So, one day a few years ago I made a pact with myself. A pretty simple pact that made me feel physically ill every time I thought about it…
“Before I turn 30 I will bungee jump”
I didn’t really tell anyone about this, nor did I feel I really needed to. I was 25 at the time and 30 seemed a long way off. It’s amazing how time flies, here we are in 2017 and my 30th birthday is only 5 months away!
I had food poisoning on the Saturday evening (as you may have read from my last post), managed to go mountain biking on the Sunday morning, napped for 5 hours on the Sunday afternoon to recover and had just crawled out of bed to eat something. In my feeble attempt to catch up on what had been going on with my travel buddies I saw that a few were going to go bungee jumping…in two days time.
I thought about it for a while. A long while. Deep down I knew I would do it. But by god I fought it.
I weighed up the pros and cons…
Pros – I was yet to turn 30, I wouldn’t have much time to think about it, I would feel great afterwards.
Cons – it is dangerous, the most common injury from bungee jumping was retinal detachment (I value my eyesight), I am not that flexible so this could throw my back out, Sofia is not a bungee hot spot nor known for safety, people don’t bungee jump on a Tuesday, this would be right over lunch, the planets were not aligned, I would have to delay my catchup on Game of Thrones…the list went on and on.
Nevertheless, in what can only be described as an out of body experience, I watched myself sign up on Monday for the jump the next day. In the time between agreeing to jump and actually jumping it was amazing the amount of aches and pains I felt, thus adding to my cons list. My neck felt really stiff, my lower back was not feeling great and my left hamstring was super sore. I had no choice but to pull out the sports massage cream and kneed it out.
The night before the jump I was walking home looking up at various buildings, trying to judge their height, trying to assess how high 62 metres was, but how could I possibly prepare for this when I felt so safe on the ground. I found myself standing in the street, putting my arms out to my side and pretending to fall, stopping myself by stepping forward at the last moment (yes, I know it is weird but hey, that is what happened!).
I tried to channel thoughts about flying and landing safely. One song that worked for me was by Simply Red called Stars. I have always loved this song and somehow when I sang the most famous lyrics to myself, I was comforted.
“I want to fall from the stars…straight into your arms”
So I’m a romantic, shoot me!
Lets not forget, this was a quick turnaround. Sick on Saturday, read about jumping on Sunday, sign up on Monday, bungee Tuesday. I am not sure I could ever truly articulate the way I was feeling while thinking about jumping the day before or while we were heading out in our van to the bridge to jump. It was an hour-and-a-half to get there so I had plenty of time to think about it. I might have put on a brave face however I was feeling anything but!
My trepidation was further exacerbated when I saw the setup of the bungee. Part of a dual lane highway going over a bridge was cordoned off with witches’ hats. A small pulley system was setup on the side of the road to winch us back up after the jump. The bungee cord was looking a little frayed and attached directly to the guard rail on the bridge. I knew that this rail was designed to withstand a car hitting it at high speed but for some reason this particular part of the setup was making me nervous.
One of us had to go first, turned out it would be me. My initial plan was to go second so I could have one of my fellow jumpers “test” the cord. Alas, this was not to be and my macho façade had to step up to the plate and get me ready to go, while my petrified inner-self was mortified to be dragged along for the ride.
One of the, what I felt, more considerate things I did just before I jumped was to get onto WhatsApp and send a simple yet powerful message to my family saying “I love you guys”. If I was going out, that was going to be my last text, I could deal with that.
I was then strapped up and ready to go. Our bungee “instructor” gave me the brief of what I needed to do. Basically, jump and then put my hands behind my head for the first bounce. He gave me a countdown of a very quick 3, 2, 1 and…
I didn’t jump. I paused…
It is the weirdest feeling ever to be voluntarily lifted over the side of a bridge and stand there looking out over the precipice with nothing in your way but clean, crisp, Bulgarian mountain air. Completely exposed, panicked, yet clear. There was only one thing to do…
I took a breath, looked at the trees below and imagined they were big green cushions…
Counted myself down…
And flew. Well “flew” might be a little bit of a stretch. More like fell.
It was amazing.
I felt the pull of that cord and then bounced a few more times. The rush of free fall, even for a few seconds is just indescribable. Total cliché but nevertheless, true! I looked out across the fields I was hanging over and was super happy to be alive and have completed a tough, tough, tough goal of mine.
Everything was in-tact! I hooked myself onto the cable to winch me back to the bridge and that was that. I then got back onto WhatsApp and let my family know that I just bungee jumped (only my older sister Claudia knew I was doing it!). Sorry mum!
I then focussed on pumping some great tunes and spreading good vibes for my friends who were jumping. All of whom absolutely nailed it!
Geraldine was second cab off the rank and jumped like a pro. No nonsense, got it done even though she said she was shitting herself (cagada)! Sangeeta said on the way to the jump that she might actually need a push to get over the edge. True to her word she needed one, and I was there to help out. When was the last time you could say that you actually pushed someone off a bridge…and they lived? Rachel was nervous like the rest of us but flew like an eagle! Eric (MY BOY!!) confronted his intense fear of heights and jumped like a true legend! Seriously inspiring. And Ryan, what can I say about Ryan, he was cool as a cucumber, attempting classic “white boy” moon walks before swan diving off the edge.
On the way back home we all felt that if we could do that, we could do anything. And with what I saw on that day, there is no reason to think otherwise!
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