No fear? No memory? No worries

Gabrielle Costa finds she has no fear as she takes a leap of faith in Africa - and that's what scares her.

Using my tried and tested logic that everything, no matter how good or bad, is over eventually, I decided that it might be a good idea to bungee jump.

I had always thought the bungee thing wasn't for me: the bounce looked like it would jar one's spine and the freefall, well, I thought it would be terrifying.

But when I arrived in Jinja, Uganda, on a recent trip to Africa, and looked down into the rushing waters of the Nile River, the very lifeblood of the continent, I thought, why not? If I'm going to do it, here's the place.

I'll just jump off the platform and all will be well, I thought. If it hurts a bit, it hurts. If the elasticised cord breaks, it breaks. So I signed up, waived all my rights for now and eternity, and made my way up the staircase to the launchpad. No fear. No worries.

I wanted to go first. I really did. But one of the others jumping that day - a woman with a magnificent fear of heights - said she wanted to go first. So I stood aside and watched.

Three, two, one, bungee!! yelled Jack, the Kiwi bungee operator. And there stood the first cab off the rank, still on the platform, lips aquiver, knees visibly shaking. After a few seconds of nerve-calming assurances, jumper number one heard the cry again: three, two, one, bungee!! And down she went, a twist of limbs and cord driven at a fantastic pace by gravity.

Looked good. Nothing snapped. We got the thumbs up once she'd been picked up by a waiting boat and transported back to dry land. All seemed well.

And I waited and waited til it was my turn. And I waited and waited for the fear to kick in. Strangely, it didn't.


Another jumper asked, "Are you scared yet?" Nope. "Should I be?" I replied. Probably, I thought.

And eventually the wait, much like all things good and bad, was over.

Jack looked at the weight written in texta on my hand, then came the reverse whistle, the kind where the fast intake of breath produces a sound. Fifty-two and a half kilos. Teeny-tiny in the adult world. "You'll get a bit of bounce," he said emphatically. The lighter you are, apparently, the more you bounce.

I sat in a little chair that in its own way looked and felt like an electric chair, as Jack and his buddy sorted out the cord, wrapping a towel around my legs and hooking all manner of things to one another.

And still no fear. That was scaring me more than anything. A rational person, I kept thinking, would be beside themselves. "Scared yet, Gab?" another jumper asked. Nope.

So I got to my tightly bound feet and hopped to the edge of the platform in tiny little jumps. Not too big - might be off the platform before you're ready, I told myself.

And I waited. Jack's voice boomed: Three, two, one, bungee!!

This really isn't very smart, I remember thinking at precisely that moment. I really shouldn't do it. And that's the last thing I remember before the bounce. I'm not sure if it was the first bounce or the second bounce or even the third. I remember thinking, that's enough now. I want to get down.

I'm not sure what happened after I jumped. I don't remember. My life may well have flashed before my eyes. I may have screamed. I may have stopped breathing. I'll never know. It's been tucked away into some impenetrable corner of my knows-no-fear brain.

Once the bounce slowed and I was bobbing a few metres from the Nile, I felt a sense of exhilaration, just dangling mid-air over what's arguably the most famous river in the world, more than 40 metres below the last solid thing my feet had touched.

It didn't hurt. The cord didn't snap and the hooks held their own. And like all things good and bad, it was over. Until next time. A bigger better jump awaits. I just hope I can remember it.