Sorry Mom!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Monday, December 18, 2006

He Said:

Back in Victoria Falls there is a bungee jump off the bridge spanning the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. I chickened out on that one, but I'm not sure why. For some reason I have always been curious to try it and despite encouragement from Katie to give it a go, I guess at that point I lacked the nerve. Fast-forward a few months to a few days ago when we were talking to the owner of our guesthouse in Hermanus. He casually mentioned that there are a few bungees along the Garden Route, so I did a bit of research. Turns out that the jump from the Bloukrans Bridge just east of Plettenberg Bay is the highest in the world, at 708 feet! So I figured I'd never get a better chance at redemption.

We drove out there this morning and I must say it looked intimidating. A crowd regularly gathers at the side of the canyon to watching a people jump. After seeing a few drops and hearing gasps of "ohmigod!" and a variety of other statements questioning the jumper's sanity, I figured if I sat there any longer I'd talk myself out of it again. So I signed up, put it on the AMEX and figured I couldn't back out now. Katie is afraid to even go on a roller coaster so getting her to do it with me was an impossibility.  In fact, she decided not to even go out on the bridge with me figuring she'd have a freak out on my behalf. During the walk out to the jumping platform on a metal causeway with slotted flooring (that you could see the full 708 ft down to the river), I knew she had made the right decision... I was scared just looking down and seriously questioning my own sanity at actually paying to do this!

I watched a few other people get strapped in looking pale, jump off, and get winched back up with huge grins on their faces. That didn't do much to alleviate my anxiety. By the time I was strapped in, my hands were clammy, heart racing, legs shaking and was seriously afraid. All that aside, the guys running the show did nothing but inspire confidence.  They helped me hop out onto the platform, and I put my arms out and they counted down, "THREE, TWO, ONE, BUNGY!!!" and took their steadying hands away and much to my own disbelief, I actually leapt.

There was a full four-second free-fall before the bungee cord started slowing me down; I couldn't even get a scream out until after the first bounce. Five or six bounces later after I stopped swinging a guy was lowered from the bridge, he hooked a cable onto my harness and up we went. It was amazing and like no other rush I have ever felt, a combination of extreme terror, mind-bending thrill, and pure exhilaration. I'd do it again and highly recommend it to anyone, especially if you are afraid of heights!

She Said:

When we pulled into the parking lot of the bungee place, my heart nearly stopped when I saw how high the bridge was.  I honestly did not think that Todd would go through with it, and I was SHOCKED when he pulled out the credit card and handed it to the lady behind the counter.  I was so panicked about the whole thing that I thought it best not to accompany Todd on the bridge walk because I would only freak him out more.  There was a great viewing point from one of the cliffs near the bridge that I waited nervously to see my husband fling himself off the world's highest bungee jump.  However, I must say that it was a truly professional and high tech operation... 9 or 10 guys working the bungee cables on the bridge, guides to walk the jumpers out onto the bridge, people with official looking clipboards and headsets milling about, and a nice restaurant and bar with viewing area.  I thought about having a few drinks to calm my nerves while I was waiting, but it was only 9 am.

Two guys came up beside me and started chatting while watching the first of the jumpers in Todd's group.  They were saying, "Wow, these people must be crazy!" and "I bet that really hurts your back and gives you whiplash," and my favorite "I would never to that because it could give you a compression spine injury."  I finally turned around and told them to shut up and they were only making this waiting thing WORSE!!  

When Todd came up on the platform to jump, my hands started shaking so bad that I could barely take photos.  I honestly couldn't imagine what was going through his head!  I was so relieved when the bungee cord actually sent him flying back up!!  Check out the video I took of his jump... it is a bit long (1 min), so if you have a slow connection, don't even try to open it.

So we celebrated Todd's big leap by going to one of the Garden Routes' biggest tourist attractions (or traps)... "Monkeyland".  I'm really not kidding... it was located next to "Birds of Eden".  We actually paid $14 each to walk through a monkey was kind of a let down after all the big thrills earlier in the day.  The highlight was one of the tamer monkeys getting into the lobby of the place and running off with a handful of brochures from the counter!  Ha!
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