Adrenaline Seeking in San Gil

For the last two years one of the things I have come to realize about me is that I am an early-stage adrenaline junkie.

Some may say I have a death wish, while others may just think that I’ve lost my mind trying all these seemingly dangerous things.

But to me it’s all part of living and seeking the next adrenaline rush.




The First Adrenaline Rushes

It all started with my first skydive experience two years ago.

The feeling of free-falling through clouds. The exhilaration that comes with having my body fall through the air with nothing under to support it, and the “fear” of seeing the ground get closer and closer by the second, and only having a parachute to stop me from becoming a human pancake.

I loved skydiving and the feeling of adrenaline rushing through my whole being. The feeling of putting my life at a somewhat calculated risk, it was something I had never done before….and I liked it!

So a few months later I signed up for rap jumping.

Rap jumping is scary as hell. The action of descending a high surface, like a building or a high mountain, tied to a fixed rope on a standing position while facing the ground was a scary-as-shit crap-in-your-pants experience.

HOLY SHIT was it frightening!!!

Not only was this scary because I had to let my body go down a tall structure in a horizontal position (which is really not natural), but also because the only person with control over how fast I went and applying the breaks was me…ME!!! I have a hard time trusting myself driving, let alone trusting myself with my own life.

But once again, the adrenaline rush took over and I had the time of my life!!!

So when I started my around-the-world trip, I wanted to include a few of these adrenaline rush experiences on my 2017 travel bucket list. And have I started early!!!

During my first two months on the road, I have done countless hikings and treks.

I love trekking, they provide me not only with much needed exercise but some of the most amazing views, but also I would never back down from a trek no matter how hard or early it is (5AM start in Huaraz).

But the rush of extreme sports was missing, and it was only when I met a girl in MedellÍn who suggested I head to San Gil that I knew where to go get my fix.

Adrenaline Seeking In San Gil

Dubbed as “Colombia’s Adventure Capital”, San Gil is the perfect spot in Colombia for adrenaline junkies like me.

Although there is not that much to see in the city, San Gil offers MANY opportunities to get an adrenaline rush on.

Bungee jumping, paragliding, rappelling, water rafting, and other crazy stuff.

So I Signed Up For Bungee Jumping

What is cool about the bungee jump I did was that we do not get to jump from a bridge, but from an electric tower, taking you up to 70 meters high for the jump.

When I signed up I had a mind of going to the site, get tied up, jump off, and get it over with as quick as I could. But when I got to the site there were already 3 people ahead of me.

So I had to be patient and wait as they each got nervous in front of me.
Had second thoughts right in front of me.
I saw them as the tower took them to the highest point.
Took their time getting ready to jump.
Screamed their lungs out once they finally jumped.

With each one of them jumping ahead of me, my nervousness got bigger.

There is something about jumping off a tall structure with my feet and waist tied with a rope that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

As my turn was up next the second, third and fourth thoughts started invading my mind as the elevator took me up the tower.

“What was I thinking? Am I crazy? What if I get hurt? Oh crap I didn’t buy travel insurance!!! Oh no problem I’ll probably die anyways.”

The instructor talks to me, all I can hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. All I can do is look at the void.

I walk to the jumping point. The instructor asks me to put my feet halfway out of the platform, “are you crazy?!?!?! I might fall!!!” I remember thinking.

So finally it’s time, I lean forward, the instructor holds me, he counts:

Three!

Two!

Just let me go!!! I scream

One!

Go-Pro view of my terrifying jump!

I see the water approaching. Air fills my lungs. A crazy scream gets out of me. I go inside the water for half a second. I bounce back, and fall again.

Bungee jumping was one of the best experiences of my life!!!! Walking myself to the edge of the platform, looking how high I was, I am surprised I decided to jump at all. To see a video of the jump, click here.

Bungee jumping was in my bucket list for a while, and I am glad I was able to do it while on a trip. My next time I hope for it to be from Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa, the highest bungee from a bridge at 216 meters.

Water Rafting On A Class 5 River

So how do I top this?

How can I possibly top the exhilaration provided by jumping off a 70 meter bridge with only an elastic rope tied to my feet???

By facing an old fear of mine…..my fear of water.

So I signed up to water rafting on Río Suárez, a Class 5 river (whitewater, large waves in a large quantity, very large rocks and hazards, likeliness of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. Skill level required: Full mastery of rafting).

I do not have full mastery of rafting…

Water rafting itself is not so bad. I’m on a boat wearing a life-vest with 5 other people on the boat with me, plus an instructor, plus 2 kayakers surveying all groups. What can possibly go wrong, right?

Only falling off the boat and the water swallowing me up in a swirl and spitting me out on a rock, that’s what.

Class 5 rivers are no child’s play. As we started the rafting the first sections of the rapids were already at a Class 5 level due to heavy rainfalls in the last couple of days.

The waves made the boat jump several times.

Up then down, SPLASH!
Left to right, SPLASH!
Then swirl!

We kept getting yelled at by the instructor to paddle harder (no “good job guys”, only “work harder”…reminds me of my last job).

All was good and fun until the first fatality, a girl gets thrown head first into the rapids.

We see her, start paddling towards her. We jump to one side of the boat to her rescue, but as we pull her up a tide almost tips the raft over. We get all thrown to different places inside the boat, a guy falls on my leg bending it in an awkward position. I would be then injured for the rest of the raft.

All went smooth from then on, until the last class 5 rapid hit everyone.

We hear the instructor, “paddle!” “paddle harder!!!” PAAAADDDLLLEEEEEEE!!!!!!” 

We once again get thrown everywhere. We pass through rocks, huge water swirls, waves continue to hit us hard. Many of us almost fell from the boat.

We finally make it OK, but that’s when we see a boat ahead of us, floating upside down, and we only see 2 people swimming in the water. Kayakers are picking people up, and then…

A girl swims from under the boat. She had been trapped with no air under the raft for what most likely felt like an eternity. She swam through the rapids to the shore, we went to get her, she would be OK.

What Else to Do

Unfortunately the injury on my leg would leave me limping for a few days, unable to do anything too extreme….so I went on a 2 hour hike from Barichara to Guane (which I must admit was not a very good idea but…).

As I look forward to the next couple of months, I will continue to look for opportunities to make my heart race and have that necessary adrenaline rush which I wish I had sought many years ago.

And you, what do you do to make your heart race? What is your maximum rush experience?

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