Spending the summer in Gatineau

Mosaiculture in Gatineau

Catching up with friends and family

This has got to be my biggest disappointment of my summer.

I moved back to Canada for the summer months so I would have a chance to catch up with my family and friends, but I didn’t end up seeing much more of them than I would have should I have just gone back for a couple of weeks.

At first, it was all exciting. I arrived back in Québec City, spent a few days with my parents, visited my grandparents and saw some friends. And then I moved to Gatineau.

At a distance of about 5 hours drive, it’s not that close to Quebec city, however, my friends all got excited at the prospect of a few days away in the Capital region, catching up and visiting. But what we didn’t take into account is that if you don’t make solid plans, next thing you know the season is over and you haven’t seen each other.

Which is exactly what happened.

We all had the best intentions in the world to spend tons of time together, but life got in the way. And before I knew it, it was already October. I’m glad I got to see the few friends with whom we managed to make our schedules work together, but I would have been more than okay with spending a lot more time with them too.

My plan was also originally to go and visit my friends for weekends here and there, but because I started skydiving and my goal was also to put money aside, I ended up not wanting to take days off and ”lose” money. Not a smart decision in hindsight since money doesn’t really help to maintain friendships or when one is feeling lonely.

Settling down

As scary as this was when I arrived in May, as it was to be expected, time went by super quickly. And before I knew it, it was already time for me to move on to new adventures. My first few weeks living in the holiday trailer felt quite long. I was the only one living on site on Monday and Tuesday, the two days when GO Skydive is closed. I didn’t have a car, so I was limited to public transport (almost nonexistent in that area of the city) or using a bike.

While I enjoyed some alone time, which I always seem to need in my life, I felt rather lonely. Especially after coming back from Kenya living with a group of people almost 24/7, and living in London where I was catching up with friends, going on dates, and living in a hostel. Gatineau and the dropzone felt really quiet and lonely.

One of the many DZ visitors

However, because the season was only starting, people started coming more regularly at the DZ to stay. Kass and a few others moved in, and I finally had a network of friends to hang out with. So much so indeed that I started to crave some alone time again.

Between working long hours and having bonfires at night, time went by quickly. I didn’t really have time to go anywhere else, so I focused my attention on my new friendships, connecting like I hadn’t done in a long time. Talking about our dreams and fears, and truly getting to know people. It felt really different to actually get past the small talk that I dread so much. I’ve also met some amazing people who gladly shared their knowledge and experience with me.

Jumping!

Getting started in skydiving also opened up a new world to me. It is a much more complex and intricate world that it looks like from the outside. There’s so much to learn and the possibilities are endless. It’s also a lot safer than most people from the ”outside” world would assume. Of course, there are some accidents, just like in any activity involving a certain level of risk.

Shortly after starting working, I began my AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) course. And from my first jump, I was back to that feeling of awe and total relaxation I had experienced during my tandem in Diani, Kenya. For most people jumping off a plane can be a bit stressful, but oddly for me, it’s super relaxing. Just like yoga. Albeit a bit more extreme.

Almost as relaxing as skydiving

From the plane ride to the actual stepping out moment, the freefall and the time under the canopy, I find the entire experience calming. The only way I can explain it is that I get to enjoy some time alone, thinking only about myself and the experience I’m living in that specific moment. The views are amazing from up there, and there’s nothing that compares to the feeling your body experiences during the freefall. It’s true freedom. All worries and thoughts weighing you down are left on the ground. And you are finally free.

Of course, this is not quite how I explained it to clients coming for their first tandem jumps. No one would have ever believed me that jumping off a plane could have the same calming effect as relaxation or yoga to me!

Because I was working the manifest, and working every business day, I, unfortunately, didn’t get to jump as often as I would have liked. I would usually manage to get on the last load of the day, once all the tandems were checked-in when there was availability and the wind speed would allow it. I did most of my jumps at sunset. So much so indeed that towards the end of the season I did a jump during daytime and I was surprised by how bright it was. And how far away we could see! It was nice to see far and wide, but nothing really compares to jumping when the sky is all different shades of pink and orange. It is truly beautiful to get to enjoy the sunset from up there, although it was also very distracting at times!

When I started jumping, it quickly became clear I would be known as the plan-B girl. My accuracy eventually got a bit better, but landing in an industrial area (avoiding all the possible hazards such as buildings, electrical lines, trucks, fences, a pond and a tree) for my first jump did set up the tone for my season! I usually land nicely on my feet, although quite often there’s no one around to see it. I guess I do truly love sightseeing!

Making true friends

Being single, back to my home country and working in a dropzone where it’s fairly easy to meet people to have fun with, I ended up being a lot calmer on the hooking up side of things than during my first dropzone experience.

My jumping might have been limited to jumping off a plane and not really meeting anyone to have fun with, but I did meet true friends. And that’s what I’ll remember from this summer season in Gatineau. Meeting genuinely good people, and meeting some of my best friends. I don’t know if I’ll make the decision to move back to my home country eventually, but since skydiving is such a small world, I’m not worried I’ll get to catch up with everyone, probably rather sooner than later!

Love!

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