Throw yourself off a bridge

2017-07-13 06:02
The countdown begins . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . Jump! Caught up in the moment, I spread my arms and fell forwards - plunging 216m into the gorge below. Head down, feet up.   Photos:SUPPLIED

The countdown begins . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . Jump! Caught up in the moment, I spread my arms and fell forwards - plunging 216m into the gorge below. Head down, feet up. Photos:SUPPLIED

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AND another item checked from my bucket list.

When the opportunity to bungee jump at Bloukrans - the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge - came up, I did not hesitate for a moment and said ‘Yes, I do’. I don’t think I even said it so quickly at my wedding.

Arriving at the Bloukrans Bridge at the border between die Eastern Cape and the Western Cape in the Tsitsikamma, my weight and jump number are written in bold black numbers on my hand (most definitely the most traumatic part of the whole experience), before qualified operators strapped my harness on.

Then it is time for the big walk along the specially designed catwalk suspended beneath the road surface. it leads to the launch site at the top of the arch that stands at an enormous 216m. The walk alone can be absolutely terrifying for some.

Bungee!

“Next jumper!” shouts one of the operators. It’s me. The closer I get to the end of the platform, the more nervous I become. What a strange feeling: on one hand I am very excited and on the other so reluctant.

The music is going and I am asked to sit on a stool where they put my ankle straps on, tighten the padding and attach the back-up harness around my shoulders and waist.

Bloukrans Bungee uses pendulum bungee technology to ensure the smoothest, most comfortable bungee jump possible. Jumpers are secured in a full-body harness combined with an ankle connection.

They are working with deliberate speed, running through each safety check. For them, it is just another jumper, but their voices are gentle and reassuring.

“Do you ever push people over the ledge?”, I first asked nervously. Upon which Jump Master Conden Cunningham laughingly replies, “We help wherever we can.”

I waddle towards the ledge. Then I get in position . . . I can feel the butterflies in my stomach going crazy, my legs getting numb and my heart beating at a hundred kilometers an hour. Standing on the platform I look at my strapped together ankles, worried that I would jump too early.

The operator tells me to look up at the camera and smile. Smile? Me? Are you crazy? But I look up and try to look brave - without succeeding. Will my husband remember to feed the dogs if anything goes wrong?

The countdown begins . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . Jump!

The view was astonishing, but just before I jumped I thought, “What am I doing throwing myself off a perfectly good bridge?” But I was caught up in the moment, and simply spread my arms and fell forwards - plunging 216m into the gorge below. Head down, feet up.

Everything sped by in a blue-green blur.

You see the ground below. It is coming at you and it is coming fast.

Blood rushes to your head.

I thought I am not going to make it. My heart stopped beating, all the air left my lungs and it felt as if my toenails were peeling off in protest - that is until I realised that I forgot to breathe.

Then I felt the bungee pulling at my feet. It is a gentle pull that slows you as you speed towards the ground.

Then it is quiet, so peaceful and not so fast.

You keep elasticizing up and down for a while.

I look down. I look up. I look all around and yell out, “Whoo hoo - I did it.”

Before you know it, you hear the voice of one of the operators. Ready to help you back up to the bridge. For the ride back up to the platform with one of the operators, you sit upright.

The rush was amazing - a feeling of complete, adrenaline-induced euphoria. Absolutely awesome.

I felt liberated. I felt freed from all my daily problems, my fears and my stress.

I would highly recommend it to anyone else. You get such a rush of pride and accomplishment. And a certificate for future bragging rights.

The operators on the day were Conden Cunningham (Jump Master), Ronwin Munnik (Supervisor), Juhandré Primo (Supervisor), Elvis Jacobs (Supervisor) and Athenkosi Maputi (photos operator).

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