Jumping into the (un)known

My heart is pounding. I look down into the abyss and begin counting. One. Two. Three….I hesitate to jump. I count again. One, two…Pause. One, two….

I am taking forever to cliff jump into the Cabagnow Cave pool one afternoon in October 2018. The friend’s cameras trained on me to document my jump start losing battery power one after the other. I want to jump already, but then I won’t. Can’t. I can feel the afternoon sun preparing to set. The time pressure is adding to my nerves.

It isn’t because I didn’t know this sinkhole in the town of Anda. I have googled it, watched YouTube for others’ account of jumping into the blue-black water, and read the basics: It’s a 20x10ft opening on limestone ground that drops 8 feet into a pool of brackish water that goes down 5 feet deep. 

My head knows.

My friend and I traveled two hours via a rented car from Loboc village, our base in Bohol province for this trip, to reach Cabagnow Cave pool. I’ve been curious and had long wanted to experience here in the Philippines what travellers to popular cenotes in Latin America have been raving about. Sinkholes are generally safe, after all, and geologists have explained time and time again that they have formed when the ground collapses into a void beneath the surface, usually in places where water dissolves away rocks like limestone and gypsum. 

It is a goal-oriented half-day travel, and I am failing miserably as I stand forever on the limestone cliff edge. The ordeal is turning into a narrative of my life in general: I define a specific, measurable goal (jump), then fears haunt and cripple me. Every attempt that fails is devastating. I freeze. The goal becomes seemingly impossible. All the positive self-talk drills don’t work. 

Thank goodness for those who come to the rescue, nudge me and help me get unstuck. My friend suggested I take the ladder, jump from the lowest rung first, then make my way up, jumping from a higher rung every time. 

I gain confidence after every jump, getting used to hitting the cold water and emerging unscathed. I make progress. I reach the highest rung.

One, two, three. Weeeee!  

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