Jump Into Aventure
By Antonio Díaz Susavila Photos by Julio A. González
With four thousand jumps, some of them From 4km up. Marisol Maldonado Castellanos qualifies as the Cuban woman with most jumps from planes. Born in the eastern province of Holguin, she is the national champion of her specialty and since she was 18 has never stopped risking her life while conquering new sports victories.
Rather than bragging about being the only Cuban woman working professionally as a commercial parachutist, she stresses the rigor required for all in her profession.
"Contrary to what most people think, commercial skydiving demands more preparation, experience and strength than the sports type, which is more famous and spectacular" said the experienced parachutist, with 25 years dedicated to the practice.
Four years ago she began working as a tandem skydiver for the Palmares tourist company. Diving tandem pairs a novice skydiver via a harness to an experienced skydiver who controls the jump.
"Making that sort of jump requires a lot of preparation, experience and strength, since the life of the person jumping with you - double your weight - is in your hands."
Marisol, now 42, keeps practicing sports skydiving, but she says it is not the same because "work on the beach consumes a lot of my time."
Some of the tourist areas of northern Holguín like Guardalavaca and Pesquero demand her experience. "Tourism in the area is mainly from Europe and Canada. There are a lot of people from Canada, especially those working at nearby Moa and Nicaro nickel plants, who come to these beaches.
Despite her little free time, she frequents official competitions foreign entities related to Cuba's Aviation Club participate.
She's been a member of Team Cuba for seven years and she said she's never had an accident, although "I have had emergencies like the time a new parachute's metal links were placed incorrectly and wouldn 't open." For those who like risk and an adrenaline rush, skydiving is one of the best and most benevolent sports. "You can really enjoy it." says the expert who mentioned tandem skydiving in Varadero and Ciego de Avila keys.
"If I could be born again I would do the same. To me it is to feel like a bird. I enjoy the view, the jump and teamwork. I enjoy everything about skydiving."
"I invite everyone to try it. It's an unparalleled experience"