Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Louisiana Jump

I think it was 1991 or 1992. Sharon, DJ and I went down to New Orleans for the Jazz festival. We were fortunate enough to see Nina Simone and Daniel Lanois, both of whom I idolized. The Gospel tent was a favorite. We partied at the side of the stage with The Subdudes and some bar in the Quarter. I was crazy about them too. I heard they got back together recently.

After several days of the Jazz Fest we decided to head over to the Creole Festival in Lafayette. I thought this was an even wilder street party. Creole cultures from the islands and mainland were all represented. Dancers in multicolored costumes on stilts celebrated life and the whole world was invited to the party.

I have a personal ambition to skydive in every state and hadn’t jumped in Louisiana yet.

I left the girls behind and took the car south to a small drop zone I’d found in my research.

The DZ was incredibly primitive. The outhouse was a plywood shack with a hole filled with lime to kill the odor. The manifest shack looked pretty much the same.

They had one Cessna 182 and a grass runway that was built up over a field like a dirt levee.

What really struck me was that, instead of talking their first time jump students down with a radio, they used a series of colored paddles. It looked like some kind of semaphore.

From the air I could see Avery Island. This is where they make Tabasco sauce.

As I swooped in for a fast landing my feet skied along the grass spraying a tail of water behind me. The water was just below the grass and you couldn’t see it.

I asked what the deal was with all the water.

“Didn’t you know this entire part of the state is a swamp?”

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