I love skydiving. My first, in Buenos Aires back in 2011, kicked off an addiction and since then I have done skydives in both Nambia and New York. As I was traveling around the Middle East in 2012, I decided to take a quick weekend trip to Dubai. Dubai is home to (arguably) the most beautiful skydive in the world. Because the UAE is expensive as hell, I was only able to afford a couple days, which was plenty, because again: I was only going to skydive.
Well fuck me sideways. The ONE fucking weekend of the WHOLE fucking year that I go to Dubai to skydive, they closed down commercial dives because of a competition.
First I was disappointed and then I was just pissed. This was not part of the fucking plan. But look. When you travel, no matter how well you plan, there are things that are out of your control that will fuck you up a bit. And in those moments, you just have to trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and that no matter what, if you choose, you can still have a great experience.
So once I got to my hostel (there was only one hostel in Dubai at this time and it was still about fifty bucks a night), I checked online to see if they had indoor skydiving. Well shout out to Dubai for being indoor motherfucking Disneyland, because they DO have indoor skydiving! It took almost two hours on the bus to get to the City Centre mall (contrary to the name, definitely NOT in the city centre).
They take about 8 people each session. We were given our glammy outfits and had to watch a film on the protocols. There were two girls about my age in the group, Hilal and Reem. Very quickly (like, thirty seconds into the film) these two girls befriended me. It was Hilal’s birthday, and this indoor skydive was Reem’s gift to her. Over the next hour, we three girls chatted in between turns over the industrial fan. That sourness I had experienced before when I found out I couldn’t do a formal skydive immediately turned to gratitude that I got to meet these two wonderful women.
As we parted, they invited me to Hilal’s birthday party that night at the Jumeirah. Never one to miss any experience, I eagerly accepted. That night was so special to me because every one of their friends took a few moments to introduce themselves to me, and to get to know me a bit. I am not sure if these girls understand the extent of my gratitude. By befriending me without reservations, they helped make what began as a disappointing visit into one of the best experiences of my whole Middle Eastern trip.