Plunge leads to life lesson
Published: Thursday, August 27, 2009
Updated: Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:08
It was sunrise and only our third day in Belize. It was only the beginning of our three week Immersion and Volunteer trip into the diverse culture of Belize. The fifteen Ignacio Volunteers of Loyola University New Orleans had stayed two nights at the Cohune Palms Cabanas and were scheduled to leave after breakfast. Six volunteers, myself included, were taking advantage of the pre-breakfast sunlight to jump into a river via a rope swing.
An eruption of nervous laughter bubbled up inside me as I peered over the edge of the platform. I am not the adventurous type, nor did I believe I had the arm strength to hold myself up long enough to clear the platform.
The three boys had no problem throwing themselves off the dock. The girls were more hesitant. The coaxing began as the first girl was elected to jump, but her nerves got the best of her.
I took the rope and a deep breath. I slowly counted to three in my head, and I did it! I hurled myself into the air, squeezing the rope as hard as I could. I flexed every muscle in my body, trying to stay glued to the rope.
As I reached the apex I heard a staccato of voices, "Let go!" "Drop!" "Go now!" I sprung from the rope, throwing my limbs outward like a floating starfish. I screamed and smiled, and dropped into the river like a brick. The water stung. I came up for air and swam for shore. What a thrill!
The other two girls soon followed, and each volunteers had time to jump about four times. Breakfast time was nearing, and I was feeling satisfied with the amount of adventurousness I'd exhibited. But the boys weren't finished.
"Come on Janece, don't wimp out now, you big baby!" The boys jabbed at my pride with various profanities. I wasn't going to let them talk to me like that. I snatched the rope and leaped of the dock.
One minor problem occurred. The rope wrapped itself around my left leg. I shimmied and wiggled with no luck. I let go at the apex, but the rope didn't let go of me.
Gravity pulled my body towards the river, but for a split second I was frozen in midair as the rope unraveled from my ankle. The rope quickly freed me from its death grip and I flopped into the river at the most awkward of right angles: both feet stuck straight in the air, while my torso lay perpendicular.
My back slapped the water with a crack. I couldn't breath or swim, it stung so badly. My head found the surface but I still couldn't breathe. It felt as if needles were piercing every inch of skin on my back. I took a shallow breath, and swam like a stunned fish towards the latter at the rivers edge. I could hear the obnoxious laughter coming from the dock above me, and I became embarrassed.
I just had to jump one last time didn't I? I got what I deserved for being so arrogant and careless. I learned it's important to be adventurous in life, but to leave my ego at home. Or else I'll only end up falling flat on my back.