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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Great Leap

I had just visited the chiropractor in Auckland for a 2nd session, when I asked him what type of activities were banned.(See my last note) I asked him about zorbing, rock climbing, sledging, sky-diving, most especially bungy jumping...all the kinds of things that make New Zealand what it is...a dashing, romping, adrenaline-pumping nation of adventure mongerers and extreme sports participants. The chiropractor told me that he wasn't one to say, "absolutely not", that I was in New Zealand...I should have some fun. But he did state the obvious that indulging in gut-wrenching activities can keep my sprained back from healing as quickly. He gave me several cracks on my spine, and a massage and I went bounding to the Auckland City Centre, Queens Street to meet Tyler and our free tour bus ride.

The bus picked us up within minutes and it was to take us all around the vast city of Auckland giving us a brief glimpse of New Zealand's largest city, where one can view both the Pacific and the Tasman Sea in one setting. The bus started off and we were surrounded by young backpackers of various nationalities. Just around the block, our bus climbed, to get the largest building in the southern hemisphere, the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is shaped just like the needle tower in Seattle, Washington. They have a restaraunt on top, and will charge even those folks that just want to look at the Auckland sky line, a whopping $24 to ride to the top. Apparently, in the true Kiwi spirit, there was a cord attached to the top and a person could jump off of it, if he or she so desired and if the person was willing to shuffle out about $200 for the fast-accelerating trip. We were going to watch this amazing spectacle. There was a landing pad down below with a large X painted on it where the thrill seeker could land safely and without plummeting straight into Auckland traffic.

We all hopped off the bus, my sprained back and sore neck thankful for the respite; bus rides seem to jostle it around a bit. We stood crowded at the base of the lofty skytower, the landing pad near, and our tour guide before us. "Okay", he said, " We're about to watch someone do the skytower jump. And since this is everyone's first time in New Zealand,...would anyone be willing to be a volunteer to jump for free?"

I guess it was just my enthusiastic impulse. There wasn't a moment's reflection. My hand shot up into the sky, seeming to pierce the clouds that were beckoning to me so heedlessly. The tour guide's brow's raised, "Oh I like your enthusiasm." Several other hands shot up after mine. But I was the most glaringly obvious. The tour guide looked at me, "Well then, come with me, and we'll get you harnessed up."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He was being absolutely honest. He wasn't joking. I was getting this free treat only because of my impulsiveness. This was great!

But what about my sprained back? I guess it'll be okay. It's not a bungy jump where you attach this cord to your legs and then your spine, neck, and shoulders, all go whiplash when the cord stretches to it's utmost. No, this was just the type of freefall where the cord is attached to your waist area and you fall until you're about to splat on the pavement and the cord eases you down like a parachute onto that before mentioned X-landing pad. I asked the guy if having a slightly hurt back should be a problem. I wanted to avoid the word, "sprained" it had a negative connotation. He told me to jump into the air and then land firmly with both feet. I did so without pain. And he said, if you can handle that, then you can handle the sky tower jump. I said something along the lines of, "Woohoo, let's go."

Down to the basement of the tower I went to get suited up. They placed this parachuting suit on me, then a harness. I asked him if I could have a cape, maybe even a mask. He laughed. And I told him him that they should have tuxedos for people to wear, so they can feel like James Bond when falling from the sky to the city life below. They didn't have any of these innovations with them. I think next time, I'll have that luchador wrestling mask with me.

Then it was up the elevator to the top and to where my leap should take place. I remember it being a cloudy day, the grating I walked out on was slick with moisture. They hooked the cord onto the back of my harness, and walked me out to the edge. The wind blew. I could see all of Auckland bustling below. The blues seas off frolicking on either side of the metropolis.

I was 630ft in the air. The highest structure in the southern hemisphere. The guy before me turned around and backed off the edge in one backwards step. The guys who worked the rigging told me it was funner to face the outside and just walk off. So I did this, my hands holding on to either side of the wire, my feet right on the edge, I stepped out, and down I fell maybe a few feet. Til they let me hang there, dangling before the entire city. This is where you're supposed to look up and pose for the cameras and the people in the restaraunt ontop. For seconds, I dangled and then swoosh.....I fall. The buildings go from antsize to normal. The wind hums as I flash by. I was loving it.

From the initial drop, I had deliberated on my descent. It had to be perfect. So I kicked one leg straight down and folded up the other, while my arms outstretched from my torso, so that my entire fall was like a superhero in full grandeur, landing in the heart of the city. The windows of all the neighboring buidlings and towers whizzed past me.

I saw the crowd centered around my landing pad. And they began to cheer when I touched down in grand fashion like a superhero arriving on the scene. Tyler had his laptop out and was filming the entire thing. The batteries in his camera with the video option was dead. So he was filming with his laptop. But very ironically, because a laptop is difficult to angle, his recording missed my entire flight down and had the view right before me. But he did manage to get some interesting interviews with some Kiwi school children on a field trip who were watching me land. After talking to them, he got them rallied up and they were a great audience. Right now, Tyler and I are trying to befriend this Dutch girl who was on the tour, who filmed my descent, so that we could have footage of the entire thing. My back hardly noticed that it free fell for about 11 seconds.


Blogger ПАПА said...

I commend you on your spontaneous and quick response to the request of a brave volunteer. However, your back and spine my not be as quick to give you the accolades. Who knows... the fall my have repaired the wretched muscles and twisted ligaments and could have possibly unknotted the crinkled nerves, or on the other hand, you could have been paralyised for the rest of your very fruitful and entertaining life. Im glad you are having fun...I would have volunteered as well! Good job.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous the author said...

Well, I'm sure somewhere in NZ you can bungy jump on a motorcycle. So if you decide to come you can try that. Thanks for the comments.

2:10 AM  

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