It’s true, when I was younger, I was fearless. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t courageous or brave, just fearless. There’s a difference. When it came to the physical world, I respected very little in terms of limits. I once dropped 25 feet, barefoot onto a concrete tennis court. I was about 13. It was a spur of the moment thing. I sat and looked down for a good 5 minutes and said, I’m doing this and just stepped off the wall. The landing was so insanely shocking that I thought I was paralyzed. I dropped straight down and ended up in a crouching position in so much pain that I literally could not think or move for a couple minutes. Nothing worked. Not a single fiber was functional. I couldn’t even drop to one side. I stayed in a crouched position until the pain subsided and my body could reboot. That wasn’t smart, I know. But I was curious and there wasn’t an ounce of fear. But that was a long time ago. I’ve passed forty now and well, things just aren’t the same.
My relationship with pain and limits has certainly changed, much to my dismay. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate accepting limits, especially physical ones, but I also can’t deny there’s been a change in the relationship. Where I once loved the sensation of being high off the ground, today, I feel a strange discomfort and I dare say a sense of vertigo. But I refuse to accept it and still force myself into those situations. So, I was once fearless, but today I’m much more courageous. I wish I didn’t have to be though. I’d much rather have that sense of confidence and curiosity I once had. I might not live very long, but it would feel much better to walk through life with that sense of strength. I guess I just have to settle for the lousy courage bit.
So, this brings me to Monteverde, Costa Rica. The location of the highest bungee jump in Latin America, according to the shop that provides the service. Extremo Park offers ziplining through the cloud forest, a tarzan swing and of course, the highest bungee jump around ($60 USD). The truth is, I have always wanted to bungee jump. I just never had the chance or the funds. But, I was there and I couldn’t imagine not trying out the highest bungee jump in Latin America, so I booked it. The day before, I had done a good bit of ziplining. I booked with Aventura ($45 USD) and got a good couple hours of sliding down metal wires in harnesses through a lush mountainous forest. It was beautiful. And with a bit of mist, it really felt like something special. But let me be honest here, there were a couple lines that were intimidating. Being a couple hundred feet up and trusting that all the gear is well maintained, having your life in the hands of others that way, is disconcerting. But as uncomfortable as the ziplines were at times, it didn’t take long to get over it. And towards the end of the lil adrenaline tinged adventure, was the MegaTarzan swing. At 30-40 meters, (don’t quote me on that), you’d think it’d be a piece of cake. Well, like I said, I’m just not fearless anymore. You get to the edge, harness up, hold onto a rope and you’re supposed to just jump off the ledge. Wait, what? Why?
Let me tell you, that drop, was surprisingly terrifying. I didn’t expect it. Don’t get me wrong, looking down 30 meters or so, is not for the faint of heart, but let’s face it, it’s also not a big deal. Come on, 30 meters, 40? So what? But falling 30 meters, well that’s a whole other ballgame. I truly was shocked at how intense it was. And then the rope tightens and you swing to the other side, then, they give the rope slack and you fall another few meters while you swing back. Just those few meters, when you’re suspended by a rope, are quite uncomfortable. How the hell would I manage a bungee jump of 140 meters, and rely on a bunch or rubber bands to ensure my survival? Well, whatever. I’m doing it. So I signed up that day and paid for the next day’s bungee jump, my first.
I was nervous. I won’t lie. I wish I could say I was chill as ice, but I was nervous on the way there. I mean, even in the freaking bus to the location. I don’t think it showed, but ya, I knew I was doing something my body simply wasn’t going to be happy with. But, that not accepting limits thing, well, that wasn’t letting me back down. Alright, so you gotta do the drill, listen to some instructions, get your gear on, and interact with some other stupid folks like yourself who are paying money to do something that has absolutely no place in a creature’s life. I did all that. Exchanged some awkward smiles with some others and walked to the scene of the soon to be multiple crimes. On the way, I chatted with a few people, one was a dude who had jumped many times before, another was a kid about 15 who was doing it for the first time and was literally trembling, and then your average first-timers like myself who you could tell could not remember for the life of them why they were doing this. I was in that group. What exactly was my objective here?
Alright, so it’s time to get on. Get on? Ya, so, here’s the deal. It’s not a bridge, or a ledge, it’s a freaking cable car perched precariously on 2 steel cables that extend across this massive valley. Woah. I didn’t sign up for this. Push me off a bridge, fine, but it’s cold, it’s super windy and you want me to get on this thing? Alright, suck it up. Suck it up. I approach. I put one foot on the car and the thing moves under my weight. Great. Just what I needed. Fine, keep going. We’re all on, and the button is pressed to winch our way out into the void, the middle of the valley, some 400+ feet in the air. Now, the wind, ya, well, the wind is howling. The freaking car is swaying on these 2 little cables and every swing throws my heart into my throat. I’m not the only one. Aside from the 2 guys working the car and bungee apparatus, we’re all looking at each other with uneasy eyes. I mean even the dude who’s jumped like 30 times is noticeably nervous. He’s never done this before he says. What? You serious? Ok, suck it up Sasha. People have been doing this particular jump for years. The car stops. Ok, so… who’s going first? I want to say me. I want to be that guy, but the words just won’t come out. And, to my surprise, the kid whose shaking is almost tearing him to pieces volunteers to go first. Impressive. Ok, let’s see. I’m convinced of the 4 of us on this car, at least 2 won’t do it. That means, the kid and, uh, hell, probably me. Kid gets strapped in, moves to the edge, gets last minute instructions and fucking jumps. WOW!. Ya, by now, I’m trembling too and I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m so insanely cold or I’m understandably freaking out. Either way, it’s time to get this done right?
Ok, they winch the kid up, he’s alive. Phew. My turn? Ya, my turn. Let’s do it I say. I stand up, I move closer to the middle of the car while it swings beneath me. I get fitted with the helmet, the rest of the harness gear. I get locked in to the rubber bands (they’re rubber bands, get over it! Ugh fine, bungee cord), and now I need to move to the opening. I’m playing it cool, but my heart has other ideas. I look down, as though I had forgotten how morornically high off the ground we were and my heart skips a beat. Wait, wait, wait. What am I doing? Where am I? What’s this about jumping into a valley for no reason? Are you kidding? I’ve paid for this? Sorry, my mind hasn’t been working very well lately. I have lapses. I didn’t mean to book anything of the sort. Thanks but uh, can we go back now? Ya, this is stupid. That last sentence I did say out loud, and in fact, repeatedly. This is fucking stupid. But as I speak those words I still approach the edge. It’s all or nothing. Ok, says the dude running the show. I count to 5 and you jump.
No. I’m not going anywhere. You messed up putting me on this car. I’m no 15 year old. You got the wrong guy. “ONE” Dude, sorry, but this isn’t happening. “TWO” How do I unstrap this thing? “THREE” Ok, now stop counting cause I’ve made up my mind, I’m indeed not a moron. “FOUR” Ya, it’s not happening. There is NO WAY IN HELL I’m leaving this platform. “FIIII….” I fucking jump. I didn’t just lurch or step off, I didn’t hop and then turn around to try to catch the ledge before it was too late. I jumped head first! And as soon as I did, I could NOT believe what I had just done. I swear to you, while on that ledge I KNEW I wouldn’t jump. I mean, I literally could not fathom the prospect of jumping. It made absolutely no logical sense to me whatsoever. I had spent the last 30 seconds cursing out loud and now I was cursing at the top of my lungs as my body got dragged down by the force of gravity. I was falling and cursing. I mean cursing. Now I just had to wait to see if the stupid rubber bands would work. Then, my fall started to tighten and then snap back and as though things weren’t scary enough, somehow flying upwards and knowing I would be falling again, was even worse. Pull with your legs when the bungee cord tightens they said and you’ll get a higher rebound. I did. How was I making things worse in the midst of all this? How was my brain even able to remember or better yet process any information? But it was. I pulled with my legs and got a great rebound and then, I was falling again. Uh, ok. Alright, worst is over right? Well, ya, but it’s not over. The wind has kicked in again and I’m hanging upside down, in the middle of a valley, trying to find and hook up this lead wire so they can winch me up and now the wind has me spinning like a top. Blood has full-on found a comfy home in my head and I’m getting dizzy but I still need to do work. I’m paying for this?
Well, it wasn’t too bad. Got hooked up and they winching me and now I can start to relax, but not really cause, well, remember I said I get uncomfortable with heights nowadays. Well, my body ain’t happy. But I’m a fighter. I’m a fighter. I survive it all, get back onto the swaying car, which is no less sway-y. But hey, I survived that, so I should be ok. Let’s move on. I’ve bungee jumped for the first time. It lasted all but 2 seconds but I’ve done it, and I’m not a death statistic and you know what, IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME. I’m so doing it again, but I know, I KNOW, I’ll go through the same exact process all over again. So, no, I’m not fearless. Not anymore, and I might not even be courageous, I’m probably more of a combination of stupid and stubborn. Ya, that sounds more apt.
After all that bitching, if you still don’t believe I did it, I have video proof. Have a look at the album.