Head First Into The Smoke That Thunders
Bungee jumping is like marriage, a binding commitment and not to be entered into hastily. Just ask that lass from Down Under following her unforeseen plunge into the Zambezi River. I’m thrilled she escaped largely unscathed despite the poor girl’s seriously bruised anatomy resembling an etched map of the Sahara.
Her disturbing experience sent my mind reeling to a jaunty tale back in 2000. The day when I upped my cautious innocuous lifestyle from a quivering mass of indecision to one of reckless transgression all for the sake of a handsome certificate.
Victoria falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the grandeur of the Zambezi River spanning more than a mile along the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.
Every year 50,000 people throw themselves off the world’s largest sheet of falling water roughly twice the height of Niagara Falls with elastic attached to their feet. A sentence which sounds worse when you say it out loud.
My preparation for this coup was complete with a few nervous sips of heaven in a bottle. Yet despite the bravado, it wasn’t long before my anxiety allergies kicked in. Starry-eyed and reeking of vulnerability, I summoned what little strength remained in a bid to disregard the unconscionable fear frothing on the inside. Hovering 111-meters above the water’s edge I longed for the days before I lost my once self-respecting mind.
The next few minutes were a blur as I zigzagged my way towards the fringe on a tiny platform of certain doom. In the background, pom-pom shaking locals were either toying with my melancholic psyche or spreading goodwill, hard to say which. My curiously pale mother signalled her final thumbs up, more in hope than expectation, or so it seemed. There are only so many times you can ask a bungee chief how firmly he has fastened my ankles or secured the rope. Along the bridge fellow senseless jumpers formed an orderly queue. The cash tills rung out.
And just like that final instructions were bellowed thick and fast. “Look left for the camera, look right for the video, five four three two one … BUNGI.” And with that I hurled my delicate features teeth first towards the mighty Zambezi. A piercing medley of shrieks and shrills ensued which threatened to peel the enamel from dentally challenged reptiles consorting upstream.
Fortunately the rope never reached its breaking point and instead I shot up up towards the bridge several times over before bobbing to a gentle halt suspended upside down. As I began to scour the valley for signs of life, a delightful young man arrived. Relieved, I wrapped my arms firmly around him as he winched me back to where it all began.
Overwhelming, mind-blowing, breathtaking, dreamlike, surreal and just a little bit chilling. I’m not sure which one word best describes the experience, but when you find the answer, just hit the buzzer.