Bungee Jump Accident in Peru and the Loss of a Penis

I was eager to put our near-death experience behind us. “Let’s go, it’ll be fun!” I told Princess.

We had started calling him Princess during our disastrous Andean trek. By the time we crossed the snowline, he was suffering from altitude sickness, infected foot blisters, food poisoning and hypothermia. Eventually, he got so ill that we had to carry him on a makeshift litter to the nearest village, hence his royal name.

Within a few days of getting medical attention, Princess was back to eating solid food and drinking Peruvian beer. With his fork, he jabbed at what was left of the fried guinea pig splayed out on his plate. “I cannot go,” he told me. “I am still fragile.”

“Look,” I pleaded. “It’s bungee jumping! Plus, you owe me. I am the only one who stayed behind while you recovered.”

He plucked a leafy garnish from the guinea pig’s neck, put it in his mouth and said, “I found a penis right here.”

“What?” I glanced at the rodent’s crotch before realizing what he meant. “Oh, you mean ‘ha-ppiness!’ Not ‘a penis’.” Why don’t you French people pronounce Hs?”

He laughed and pushed the plate away. “But your bungee guide, he is a child!”

“People mature faster in other countries,” I replied. “He’s practically an elder here.”

He sat quietly for a few minutes and slowly began nodding his head. “Okay, but I go only to watch.”

“I’ll tell Julio to get his cords ready.”

Julio was a very shy boy. It took him five minutes just to muster the courage to ask me to pay for the taxi. The jumble of looped cords, carabiners, and belays was bigger than he was, so Princess and I helped him lug it out of the taxi’s trunk onto the middle of the bridge.

While Julio got the equipment ready, I peered over the edge. “Whoa! It’s really high, Princess. Maybe you’re right. This is a bad idea. He’s just a kid.”

Julio stopped making knots and gave me a wounded look from where he was kneeling, “I forget to say I know English. I very good guide.”

Princess ruffled Julio’s hair and pulled me out of earshot, “I don’t know anything about bungee, but us sailors know knots and his are even better than mine. Maybe he’s good.”

“I very good guide,” Julio repeated. “And I no deaf.”

After he finished fastening me, he gave my camera to Princess and told him to sit at the end of the bridge while he spoke to me in private.

He asked me to crouch down, put his hands on my shoulders, and began speaking to me in Spanish. “I am supposed to tell you to not look down, but this is stupid. You’re gonna look down and be scared and that’s the point of doing this, but the longer you wait to jump, the harder it will get. If you wait too long, and your knees start shaking, and you get too scared to jump, no worries. No one here will laugh at you. Princess cannot laugh, he’s not jumping. I won’t either, I see it all the time. You okay?

I nodded.

Princess and Julio gave me the signal that the camera was ready to record the video. I climbed over the railing, put my arms out like a bird, and pushed off as hard as I could. There was a surge of adrenaline, the whoosh of wind…and then there was Julio screaming down at me from the bridge, “Oh my god! Are you okay? I am so sorry!”

I looked up from where I dangled, put my thumbs up, and screamed, “It was awesome!”

“Not awesome,” he yelled, in a panic. “Touch your face!”

I touched my face and suddenly became aware that my cheeks were stinging. I looked at my hands and saw blood. “What the hell happened, Julio!”

“Your face hit the tree!”

Back at the bridge, Julio tried explaining. “Last time I did this was three months ago…I am so sorry!” his voice cracked as he fought back tears. “The tree grew!”

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