She was a really big bird. And she had only been in the rodeo-style chute for about five seconds when the guy looked straight at me and said, “Who’s first? How about you, London?”
I’d been pretty excited about this whole ostrich-riding thing ever since my friend Elizabeth sent me this Yahoo article last year. It felt so very Swiss Family Robinson. I even made it my only new year’s resolution for 2012 (only half seriously).
Suz said we could do it while I was in South Africa. She planned it.
And then I heard some stuff:
1. “You know ostriches kill people, right?”
2. “Did you know that one kick with their razor-sharp toe can split you right down the middle? Just don’t walk in front of it and you’ll be OK.”
3. “Did you know an ostrich can turn its neck all the way around and peck you while you’re on its back?”
And more realistically:
“Did you know that the only way to get off is to fall off?”
Despite my protests, Suz was “committed” to making it happen. That’s what she kept saying every time I kept saying we could stay in Cape Town for the day instead of driving all the way out to the ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn.
So here’s how this thing works. They have her (the ostrich, not Suz) standing in the little triangular wooden chute with a bag over her head. I felt pretty bad about that, but apparently an ostrich’s brain is smaller than one of its eyeballs, so with the bag over its head, it’s pretty chilled out. It’s an “I can’t see you, you can’t see me” situation.
The guy got me to climb up on her back, with her wings over my legs. You kind of kick back like you’re in a recliner and wrap your legs around her chest, then you hold onto the front of the wings.
“How am I going to get off?”
And then he yanked the bag off the ostrich’s head. It was like being shot from a cannon.
(If you want the virtual experience, watch this.)
After a while of running around the pen like a crazed lunatic, the guy running behind me yelled, “LET GO!”
Seriously? Is this a trust fall?
He and another guy caught me under the arms as I let go and set me down. Pretty sure every muscle in my body was shaking for a few minutes from hanging on for dear life, but painless enough. 100 percent success for this year’s resolution. And all this for under $10. Thanks, Suz.