Adrenaline junkie haven in Cape Town, South Africa
I wouldn’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie, perhaps just a moderate enthusiast of fun and excitement. While I often prefer to lie on a beach with a good book or explore a museum to learn about the cultural heritage or history of where I am visiting, from time to time I just need to let loose and have some crazy, unpredictable fun.
This opportunity presented itself to me while visiting the geographically stunning location of Cape Town, South Africa, a city so far from home yet with a culture and landscape that made me feel right at home. A dynamic and oppressive history of imperialism and apartheid politics, South Africa is an organic multicultural society, developed by explorers and warriors; overcoming adversity to create a peaceful nation exuding strength and solidarity. This culture, when juxtaposed with a rugged terrain and diverse ecosystem, offers incredibly unique opportunities for spine tingling, heart-stopping thrill and excitement.
Every adrenalin junkie’s needs are covered, whether you choose to go cage diving with great white sharks, try to spot the big five (elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros, and lions) while on safari at Kruger National Park, or watch the Vodacom Stormers partake in a serious contact sport, competing in the South African rugby union’s Super 14.
I personally chose to participate in the culture of extreme sports by hurdling myself out of an airplane at 4000 meters. My father says the thing he was most grateful for about this experience is that I told him about it after I did it.
My day of adventure in Cape Town
Since I was studying in Cape Town, my fellow international classmates and I decided to organize a day-trip with a company so as to get the best price as part of a package.
The day started early, and I could feel the tension when I got into the van and was handed a waiver of liability. I nervously made a joke about signing my life away, the joke fell flat, as my friends were rightfully trying to keep the mood light and steer conversation away from what fears were lurking in the back of our minds.
For the first activity, we were taken to remote sand dunes to try our hand in the sport of sand-boarding. Much like snow-boarding, we wore boots and ascended to the top of great sand hills, where we strapped on our boards and carved our way down to the sand hills, only to climb back up and go at it again. This is a tiresome activity, especially under the southern hemisphere sun, yet adrenalin worked its magic and somehow the thrill of finding new slopes and jumps was perpetually motivating.
Hours passed, brown paper lunch was served and we moved on to the next adventure. We drove to a further remote location, only to see a set of colourful parachutes floating gracefully down to the earth. And we were up next.
Time to jump!
As I’m being prepped and dressed in equipment, I notice a collage of newspaper clippings on the wall. Apparently earlier that month Prince Harry of Wales had shared my ambition and embarked on the same adventure, as his girlfriend’s family lived just a few miles away. My instructor had actually been the one to dive with the Prince (without training, the only option was to jump tandem with an experienced instructor), a fact that instantly set my mind at ease. If it was safe enough for royalty, my intuition said I would be just fine.
Now I was the calm one, reassuring my Danish friend that it was safe, everything would be fine. We boarded the tiny tin-can plane, 5 people total including the pilot, and my friend asks, how often does someone’s nerves prevent them from jumping?
We were told that the plane is too small to land with extra weight so there is no possibility to back down once in the air. It is unclear whether this fact is based in science or just a “rule” to encourage people to follow through with the experience, regardless, the plane had now taken off so the outcome of jumping was already determined.
My friend Theresa was crying and I was reassuring her, holding her hand, and trying to demonstrate my calmness by telling jokes and flirting with my tanned skinned instructor. An easy task as I sit strapped onto his lap, looking into his twinkling blue eyes, his golden curls obviously sun kissed from living an active, outdoor life.
She jumps first, almost against her will, although I know she loved every minute of overcoming a great fear of heights. Ready and willing, I jumped and was overwhelmed by bliss and joy for the pure feeling of free falling. That and doing something I never imagined doing and so outside my normal range of activities. Overlooking the Cape of Good Hope, where the South Atlantic collides with the Indian Ocean, seeing the coast lined with white sand beaches and the city of Cape Town crowded around majestic Table Mountain. What a view, and what a beautiful way to see Cape Town. The parachute opened after the 2-minute free-fall and I floated peacefully back to earth with my handsome chaperon. Landing on my feet and standing on the earth had never felt so good, I was overwhelmed and grateful for life and my experiences. Theresa runs and tackles me to the ground, our delirious giggles were loud enough to draw a crowd of friends, cheering on our adventure.
An experience I recommend to anyone, you may not realize how much you appreciate the life you live until it is placed in jeopardy. What my father considers masochistic, risk-seeking behaviour, I considered one of the most fun and joy-filled days of my life. Perhaps by doing something so far outside what is considered normal, I was able to liberate myself of what is possible and what else I can to overcome in this life.