Saturday, May 26th; 11:59pm Interlaken, Switzerland – “Carpe Diem” is a phrase by which I try to live. The phrase was coined by the popular Roman poet Horace in his Odes collection and is of Latin origin. Translated it means “seize the day!” I try to live out this phrase every day because if I can seize/take advantage of every single day, all 86,400 seconds of it, then I believe that I will have a wonderful, fulfilling life. Well today, I carped the heck out of this diem. I find it rather ironic that I began this blog post at 11:59pm because I truly wanted to squeeze every last moment out of this day, and oh what a day it was! I checked some items off my bucket list and grew much closer to my friends and to God.
Although today was jam packed with wonderful adventures, the real adventure began yesterday morning on the train ride form Munich to Interlaken. Dr. Pitcock was so excited because we were scheduled to have one of the easiest travel days ever to Interlaken, only one stop, which means much less stress for Dr. P for there are fewer instances for us to screw up getting on or off the train, but as the great John Steinbeck once said, “The best laid plans of Dr. P often go awry,” and awry they went. Our first train was late, and when we got on the second train, we were informed that it was not taking us directly to Interlaken as planned. Instead, we would need to make two more train switches before we got there, a travelling nightmare for Dr. P. And of course, all of this occurred right after I told Dr. P that he should be more relaxed and more “go with the flow more” during the experience. Not the best timing on my part… Sorry Dr. P! You handled the situation with the utmost poise, and I think you went with the flow very well. I apologize for what I said, and I thank you for getting us to Interlaken, and everyone else safe and sound and honestly just being the absolute best in leading and guiding us on this experience. You have truly done so much for us, more than we will ever know, and I greatly thank you for allowing us to have this once in a lifetime experience. (So that we can see incredible views like these)
Anyways, we finally made it to the hotel safe and sound when the madness began again…
We were informed that we were having a free day in Interlaken!!! YAY!
I was so excited! Everyone was scrambling to make a plan for the next day, trying to find something fun that we could all do together. Although Dr. P strongly suggested that we not participate in any extreme sports and fully informed us of the risks we were taking, I decided to do the two of the most extreme activities I could find: canyoning and skydiving! Because one does not simply “hang out” when you’re in the extreme sports capital of the world! Anyways, despite being Pre-Med, my marketing and salesmanship skills kicked in as I tried to convince as many people as possibly to join in my crazy endeavors, and I did so with great success! (If you want to know more about how I did this convincing, check out my friend Ryal’s blog about the positive effects of peer pressure.)
When everyone finally figured out their plan, we gave our ideas to the wonderful Kim who was working at the front desk and prayed for an absolute miracle: that the places we wished to go would be open, have enough room for us, and that the weather would hold up. Luckily for us, the stars aligned, and Kim was able to work some magic and get all 16 of us booked for the various activities that we wanted to do.
The next morning, I woke up at 7:30am ready for the most amazing day of my life, and it did not fall short but rather exceeded even the loftiest of my expectations! When I say I carped the heck out of this diem, I mean it. I went canyoning in the morning which was an amazing experience because we had a bunch of people doing it all together, and I didn’t really know what canyoning was until I did it so that was a really interesting experience as well. The reason I signed up and convinced others to go canyoning was because past members of CR had told me that it was a blast and a great time to bond with the group. I truly blindly took their advice and really didn’t do any research on what canyoning actually was before I went and actually did it. It was rather exciting though, going into it without knowing exactly what was going to happen. I really had to trust in the other members of my group to keep me going and make sure we all got through it together and alive. Although it was quite intimidating at first, with the help of our amazing guides our whole group made it through canyoning without a scratch, well maybe a few scratches (sorry Taylor).
Here is a picture of our awesome canyoning group! Please ignore my hand and face, but do enjoy the nicknames on the helmets if you can read them!
We finished canyoning and ate a nice little café across the street. We laughed about all the fun we had, and the fact that we were going to be jumping out of a plane in a matter of hours finally began to set in. We hung out for a while and when it was time to leave for skydiving the nervous excitement in the lobby was overwhelming with all of us there together. The skydiving place picked us up, and we sang “Live like you are Dying” the entire way to the skydiving zone. At one point we did stop singing, but the lady driving the van told us not to stop but keep singing instead. When we arrived at the skydiving zone, the lady driving the van said, “Well congratulations, you have just made it past the most dangerous part of your skydiving experience.” This was really reassuring for me because I knew that we were more likely to die driving to the skydiving place than actually skydiving. We hung out for a while and took some great photos, some of which you can see below, but eventually our time came.
I was in the second of the two groups to go, so it was amazing to see all of my friends make it safely before I went. However, after they were done, it was my time to go. The man who eventually saved my life, Tom, walked towards me after carefully packing up the parachute and said, “Hi, I’m Tom! Are you ready to go?” I was like “Heck yeah!” Then he said, “Great because we are going first!”
“What? We’re going first, did you say?” I stuttered to say to him. “Yeah, is that a problem?” he said in reply. “No, that’s cool, sweet, no big deal!” I said very hesitantly. We were the last to climb aboard the little puddle jumper, and we packed in like sardines so that all 12 of us could fit. Tom and I were right next to the open door. As we started down the runaway, my dear Tom informed me that the plane door was broken, and that we would just have to go the whole ride with it wide open. “Just kidding,” he said after an uncomfortably long pause. This was only the beginning of many unsettling jokes that our tandem partners played on us on the way up. Interesting enough, skydiving instructors genuinely enjoy scaring the absolute bejeezees out of people who are about to jump out of a plane. Luckily, I was excited to go, so it wasn’t too unsettling for me, but for someone who was really nervous, they could really do some damage with their jokes.
When the guides weren’t joking about how their partner left an important hook unbuckled or arguing over who would get whose car if they died, they would point out the amazing view from the sky or take pre-jump videos of us. Whenever the final video comes in, I’ll be sure to post it.
Anyways, we finally got to our peak altitude of 13,500ft. Tom yelled in my ear, “Open the door.” Although I knew that I was going to have to do it, there is nothing than can prepare you for opening a door and dangling your feet over the edge of a moving plane. I know that it should have hit me before this, but it truly wasn’t until I looked down out of the open door that I realized I was about to jump out a plane and plummet towards the earth for the next 45 seconds. And what a blissful 45 seconds it was. Tome started us off with a causal backflip, and then we free-fell arms wide until he unloaded the parachute that saved our lives. Maybe it’s because I’m not the best with words, but I’ve found it extremely difficult to describe the sensation of skydiving. It is like nothing you’ve ever felt or experienced before, and there is nothing you can do to physically prepare yourself for it. It is truly just one of the most action packed, adrenaline-filled moments of your entire life, while at the same time being one of the most blissful moment of your entire life. There is something about free-falling towards the earth that makes you gain a greater appreciation for life.
Although I absolutely loved skydiving, I don’t think I can ever do it again because I don’t think I will ever find a more beautiful place to skydive than surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It was the most amazing experience because once the shoot came up and we began paragliding down to the ground, I looked around and was just completely surrounded by God’s beautiful creation. It was truly a surreal experience.
I don’t think I will ever have a more action-packed and exciting day in my entire life, and until I get married or have a child, whenever someone asks me what the best day of my life was, I now have a very clear answer! May 26th, 2018 – Interlaken, Switzerland
All thanks to CR10!
Until next time,