There’s something eerily strange about my next door neighbors, whoever they are. Every morning, sometime between four and six a.m., I hear them yelling and screaming in agony as if one of them is being slaughtered by a serial killer. No joke! In addition to that, I hear either the sounds of screeching cats in pain or little kids screaming in fear – I can’t make out which one it is but it’s pretty disturbing. I know I’m not dreaming, it’s been reoccurring the past few nights. I’ll have to ask Lelethu if she knows what’s up with that. Other than that, at least the weather looks good. Good weather means I’m abseiling down Table Mountain today! I got dressed, ate breakfast, and took a train to Cape Town. I did miss school today but I already told my teachers that I may be absent depending on the weather. So far the weather was bright, sunny, a bit cloudy but suitable enough for the mountain. However this is South Africa; the weather can change almost instantly any minute.
I took a cab from the city hub to Table Mountain. I was already pushing it with time, so I bought a return ticket for a cable car up the mountain. As I waited to get on the car, thick grey clouds started to roll in; it grew a bit nippier outside; and it started to drizzle just a touch. I took out my phone and called the abseil company because I will just sell my ticket to someone if they cancelled the abseil on me yet again. Thankfully enough, it was just a light passing and the woman on the phone said I would still be able to. So up I went!
No one else I knew in South Africa wanted to rope down the cliff of table mountain. I tried to convince other volunteers to do it with me but it was either they were too afraid or just didn’t have the extra money; It was mostly the latter reason. It’s always better (for me at least) to do this fun stuff with other people, so fortunately I wasn’t alone. There was a group of people I would be abseiling down with who were around my age; either volunteers from a different organization or tourists on a holiday. Two girls, one from here and one from the U.K, and a young couple from Sri Lanka. We were all placed in a group because we booked around the same time. Matt, the abseil guide, gave us a tutorial on safety and how to descend. It was fairly simple. It was the harness I wore that concerned me. Whenever I wear these things, it hurts so bad when they are in use. It’s the same kind of harness I wore from zip-lining and para-sailing, both times I was hurting up a storm. Maybe I wear them wrong?
Anyhow, the two girls went first. Understandingly, they were hesitant at the sight of going over a cliff but eventually made their way down. The Sri Lanka couple was next. I had to talk the girl into giving it a shot because she was on the verge of tears and almost giving up. I kept a comforting smile on for her the whole time as she inched her stiff, fear-stricken body to the edge. I told her, her boyfriend will buy her something really nice once she made it off. They both started to laugh, and I think it put her into ease. Eventually, she slowly began to descend. It took forever, but they both finally made it. Now it was my turn.
112 meters (roughly 368 feet) is the length I would be going down. I hung over the edge and went down a couple of feet and that’s when my harness started to hurt my midsection. The feeling was so uncomfortable! Matt tried to guide me to fix it, while I was hanging in mid-air haha! But I was bounded by ropes and all kinds of gear that I just decided to just deal with it. I was able to adjust it so that I was “sitting” which felt a little better. I slowly descended down the mountains flat side. The wall was a little slippery, from the condensation of the rolling clouds, but I was completely fine and not nervous in the slightest bit. I had my camera strapped around me; I tried to get some good photos but only my left hand was free and I’m no left hander haha! This is all I could get…
At one point, I started jumping in place. I would bounce from the wall and back into place. I felt like a pro! Except for the couple of times when instead of landing back on the wall, I would crash my body flat against it, slamming against my arms. No worries though, I thought it was funny each time. As I went down, I would find a groove in the wall where I could place my feet to stop and look around. I’ve been on this mountain many times already but I can never get sick of the views and scenery, even when dangling from the side it. This is one of nature’s new seven wonders for a reason and I can attest to that. About halfway down the decent, there came a part where there was no wall, just rappelling down the rest of the way. Matt didn’t warn us about this, but I found it to be a very smooth travel downwards as I saw small waterfalls and caves all around me. I saw the rest of my group down below waving up to me. I didn’t want this to end yet! I landed on the bottom of the descent and looked up to see how far I’ve gone and it was pretty far. The others said I came down really quick compared to them. I think it took them about fifteen minutes, whereas it took the Sri Lanka couple almost 20 minutes. It took me only a few minutes, but I tried to take my time. Once I made it to the bottom though I was a bit relieved because that harness was killing me! I will have to figure out one day, either I’m always wearing it too tight or too loose.
Now all we had to do was hike back up to the top. This is the part where I hear people complain the most about how hard the hike is and they wish they would have known about it before they decided to abseil. After climbing the monstrous beast that is Kilimanjaro, nothing could possibly be more difficult. This was my kind of terrain too: rocky and unpaved. This route is called the “India Venster” route. Easy it was, as I leaped from rock to rock and climbed my way with ease back up to the top in the dewy fog. We all reached the top of the mountain and retrieved our bags and received our certificates. Thats four certificates I’ve gotten in Africa so far: abseiling, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and Kilimanjaro. I didn’t think they gave out certificates for these sort of things haha!
I will definitely abseil again if I ever came back here, but next time I think I will hike up, abseil down, hike up, and then hike back down the entire mountain just to challenge myself. I would also bring a friend along even if I had to drag them up! I have to thank you Kili, you’ve hardened me as a mountain climber. I remember thinking, the day after I got off of Kilimanjaro, I told myself, I am done with mountains. But now, about a month later, I can’t get enough of them. And guess what I’m doing tomorrow guys. Sky diving!
P.S. Thanks to those of you that already donated to my paypal to get these kids the things they need to excel in school. DANIELSLLRS@att.net is the email associated with my account if you are still interested in helping these guys out! Thanks a whole lot!