Let me tell you about the time I jumped down Suicide Gorge for love.
Okay, truth be told, I did it mostly for the sheer joy of it, but rest assured that wooing a girl with precious stones definitely played a part in the endeavour.
We drove out of Cape Town before sunrise and an hour later, we parked the car in the foothills of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. My companion was a friend, mind, not my later-to-be-wooed love interest. A three-hour hike up the mountain brought us to the top of a ravine — Suicide Gorge. I’m not sure if people go there to reschedule their appointment with Death, but I do know that many hikers have perished in this beautiful slice of nature.
The ravine is a series of pools, connected by waterfalls, leading to a river at the bottom. Hiking down is a five-hour journey. You jump from pool to pool and wade through the river to the end of the trail. Thing is, after the second jump, you’re committed; you can’t climb back. And then, there follows a ten-metre drop, which, if you’re unwilling to jump, will result in a helicopter full of annoyed rescue personnel coming to save your ass.
Now, to the girl. She was in London at the time. We were dating online, you see, which is about as frustrating as trying to snatch a teddy bear with a Claw Machine. She referred to our Skype calls, Google Talk chats, and text messages as “pebbles”, little virtual markers to keep us on track.
So, obviously I stuffed my pockets with rocks all the way down the gorge. These I mailed to her — a near kilogram of river-smoothed stones in a self-painted, glazed flower pot. A bit daft, I grant you, but she married me in the end. Couldn’t have been too weird then, right?
Come to think of it, I’ve done way more romantic things than mailing a woman a bag of rocks, but none of those stories start with, “I jumped down Suicide Gorge for love,” so, you know.