My Bungee Jumping Adventure
Last week was my daughter\’s Spring Break, and I took this opportunity to load up the minivan with my wife and daughters and drive down to central Mexico for a family vacation. Our destination was a resort called Hotel Hacienda Cola de Caballo, just south of Monterrey in Neuvo Leon. The setting that surrounds the hotel is nothing short of spectacular and the weather during our stay was ideal – cool mornings and evenings and warm afternoons, with breezes winding their way through the Sierra Madres that surrounded the hotel. Our only complaint was the overabundance of insect life – especially gnats and mosquitoes – which made sitting out on our balconies a bit of a nuisance, although the abundance of butterflies and songbirds more than made up for this inconvenience (at least for me they did; I\’m not so sure that my wife would agree!).
This hotel advertises itself as an eco-adventure destination, and although I knew that there would possibly be an opportunity to participate in bungee jumping nearby I did not realize that the facility they advertised was at the hotel itself (just above the restaurant attached to an observation deck overlooking the forest below). As one of my short term goals over the past several months has been to face my fear of heights, it was clear that this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.
Since one of my previous posts highlights my recent experience with tandem skydiving, you may be wondering \”What\’s up with this guy anyways?\” Is it midlife crisis? Is it a death wish? Well, not exactly – let\’s just say that although my current path does have elements of both of these, fundamentally what I am trying to do is explore my limits, find my boundaries and determine the extent to which I can move beyond them. Hopefully I\’ll get a chance to expand on my ultimate goal in future posts, but for the time being let\’s just say the objective of this exercise was to embrace my fear.
One of the main things that really compelled me to pursue this experience was something that was lacking in my skydiving experience – the experience of facing my fear alone. On my tandem skydive I was strapped to my instructor, and he not only controlled the parachute but also our exit from the plane and our landing. At all times he was in control, and I could rely on his expertise and experience to safely guide me through the experience. Don\’t get me wrong – it was still an exhilarating, adrenaline filled adventure! But something gnawed at me due to the fact that I was not the one that let go and made that leap into the void. And so it seemed inevitable that I would need to take the plunge and experience letting go on my own.
Now that I have had the experience of bungee jumping I must say it was completely different from my skydiving experience. I can truly say that skydiving was incredibly exhilarating, exciting, and fun – a wonderful sense of freedom and spaciousness. My experience of bungee jumping was something altogether different. For one thing, I just need to come out and admit that it was a terrifying experience – although you may not be able to tell it from the video, my legs were shaking almost uncontrollably as I was perched on the launch platform prior to jumping. My body had a very visceral reaction to the entire process. Unlike skydiving, where I was jumping from a height of about 2 miles, my bungee jump was from a height that my body could comprehend and fear – there was no question of an experience of flying . . . I would be falling! Letting go and leaping off of the platform was an incredibly intense experience (I can assure you that I screamed the whole way down!), and in some ways I am still amazed that I managed to do it. My body seemed to want to be at two places at once – safely secured to the diving platform and down on the ground below – but the one place it most definitely did not want to be was falling in between!
During the jump I had an extremely unusual experience as I fell towards the trees – when the bungee cord reached maximum extension and began to pull me back up towards the platform it felt as though a part of me (centered right below my navel) continued downwards toward the forest canopy to the ground below. Being pulled back up by the bungee cord resulted in an odd sensation of being torn in two as my \”center\” projected itself down to the ground while my body moved upwards, and this phenomenon repeated itself each time I bounced up and down. Each time that I bounced back it up it almost felt as if I was simultaneously watching myself from the ground below and the platform above – a very disquieting and disorienting sensation!
When I finally made it back up to the platform and the safety of terra firma, the first question my daughters asked was: \”Was it fun?\”
Well, no – not really. It was most definitely awesome – in the full sense of the word (bordering on awful). Despite the extreme \”body fear\” and intense anguish involved in making the leap, I certainly didn\’t regret the experience. But I could not honestly characterize it as fun, which is in some ways unusual as I could see that many of the younger people who partook of the experience most definitely were having fun – indeed, they were having a blast!!! Perhaps I just need more practice???
It took the better part of the day for me to get \”re-integrated\” after making the jump – I kept rubbing my belly just below the navel to help calm myself and ease the \”hollow\” feeling that lingered after my \”pull apart\” experience during the upward bounces. By the following morning I was fine, but I must say that the experience of letting go was much different than what I had expected.
It felt as though the whole universe held its breath as I made that leap, and the scream that followed . . . was like a supernova.