now! It'd been six years since I'd been to ANY beach, so to say I was excited was definitely an understatement...

We stayed at the Leopard Beach Resort & Spa, which was absolutely amazing!! I highly recommend it. The beach was amazing, the resort was amazing, the food was amazing, the service was amazing, the beds were super comfortable... I really could go on! Every place has its flaws, right? Well, here's Leopard Beach's- their bathroom. It was clean and awesome in other ways, but the separation between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom wasn't the best, and would lead to wet floors. But yes, that was pretty much the only thing I could complain about, and I'd go back in a heartbeat! If any of you have any specific questions about this place, I'd be more than happy to help answer.

From their website:

These awards were truly well deserved!
Let's take a moment to talk about their spa, the Uzuri spa. Oh. My. God. I could've easily taken another vacation just to stay there! It was absolutely amazing, and you'll see more in the pictures later. The service was impeccable, and the therapists were wonderful.

The vacation was absolutely AMAZING- I was so relaxed, and managed to be fully in the moment. It was so good that all it takes is for me to close my eyes and think of it, or look at pictures, to feel that sense of relaxation, energy and contentment again. I was off communication and Internet for the entirety of the vacation. The only thing allowed was Instagram (don't act surprised) and checking in with our dad in the evening. 

We didn't really leave the resort (apart from that one time for the spontaneous decision we made to jump out of a plane... more on that in my next), and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Pictures speak louder than words or something like that, so I'm going to let mine do the talking now. Hope they serve as a 'virtual vacation' for you all!

Flying in... I was SO excited when I saw that little sliver of ocean and beach, you have no idea!


The hotel wasn't too full, so instead of a buffet lunch, we got to go to the a la carte restaurant everyday. Our first day there, we had lunch by the beach (as you can see), I sipped my mojito, and marvelled at how lucky I was.
This was also day 1... so six years away from any beach/ocean/large water body left me with a rather inconveniently poor memory of how strong waves could be. This was after I'd had a hearty laugh at myself for getting taken down by one of them!
Did you really think I'd travel anywhere without something to read? Also, I really don't care how overdone this is... I absolutely loved Gilbert's book! I'd watched the movie before my freshman year, and finally got around to reading this (and this was actually my second Elizabeth Gilbert, the first being Big Magic).
Still day 1, sometime shortly after dinner. I'd ventured out to chill by the bar, potentially check out the disco. Well, practically everyone was otherwise employed, so I settled down with some red wine and Eat, Pray, Love! As the music from the empty disco pulsated around me, of course. 
The most awesome things happen to me at the randomest of places. As I'm getting tired of reading (yes, it's been known to happen), I decide to wander around the area. The bartender turns out to be a consultant who teaches mixology, and since he wasn't too busy, I talked myself into an impromptu class. I absolutely refused to learn how to make a Jagerbomb though, and some of you know why! 



View from the lobby

Beach!! Ah! So close!! Really though, I was super excited to finally be here.

Have you EVER seen such GORGEOUS sand? (My being away for six years is showing, isn't it?)

Day 2: Spa day! Uzuri doesn't have separate massage rooms. They have COTTAGES that are individually enclosed and have outdoor showers and beautiful views. (As I'm there, I'm thinking... how is this my life right now?!)

The view from inside my spa cottage (yes, that's an Instagram filter).

The view from outside the lobby

The local fauna. Little guy (girl?) and I had a staring match!

The pool at Uzuri spa with an attached Jacuzzi. We may or may not have tried to practice our Krav Maga kicks and stretches in the water.

That's the balcony outside our room. Ours was the first one on the left up the stairs.

Post skydiving (aka HOLY SHIT I JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE) lunch

Uzuri Spa- see why I could've actually vacationed here?

Being confronted by the majesty of the ocean. I loved it!

As is clearly evident

Leopard Beach did a great job with food and desserts! Each night had a buffet dinner with a different theme (the last night was African night). 

Bush baby!

I know some of you may be freaked out by this, but I was so fascinated by the bees and their love of marmalade! Don't worry, bug haters, they're not everywhere. I just picked a strategic place to sit. 

Did you really visit the beach if you don't have a collage to show?

Our last morning, right after breakfast as we were getting ready to leave. It's the only day that was rainy.

Okay, fine, 2 collages.

Last day- still gorgeous!

Goodbye Diani! Jeans necessary as Nairobi was going to be cold.

The view from our balcony

Saying goodbye for now!

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