Friday, April 18, 2008

Do not wear shoes when bungee jumping and other things...

So the story that finally got me off my fat lazy bum to blogging is this:

And just because someone seems convinced I am bila boobs, here is proof:

Bungee Jumping. That is what I was up to last Saturday simply because a small kinyangarika was celebrating their birthday and was determined to face death halfway through her existence. I basically receive an invitation to go bungee jumping, without the option of saying no. So, come Sato, I started the day with a grand plan. Which is where I had it all wrong, including the one on shoes (seriously!).

1. To eat or not to eat, that is the question.
The first plan was not to eat. The idea being that if i didn't eat I would not throw up out of sheer terror, right? WRONG! The sensation of the jump is such that your faculties are too busy panicking, "What the....#$!$#!$%$%@%", by the time your puking faculties realise that they need to kick into action, you have passed out. Or are dead.
Lesson: Eat, no, hog like it's the Last Supper. It could be!

2. Sagana is only a few hours drive from Nairobi.
Not if you are relying on the only vehicle with a speed governor in Kenya. This was not just any slow vehicle - this was the slowest. The last straw was when we were almost overtaken by a donkey-cart. We resorted to threatening mass action on the driver although much good that did us. So to pass time, we worked on the popcorn we had bought at Nakumatt on Thika road (these are so fresh and yummy). Of course, my dilemma a the time was in the fact that each mile meant a step closer And the very thought made me wanna pee every time it occured, which was continuously.
Lesson: The road to Sagana has no "pee-bushes". Carry a pee bag, the size being dependent on what choice you made in 1 above.

So, it was with a big sigh of relief....

...and a big gulp of apprehension to see these:

3. A 60 meter jump is ok, after all Zambezi is 110 meters....
...or is it? Let me break it down, remember those annoying rulers we used to have in primary school that had 12 inches one side and 30 cms on the other side and had this annoying habit of breaking in your school bag despite you carefully storing it between two A4 books? Now, imgaine lining up - and I mean, UP literally. Think of lining up 200 of them up into the sky. That's a 60 meter jump. Nope. A 60 meter jump actually looks like this:

Lesson: That picture tells only half the story. That is only 30 meters (gulp!)

4. Bungee jumps are usually off a bridge, a cliff, maybe a desk? Easy peasy stuff.
No. At Sagana, it aint so easy as walking to the edge of the cliff and jumping off. At Sagana, they get you all trussed and girded up:

then they make you climb up....

.....and up...

....and up until you get to the cage. Yes, the CAGE of no return.

Lesson: You have no one - no one but yourself to blame for your jump. At Sagana, you prove intention and determination (misplaced as it may be) to jump before you jump.

5. I can always back out.
Not if you have just climbed up 60 meters of steel on your own. Not if climbing down will take more time than swinging down. Not if you've already paid for the jump. Not if you have only 15 minutes to make up your mind. Not after you have seen someone else jump - it looks so easy. And fun!
Lesson: Do NOT approach the jump if you do not intend to jump. Put down the harness and walk away from it.

But truth be told, I am glad I did it. I was asked to describe the sensation in one word and the only one that came to mind was, "Death". Whether that's a good or a bad thing is a story for another day. One minute I was in the cave and the next I was saying stupid stuff like, "It is now or never", "Let's get this over and done with" and then my brain clicked and I realised that I was airborne. And I discovered gravity does exist. About this time terror kicked in - I know I am jumping, I know there's a chord holding me, but I can feel the wind whistling past my ears and it is whistling past so fast, I swear there's a tune somewhere there. I get a fleeting thought on the speed an asteroid falls to earth to create enough friction to ignite because I am moving fast!

I am definitely moving fast! And it's at this point that it dawns on me that the person screaming at the top of their voice - decibels so loud that those pop idols dudes might envy me - that screamer is me! So I stop screaming and start laughing and what do I hear? Bloody #$@!%$%$% They are cheering! The ones on solid ground are cheering! I am screaming in terror and they are cheering?? But maybe this is not too bad. So I start laughing. I was beginning to enjoy it after all.

Then the first jerk. That's the worst part. The jerk.
Now, see the thing is, the bungee chord is elastic. Which means you are like a yoyo. You fall then once the chord is all stretched out, you are jerked back up and of course you have to fall again. I stopped laughing after the first jerk and started yelling again. After a couple of jerks and falls, i was getting the hang of it (all pun intended) and then got alarmed about something else....yep. Don't wear shoes when bungee jumping.

My shoe was falling off. Being tossed all over the place, managed not to throw up, managed not to pee or worse. And now my shoe was about to fall several feet down and sink 15 meters into Tana River? Now how? I was screaming now, not in fear for my life, but for my shoe! And i was mad. How dare the shoe cause a blight in my perfect jump.

So the relief I felt when I was finally reeled in was more because of saving my shoe than the end of the jump. And that's when the audacity of it all struck me. Ha!

So, who's down for Rhino Charge next?