There’s always a first time

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Sep 02, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

Kairi Kurm talked with a few people shortly after they bounced back from their first bungee jump.

The municipal fathers of Tallinn, along with Estonia’s defense union, heralded last weekend’s festivities at the beach with promises of a rock concert, games and competitions. Oh, and free bungee jumping.

Sure enough, it was the chance to climb great heights and plummet toward earth with wild abandon that brought in the crowds. But once there, getting anyone to take the plunge took some doing. Tallinn Mayor Toomas Lepp, slated to be the first to jump, backed out at the last minute. Another brave soul quickly stepped in. But she stood for a long time, contemplating the jump, before finally changing her mind and slinking quietly off the platform.

Finally, 25-year-old Zlata, determination sparkling in her eyes, went through with the jump. She landed happily, with a smile on her face.

“I’d rather come down jumping with fear than let myself be brought down with shame. The shame is bigger than the fear,” said Zlata, a mother of one. Her husband, who had jumped before, convinced her to just do it.

“My girlfriend jumped a year ago. Am I worse than she is,” Zlata asked. “Besides, the moms on the beach also relied upon me.”

Bungee jumping is relatively new to Estonians – but once the initial anxiety subsided, they were just as willing to taste some adventure as their counterparts in other countries.

The organizers of the event, a Finnish company that usually charges about 500 kroons ($33) per jump, told Zlata while hoisting her into the sky, 50 meters above the ground, that the crane used for jumpers in Finland is three times higher.

But just before Zlata jumped, the Finnish man who helped strap her into her harness, calmed her fears. Even though he had taken the plunge 11 times, he admitted there’s always a tinge of fear just before the jump.

“Just don’t look down,” he told her. “Look at the beautiful sky.”

Zlata appreciated all the support. “A man flying past with a parachute waved to me and that was very kind,” she recalled.

Vladislav, 20, a member of the anti-aircraft defense union, was also brave enough to jump, though he says he doesn’t remember the first moments of descent.

“But I enjoyed hanging on the rubber rope after that and felt as though I’d like to be hanging for longer,” said Vladislav, who made his first jump that day.

He said that he was not very brave either. “I shook the supporters hand and said �Good bye’. But I could not jump. So I repeated the procedure and did it the second time,” said Vladislav.

Almost everyone who summoned the courage to jump was happy to have done it.

“First it felt as if I were going to jump and die. But it did not hurt to jump,” said Zlata. “It just felt as though I was going to drown, with my nose full of water.”

As yet, Estonia has no peramanent place to take the plunge, but considering the enthusiasm shown here, that could change next summer


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