It all started over a couple of beers in the bar, with some testosterone and peer pressure thrown in for good measure. We met a bunch of other travellers – most much younger than I and the discussion turned to what to do the next day. I bantered with the group, and it appeared everyone was keen to leap off a perfectly good bridge with a piece of elastic strapped to their legs. I put aside the internal unease, and suggested that I could probably make myself do that, as Bungee Jumping was on my bucket list.
In the morning we all brushed off the hangovers (some easier then others) and took the bus to the famous Victoria Bridge over the Zambezi river. The gentleman from the adventure company was easygoing, and did not have difficulty suggesting we were all capable of this – even the old guy. I enthusiastically (stupidly?) agreed, and whipped out my wallet to confirm the transaction. I noted that they had scribbled our weight on our arms, and I noticed mine was 10Kg heavier than most of our group. I figured 10+ years, and 10+ kg should be no problem for a 100 year old bridge, in Zimbabwe!
We completed the ‘pre screen’ of how everything would work, and we trooped out onto the bridge. I met the ‘wild man’ who would actually help us jump, and I was struck by how calming a huge dreadlocked dude with sunglasses could be. Although I was the oldest, I was not brave enough to go first and had no problem letting a young woman 10+ years younger than I test the engineering of the elastic/towel combo. Clearly chivalry isn’t dead. Soon it was my turn to leap from the comfort and safety of the bridge.
The view looking downstream of the Zambezi River from the edge of the jumping platform was magnificent. Unfortunately, I could only focus upon what would certainly be the last few moments of my existence on this planet. Wild Man told me to “Jump for the cable as hard as you can” and I sprang into action like a cannon ball. I fired off the platform, and managed to keep my arms in ‘flying’ position while these thoughts flew through my brain: “What the hell are you doing?” “Are you aware that you just leapt off a perfectly good bridge with an elastic tied to your ankles?” and “OK you have done some really dumb things in your life, but this takes the cake!”
Moments later I felt the gentle tug of the bungee and was shooting back ‘up’ towards the bridge. It was at this moment when I recall my voice working. I would like to believe it was the triumphant yell of conquering my inner fears but in all probability it was likely terrified screaming!
All too soon, I was being winched up to the bridge and I am sure my grin was wider than my face.
The experience reinforced for me that you don’t teach old dogs new tricks, you just have the old dogs do the tricks!