A finger jabs me in the sternum: “Stop. Jab. Crying. Jab.”
My fear turns to anger. I do not like being jabbed and the crying is so involuntary that I have to hold my breath to stop. This same finger will soon push me off the bridge. I have an irrational and inexplicable fear of heights and have tried everything to overcome it. Jumped tandem out of a plane at 10 thousand feet with a 60 second free fall before the parachute opened. Rappelled down a cliff with a 60 meter free fall next to a thundering waterfall in Oribi Gorge, South Africa. Went hot air ballooning. Flew tandem in a flex wing trike. Did a zipline course high in the trees of Antigua. Did a rope course with my husband and son in the tree tops of Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada, but this jump was the worst ever and I have since given up trying to overcome the fear.
We’re staying at a gorgeous lodge in Zimbabwe where the food is authentically African and the wild animals roam around free in the gardens. It was another iron butt bike ride, crossing the border from Botswana into Zimbabwe. We walked across the border from Zimbabwe into Zambia to go and do a bungee jump from the Victoria Falls bridge overlooking the raging river below. We were supposed to go white water rafting, but there were floods up at the river’s source and the river was a raging torrent. The white water outfitters weren’t operating, so we opted for the bungee. This is the highest commercial bungee site in the world and the bird’s eye view from the bridge is spectacular and so frightening that it takes my breath away.
They secure all the ropes and protective sponges around our ankles. I want to go first, because if I see my husband jump, I will immediately chicken out and I just want to get this over with. This was after all, on my bucket list of things to do before I die. Everything’s tied and I have to bunny hop to the edge where I put my arms out crucifixion style and close my eyes. This might be my last day on earth. What was I thinking? Before I can think any further, the finger jabs me between the shoulder blades and I fall over the edge. I am not a screamer, but the air pushes out of my lungs, out of my throat, out of my lips in a blood-curdling scream that leaves me hoarse for days. The rope pulls tight around my ankles and whips me up into a standing position in mid-air. This must be over now, but it is not. I fall forward again. This time my eyes are open and the raging river beneath me looks like it is going to meet me head on. It doesn’t, because I’m whipped back up again into the weird mid-air standing position. “Oh dear Lord,” I pray. “Please make this stop. I don’t think I can take another fall.” I fall again and I take it. This time when I whip upright, there is someone next to me. They winched down a recovery person that wraps his hands around my waist. I cling to him like my life depends on it and for the first time, I understand how someone on the edge of drowning panics and could potentially drown their rescuer, but it is only air that surrounds me and my rescuer is safe. They winch the both of us back up to the bridge. My legs feel like Jell-O and I hyperventilate for a few seconds. I sit down on the little metal bench, refusing to look down. Someone asks: “Would you like to go again?” “Are you !@#$%^ kidding?!!”
There are many people who enjoy this experience and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Each to his own. I’m not sorry that I experienced this, but I will never attempt it again and have since made peace with the fact that I will fear heights for the remainder of my life.
At a later point, we take our son to Oribi Gorge to go and do a gorge swing. “Why don’t you do a swing with me,” he asks.
“There’s not enough money in the world that will make me do something like this again,” I replied and we went to lunch. Food is a better adventure!
This week I’m focusing a little more on healthy nutrition. Take a look at the Healthy Nutrition section of this blog. Today’s recipe is a toad in the hole with a difference. Tomorrow will be a fragrant and nutritious low fat Lebanese potato salad and who knows what the rest of the week will bring along the lines of interesting healthy recipes, so be prepared for some healthy cooking until Friday.
Also take a look under the Foreign Lands section for a link on Segovia