Flying while Crip: Bungee Jumping

Posted by Jay in Travel on November 20th, 2015

I have always had a thirst for adventures, pushing myself to the limit and seeing how far I could possibly go. Unfortunately, the ridiculous expensiveness of living in London meant that I was unable to do any of the scary and potentially dangerous things I wanted to, until now. I went to South Africa for 3 weeks recently and I had planned on ticking a few items off my bucket list.

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From the very first time I saw it being done, I have always wanted to go bungee jumping. It looked terrifying and exciting in equal measures, and I just had to be a part of it. A fear that had kept me from doing it for so long was the issue with my back. As I have scoliosis as well as polio, I was worried about the effect it could have on my back and my spine. Being the genius that I am, I didn’t bother to check with a medical professional before I headed off.

I figured that I would wing it, like I had done with most things in my life. If the operators of the jump thought that I would not be able to do it, then fine. But I didn’t want to be disappointed until it was inevitable. I had booked a Garden Route tour and one of the stops was at the famous Bloukrans Bridge and the jumps are operated by Face Adrenalin. Our tour guide called beforehand to check if I was allowed to jump and they gave the go ahead. Apparently, they have had many disabled people do the jump, and the oldest person to complete the jump was 96 years old! 

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 The bridge of DOOM.

The bridge is located in Tsitsikamma between the Western and Eastern Capes, so there was plenty of amazing scenery to be enjoyed. However, driving towards the location made my plan real, a little too real. While I was staying in Cape Town I had been fantasising about soaring across the air like Pocahontas did in the Disney film…at least before the white people did what they did. But I digress. In my mind, it would be wonderful and amazing all at the same time. This all changed when I was getting out of the tour bus and my mind started racing. What the hell was I about to do?! Just go off a bridge with nobody’s life being at stake, of my own free will. And paying for it, too! I had gone from Zulu warrior to Zulu chicken, to regular chicken. I was petrified. 

It was at this moment that I started having an internal dialogue, one side trying to make the other side jump off a bridge. It got very loud in there. But I decided to vag up [no, not man up!] and just do it. You only live once, etc. I had gotten myself signed up, and would be doing the jump at the same time as a German girl from our group, we were going to be the last jumpers of the day. I was jumper 101 and she was 102.  Indemnity forms were filled in, payment made and then I was weighed. I made sure to stress to the lady doing the weighing that my leg brace was impossibly heavy just before I got on the scale. As though I could make myself slimmer through my words, and thus glide easily. I was willing to try anything at that point.

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Don’t let the smile fool you, I was shitting bricks…

I was harnessed up by a lovely gentleman called Marlon, who distracted me with idle chitchat. Then I needed to pee, or I used that as a delaying tactic, I am not quite sure. Getting to the bathroom I gave myself a quick pep talk, “Come on Jay, you can do this. COME ON!”. I, of course, had the toilets to myself otherwise that would just be weird. Coming back out, I was re-harnessed and went over to look at the bridge once more. It had somehow gotten scarier. But there was no turning back, I had already paid and been harnessed twice. It was go time.

Myself and the German girl walked with a delightful fellow called Pervus. He assured us that he was not a pervert, but the conversation that followed indicated otherwise. This was fine though, as it kept my mind off my impending doom. Walking towards the first part of the bridge I saw a couple of guys that I had seen from a hostel we stayed in, aptly named Tsitsikamma Backpackers. Seeing them gave me a slight reassurance that I may make it out alive. You have to cross a long open gapped bridge before you arrive at the jump zone. Being able to see what was waiting for me below was not what I needed. It was quite chilly that day so it felt like at any moment I could just be blown away.

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 But I can’t pass up an opportunity for a cute photo

Continuing the inane conversation, we reached the jump zone. My calliper came off, I was relieved of my crutches and further harnesses and links were attached to me. There really was no going back at this point. I had Pervus to my right, and a lovely fellow named Robin to my left talking me through it. And this is when I started bargaining, maybe I could just leave the money as a donation. The cool breeze blowing in my face woke me up to what I was actually about to do. No way in hell was I just going to “jump off”. I stalled for as long as I could, but I started feeling their arms nudging me forward, I was starting to sweat and made them promise they wouldn’t push me, they agreed.

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 The fear was definitely setting in

I looked nervously up at the camera, trying to seem brave and tough but failing horribly. I was about to ask them about their plans for the weekend, and that’s when it happened…they pushed me off. I immediately shut my eyes and felt my stomach go out through my feet. You know that feeling you get when you’re falling in your sleep but you wake up right at the last possible second? Well, imagine that, and then when you open your eyes a couple of seconds later, you’re still falling. I screamed my little heart out. FUCK, SHIT, SHIT, FUCK, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD.

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 Superman makes it look so easy!

I looked down and I just saw green and water, nothing else. And then my thoughts quickly went to my poor mother in London, going about her day, not knowing her baby girl had signed up to go over a bridge. I get yanked back by the rope and continue screaming, I can feel the cold air on my feet as I start going back down again. It was like a never ending rollercoaster that kept giving and taking my stomach back, I couldn’t stop swearing. I get pulled up again but this time it’s gentler, and I hold onto the rope for dear life.

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 I had literally let go and let God.

I am definitely alive but I am now swinging in the breeze. I can feel my heart pounding through my ears and through my butt, everything was a blur. The rope is spinning a bit so I get to look around at the scenery, it’s actually quite beautiful once you have stopped going through your very imaginative list of curse words. I hear someone above me and look up to one of the workers in a bright red coat coming down for me. My saviour.

Even though I knew I was alive, I was still dangling out underneath a bridge and would not feel completely secure until I could feel the cold concrete beneath my bare feet. As he lowers down to me, I cling onto him and then the verbal diarrhoea ensued. I told him that I was going to tell him my life story, from Nigeria, to polio, to London, to right there at that very moment. I needed him to preserve my legacy in case I didn’t make it. He laughed at my sheer horror and overreaction but listened, we were together for less than a minute but I managed to get through a good chunk of my life.

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 The joy of being alive

We got back onto the bridge and I finally felt safe, I had done it. I had bungee jumped, well I had been bungee pushed, but it still totally counts! From then on, I couldn’t stop talking. This is a thing that I have when I am incredibly nervous. It was still pretty windy but I felt bolder, tougher. I had upgraded myself to the status of Zulu chicken. Getting my calliper back on, we walked back to the main waiting area. The open gapped bridge no longer scared me, I looked straight down and was actually able to appreciate and take in the beauty of my surroundings.

My luck being what it is, somehow my left crutches went through one of the gaps. My breath was caught in my throat, I had survived the bungee jump only to be faltered by the wide gapped bridge?! Thankfully, I was able to get my crutch back without losing the rubber at the bottom. As the replacement was back in the hostel that we were far away from. With that crisis averted, I was able to ramble on without a care in the world. As though I hadn’t just been pushed off a bridge moments earlier…

Although, had they not pushed me off, we would have been there all night. There was no way in hell that I was going to chuck myself off, I like being alive too much. I even tried to use my payment as a donation, anything to keep me from having to face up to my fears. But they had to do what they did, we were the last jumpers before they could go home. And my fear was not getting them back to their apartments any quicker! It was the necessary push for the good of the team, and I’m glad they did.

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I am certainly glad that I was able to tick that off my bucket list, and I am so happy that my disability didn’t prevent me from doing it. Even though I won’t be in a hurry to do that again, it would have hurt to watch someone else do it and not be able to join in. If I was ever to bungee jump again, it’s probably because it’s the only way to save my parents or Gotham City or something crazy like that!

These are the photos that I captured from the video I bought, I went from nervous, to bargaining with kisses to just being straight up scared at the very moment they push me off the ledge!

Nervous Kiss Kiss2   Scared

Have any of you been on any crazy adventures lately? Ever been shoved off because your bungee lacked the jump element? Or have you done the jump off Bloukrans Bridge as well? Tell me I’m not the only one!

8 Responses

  1. I LOVE adventure so I’m always looking for an excuse to try something scary. I love how you don’t let anything stop you. I really enjoyed reading this post.
    nomadicmichelle recently posted…5 Must DO adventures in MpumalangaMy Profile

  2. […] Africa last month, I wanted to tick as many items off my bucket list as I could. Having already bungee jumped off a bridge earlier on during my trip, I decided to try my hand at shark cage diving. I have always been a big […]

  3. Jenn says:

    Wow, I don’t think I would have even been able to get off the tour bus. Not after seeing how high that bridge is!!! Very cool that you can now tick that off your bucket list.

  4. sarah says:

    You rock girl!!!!! Keep on living life to the fullest :)
    sarah recently posted…How to Get a Sak Yant Bamboo Tattoo in ThailandMy Profile

  5. […] Stellenbosch and taking in all they had to offer was truly amazing. It was along this route that I jumped off a bridge and held a […]

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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