Jinja: Face Your Fears Day
Sep 11, 2011
|Bungee Jump Photos
Waking up to a full day in one place (and a gorgeous one at that), not having to do anything but what we planned for ourselves for an entire day, I was stoked!
We had a multitude of fun activities (note: ACTIVE) to choose from that had been explained to us the day before. We had the option to bungee jump, white water raft, horseback ride, extreme boat ride, kayak, quad bike…you name it and you could have done it. A welcome break from the truck, game drives and city tours, or at least I thought it was…
My enthusiasm for the day was not shared by the majority of the tour group as many opted to do nothing “active” and instead watched the rugby, surfed the net, walked to town and shopped for souvenirs. I’ll admit that I had a hard time understanding their choices but to each their own.
I was disappointed that I could only manage to fit in two of the available options and would have loved a second free day to do more (although my wallet would not have been as happy with that).
When I originally read the trip notes for this tour and saw our options I made up my mind instantly that I’d be rafting. I seem to have a rafting adventure on every trip I take so couldn’t change that now. The thought does cross your mind that maybe you should try something different but then I remember that every time I raft it is better than the last and what if this one is fantastic and I pass it up?
So when the guide asked for a show of hands for who was interested in a full day on the water, I didn’t hesitate my hand was up high in the air and only with two other people – Chip & Kory.
Next up was chatting with the guide to make sure that I could both bungee jump and raft in the same day, I could but I would have to jump first thing in the morning before rafting. Done deal Canadian boy, make the call then you can get back to the American girl My original reasoning for wanting to bungee jump was that I have a fear of heights and this is facing that fear head on. However my reason for wanting to jump changed recently during a visit from some of our American family when I logged onto to facebook to find a photo of my Mother bungee jumping in Whistler.
Years and years ago when I worked at the local fair (Pacific National Exhibition) they brought in a bungee jump that you could do. It was a large crane and there was a pool of water on the ground below. Not exactly the beautiful setting of many bungee jumps these days but it was a new thing back then. I said I’d like to do it and some of my girl friends called my Mother and asked if they could get me a jump for my birthday (my birthday always falls during the fair). They received a very strict NO from my Mum and that was that. My mother’s fear being that you’d severely injure your back or neck.
Now here we were about 20 years later and I still had not bungee jumped, in part because of how vocal my Mother’s objection was. So you can imagine the shock I was in to see that she had done it. I made up my mind then and there that my next opportunity, I’d be jumping. Well here I was…
I hesitated briefly at breakfast, not sure whether I should eat too much of the eggs, toast and beans but knowing that I’d need energy for the rafting and the probability of vomiting while bungee jumping was low, I still had a regular meal. As people who know me will attest to, I do not like having an audience so even though I knew it was impossible to jump without people knowing, I didn’t talk about the jump at breakfast.
I headed down to the bar and rafting desk to sign my waiver and pay the money and my jump almost got cancelled. The ‘bungee master” was not there yet and the guide who had booked it for me was not to be seen either but Josh, my Canadian rafting guide would not hear of it and got on the phone then proceeded to weigh me and brand me with my shameful 64 kilos (the overland truck 15!).
There was nothing left to do but wait for the Bungee master – Tony to show up and take me up to the platform. This jump didn’t actually seem all that high or scary (I believe my Mom’s was 53m and Chip & Jess would head to Cape Town and jump over 200m). This was only a 44m jump, just a baby jump.
Tony is originally from Zimbabwe and had a soothing sexy accent that helped a lot when my toes were hanging off the edge and he was talking quietly in my ear distracting me from what I was about to do.
The walk to the tower and then up all the flights of stairs to the platform seemed long and I could feel my palms getting sweaty and my body begin to shake slightly. They walk you down and while still on the walkway they put you in a harness and clip you to a safety rope. From there they walk you over to a chair (wood throne type chair with monkeys carved in it) and they put harness around your ankles while explaining to you all the safety measures put in place.
Once my feet were wrapped up, Tony walked over sat next to me and started to give me my instructions. I’d have to stand up and hop my way to the rope blocking the jumping platform, hold onto the rail and duck under the rope and then shuffle my feet so that my toes were over the edge. Grab hold of the yellow bar above me (and can I just pause to say that no way anyone shorter than me would be able to reach the yellow bar) then slowly let go of the bar and stand on the edge with my hands at my side (HA! Was he serious?).
But as you do in these situations, on his direction I did exactly what he told me to do, except that he told me not to look down and I of course did. All I could see were all the people at the railing of the bar with their cameras watching and waiting for my plunge. That freaked me out more than the height.
“Okay see the green roof? Pretend that is a pool and you want to do a belly flop in the pool”. So here’s the thing Tony…I’m not really the type of girl that purposely does belly flops in a pool.
I was so consumed with fear and concern over my take off that I’m not sure I even realized where I was or what I was doing. All that was going through my mind was – do I remember how to dive? Then 3-2-1 and off I went. The photos and video seem to show that my jump was actually quite good and my kind tour leader Kevin patted me on the back later that evening telling me that it was the best one he’d seen (and no comments from the peanut gallery that he may not have been being 100% honest).
Once my feet left the platform and my body just automatically dove then all of a sudden I was falling head first towards the water below and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized what I did. I just jumped off that platform…what a freakin’ idiot! But then I started to feel the tug of the bungee and I realized I was safe so took a bit of a breath and may even have smiled a bit…then SPLASH! My hands, arms and head were in the river …then bounce, bounce, bounce until the guys waiting below in the raft were able to hand the end of a paddle to me and lower me into the boat.
It was a long walk back up from the river over rocks and mud in my bare feet to the base of the tower where Tony was waiting with a handshake and a “I think that was a perfect jump, you touched yes?”. Uh yeah I touched, can’t you tell by the wet ponytail?
I had about a minute to get some congratulations, pick up my bag, get my camera back from Kory then we were whisked off to the waiting car to head to rafting. I was sure the scariest part of my day was behind me now.
It was only a short ride to the river where we would start our rafting trip. In the end after much consideration, Rookie decided to join Kory, Chip and myself for the day and we were meeting some others that would be coming with us at the starting point. When we arrived there was a couple from Germany and five Asian girls that are in Uganda volunteering. Our guide took one look at them and had look of panic on his face because the girls were so small.
ookie was nervous about rafting so they had made a deal with her that she could go in the safety raft and if she wanted to come in main raft later on then she had that option. So she jumped in with Tutu and when we were approaching a rapid, he’d have her crouch down on the bottom of the raft, holding onto the ropes in the very front and ducking her head down. We could still hear her scream as she went over the first one ahead of us.
The original plan was going to be that we’d take two rafts, a large and small but after he looked at the people coming with us, Josh our guide (from Ottawa) decided against that and we’d all be in the large raft until lunch when everyone else would leave and the three of us would switch to a small raft for the afternoon.
He wanted strong paddlers in the front so I left Kory and Chip in front and I sat in the second row with the guy from Germany and then the woman and all the young girls filled up the rest of the raft, with the smallest girl put on the ground in the back next to the guide and not given a paddle.
As with most rafting trips, the first thing that we did when we got on the water was be taught all the commands we’d be getting from Josh during the day. Forward Paddle, Back Paddle, Hold On, Down. All pretty basic but we did have a bit of concern when the young Japanese girl didn’t understand forward paddle even when Josh said it in Japanese.
Once we had the paddling all straightened out and we paddled for a bit in the calm flat section of the river we were on then it was time to practice getting back in the raft. We all had to jump out, demonstrate that we could swim (even though we were in life jackets) then pull ourselves back in the raft. I opted to allow Kory to practice his rescue since there was no way my weak arms were going to pull my 64 kilos back in the raft. Then it was flipping time…Josh flipped the raft and we had to hang onto our paddles and the raft, he’d flip it back and we had to pull ourselves back in again.
Ok ready to go. First rapid…class 5. Perhaps they haven’t heard of starting us out slow? Josh says “So guys if we end up in the waterfall hang on and don’t lose the raft”. What the?!? We missed the main waterfall but the raft did spin and we went down the mini waterfall backwards and somehow managed to stay upright. Rookie said to me after that she had no idea how we didn’t flip.
I believe that in total that day those of us that did the full day went through six rapids. All of them class 4 or 5 rapids. As I anticipated, these were some of the largest rapids I’d been through on all my trips. We did flip the raft twice, I had never fallen out or had a raft flip before and I can’t say that looking back I enjoyed it all that much.
The first flip happened on rapid number 2 when we still had everyone with us in the big raft. The raft went over (my side went in first) and it and everyone came down on my head but I was able to force myself through and get my head out and Josh flipped it the raft up right quite quickly…I wasn’t too panicked on this one although hearing Josh yell…”get in the raft, get in the raft…rocks” did quicken my heartbeat a bit but we all got pulled in with plenty of time.
We made it to lunch without any further flips or mishaps. We filled our bellies (and yes for the second time that day I did wonder if it was the best idea) and said goodbye to everyone else and headed back down to our little raft, this time Rookie rode with us and not in the safety boat. I’m still not too sure if she’s happy she made that decision or not but I was proud of her for trying.
The final three rapids of the day were a bit challenging. We made it through the first by the skin of our teeth and poor Rookie was asking Josh if we were supposed to get down LONG before he gave the command.
Our afternoon rapids were all class 5 and I will admit that there were a few times when my stomach was in my throat and I found myself praying that we didn’t flip over. On the second rapid we stopped after getting through it and then headed back in backwards. Still not entirely sure why, something about it making a good photo…all I know is that Josh had us back paddling for far longer than my arms appreciated and in the end we didn’t get the shot he was aiming for.
We also hit a couple little waves and try to do some raft surfing which again took a lot of hard paddling on our part and many attempts before we managed to do it.
We would have long interludes between rapids which I have never really experienced on other trips. During these times, we’d chat with Josh and we’d just coast along and we were able to take off our helmets and lifejackets.
Prior to the final rapid, Josh suggested that we could jump in for a swim if we liked and while I had already been in the water several times I took the time to do a bit more of a swim so that I can cross off another body of water that I have been in. Kory, Chip and I were in the water and I was just floating along when I heard the scream that Rookie let out when Josh pushed her off the raft as well.
We floated down with the raft for a bit then it was time to get back in. It was at this stage that I realized without my life jacket on the boys wouldn’t be able to haul me back in the raft unless they did it using my bikini top and really…no one wants to see that! So I lived up to the “muscles” nickname that Josh had been using all day (to commend my stellar paddling no doubt!) and pulled myself in. At times like this I am amazed that I made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, I’m really not very fit at all!
Just heading into the final rapid Josh gave us the usual spiel…hold on when I say and if you fall out hang on. This time he used the words, “when” we flip indicating the high probability but still I was in denial. Rookie picked up on this change of phrase though and looked across at me, the reason she was facing her fear today. I just shrugged my shoulders and replied with “don’t look at me, I’m afraid too!”.
Sure enough we went into the rapid and it kicked our butt and I was under the raft in a blink of an eye. Again the raft flipped with my side going in first so everyone else falls on top of me. I knew I was under so just pushed to get out and managed to get my head out of the water and had hold of the raft but looked up and everyone else was far ahead of me floating away. I had swallowed a lot of water and was trying to catch my breath and for some reason I didn’t seem to be floating…I assume this was just waves that were coming over my head giving me the impression that I was going under but at the time all I knew was that I couldn’t seem to keep my head out of water. I let go of the raft…EXACTLY what I’m not supposed to do and then I seemed to stall, Josh and the raft when flying by me, Kory, Chip and Rookie were long gone and in calm waters and I was stuck in some kind of current and wasn’t going anywhere.
My attempts at swimming seemed useless, I didn’t seem to be moving anywhere fast. I just felt like I was standing still. In sheer panic and exhaustion I looked around for one of the rescue kayaks and do you think I could find one? Seriously? Shouldn’t they have gotten me by now!?!
Just before I was going to start really freaking out I hear a “Hello” and there are two kayaks so I grabbed onto the back handle and off we went. Once I was back on the raft it took a few minutes to catch my breath and I really felt like I needed to throw up all the water I had swallowed but really…I was just being overly dramatic. I was fine, everything was fine and it was only my ego bruised for being scared in the first place. Or at least that is my conclusion since no one else seemed to care that I now knew what it must feel like to drown.
Once we reached the ending spot we jumped out of the raft to awaiting cold beers, potatoes and kebabs. Were shown the pictures we could buy and then loaded into a truck for the hour+ drive back to camp.
We had a great dinner at the truck and quiet evening at the bar that night but I couldn’t get the grin off my face after a fabulous day! Jinja had quickly become one of the highlights of my trip but tomorrow we were headed to Entebbe and more animals – our closest relative at common DNA of 94%.