|Ganges River in Rishikesh, India|
Another couple, who were friends from home, had decided to join us. My friend was pretty nervous too which made me feel better. We sat in the back of a tiny pick-up truck as the Nepalese rafting guides drove us down a crazy mountain road to the banks of the Mighty Ganges River. The steep mountain forests surrounding us did little to calm my spirit as the head guide went through all the safety precautions. I didn't have a problem with the handing out of life jackets, but I think my face went pale as he nonchalantly described how to free yourself when stuck under a flipped raft. Great, I thought. The guides don't say things like that on canoe trips! To my overactive imagination his warnings did not resemble a flight attendants speech before take off. I felt a wall of impending doom wash over me. My stomach twisted in knots. I contemplated backing out, but before I could make up my mind I was climbing in the blue rubber raft.
We pushed away from the shore. The water was calm but murky. I wondered what creatures lurked in the depths beneath us. I scanned the river ahead. We were approaching the first rapids. I followed our guide's instructions like a soldier obeys his general. He said, "paddle" and I paddled as if my life depended on it. Everyone else in the boat started whooping it up thinking this was great fun. Even my friend acted like we were on some roller coaster ride. In an instant, we had passed over it and the river widened and softened, tricking me into thinking it was harmless. I knew there were more rapids to come so my senses remained on high alert. We passed through a couple more small rapids without too much difficulty. But soon the soft bank of the river changed to steep rock faces. The water around me boiled with activity. Our little blue boat barely missed the jagged boulders just peeking out from under the water's surface. And then I saw the most frightening sight I had ever seen. A wall of water that must have been 12 feet high towered above us. My mind raced to thoughts of my kids and how I hoped that we weren't about to make them orphans. I cursed myself for leaving them at home and for being talked into this craziness. Our guide yelled "paddle". I clenched the oar so tightly nothing could have broken my grip. I focused only on me and the water and I prayed. I don't understand how our tiny vessel didn't flip, but we crested that wave and slid down the other side as if it had been a water slide. Only then was I aware that the guides in the boat were teasing me...mocking my seriousness. I realized that I was the only one in the whole boat who wasn't wet! Our guides were such experts at navigating this river that they actually controlled who got soaked. I finally had to laugh. I allowed myself to enjoy the sights of cows wandering to the river bank and the sounds of monkeys howling in the nearby trees. There was one more rapids to go over ....this time I whooped and hollered like the rest of them... I also got soaked.
|Monkeys watching our adventure|
|Our rafting team with expert guides!|