ferrari slide The author and his fiancéePHOTO: Msindisi Fengu
As a black person, confronting nature is one of the main things that I don’t dare do. It’s arguably not in our culture and a big “no-no” to take chances with one’s life. Note. I speak for myself now.
Surrounded by mountains, the Drakensberg Sun Resort in KwaZulu-Natal was the perfect spot for my fiancée, our two-year-old daughter and I to explore the wonders of the Drakensberg.
However, it was my fiancée who got the most out of the trip as, unbeknown to the both of us, a cure for her acrophobia (fear of heights) awaited us.
We were aware that among the adventures scheduled for our stay was a “canopy ride”, but we didn’t quite know what that meant. No one would say a word and the organisers were just as ambiguous as the tour guides.
That was until our second day at the resort when we were driven to the canopy ride only to be met by 12 slides that zip-line through and above treetops – some as high as 100m off the ground. We went from platform to platform faster than I could have imagined. The slides have been given the name “Ferrari”, if memory serves me well, and rightly so.
As life-threatening as zipping through tress at great heights seemed at first, I reluctantly committed to doing it after the safety measures were explained to us. I decided to step up to the challenge and encouraged my fiancée to do the same.
“This is the only opportunity you have to challenge your fears,” I said, and she eventually agreed to give it a try.
(While we were chasing adventures, our daughter was being taken care of by babysitters at the resort.)
After the experience, my fiancée said it looked pretty easy when the guides demonstrated, until it was her turn to take the first slide and her heart raced.
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“I asked myself a lot questions: What if these trees aren’t strong enough? What if I get stuck in the middle? What if I fall? They encouraged me to go ahead and not think too much, so I put on a brave face and did just that,” she said.
Her first slide was a success because it was quite short. But her second didn’t go as smoothly as the first one – she got stuck right in the middle.
“I had never panicked that much in my entire life. I even regretted agreeing to do this. I asked myself: What was I thinking? I thought to myself: I am not into wildlife activities; I’m a cinema kind of girl. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go home. I could literally see myself crashing into that forest below, and Lord the snakes would have the time of their lives chowing me to death. What a trying moment!”
The monkey dance
The tour guides had told us that once you get stuck in the middle of the line, you shouldn’t panic, just do the monkey dance – an emergency tactic that involves putting one hand after the other on the rope until you reach the other side.
When she found herself dangling in the middle of the line, I shouted that she could successfully accomplish the task and reminded her to do the monkey dance.
She says she could hear me shouting encouragement from the other end.
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“I had to do the monkey dance to pull myself to the end, and God it was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. Eventually, I managed. What a huge relief! I wanted to quit so badly but it was a long way back and even longer going forward. I had no choice but to finish all 12 slides,” she said.
She couldn’t believe that she made it to the last slide.
“I was too tired but proud of myself. I faced one of my greatest fears in life and I won. Right in that moment, I realised that nothing is impossible in life. You can do absolutely anything you want if you believe in yourself. Would I ever want to do it again? My traumatised self is far from ready to even think of such a possibility. However, I’m extremely grateful for this unforgettable experience but, more than that, I’m grateful for the lesson learnt,” she said proudly.
*Disclaimer: Msindisi Fengu and his were hosted by Drakensberg Sun Resort
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