14 Jul 2011 A long way down
A while ago I got a phone call at about midnight from some guests in Room 1 informing me that they were having trouble locking the door of their room. I grabbed the flashlight as it was a dark night and quickly ran over the suspension bridge that connects the suites to the entertainment area. It was already winter and freezing cold outside, so I sprinted the short distance from my room to the guest’s suite. This left me pretty exhausted (it felt like I had just done the New York marathon) and I had to concentrate very hard not to gasp for air in front of the guest.
It turned out there was a problem with the door lock, so I eventually locked the door from the inside and exited the room via the back door. Camp Jabulani has six suites, each with a raised wooden deck and private plunge pool at the back door. And each suite’s deck is elevated to a different height. Room 1 is a paltry 0.6m off the ground, wheras Room 4 is a whopping 2 storeys (or close to it) above terra firma.
I walked out onto the pitch black deck, and thinking that the ground was less than a metre away I didn’t even bother to sit down on the edge and slide down on my backside. Instead I just leapt over the railing Chuck Norris style. A few seconds later I was still midair and realised – to my absolute horror – that I had mixed up the rooms and was in fact free-falling the almost two storeys down from Room 4. Without a parachute!
I crashed through a few Knob-thorn trees, landed briefly on my feet, and then made a double forward somersault. If I’d landed on my feet I would have gotten full marks at the Olympics. While lying on my back admiring what I’d just achieved at the age of 44, I felt a massive pain shooting through my whole body. My first thought was that I must have broken something. It was only when the pain shot through me a second time that I realised I’d ended up against the electric fence, and was in the process of being grilled by 8000 volts of electricity. I rolled away from the fence, relieved that I still had limited movement. Just as I was about to stand up and assess how many bones I’d broken, a light beam flashed passed my head.
The guests were standing on the deck, excitedly shining their torch to find the “elephant” or “rhino” that had just crashed through the bushes. To save myself the embarrassment of having to admit my faux pas, I lay dead quiet and watched as the light beam scoured the bushes mere inches from where I lay. After about ten minutes of lying in the freezing cold, the guests eventually gave up their search and went back inside. At which point I gingerly stood up, grateful to see that I could still walk (albeit with a bit of a limp). I hobbled off as quietly as I could, and when I got back to my room my wife was very concerned as she thought I’d been attacked by a leopard. It was only when I looked in the mirror that I understood why. I was totally battered, blood seeping from open wounds, and my entire body covered in dead leaves. The joys of life in the bush.
Until next time,