Adrenaline junkies rejoice - you can now bungee jump at the sprawling Porto Marina. Timmy Mowafi gives it ago, before speaking to Jump Master Carl Dioniso about the extreme sport.
After spending three weeks in a timeless Ramadan haze, I started to feel much like Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hseih in his first 'one year performance' project', replacing the wooden cage with my living room. I felt Cairo's boredom factor tenfold, lacking the usual stimulation still only sparingly available during less haram months of the year.
Last Friday morning, I woke up blurry-eyed to pictures that my friend and photography wizardess Batool Al Daawi sent me of her flying acrobatically through the air. I realised that THAT was the perfect anecdote to the mind numbing Work-Bamia-Overdose-Sleep cycle I had gotten far too used to. I started calling people immediately to join me on my adrenaline quest. I could summarise the multitude of requests for accompaniment as such:
"We're going bungee jumping tomorrow! Don't ask questions!"
"Here, in Egypt!"
It's true that Egypt has never had the best track record for safety regulations; from six-person motorbikes on the street to death rides in Dream Park. It probably also doesn't help that the bungee jump centre in question is located next to the much safer looking Louly's theme park in Porto Marina...
Bungy Egypt is a partnership between Fiction Productions, Flash Trading and Jump Master, Carl Dioniso and is sponsored by Amer Group. "We wanted to do something that's never been done before in Egypt, we've been working on the project for more than six months," Hamza El Kenawy of Fiction Productions tells me. Not only is it something new to Egypt, but it's the highest water touch bungee jump in the world at 150 feet tall as well as being North Africa's first.
Despite warnings of possible death, I headed to North Coast, determined to feel something different. Plus I had packed a safety net in the form of a cat suit so if I died on the jump, at least I'd have eight more lives, right?
As it turns out, “feel something different” would be an understatement. All the superlatives in the world would not be able to describe the pure exhilaration, fear and ecstasy of falling from the sky. Standing there above the world and the massive Porto Marina, you know that in three short seconds you will have to face the immediate fear or will be called a pussy by onlookers, which would be apt either way, in this case (the cat suit providing metaphysical and synonymic back up). And that sudden switch from fear to non-fear; going from being shit scared to 'Ah, this is quite fun' in the blink of an eye is what makes it all worth the while and it's a leap which we should be transcending in our everyday lives.
It's a sentiment that resonates strongly with Dioniso, who I sat down with after my jump. "I wish I could have the feeling of a virgin jump again," he sighs. Not that he hasn't tried. In 2008 after a long running joke about doing a jump using condoms, he found himself working with a latex company that produces contraceptives and actually constructed a 98 ft. chord from 18,500 condoms that took four months to make, and then jumped with it, successfully.
"I was the guy who said no way I'm not going to do it," quipped Dioniso, whilst telling us of how he got started "back in the day when bungee jumping was dangerous and sex was safe." He originally studied photography and fine arts and was also a lieutenant in the South African arm. In 1992, he was photographing jumpers on site for advertising agency Young & Rubicam which lead to Phil Mcdonald training him up as a Jump Master (the expert who regulates and supervises the public who bungee jump) after seeing his focus and precision in getting every shot perfect. "And that’s the kind of mind you need for bungee jumping, an absolute psychotic fixation on getting it 100% right," he explains. He's travelled the world looking for and designing bungee sites and has over 17 years experience as a Jump Master under his belt now. He told me that from the 9,000 jumps they organise per season, if they were 99.9% accurate, that would mean they would have still killed 9 people. "You know that feeling you get when you're driving and you almost have an accident and your heart goes [breathes in sharply] like that? It's like that for me every time someone jumps until today, and the day that it's not like that is the day that I quit because then, there'd be an accident and I've not had one accident so far." There are times though that people will go up and be too afraid to take the leap; about one in every hundred. You'll never actually be forced to go through with it, but Dioniso has learned a few mind tricks for motivation from when they were situated in Rhodes Island off the coast of Greece, just across the water from Lebanon. "We had a lot of Israeli and Lebanese tourists over, and when they did decide to jump we knew they were going to be up there for half an hour before going through with it. So one day when there was a Lebanese guy up there screaming 'No, no I can't do it!' I said to him 'You know what? Just five minutes ago we had an Israeli guy who did it and he completely went for it!"
He's said that he was surprised to find Egyptians have been the most receptive and willing to jump more than anywhere in the world so far and they even have plans now to set up Bungy Egypt in Cairo very soon.
If you're an adrenaline junkie or just need to get out of your comfort zone I strongly recommend you go try it out. Don't be a pussy; you only live once.
The cost is 350 LE per jump and is accessible for ages 10 and up. If you're a real adrenaline junkie, try FlyBoarding too, also at Porto Marina.
Bungy Egypt is located in Porto Marina, North Coast, KM 105, and will be there until 15th October, open from 12pm to 6pm and 8pm to 2am daily. Find out more about Porto Marina on their Facebook fanpage here. Check out the Bungy Egypt fanpage for more information here.