Every time I meet someone new, one of the first questions I usually get is “how did you get the scar on your forehead?” It’s kind of funny – you don’t hear people going around asking “have you always had that huge birthmark on your face?” or “Has your nose always been that crooked?” But I guess the thing with scars is there is always a story behind them, and with mine, it happens to be a pretty good one. It was 2007. 3 girlfriends and I decided we would travel to Honolulu, Hawaii for 2 weeks to explore after graduating high school. This was my first of three trips to Honolulu so I was excited to see how Hawaii differed from other hot destinations like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I was also looking for adventure.
After meeting up with our local friend, Carl, he suggested we go on a little hike where we could potentially do some cliff jumping. The area we would be going to would be a local hang out where there was sure to be no tourists. It was also a no trespassing area… how dangerous could it be? I was excited about this adventure! I had never cliff jumped before but it was something I was eager to do.
After hiking into the jungle for what felt like a good half-hour, we found the area we were going to be cliff jumping. It consisted of several jagged rock cliffs and a rope. How dangerous could it be?
I was the 3rd to go of the 4 girls. My friends Lisa and Chantelle successfully made their jumps, and Chantelle even jumped twice. As Chantelle was an extremely strong swimmer, I made her stay in the water until I jumped in case I went into shock and started drowning. As I was preparing to jump, I remember feeling like something wasn’t right. Everything about the situation was telling me this was a bad idea now. But I had to do it, everyone was watching! and Chantelle and Lisa made their jumps without crashing and splitting into a million little pieces.
Boy was I right. I should have listened to my gut but I was all about the adrenaline and new experiences in that moment. I grabbed onto the rope and my feet left the rock side. Almost immediately after leaving the first cliff, I let go of the rope too early, falling around 10-15 feet and hitting the second cliff… with my face. It was a good thing I had lots of adrenaline pumping because it made it difficult to feel pain in that moment. I immediately sat up after hitting the cliff and saw red. After that things were quite a blur, but luckily Carl was able to carry me through the jungle to our car and rush me to the hospital.
I ultimately ended up walking away from the hospital a couple hours later with some stitches in my mouth and head, and some surface wounds on my face, arms and legs. I was LUCKY! I could have easily broken my neck or worse… The hospital conducted an MRI to see if any of my teeth had chipped into my lip, but it turns out I was okay, although to this day I still have scar tissue in my lip. All I can say is THANK GOD for travel insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, I would have been facing a hefty $5,000.00 hospital bill.
What I learned from this experience:
- If your gut is telling you not to do something, you probably shouldn’t, no matter how much peer pressure your up against. Now there is a big difference between not doing something because your gut tells you its not right, and not doing something because you are afraid. Always do things you are afraid to do.
- Always travel with travel insurance. Enough said.
- Be aware of where the nearest hospital is. If we wouldn’t have been travelling with Carl, I could have potentially died from blood loss. Especially since we were in an area where an ambulance was not likely to find us.
- Don’t jump into rat pee swamps. Chantelle and Lisa both ended up with some sort of ear infection for days as a result of it. I guess I was the lucky one :p
- Embrace your scars. Every little scar tells a story, and this is one I will never forget.
R.I.P Carl Banghart and thanks for saving my life.