Jumping Off Bridges
The drive to Brentonwood was full of music, dancing, and beautiful views. Well, I actually slept most the way. I think I have a problem. Put me in a moving mode of transportation for more than 30 minutes, and I’m out (not a good road trip partner unless I’m driving, and I don’t know what’s worse: me sleeping the whole time or driving). We made it to Micol’s holiday home by lunch time, and she and Stel showed me the town of Knysna.
They took me to a look out point called “The Heads”. There are cliffs alongside an estuary that leads inland and is known for causing shipwrecks. I could picture it as I watched the waves crashing against the rocks. I saw beautiful sirens singing on the green hills with the same wind that sailed the ships, blowing through their hair and carrying their voices to the seamen luring them into the rocks. I’m such a hopeless romantic. Not sure what is romantic about that, but there is something mystical about sirens. Later we went to the beach to watch the sunset. We climbed up a little sand dune and talked love, life, and sunsets. I could tell I was really going to get along with these girls.
The next day we went into town to do a couple things, and then headed to the beach. They took me to a beach that had old castles strewn across it along with some renovated ones. There were hardly any people, and it was a beautiful day. We crossed over some high rocks to a little cove we had all to ourselves. Stel and Micol forgot their swimsuits at home, so what did we do? We swam in the skin God gave us. I rolled in the sand, dove into the waves, and said my daily prayers looking out to where the ocean faded into the heavens. If you have never been skinny dipping in the ocean, I recommend it. The liberating feeling of being one with God, His creation, and myself is total freedom: nothing between, nothing in the way.
That evening we decided to go for a sunset jog on the beach. I had only jogged about ten minutes down the beach when I thought I saw a seal in the sand. It wasn’t moving so I thought maybe it was a rock. As I approached and ran by, I saw it was a seal and it could barely lift its head as I was jogging past. A beached seal!! I had to help! I ran and grabbed Micol. We found a plastic container that we filled with ocean water and emptied it over its head as it desperately opened its mouth. We started to dig a canal from the seal to the ocean hoping a big wave would rush up the canal and drench the seal. After digging intensely for awhile we opted for a giant log to try to poke the seal and get it to turn toward the ocean. It was up on its front legs now. Our water had given it some strength. Micol wrapped her shirt around the end of the stick and gently touched seal. At one point I even made eye contact and tried to communicate to it that I was trying to help. The seal snapped at the branch, catching Micol’s shirt on its snaggle tooth/ sharp fang. Now it was waving it in the air back and forth trying to shake it off. We were able to position the log to get it free from its tooth. After trying several other tactics to move the seal, we were about to surrender. Feeling defeated, we were putting the supplies we had found back when I saw the seal stand up, waddle to the watering can, sniff it, and then waddle a bit further up the beach where it plopped back down. What??? It’s not a beached seal? Just a seal trying to relax on shore while two crazy girls ran frantically around it! Awesome. I thought I was going to have this amazing story about how I am secretly a seal whisperer and saved its life…. Nope.
While in Brentonwood, I had been walking down the road to use an Internet cafe for a few days, and there was always this old lady there. My last day there, she asked me if I was alone because I never came with anyone. I told her I was with two girls up the road. “That’s good. It would be lonely. You shouldn’t be alone,” she responded. It made me think about my solo travels. Yes, I have gotten lonely a little, but I’ve met the most amazing people along the way. I am actually enjoying my alone time when I get it.
On my last night with Micol and Stel, another girl named Kierra joined us at the house. I cooked dinner for the girls, watched the sunset, and relaxed at home. The next morning we headed to Plettenberg where I was about to do the world’s highest bungee jump. The girls waited in the lodge to watch while I walked out to the bridge. For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was supposed to jump third and as a worker clipped my harness on, he smiled and said, “you’re going first!” I got a little nervous then. “Am I your tester? You going to throw me over to make sure the ropes are good?” I said half laughing. They have a DJ under the bridge, and as soon as he started to play music, I felt relaxed. They tied my ankles and helped me walk to the edge. My toes hung over as I looked out. 5…4…3…2…1…jump!! I didn’t even think.
I just lunged off. I wanted to take it all in. I spread my arms and prayed. The coolest feeling is after you reach the bottom, you bounce back up a little, and then go back down. It was like taking a huge breath in with the mountains, the river, and the adrenaline all filling me to overflowing. I started laughing uncontrollably. I laughed the whole way back up to the top. I was ready to jump again. I can’t even begin to describe how limitless, unbound, exhilarating, and freeing that jump felt. Even now, I smile as I think about it. I said a prayer before leaping, releasing all the things in my life that aren’t for me. It was so symbolic and I can honestly say I felt lighter afterwards, like all the things I released came falling out of me as I soared head first into the open air.
That afternoon we went for a hike along the beach that went over rocky cliffs and through wooded forests. It was so beautiful. I wonder how people have this beauty at their fingertips but take it for granted. The girls dropped me off at my hostel in town, and we said our goodbyes. I had so much fun with them the last few days. It was nice to have some girlfriends. I feel like I’ve been surrounded by guys this whole trip.
I made myself at home in my hostel. Many of the hostels are dorm style. My room had two beds, but nobody ever came for the other bed the three nights I was there. I spent the majority of my time in “Plett” relaxing, exploring the town and little shops, and walking on the beach. The Wi-Fi in most places isn’t very strong, and I bought Elf on iTunes over a week ago. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, and it won’t download all the way! If this is my worst frustration right now, I think I’m doing ok.
My last morning in Plett, I went to a cheetah rehabilitation center for a sunrise walk. It was rainy out and not a lot of people were there. This worked out perfect for me. They put two families together and let me go by myself with the guide. Since it was just me, I got to walk Duma the whole time. The guide opened a gate with a large, male cheetah inside. Duma walked out and greeted the guide. He strapped on the leash and handed it to me. I felt a little nervous at first, but since I’m obviously an animal whisperer, I communicated to Duma my love and respect for him telepathically. Duma walked me through a vibrant forest. He stopped to rest for a bit under a tree. The guide unleashed Duma as I squatted next to him and scratched his head. He began to purr. The guide smiled and said, “The ground is vibrating. That’s a deep purr. He likes how you are scratching his ears.” Duma rolled on his back and wanted to play, but for safety reasons we are not allowed to play with the cheetahs because they get rough. Duma yawned and decided to continue walking. I was humbling walking next to him. I could feel his power, his pride. A few times when I was walking beside him, his tail swinging behind me and wrapped all the way around me. I think that was his way of hugging me, or pushing me out of his way…. either one, I’ll take it! I got to help feed him after the walk and warmed up with some tea before packing.
I took an afternoon bus to Jeffrey’s Bay. It is one of the surf capitals of the world and supposed to be a laid back town. I am staying at a hostel called Island Vibes and loving it. I was supposed to stay three nights and already changed it to a week. I can’t wait to tell you all about it in my next blog.
Last week was probably the toughest week for me on this trip. I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden I felt so lost again. I left so much at the bungee bridge, and the last few days I have discovered a freedom I have never known. I officially took a time limit off my travels. I’m going to be in the moment and truly experience every place I go. I have no where to be, no one to meet, and all the time in the world.