What would you consider crazy? How about climbing to the top of one of South Africa’s World Cup stadiums, not to admire the view, but to jump into thin air, does that sound crazy enough? That’s exactly what a group of us did at the famous Moses Mabhida Stadium on a recent visit to Durban.
Oh were you expecting a post about some other form of swinging? I’m all for full on travel experiences and even sharing them with you, but it was a much tamer activity this time round. At least I’m getting some insight into the sort of posts which interest you!
Six of us opted to do the ‘Big Swing‘, and even before we had the full body harnesses fitted some were already regretting their decision. However, by the time we’d climbed several hundred stairs and were looking down on the city there were probably a few more thinking the same.
One guy in particular was genuinely terrified, he had a fear of heights, which as we made our way up the steps became progressively more obvious. By the time we reached the jump platform, he was looking really pale and wasn’t enjoying the view of Durban from our impressive vantage point.
To access the jump platform required descending a steep metal ladder, which was the first real test of our nerve. It required climbing down to the platform below, with the long, long drop to the manicured turf easily visible. I don’t think many were in any rush to climb down this particular ladder.
I had opted to go first as this would enable me time to watch the rest of the group jump. My plan had been to attempt to video my plunge into thin air and free swing above the pitch of this impressive stadium;
Diving clear of the platform there wasn’t any feeling of being pulled by the oversized elastic band, just falling into space. Swinging outwards over the pitch far below me, but without any pendulum effect as the cord quickly prevented any back-swing. This brought my Durban swinging experience to an abrupt full stop.
It was then just a matter of being hoisted back up to the platform. This was quite uncomfortable in my block and tackle area due to the leg loops on the harness being too loose. Future swinging was looking even less likely.
Ascending involved continually spinning around in circles, which apart from causing dizziness, made for some less than exciting video, which is why there isn’t any embedded stream of me screaming and making a complete fool of myself. I did almost go for a second unexpected jump however. Once back on the platform, before being secured, the cord tried to give me a repeat performance, almost dragging me back off the platform. The safety guys grabbed me in panic… though maybe they just don’t like giving free swings.
Being first allowed me to relax and watch the rest of the group as they took their leap of faith. There was lots of screaming, leg kicking, and it wasn’t pretty, I took some video as well as photos, but it won’t be shared either. It’s nothing to do with respecting my colleagues dignity, I might need them for future blackmail purposes.
Everybody did jump, even ‘Mr Vertigo’, which I think he deserves huge respect for. He overcame a genuine phobia, it is hard to imagine how he must have felt as he climbed down the ladder, being prepared to go and when he finally launched himself into his greatest fear. I was certainly impressed.
Coming down from the natural high an experience like bungee jumping provides, usually takes longer than even the slow descent of the stadium steps. Our little band were chattering, excitedly, recounting our experience to anybody that was within earshot. Videos of screaming, flying tracksuits were reviewed, reviewed again, shared, and then reviewed again. The muted hollers and whoops of our recorded leaps filled the mini-bus all the way back to our accommodation.
It is an experience that none of us will probably ever forget, and besides if the others do, I’ve stored the video, who knows when it might come in handy.
Incidentally, if anybody is still interested in the Durban alternative swinging scene, just shoot me an email, I’ll try to find out what the skinny is.
*All images were captured on a compact camera