The Jo’burg – Delhi Express
Dean, Monica, Ella and I departed Durban heading westwards in the direction of South Africa’s Sunshine Coast. Our ultimate destination was Jeffery’s Bay, a quaint little town popular with surfers.
The distance to Jeffery’s Bay was too vast for the Baz Buz to make in one fell swoop, so it was necessary we break up the journey by staying the night in the city of Port Elizabeth.
Monica was in buoyant spirits on the day of our departure. Her friend Adrian, who was studying in Johannesburg at the time, had met us all in Durban and was to travel with Monica for the next week or so.
Adrian seemed a pleasant girl on first encounters; very outgoing and unashamedly flirtatious. But within an hour of enduring her ceaseless innuendo’s and that’s what she said’s the girl began to grate a little. Had Adrian been more attractive and willing to go through with the filth she alluded to then the she would have made a wonderful addition to our newly formed group. As it happened, she was a bit of a munter, and the thought of slipping her one did nothing for Dean and me whatsoever.
Leaving the state of Kwazulu-Natal and entering the Eastern Cape, the rolling hills of South Africa’s vast countryside flowed as spectacularly as ever. I really hadn’t expected the country to be so picturesque, but it really was an amazingly beautiful location.
The random spotting of giant wildlife by the roadside was incredible also. For me however, the most memorable fauna based sighting of this particular bus trip wasn’t a lion or a giraffe or anything else unique to the African savannahs. It came in the form of a simple, run of the mill donkey. Or two donkeys should I say.
There wasn’t anything hugely exciting going on – one was just raping the other a little bit.
It was obvious that the recipient in this heinous act wasn’t keen on housing such a massive piece of equipment. Yet despite its reluctance, the female donkey did very little to fend off the horny aggressor. Yes, it ran a tad, and maybe offered a bit of a headbutt. Nevertheless, I’m sure it could have done far more to help itself from the inevitable fanny pummelling.
If I was about to get that dripping member crammed into my hole I would have kicked the dirty fucker in his oversized teeth. Buckaroo wouldn’t have been the victim of such sexy antics either. That techy bastard objected to even wearing a saddle at times, never mind a fireman’s hose of a cock.
I couldn’t take my eye off the scene unfolding outside my window. I was enraptured. Thus proving there’s nothing like a spot of ass rape to break up the tedium of a long bus journey.
We were expecting to be reunited with Danny on the Baz Bus that day. As none of us had heard anything from him of late, we’d speculated during the early stages of the drive as to why. From a recent facebook post of his we knew he wasn’t dead. All we could put Danny’s lack of correspondence down to then was either he’d had limited internet access, or he was annoyed with Dean and me for covering his clothes in dog hairs when we were drunk.
When the bus arrived in Chintsa, the small town where he was booked to join us, we were informed that Danny had cancelled his bus ticket the day before. Speculation restarted tenfold at this revelation. As did mine and Dean’s belief that he was more than likely very pissed off at us.
Worrying about how Danny felt soon got boring. Coming to the conclusion that if he wanted to sulk about something so trivial as a few dog hairs then he was welcome to do so. We certainly hadn’t meant any offence by our actions.
The lot of us soon grew fed up with sitting on the Baz Bus with no entertainment also. With a long way left to travel that day, Dean took it upon himself to see what he could do to remedy the situation.
“Here, mate,” he shouted towards the driver, poking his head over the front seats. “Do you know where we can get some drink?”
“You want alcohol?”
“Yeah. Is that allowed?”
“Hmm, not really,” answered the driver dubiously. “Does everybody in the back want some?”
“Yeah, we’re all travelling together.” I replied, looking around the otherwise empty bus.
“You should have said something before we left the city of East London. We could have got you some beers there. There isn’t a town now for miles.”
“Ah, shit. Never mind, cheers anyway pal,” replied Dean before turning back to us. “Well that’s fucked that plan. I’m all out of ideas.”
Nobody had any other suggestions how to pass the time either. And soon we reverted back to spreading ourselves all over the empty seats, trying to find some degree of comfort for our increasingly numb arses.
Quarter of an hour later the bus came to a grinding halt, sending us semiconscious travellers flying into the seats in front.
“Sorry about that,” shouted the driver over his shoulder. “Are you guys still wanting some beers? If so, follow me.”
Leaving the Baz Bus parked at the side of a quiet road – emergency lights blinking into an eerie darkness – the driver led Dean, Monica and Ella towards a dimly lit hut a few hundred metres away.
I held the fort with Adrian, trying to share a spot of dialogue with her that couldn’t be turned into a sexual innuendo. I quite enjoy the occasional conversation about sex and filth now and again. I find it adorable in fact. Adrian’s perpetual efforts at flirtation were just too much though, even for a mucky pup like me. The constant rubbish she spouted, hinting at something lewd with every retort, simply made me want to be sick.
The others returned after ten minutes. The kindly driver had guided them to a ramshackle bar along a dirt path. Frequented predominantly by the black communities, these rustic watering holes were known locally as shebeens.
They’d gone slightly overboard on the drink, it has to be said. All three of them were laden with carrier bags filled with vodka, beer and wine. There was enough alcohol in the back of the Baz Bus now to keep even the deftest of piss artists happily inebriated for a week.
We wasted no time in getting stuck into the booze, cracking open bottles and throwing it down our necks with gusto. It was great fun drinking in the bus, and made the journey far more amusing… for all of ten minutes, anyway.
The dark, bumpy roads did nothing positive whatsoever for my beer filled guts. Jolting and winding through the Eastern Cape, it wasn’t long before I began feeling really sick. Not being the most comfortable passenger on public transport at the best of times, I was forced to leave my share of the beers and wine for Dean and Ella. They weren’t affected negatively by the alcohol in the least – the two of them becoming steadily merrier by the minute.
Dean and Ella had grown increasingly close since meeting on the journey to Durban four days previously. She was a lovely girl, very attractive and also very down to earth with it. Ella absorbed Dean’s abuse with good humour, giving him almost as much in return, and I could tell he loved this about her.
I had never seen a girl evoke the softer side to Dean before. Back home he wasn’t one to integrate both friends and relationships, so it was nice to witness this affectionate element of his personality.
When we finally arrived into Port Elizabeth I was a beaten man. I’d hoped alighting the bus would give me a second wind to drink the beers I’d paid for, but it proved a fruitless desire. Dean and Ella stayed up late drinking a terrible bottle of red wine, whereas I threw in the towel and retired hastily to the dormitory.
Unable to fall asleep straight away, I sat up chatting to an amiable British guy called Gordon. Gordon and I talked for a long time that evening. He was easy to get along with and seemed like a genuinely good person. We spoke predominantly about both of our forthcoming adventures and what each of us did back home. Gordon also knew Ella from a previous hostel up the coast.
“So, do you think your mate will have any luck with Ella?”
“I’m not sure really. She likes him I think. Well, I assume she does as I saw her arse hanging out of his dorm bed yesterday morning.”
“It sounds like he’s in then,” replied Gordon, “although she seems quite a classy bird. So whether or not he gets his end away is a different ball game altogether.”
“Time will tell I suppose. Although if she keeps downing that horrible wine we may not have to wait long to find out.”
It was only a short hop along the coast from Port Elizabeth to Jeffrey’s Bay. The Baz Bus picked us up early in the morning and within an hour we were driving through the funky settlement’s centre.
Dean and I, plus the three girls, got dropped off at Island Vibe Backpackers at the far end of town. I then left them all to check into the hostel while I waited outside the main gate. I’d planned to spend the next few days with a South African friend who was on her way to collect me.
“Have a guess who’s in there?” said Dean, strolling out of reception with a bemused look on his face.
“The one and only. He’s just walked right past me without saying a word.”
“Jesus,” I said. “What’s up with him? He didn’t say anything at all?”
“He nodded, but that was it. Just stand out here and see if he says anything to you.”
Acquiescing, I stood leaning against a wooden fence leading towards the dormitories. Sure enough, Danny came out of reception a few minutes later with two quite tasty looking girls in tow. He didn’t even acknowledge me. Not even a similar nod to what Dean received.
‘I’m not going to make an effort to speak either then’, I thought, ‘if Danny doesn’t want to talk then he can suit himself. It’s a bloody long way travelling to Nairobi on your own.’
Ten minutes after seeing Danny my pal Kalinka pulled up in her Dad’s fancy 4×4. A quick hug and kiss later, I said farewell to the gang and the two of us sped off towards her parent’s household in the suburbs. My mind was racing about the Danny situation and I probably seemed a bit of a miserable prick during that short journey to Kalinka’s home, although I quickly snapped out of it when we pulled into her large, paved driveway.
The house Kalinka’s parents owned was stunning. It was like something off MTV’s Cribs. Kalinka’s Dad had made the family home himself – being a building contractor by trade – and her mother had decorated the interior beautifully.
I didn’t dare touch a thing when Kalinka gave me the run of the place whilst she went back to work for a few hours. To prevent myself from destroying anything of value, I sat outside by the pool in hopes of damaging my skin cells instead – a feat I achieved extensively within half an hour.
Whilst sat around the pool cremating my face I’d been joined by Kalinka’s brother, Rikus. He was a switched on young man, far more mature than his eighteen years would lead a person to believe.
Rikus made for great company. We chatted about South Africa mainly, and he explained his cultural background and how they interconnected with other social groups in the country.
Kalinka’s family were Afrikaners – descendants of the Dutch settlers who arrived in Southern Africa during the 17th century, who commonly became known as the Boers.
Rikus’s pride of being Afrikaans was extraordinary to me. Being someone who couldn’t give a shit about patriotism, it was interesting to witness so much passion from a boy of his age. When I was eighteen all I cared about was how my hair looked and who would let me see their boobs next. Not Rikus. His heritage meant the world to him and he wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to the Boers.
In a country with so many different ethnic groups and prejudices, it was natural for a South African to be protective of their roots. Most people – myself included before talking to people on this trip – think South Africa’s problems are quite literally black and white. As it happens, they aren’t. It is way more complicated than just an issue of colour.
The white residents of South Africa are divided between the descendants of the Afrikaners – the Dutch settlers – and those of English lineage, whose ancestors arrived after the Dutch and took the Cape of Good Hope from them in 1806.
Difference in opinion with regards to slavery and land ownership caused a rocky relationship between these two groups of white settlers, resulting in the Anglo-Boer war at the end of the 19th century. The English won the war and therefore took control of the country. And ever since then, relations between the two groups have been less than rosy.
The black communities within South Africa are also split because of ancestry – the predominant Xhosa and Zulu tribes being just two of the many conflicting groups in the region. All retain strong tribal roots and old vendettas between various clans exist to this day, often causing extreme tension within the community.
People of mixed race, or coloureds as they are known in Southern Africa, are a separate group entirely. Classed as neither white nor black, the people of mixed heritage have a history of being shunned from both races. I was informed that coloureds have a tendency to shy away from the black side of their heritage a lot more than the white. But as I never had an opportunity to chat with anyone of this particular ethnic origin I don’t know how much truth was in the claim.
Until recently, the whites – whether they be of British or Dutch descent – had always been the people with money, power and control. With these obvious advantages, the whites had consequently classed themselves higher than those in the black communities. This feeling of appalling racial superiority was displayed during the apartheid era.
Apartheid was a dark period of South Africa’s history where black people were forcibly separated from the whites within society. Those of European ancestry were automatically given a far better hand in life, whether they deserved it or not, and the blacks were looked on as second class citizens or worse. The white government even took away all political power from those of non-European origin for a while and violently cracked down on any form of protest regarding such.
From 1948, apartheid prevailed as an official policy throughout South Africa. It was abolished in 1990, the same year Nelson Mandela was released from his long imprisonment on Robben Island. A black government – the ANC – has come to power since the ridding of apartheid and continues to preside over the country.
Although a step in the right direction towards equality, the opinion of many is that the ANC have since begun a reversed racial policy by making things difficult for the whites now, as opposed to making opportunities the same for all.
From what I could gather off Rikus, the situation with racial equality was getting better, despite the seemingly unhelpful government. A lot of people from the black communities were now making good money and could subsequently afford to send their children to better schools – the very schools which at one point were exclusively for whites. Many of the younger generations do not solely select their friends by the colour of their skin or ancestry anymore. They do it by who they get along with best, resulting in far more people having a less blinkered view on life.
In a few years, hopefully the racial problems in South Africa will be greatly reduced with the youth mixing more freely. But whether it will eventually eradicate ethnic division in the country remains to be seen. What still, and will probably always exist though is the divide between the rich and the poor.
The majority of violent crime is committed by the destitute within South African society. As those who fall into that category are predominantly black still, despite the parliamentary shift, this can cause a lot of negative generalisations against the black community as a whole. As long as South Africa has such a big economic gap between the affluent and the deprived it will always have its scary crime statistics. Unfortunately, this in turn will maintain the tarnished view of good people whose only commonality with the criminals is the colour of their skin.
As well as the issue of race, Rikus went into quite a lot of detail about the passion he shares with his father and many other Afrikaans men: Game hunting.
Rikus had kindly let me use his bedroom while I was staying with the family. The room was filled with all manner of intimidating weaponry – rifles, bow and arrows, truncheons, catapults, knives, plus bullets and cartridges of all shapes and sizes.
“Why do you love hunting so much?” I asked Rikus as we sat baking beside the pool.
“It’s my heritage man. The Boers are farmers and hunters.”
“Fair enough. But don’t you feel a bit shitty killing an animal? I don’t think I could do it.”
“Why not? You aren’t a fucking vegetarian are you?”
“Well then, if you eat animals you should be prepared to kill them also. Everything we kill, we eat. Have you tried biltong?” quizzed Rikus, referring to the dried, salted meat beloved by many South Africans.
“That’s that jerky like stuff isn’t it? Yeah, it was alright. Nothing special though.”
“You must have just tried the supermarket shit then. Me and my Dad make the best biltong. It’s a shame that you can’t come on a hunt with us. We could have made some out of what we shot.”
“That would have been pretty cool.” I lied, glad that I didn’t have to slaughter anything.
“Honestly,” encouraged the young South African. “It’s great fun. Have you heard what you must do after your first kill?”
“Nope, enlighten me.”
“It’s fantastic man. You have to gut the animal and cover yourself from head to toe in its blood.”
“That does sound fantastic.” I replied, trying not to be overly sarcastic.
“And then you eat a part of the animal’s liver and one of its testicles. Then we get smashed on brandy.”
“Do you have Klip Drift brandy in England?”
“God knows. I can’t drink that shite, it hurts my throat. I’m a beer, vodka or cider man.”
“Cider? That’s fucking sletsa-piss? You know what sletsa-piss means?”
“No, but I have a pretty good idea it’s something to do with urine.”
“Sluts piss. That’s what we call all girly drinks. Ask Kalinka when she gets home if she enjoys sletsa-piss.”
I’d met Kalinka during the period I had lived in Leeds a year or so previous to the trip. She was a university friend of a girl I’d become pals with in South East Asia on my very first set of travels. We didn’t really know each other very well, but when I mentioned I was travelling to South Africa shortly, Kalinka very kindly invited me to stay with her for a few days or so. Originally, we were meant to meet in Cape Town. Her job contract had recently expired however, so she was temporarily living with her parents back in Jeffrey’s Bay.
When Kalinka returned from working at her dad’s office I felt it best not to ask whether she drank sluts piss. The two of us left Rikus to hide the evidence of the pistols he’d had me shooting in the garage and took a drive to see all the nearby sights.
Jeffrey’s bay – or J-bay as it is known to the locals – is the surfing Mecca of South Africa. It is home to some of the best right hand breaks in the world apparently. But as I had no idea what a right hand break was exactly I couldn’t have given a cat’s cock.
I’m not overly keen on surfing myself, as you would have probably gathered from that last comment. This aversion comes from the fact I simply cannot do it. I’d half expected to be a bit of a natural at the sport when I first tried surfing in Australia – what with being blonde and all. Having managed to rub off the majority of my left nipple on the rough board whilst not standing up on it once, I consequently gave up the sport for life.
Showing me the location where the town hosts a huge surfing tournament each year, Kalinka tried to explain what was meant by Supertubes for which the event is famous. Still confused at all the hype over a big wave, yet nodding enthusiastically all the same, we then went and had a nice cup of tea with some of her friends.
Sitting like the shy social spastic I am when meeting groups of new people sober, the two of us later returned to Island Vibe Backpackers in hopes of meeting up with Dean, Monica, Ella and Adrian.
There was no sign of any of them when we arrived. As Kalinka and I were leaving I saw Danny and the same two girls he was with earlier that day. Adrenaline pumping, I came to the conclusion enough was enough and began trying to grab his attention.
Initially he was reluctant to respond, but as I stood there hollering “Dan!” like a poor man’s Alan Partridge, he eventually conceded and came over.
“What’s wrong mate?” I asked. “Why have you not been bothering with me or Dean?”
“You know what’s wrong,” he answered sullenly.
“Obviously I don’t or I wouldn’t be asking. It doesn’t make sense. What have we done?”
“It’s pretty clear that you two don’t want me around,” said Danny looking quite hurt, “so I’m leaving you both to it.”
“Where have you got that idea from? It’s you that wanted to do Chintsa and wherever else on your own?”
“I did them on my own because I didn’t want to be constantly on the piss like you two,” he replied before looking at the bottle of cider in his hand and smiling, “although you would never tell.”
“We didn’t mind the fact you wanted to do them alone, I wanna go off on my own at some point too. But why do you think we don’t want you with us? We’ve all been getting along I thought. You and Dean have gotten on brilliantly – far better than either of you have with me, so I just don’t get it.”
“It’s what you two had said to that Mandy woman that’s pissed me off. It’s made me not want to be anywhere near you both. Why would I if you don’t want me travelling with you?”
“What the hell did she say?” I asked, sensing something fishy was afoot.
“She said that you two had told her I was a miserable old twat, that you didn’t want to travel with me and that you weren’t really my mate.”
“She was off her head man!” I exclaimed, starting to see why Danny may have been upset, “She was a full on mentalist. Tease had to kick her out of the hostel for being a con artist! Why didn’t you say something to either of us?”
“I couldn’t. You were both leathered and had them lasses draped all over you. Plus I was that mad I would have ended up filling you both in.”
“Filling us in? Over the past summer me and you have become pretty much best mates. I practically invited you into my family and stuff. But you would still believe the word of some thick bitch who we have just met over mine? That’s pretty shitty mate.”
“Imagine how I felt being told all that lot. I didn’t know she was lying.”
“Look mate, I’m sorry for whatever me and Dean did to piss you off, but I can guarantee we said nothing whatsoever to that crazy cow about you. So we can either forget this little spat or just fuck it off and do our own thing. But I really hope we can sort it out.”
“I hope so too.” replied Danny.
“Sound,” I said, giving him a man hug, “we’re all hopefully going for a pizza tonight so make sure you come with us.”
That evening Dean and Ella joined Kalinka and me, plus a group of her friends, for a meal at a local pizza joint. Having already done damage to a few bottles of red wine beforehand, we were already quite giddy by the time we arrived at the popular restaurant. Danny hadn’t made it because he was having a farewell meal with the two girls we had spotted him with earlier. Although he was very keen to meet up in the morning according to Dean, so I was happy about that.
The pizza was fantastic, as had been pretty much every other meal we’d had in South Africa up to this point. Once finished everybody except Dean and I got up and headed outside for a cigarette on the open air veranda. Their fags must have been the length of cricket stumps as they were gone for an absolute age. Dean and I found this a tad rude, sitting there twiddling our thumbs at the table until the other five decided to re-join us. Eventually we thought ‘fuck this’, and buggered off on our own for half an hour to a nearby bar in hopes of getting our annoyance across.
I was exhausted by the time we’d finally paid the bill and left the restaurant. Falling asleep at the table of the next bar we went to, Kalinka then drove me home and put me to bed. After a quick chat she quietly snuck back out again to meet an Australian guy she had just started seeing called Justin. He worked as a physiotherapist for the Delhi Devils, an Indian Premier League cricket team who had recently been on tour in the region.
It was quite convenient that Kalinka and Justin were enjoying a bit of a fling during my stay with her and her family. It stopped me from making a tit of myself and drunkenly trying it on. Had I succeeded, I shudder to think which weapon from his vast arsenal the proud brother Rikus would have used had he caught me in bed with his sister.
If the weather wasn’t great in J-bay, and you’re not an avid surfer, then there’s not a great deal to do in the town.
“Get him on the cane.” suggested Rikus as the three of us sat having lunch the following day.
“No Rikus, Jordan won’t want to drink again. We need to think of something better to do.”
“I’m up for cane, whatever it is.” I said, “We can see what the rest of my mates want to do, but getting tanked up sounds like a plan to me.”
“Really babe?” asked Kalinka. “Ok, well we’ll go to the surf museum first to say that we at least tried to do something cultural. And then me and you can go and get drunk with your friends if you want. You’re doing revision though Rikus, so don’t you get any ideas.”
“I’ve done it already.”
“Really?” said Kalinka doubtfully, “I don’t think Mum and Dad will be too pleased if you spend the day getting drunk with your exams coming up.”
“I don’t think Mum and Dad would be overly happy with you disappearing out in the middle of the night to meet boys either, so it needn’t get brought up?” responded Rikus, referring to his sister’s late night soiree with Justin.
“Shit. Do they know about that Rikus?”
“You’re hardly fucking Splinter Cell Kalinka. The whole house must have heard you.”
“Ah well, I will just say I was with Jordan and they’ll be cool. Come on you two, let’s get this museum over with.”
The museum wasn’t bad considering I haven’t an interest in surfing in the slightest. The documented shark attacks appealed to the macabre in me, while the semi naked Polynesian girls piqued my perverted curiosity too. Yet there wasn’t enough gory death or firm, brown titties to keep Rikus and me happy for long.
We soon departed the surf museum to meet my friends in a nearby bar. I was glad to see Danny amongst the group. He seemed in good spirits and determined to put all the recent crap behind him also.
After a quick beer, the lot of us went to a local liquor store. We bought two large bottles of cane liquor and a supply of foul looking green cream soda, which, according to Rikus, the supposed non sletsa-piss drinker, is canes best accompaniment. Back at Island Vibe hostel the eight of us piled down to the kitchen cum dining room adjacent to Danny’s dorm. The cane and cream soda bottles were cracked open and we tackled them with zeal, downing teacup after teacup of the sickly, snot coloured mix until we were all firmly on our way.
Adrian, Monica’s Canadian friend, was up to her old tricks again by overtly flirting and dropping in a sexual connotation at every opportunity she could. She rapidly got on the wicks of both Danny and me. We managed to temporarily shut her up by grabbing a breast apiece when she had suggested holding them for a photo. It did feel a little bit cruel as she hadn’t expected us to actually do it, but with all the filthy proposals she regularly spouted she definitely had it coming. I’m just glad she hadn’t suggested we grab her gusset.
We also thought it a grand idea to take a few pleasant pictures for Adrian on her camera when it was doing the rounds. However, the close up moony Danny took of my parted bum cheeks revealed far more than I was willing to release into public viewing.
It really was a hideous sight.
I don’t know what I’d expected to achieve from the bottom shot – perhaps some neat and tidy porn star affair of an anus. The reality was far from it. Instead, I was appalled to realise my sphincter looked as if it had 70’s style mutton chop sideboards. It was the hairiest arse crack I’d ever seen. Not that I went around looking at hairy arses much, but I certainly didn’t expect my ring to resemble Noddy Holder with pursed lips.
“Don’t delete it,” said Danny as I tried to find out how to get rid of the disgusting photograph, “If that doesn’t stop her flirting with you then nothing will.”
“Bollocks to that man,” I replied, hoping it wasn’t stored to an internal memory as well, “That photo was upsetting. I can’t risk that bastard getting put on facebook! I would actually like to get a girlfriend one day you know.”
After a fantastic afternoon on the cane, Dean, Danny and I got a lift with Kalinka and her brother back to their abode where her kind parents cooked us all up an amazing meal. It was the best barbecued chicken I had ever tasted, and their genial hospitality to us drunken gobshites was second to none. It was the perfect finale to a lovely couple of days spent in J-bay.
Leaving my friend Kalinka’s parent’s place, the lads and I, accompanied by our new mascot Monica and her increasingly annoying pal Adrian, all set out on the Baz Bus to the tiny inland town of Storms River.
Storms River is a quaint little hamlet located within attractive countryside on the outskirts of the dramatic Tsitsikamma National Park.
Despite the scenery around Storms River being magnificent, we weren’t really there to enjoy it. The stunning setting was merely an added bonus. Our small group was in the area for another reason entirely.
We were there to hurl ourselves over the edge of the highest bridge in Africa.
Arriving at the Tube ’n’ Axe hostel, we hurriedly threw our bags into our shared dorm before taking a taxi to the Bloukrans Bridge, home of the world’s highest bungee jump at the time. This assertiveness wasn’t because we were all adrenaline junkies eager for the next thrill. Far from it in fact. We were acting purely on the premise that if we sat around procrastinating then some of us would end up psyching ourselves out of the jump.
Having dropped off two Swedish girls at the gateway to the National Park, we finally arrived at the bungee site. I’d had serious butterflies in my stomach all morning and couldn’t keep still. I don’t know how much of my erratic behaviour was due to nerves, or the strange little packet of de-stressing adrenaline pills Rikus had given me before I’d left Jeffrey’s Bay. Either way, it wasn’t a very nice feeling.
Danny was buzzing too, just in a far more positive sense. If the thought of throwing himself off a massive bridge fazed him at all then he hid it incredibly well.
Monica shared a similar outlook to Danny it seemed. Eyes shut, laying back in her favourite Tina Turner T-shirt, she was the picture of serenity during the drive out to the bridge. Monica looked like this most of the time though. The girl either didn’t particularly give a shit about anything, or was simply too numb to contemplate the consequences. Personally I think it was the former, but with Monica you never could really tell.
Dean, on the other hand, was a different story altogether. I had never seen him in such a state before. The boy was absolutely terrified. His face was a similar shade of green to the stretched, ill-fitting hoodie I was sporting. To avoid throwing up he’d sat back in the car like the tranquil Monica and tightly closed his eyes all the way to the jump site.
Paying Face Adrenalin their well-priced fee for the privilege of throwing ourselves off a 216metre high ledge, Dean and I walked towards a viewing platform for our first proper glimpse of the bridge.
The Bloukrans River Bridge connects two mountain roads dissected by a steep, high valley. A thin, brown river slowly slithers along the bottom of the chasm, sourcing from rolling green hills to the north and emptying into the shimmering sea visible to the south.
“Bugger me,” said Dean as a huge truck crossed the bridge looking like a match box with wheels, “it’s frigging massive! Remind me why we wanna jump off that?”
“I have absolutely no idea mate.”
“I don’t know if I can do it man. I am absolutely shitting it.”
“It’ll be alright, try not to worry about it so much. It’s got to be safe or they wouldn’t let people jump.” I replied, trying to convince myself at the same time.
“I honestly can’t see myself being able to jump. Do you reckon they’ll push me if I ask them?”
“Maybe, but once you have seen me and Danny go you will be fine.”
“I’ll have to do it if you twats jump. I’d never live it down otherwise.”
Danny and Monica joined us on the viewing deck, followed by Adrian who wasn’t jumping but had paid to walk out with us onto the bungee platform to offer moral support.
We could see a bit of commotion on a tiny rectangular section in the centre of the bridge and determined that somebody was about to go. It was that vast in stature, the people looked like ants scurrying along the edge of the massive bridge.
A few seconds later, one of the tiny shapes flopped over the edge and began hurtling towards the rocks below. The free fall was immense. It looked as if they were never going to stop plummeting. Eventually the rubber cord tightened, slowing the person down beside a set of yellow distance flags, before springing them back to about 80% of the bridge’s original height. Hovering for a moment they then began careering towards the rocky earth once again.
“Come on you guys!” cried Monica with typical North American enthusiasm, “Let’s go do this thing!”
“How are you feeling now Deano?” asked Danny with a beaming grin.
“Not good.” was the reply uttered from Dean’s mouth, before putting his head down and shuffling off with the rest of us to get harnessed in.
The actual walk out to the bungee platform was scary in itself. We passed through a snake infested trail before inching our way along a thin metal walkway located behind the bridge’s supporting columns. All that separated us from falling a very long way to our deaths was flimsy looking grated flooring not much thicker than chicken wire.
The jumping area was a hive of activity, although only two other paying customers were present. About fifteen Face Adrenalin employees made up the rest of the posse, dancing around and having a laugh with everybody whilst doing their best to put people at ease.
House music played loudly over the sound system and we all nervously began nodding along to the beat.
“Right, Monica. You’re up first,” shouted the guy who had collected us from the car park. “Dean, you’re second. Make your way over to where Monica’s heading and get buckled in.”
As Dean sat anxiously getting his feet tied into the bungee cord, two guys hopped an ever smiling Monica towards the verge. There was no chit chat it seemed, no words of advice, just a quick “five, four, three, two, one, bungee” and over she went.
Monica’s departure from terra firma was hardly graceful. It was more of a reluctant belly flop than elegant swan dive. She didn’t show any signs of hesitancy though. The emitting of a blood curdling scream which didn’t stop until she’d ceased bouncing gave some indication that she wasn’t quite as cool as her demeanour would indicate, yet on the whole Monica faced the world’s highest bungee jump with admirable balls of steel.
I’d been summoned to go and get ready at this point. A big dude who seemed more interested in dancing to Kid Cudi’s Day ‘n’ Night loosely wrapped red padding around my ankles before attaching carabineers to it and my waist.
“This thing around my ankle isn’t tight at all mate,” I said in wide eyed panic.
“Don’t worry bro, you’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, but this bits not tight, wont my feet slip out?”
“No problems bro,” he repeated in a thick South African accent before starting his merry dance again.
I was utterly terrified at this point. The herbal highs Rikus had plied me with had worn off and my stomach was churning like a cement mixer. Dean had since bounced to the edge, and with similar haste to Monica managed to fling himself into the abyss with a perfect dive.
It was my turn to go and I was scared stiff. It wasn’t the thought of the jump itself that affected me most as I hobbled to the edge. I was more petrified that the procession of little farts that had since begun to drop uncontrollably from my dilated bottom were soon going to turn into an actual poo.
Crapping myself in front of all them dancing blokes was a far greater worry than the bungee. When I panic I think I need to dump. Therefore I pointlessly began troubling myself trying to work out which way the shit would fly if I did end up defecating during free-fall. Would it shoot straight down my trouser leg, or right up my back I mused? Either direction wasn’t an overly pleasant prospect.
Two of the happy local lads supported me as I teetered on the narrow ledge. Focusing on not looking down I set my sights on a hill in the distance that looked like a big, brown boob. ‘Please don’t shit, please don’t shit’ I repeated to myself as I stared at the mound, shuffling my toes nervously over the rim.
And then came the countdown.
“Five, four, three, two, one, bungee…….”
The natural urge to not contradict your ingrained survival instincts was incredible. All I wanted to do was lie down and grasp the concrete floor of the bridge. However, the voice inside my head that said ‘you will get the piss ripped out of you for the rest of this trip, now move it soft arse’ was far more imposing. Fighting the terror I closed my eyes, thought sod it and dived out as far and as gracefully as I possibly could.
A huge surge of blood crashed into my cranium as I careened head first towards the rock strewn trickle of brown water below. The wind ripped into my ears like a cacophony of screaming banshees and my internal organs felt as if they were relocating towards my throat.
After a mind boggling descent I finally came to a halt. Pausing in mid-air for a brief second as the elastic tightened I was then hurled at breakneck speed back towards the bridge. On my second descent I was even more disorientated than the first. My arms began instinctively flailing around all over the place, trying to grab onto something solid.
After a while I calmed down a touch, and the brief periods I almost knew where I was were exhilarating. Almost enjoyable even. And since I had managed to keep the loose load well within my intestine, the buzz that successively raced its way around my system was incredible.
Finally grinding to a complete stop I hung halfway between the bridge and the sharp rocks below. Panic gripped me all over again at this stage as I could feel my feet slipping out from the red padding wrapped around my shins. I was positive they were going to come free.
For five minutes I dangled there worrying, my toes curling upwards like a pair of Aladdin’s slippers, until a young guy in a harness descended to where I swung. Wrapping his legs around me and attaching my carabineers to a winch, he then gave the signal for us to be hauled up and onto the bridge.
The relief to be back on solid ground was immense. Only then, when I didn’t feel as if my eyes were making their best efforts to pop out from their sockets, did the joy and excitement of jumping the world’s highest bungee truly hit home.
I felt amazing.
Danny had since leaped and was abuzz with adrenaline too. So much so he wanted to do it again. It was a wonderful unifier and we all felt enormously close as we hopped about the platform in a group hug.
From all of our ecstatic grins Adrian had begun to feel like she was missing out. In recent days she had really got on my nerves, yet to see her harness up and throw herself off that insanely high bridge was massively commendable. She shot up in all our estimations from this bold move and I developed a new, quite large amount of respect for the girl.
Upon returning to the hostel we decided to celebrate our nerve-wracking feat by nipping into the backwards little town centre and procure food for a festive barbecue.
There was hardly anything fresh available in the one tiny supermarket it soon transpired. Instead we were forced to grab random lumps of meat from a freezer and hope for the best. These pot-luck chunks ended up tasting fine once I’d barbequed the arse out of them, even if they did look as if they’d been scraped off the side of the road.
Joining us at the barbeque facilities was a confident young German guy who asked if we minded him cooking his sausage at the same time. He was a sociable enough lad, but very sure of himself and a definite smart arse. Personally I didn’t mind the brash German so much, yet Dean took a real dislike to the guy.
“I’m gonna smack that prick if he comes over here again,” said Dean, staring at the smarmy kraut. “The cheeky twat stuck his dirty German fingers all over our sausages and started slagging ‘em off.”
“Why did he do that?”
“I don’t know. He just picked one up, inspected it, and then began criticising it. He better hadn’t fucking touch my sausage again or he’ll get one on the chin.”
As well as the frankfurter inspector, a really nice couple from Manchester joined us for food that evening. As did the two Swedish girls we had dropped off at the National Park a few hours earlier.
The Mancunian lass was very funny, and rather fit to boot. As she was with her man she escaped the drunken sleaze tactics and instead it got directed at one of the Swedes who’d scrubbed up surprisingly well.
“Go and get her chatted up Blair!” encouraged Dean.
“Aye, fuck it. I’ll have a pop.” I replied in my inebriated haze, before staggering around the bonfire and parking myself up next to her.
In the past I’d been lucky enough to have a reasonable amount of success with Scandinavian ladies met on my travels – Swedes in particular for that matter. On this particular occasion however, I would, to quote Dean, have had more luck trying to plait piss.
The attractive blonde wasn’t interested in my jocular bullshit in the slightest. I soon gave up trying and went back to ogling the attractive Brit at the other side of the bonfire. Dean, on the other hand, got along with the Swede and her friend like a house on fire. Ella had left a day earlier and it hadn’t taken him long to regain his top form.
I’m not sure where I went wrong, but Dean ended up spending the remainder of the evening with the Swedish girls whilst I dejectedly sloped off to bed.