Before I went to South Africa as part of a tour, I knew there would be the opportunity to do the highest bungy jump in the world. Bungy jumping had never interested me so even before I had left, I had made up my mind that I wouldn’t participate.
On the day, the entire tour group crammed into the bus and made the trip to Bloukran’s bungy site. For those of us who weren’t jumping, there was a bar overlooking the gorge where we could cop an eyeful of our brave fellow travellers as they plunged out of sight. One after the other, they squealed and swore their way off the bridge before emerging with the biggest grins on their faces. The adrenalin was rife amongst everyone, even those of us not taking part. As those who had jumped filtered into the bar, regaling us about their experience, it was hard to justify why I hadn’t done it. It did look incredible as they soared into thin air, free falling down and down and down. I tried to answer why I hadn’t even considered taking part, but came up with a blank. The stories of the braver ones carried on throughout the bus journey back to camp and by that point, us non-jumpers were beginning to regret our decisions.
Later that evening it was decided. The next day, we would go back to the site and those of us who hadn’t jumped would do it. We were in it together, after all, what was the worse that could happen?
The next day, as the bus pulled up at Bloukran’s bungy, nerves and excitement prevented me from sitting still. I kept flitting from wanting to do it so badly, to being absolutely petrified. But, if I was going to bungy jump, why not do it from the bloody highest one in the world?! The tension was almost unbearable as we kitted up and made our way across the (very high and very see through) bridge towards the platform. As we neared, thumping dance music emitted from loud speakers placed around the bridge, riling everyone up into a manic state. By now, I just wanted to get it over with but I had to wait for my fellow travellers to disappear off the edge, before emerging the other side, blotchy and relieved. Finally, I was up.
Standing on the bridge with my toes precariously hanging over the edge is one moment I will never forget. Everything seemed sharper, more in focus. Time seemed to slow down and it was the longest five seconds of my life as the helpers counted me in to jump. Five… Four…. Three… Two… One…. Bungy! Apparently, I did one of the best dives that day, but I don’t remember it. Everything after that is a bit of a blur – sailing through the air, screaming, begging the rope to not snap. And then it was over. I emerged, deliriously happy, swearing that I would never, ever do it again. I still stick by that – once is definitely enough for a lifetime, for me at least.
The first time I watched the video back, I couldn’t believe it was me. I felt a certain kind of disconnection, not being able to equate that the person freefalling was in fact me. When I watch it back or even think about it, I still get that soaring feeling in my chest, a feeling that I don’t think will ever go. Sometimes, when I don’t want to do something, or think that I can’t, I remember that feeling and then anything seems possible (as cliched as it sounds!)
So, this is me encouraging you to do something crazy, however big or small. On the bridge before I jumped, I remember having a ‘what the hell am I doing?’ moment. Now I realise exactly what the hell I was doing!