Drowning is one thing I feared the most in my life but to overcome this fear I did one of the most daring, nerve-racking things I could ever think of – Whitewater Rafting.
A while back my friends and I embarked on a journey to Jinja, Eastern Uganda which is the only place in the country with whitewater rafting. And yes, it’s on the world’s longest river.
On the journey, an argument sparked out about why it’s called “Whitewater Rafting” and not “Water Rafting.” One guy tried to fry our brains in broad daylight and said it’s because it was invented by a white (insert face palm emoji).
Though the real reason is that white water comes because of the frothing rapids of the river makes the water appear white.
As my friends picked up another topic of interest, my mind and body hit panic mode. “What are you doing Walter? You don’t even know how to swim. What if you drown?”
All the paranoia was at the forefront and I was starting to doubt my decision-making skills. And it’s at this point that of my friends sent a video of a guy who was playing an imaginary guitar with his paddle as the raft hit a rapid. “It can’t be that bad, I told myself.”
Once we made it to Adrift, we had to go through a debrief on what to do and not to do. The crew assured us that we shall all be fine even if we don’t know how to swim. (insert sigh of relief).
During a test run which happened before we officially hit the rapids. The guide told us that we need to let go of the raft in case it capsizes. “Is this guy crazy? or does he want our bodies to be discovered in Egypt”, I thought to myself.
To calm our nerves, he pointed at safety and rescue guys who were in kayaks and said, “in case you fall in the water, these guys will be able to bring you back to safety. “
There different levels of rapids which are graded from 1 to 8 I think. We hit a rapid 2, and we were all smiles because no one fell off. Then the guide asked us if we wanted to capsize at the next rapid. I tried to give this guy a death stare but he didn’t even bother to make eye contact.
The next rapid was a grade 4 and we held on for dear life as we saw other rafts capsize. “That seems like fun,” a friend said. Once we all nodded in agreement, the guide assured us how he was a great rapid coming up for us.
“Follow my lead, paddle, paddle, paddle, stop, hold,” was all I could hear as we chose to be adventurous and go for a rapid that all other participants were scared of.
It was called “ the bad place” and it’s a level 5 rapid. Guide asked if we wanted to go 50/50 chance of capsizing or 100% chance …. we chose 50/50 I think.
We hit the rapid and it immediately threw off everyone who was sitting opposite me. I couldn’t see anything for a while as the Nile river slapped me from different angles and before I knew it we were back on calm waters.
I could see my friends floating in a distance thanks to the life jackets otherwise it would have been a horror movie. As soon as they were back on the raft, we were screaming in celebration. Then one guy looked at me and asked, “would you do it again?”
And my response was, “it’s funny how fear almost stole this experience of a lifetime from me. Yes, I would definitely do it again.”
Don’t ever let fear steal your joy.