(Just) Surviving Okere Falls
I like to say yes to most things on offer. Not always to the extent where I’ll endanger myself in the name of stupidity, but certainly to the extent where I may endanger myself to avoid a modicum of indignity.
In this case, I was tip-toeing the tight-rope between the two.
I’d already had a few close shaves at this spot, but what can I say, a near-death experience or two gives you a sort of bond with a place. The grating currents frothing up against the stiff granite walls, dragging you under the overhanging roots and branches, down to the riverbed. Memories, you know.
Anyhow, I wasn’t about to be shamed out by not jumping off the rocks. They’re not even that high. You’ve just gotta make sure you avoid the slightly protruding jagged edges towards the ledge. Once you clear them, you’re golden. Well, usually.
We made our way across the bridge over to our perching point and began our short but steep ascent, the earth squelching beneath our feet, the dirt seeping into our sweaty pores. It was just the boys, the lads – in reality, there was no pressure. But in my head, it was more a sense of dignity – a sense of self-pride.
First up stepped Nic, the titanium teddy-bear; you could grate cheese on his abs and then melt it in the palm of his hand. He hesitated for a moment, before suggesting maybe he, the big man and strongest swimmer, would go last, to keep an eye on proceedings. On ya Nic.
Next came Jake. Usually the sensible chap of the group – the lad who carries you home when you’ve blacked out and pissed yourself – but it was a different story when we were in the back yard of mother-nature. He had nothing to prove – he just loved jumping off big shit.
He took the first leap, poised and graceful, dodging the dangling branches and off down-stream. I peered down to the ripples of his landing point in the water – from rock to river seemed excellent. Trying to wrangle with the chaotic current seemed less so.
I gulped in a last couple breaths, stood over the ledge, and glanced back at Nic.
“I’ll be right behind you bruv, no worries.”
I gave him a grin and a wink, and soared off into the abyss. This wasn’t so bad – actually pretty nice. The jumping; the hitting the water; I even remember beginning to submerge.
Then came the smackdown. The 95kg specimen of brawn and brotherly love, all 6’5 of him, smashing down onto my head, coinciding with the gruff and gullible voice of Rubeus Hagrid ringing in my mind: “I shouldn’t have don’t that.”
Not much was going on in my head after that.
I cartwheeled around in the water in a dazed stupor. It seemed my survival instincts had kicked in, as my mop of hair bobbed up and down towards the falls. After a montage of terror flashed before Nic and Jake’s eyes as I was rag-dolled from rapid to rapid, I eventually managed to scramble to the shore and reach safety.
Turns out I’d been moderately concussed. I was conscious, largely due to the aforementioned and rarely utilised survival instincts, but had no recollection of what had happened prior during the day. The words within touching distance, I couldn’t quite manage to string together what it was we’d been doing. I could see the beach we’d been at only a few hours ago, but could not for the life of me remember where it was.
Still, once the adrenaline had worn off, we had a few moments to assess the situation. I grappled with the idea of jumping again, the boys’ briskly brushing the idea off as a side-effect of my knock to the head.
But my confidence remained high, my pride intact. I’d faced my tormentor, the Okere Falls. I’d looked it in the eye, bent it over and spanked it on the bottom, maintaining dignity in the name of stupidity once again.
The decision was made: it was time for a beer.