Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Mighty Ganges

It looks calm here, but believe me there are huge rapids around the bend!
I didn't want to do it.  I was scared.  I'm not comfortable in raging water... but would I ever have this opportunity again?  My husband promised me that we would only raft down the tiny rapids.  Ok.  I was going rafting for the first time in my life and it was on the Mighty Ganges River.  Our guide handed out life jackets and explained in excruciating detail of what to do when something goes wrong, like when you fall out and get trapped under the boat.  My husband glanced back at me, his crooked smile didn't reassure me.  I felt the color draining from my face.  Then it was time to climb into the boat.  It was my last chance to say I would meet them when they returned.  But some other force took hold of me and I meekly stepped into the raft.  One guide sat behind me which made me feel better.  I hoped he could reach out and grab me if I came loose from the tiny rubber craft.
We came upon the first rapids.  My heart pounded in my chest.  The guide told us to paddle and I did exactly what he said.  We made it through. I sighed with relief.  Everyone else in the boat slapped the water with their paddles in celebration like we were at a football game!  The second one was a little bigger.  I could see the water swirling into whirlpools. To my right, sharp jagged cliffs rose out of the water.  The boat dipped into the  holy river and my husband and the other guys got wet. They all laughed. How were they enjoying this? I was just so happy to still be in the boat.
Then, my heart sank.  I saw before me a wall of water towering above us.  How could this flimsy rubber vessel possibly make it through that? My brain screamed. The guide commanded us to paddle.  I clutched the paddle as if it was my life line.  I blocked everything out except that small space of broiling water that I aimed for with my paddle.  I don't understand how it happened, but our little craft, crested the wave and easily traveled down the other side.  I didn't even get wet, but everyone else on the boat was nearly soaked.  They laughed and cheered. The guide behind me made fun of my wigging out, and I laughed too.  Our last rapids was the easiest and this time I wasn't scared. I also got drenched. Then I finally understood.  Our guides had steered the boat, so that I, "the terrified one", would get a smooth easy ride and everyone else would still get a thrill.
We drifted to a serene beach near Rishikesh. I was, at the same time, relieved to be disembarking and sad that our once in a lifetime adventure was at an end. Would I do it again?  You bet.

I'd love to hear of adventures that you were at first terrified by, but conquered anyway.