I'd like to say after the first dive, they all got easy. In some respects they did. Upon entering the water, I realized it wasn't as bad as I had imagined it to be in my head. I also listened very carefully to Duque's instructions.
"Relax your shoulders more. Don't bring your arms down so quickly and keep your head, neck and back in one line," he told me. It was a lot of information and more tasks than I wanted to do in the span of two seconds.
The five-meter platform was scarier than the three-meter. The seven-meter platform seemed insurmountable.
By the time I climbed all the way to the 10-meter platform, I was ready to call it quits. There was no way I could possibly make it off the platform at all, never mind doing it gracefully.
"Just go for it. You got it. It's just a few feet higher than the seven," Duque yelled to me from the pool. The entire training consisted of his diving first and waiting, ever so patiently, with my underwater photographer. I would only listen to his cues, not look for him. The last thing you want to do when diving from such heights is look directly down.
"You're going to have to count me down otherwise I'll never get off this thing," I pleaded.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Three, two, one."
And with those words I jumped 25 feet into the pool beneath me. The initial smack hurt, but I got over it quickly.
In his quest to assuage my fears, Duque said if I could do that dive, the cliff would be no problem. But what else would I expect from a man that makes his living jumping off cliffs 85 feet in the air and higher?
I could expect words of wisdom. All along the way, Duque knew my fears and didn't prey on them. Instead he talked me through every move, bolstered my confidence and reminded me of my awkward grace.
But when he said the following words to me, it all came together: "With most adventure sports, the athlete has an apparatus, a tool. Snowboarders have the board; motocross guys have the bike. In diving, it's just you and the air. You have nothing to create equilibrium. You have to find your own balance."
Talk about a metaphor for life.
My crew and I left the aquatic center, grabbed a snack and made our way to the cliff. I was reminded that there would be a safety team in the water consisting of one guy, Pake, on a jet ski and my underwater photographer, Mike, who would save my life in case Pake couldn't get to me quickly enough. On land, I had Tom Stone, who could dive in after me if need be.
And of course, Duque.
We had to hike to the actual location where I would dive. A nasty weather system came over the mountains and brought with it rain and gusty winds. (I think the weather gods were testing their favorite weather girl!)
First, we looked at my exit point. I was told getting out of the water would be just as tricky as diving into it. Next, we made our way to what Duque named "Marysol's Jump." The closer we got to the actual spot, the faster my heart raced. Still, I made idle chatter with Duque and our crew to convince myself everything was OK.
Over the last pass, down the side of the cliff, I spotted my jump-off spot.
"So this is it. If you look straight down, you can see a little rock sticking out, but based on how you dove at the pool, you should be able to clear it," Duque stated matter-of-factly.