Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Travel Diary - South America

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to San Juan to support my dad at the World POPS Championships.  This is a world skydiving competition (POPS standing for People over Phorty).  These are held every 2 years all over the world.  My family has done a lot of jumping but my dad is the one who does all the comps and my mum, sister and I do it just for fun.  The sky diving community my parents belong to back home are such a great bunch of people, they are like another family.

So here the trip goes from the start...
I flew from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where I meet up with my parents and 2 of their friends that were going, (we didn't have a big kiwi team this time due to many different reasons such as some of the jumpers weren't able to jump due to operations or other commitments and timing etc). We then flew to Santigo, Chile and arrived in mid morning there and so we had all afternoon and evening to have a wonder around the city and take in the sights and get a feel for the lifestyle here.
I liked the city itself and the parts we saw but I didn't feel too comfortable there as we found the people who lived there try to take advantage of us in ways of getting more money out of us or not very helpful when in shops or ordering food, other than the people at our hotel.  Also being a young female, I found the men to just stop and stare (I was told to expect that and also for them to shout things out but they won't act on it) so that was a bit uncomfortable.  You can really see the difference here of rich and poor too, not like back home, you could see the divide here and I also saw for the first time, slums, like i knew there would be some but I never thought I would see them and especially so close to the city so that was quite an eye opener for me. My parents had seen them before in South Africa so it was more of a shock and a sadness to see.

Sunset from leaving Auckland en route to Santiago

At the Art Museum - Santiago

Apartments above shops and resturants - Santiago

We flew out the next morning to San Juan, Argentina via Beunos Aries (never had the chance to stop there for a few nights, i booked my flights quite last minute so I didn't even think about stoping there so I must go back next time).
We had great flight over as we got to fly over the Andes and wow what a sight, so amazing, my mum and I went crazy taking photos of it.



Landing in Beunos Aries

We finally arrived in San Juan and omg it was the smallest airport I've ever been to and I've arrived and depart parted from many airports. What a drive it was to our hotel, it was so brown and dry and the roads were quite cracked etc, but I kinda expected that. The houses were quite run down and very few had gardens, a lot of places were locked up with big gates and chains across the front.  That kinda made me scared for some reason coz it made me think that there maybe a lot of violence here and I really didn't want to get caught up with any of that especially in a foreign place where i can't speak the language.  Over the next few days I felt quite comfortable walking around as I started to understand how everyone lives here.  It just isn't what I'm use to but so cool to experience this culture.  I found the people really friendly even tho there was a language barrier.  I also wondered if that was because this is a small town/community and they don't get any tourists here seen it isn't a big city and so they found us very interesting too.

So the competition started on a Saturday that goes for 8 days.  We had a big opening ceremony on Friday night which felt like a mini olympics ceremony (totally didn't expect that).  There was the Argentina National anthem, band music and marching, speeches and skydivers landing in the stadium.  We were escorted by police everyday to and from the drop zone (what the area is called in which the skydivers land).  It was a pretty surreal experience.

The competitions went really well, only a few broken bones haha but no dramas.
These are some photos of the drop zone and jumpers below...

Dad found a green patch on the drop zone 
The ambulance on standby

Me with dad (kiwi), swiss and russia
Our camp has been taken over by the Canadians, Americans, Israel and an Argentian

Kiwi vs Israel
After jumps beer time
Driest drop zone I've ever seen
Last morning at the drop zone with a great sunrise

I had one of the jumpers form the Australian team tech me how to pack parachutes so i got to do that everyday too which was so cool to learn as it is such a huge responsibility so I was nervous but so happy someone took a chance on me to teach me.  I had a few other guys make jokes about me doing it but it was all in good nature. check out the photos below of me in action haha.

Checking the breaks

Checking the lines are untangled

Closing up the bag
Dad and Gary worried about my packing abilities hehe

I also did my 3rd tandem jump, I wore my mums t-shirt, my dads socks and shoes from a local all for good luck.  check out the video of it.  I had 2 camera angles so I was able to edit them both together so I hope you like it.

My landing crew

Me and dad 

These are some photos of around the town...

 Time to be a hero and save some wine trapped in a bottle ;) 

San Juan police 

Local kids that found us

1st dinner in San juan (in a french restaurant) 

Order a coke and you get coke with a puff pastry side
Best wine i found and love the size of the glass hehe
Cute Mexican cafe we found to have lunch in
Local kids
We had such a great time and everyone we meet, the locals and the other competitors were so lovely.

Number 18th and 19th country Ive been too, which will be number 20? (There is one in the planning stage for April/May next year and it will be a few countries).

Thanks for reading
x The Girl Bckstage

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