Hot Air Balloon – South Africa – Colleen Friesen
Search terms are amazing.
We simply type in a word or three into the little search box, tap the equivalent of the silver arm on the Google machine, and then stand back while bells clang, lights strobe, the cherries and lemons line up – bam! - we are served up a zillion answers to our random three word question.
I am often amused by the weird and wacky word combinations that lead unsuspecting innocents to my blog. When I checked a couple of weeks ago, I found that someone had been led here by three words, ’Oribi Gorge Death’.
Curious, I popped open a new screen and typed in the same three word search. Up came my post about my jump into South Africa’s Oribi Gorge last May. But more disconcertingly, the second item was a news story that had only been posted four hours before. It was the story of a young man, an employee at the Oribi Gorge, who did the same jump I had done in May. Apparently, this time he tried a variation. The cable snapped. He plunged to his death.
I felt a fizzy-sick feeling as I read the article. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for the people at the top of the gorge who watched it all happen. I felt even sicker, imagining this young man’s horrible death and my escape from the same fate.
Why him? Why not me?
What is fate?
Tourism boards love to have travel writers experience adrenalin-inducing moments at their destination. I suppose they think that this will make their corner of the world the most exciting of them all.
I get it. I really do. Whether with the help of press offices or on my own, I have done the tandem sky-dive, the hot air balloon, zipped on lines in St. Lucia, Wales and South Africa, through jungles, over lakes, gorges and abandoned quarries. For years, I got bounced between the West Coast clouds of BC in little float planes, looking for the coast line through soupy fog or pounding rain. I’ve done the scuba dives into the inky depths, including one heart-stopping descent that included a staring contest with a Hawaiian shark. I’ve walked away from too-many crashed and crushed cars, worn the cast, had the stitches, sported the whiplash collar, needed a wheelchair and worn down crutches.
In short, most of my life I’ve poked Fate in the eye with a big sharp stick.
It’s not that I no longer want adventure and I’m certainly grateful for all the adrenalin-induced grins I’ve experienced. But I no longer feel the need to add a man-made thrill, especially considering that even in safety-conscious Canada, for most of these companies, there is no overarching regulatory body that checks on safety.
I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with the blood-rush of the new; a new landscape, a new people, new foods and/or language is quite enough. More than enough.
I do not need a zipline to top it. Like dinner. It’s been done.
My new response goes something like this:
Dear Tourism Board,
I know I will love experiencing your part of the world. Trust me when I tell you its natural wonders and its people are exciting enough.
Please don’t strap me to a cable and fling me through the trees.
With this newly-crafted response, I am putting down that well-worn stick. I am slowly and oh-so-quietly backing away from the poor beleagured critter called Fate.
I remain ever hopeful that He will curl back into his mouldering cave, close His eyes and forget about me… for at least a few more years.