Well, let me tell you a little bit about this adventure.
First off, this bridge is not your mother’s bridge, some decorative yard sculpture 2 feet off the ground.
This is San Francisco bridge in Baños, Ecuador. It’s over 100 meters from the bridge to the water below. (For you Americans, that’s over 300 feet.)
Baños is something like the adventure sports capital of Ecuador… so it’s no surprise they have bridge jumping (or puenting) when they have horsebackriding, whitewater rafting, hiking, ziplining, and much more. And, I had heard rumors that you could jump off a bridge in Baños from travel buddies, like Gareth.
So, I knew I had to do it or I would be chickening out… So, one day, some fellow travelers and I walked over to the bridge to do the deed.
The bridge is only about 3 blocks away from the center of town. Baños itself is like 7 blocks wide, so you can walk practically anywhere. On top of this, I was staying at Hostal Erupcíon, a really good hostel in the middle of everything. (Be sure to check it out if you end up in Baños.)
Anyways, when I arrived at the bridge, they told me to get into this harness.
The thing about this harness is that the support straps came really close to my boys.
You see, I really like my boys and I don’t want anything bad to happen to them. I will protect them from harm whenever possible.
So, from the get-go, I wasn’t so sure about this.
I mean, you can tell by my nervous smile in the next photo… As they tighten the whole contraption, I am thinking, this feels a liiiiiiiittle tight…
So, it wasn’t the height of the jump that was bothering me, it was the damn harness. I spent several minutes making sure it was properly adjusted, making sure to simulate the full-force jump and gauge how my boys would take it.
Anyways, they told me the drill– that they were going to count to 3 and I was to dive off this little platform which hung over the edge of the bridge. They said the further I jump the better, and to lean back on the ‘swing’ time.
So I climb up the platform, still a little bit worried… not about jumping, of course, but about how my boys were going to handle this precarious situation…
Honestly, though, once you are fully up there on the platform, your mind turns to what is actually in front of you.
Your concerns about the harness are only tangential to the task at hand and the height at which you find yourself.
Take a look… From the platform, this is the view if you look out straight ahead:
And, if you look down, this is the view…
So, as you get up there, your mind quickly forgets about the harness per se, and immediately goes into full alert when you are standing on the edge of the platform.
But suddenly, I thought to myself, “What am I going to do from the platform except jump? Keep adjusting my harness?? It’s time to do this!”
Any more waiting and I would just get paralysis.
So, the dude behind me counted to three and I proceeded to swan dive towards the river below.
Hanging back during the swinging was the technique to lighten the load on the boys. If I hadn’t done that, I can tell you they probably wouldn’t have survived. They key is to hang back when the rope slackens at the crest of the swing.
Anyways, the jump was loads of fun. If you end up in Baños, make sure you go jump off the San Francisco bridge.
…especially now that you know how to do it without killing your offspring.