The ONLY thing that keeps people from moving forward and achieving their dreams is FEAR. It enslaves us and prevent us from becoming who we really want to be or do whatever we want to do. We fear FAILURE. REJECTION. FALLING DOWN. Being HURT. BROKEN. Being ALONE. We fear DEATH. The list is never-ending that even Science has listed phobias one by one from A to Z. Once fear takes over, we are completely robbed off our senses and rationality. Once fear overwhelms us, that is when LIFE becomes meaningless. But. Isn’t fear all in our sick little minds? As Will Smith once quoted:
“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”
I too have lived in fear for such a long time. I let it rule over me, hinder me from becoming who I really want to be. Of doing things that will really make me happy. I have spent hours rather procrastinating, letting opportunities slip by and away from my reach. I was filled with dreams but I was much of a coward to fulfill them. I always dream of the sea, exploring her depth and her dark unknown hollows. I’ve looked up on mountains and wished that one day I may share the scenic view with them. I’ve envied daredevils and hoped that I am as courageous as they are so I can also do unimaginable things. But because of FEAR, I chose to stay safe and sound in my good ole couch reading books until one day, I finally decided to take charge of my life and live on the edge. That day I dared myself to go out on an adventure that changed my perspectives and shaped anew my entire LIFE. And again last November 2014, I overcame myself and went WHITE WATER RAFTING in Cagayan De Oro.
It was a wonderful sunny Tuesday and after quickly grabbing breakfast at McDonald’s, I and my travel buddy Ian along with the friendly crew of Team Kagay headed to Barangay Mambuaya, the jump off point for white water rafting few kilometers away from the city proper. It must have taken us 30 minutes or so to reach the area and while I was full of excitement, I would never deny that my heart was a little apprehensive too. Well, honestly, I was just worried about me unable to swim (Of all the things I would be denied of, why swimming?). Anyway, yeah.. I was worried about falling off and drowning. Boooo!! 🙁 such a LOSER – but I was not the type to back away from the challenge. So hell yeah! I was all up for it!
When we arrived at the site. Wow!! It must have rained somewhere. The river water was the color of a creamed coffee and it looked unfriendly. Water level was obviously higher than the usual and the rapids, Yeah! They were unforgiving. I giggled making my travel buddy wonder what was happening to me. The funny part was I wasn’t at all ecstatic. I tried as best as I could to pull off a poker face. I didn’t want to let him know I was getting cold feet and that my knees were turning jelly on me. He is a big fat bully and we all know bullies -“Our humiliation is their entertainment.” Gladly, the team started a warming up and debriefing session so I managed to shake him off my rug.
When it’s your first time to engage in whitewater rafting, the most important thing is to listen well to your guide, not that he will be saying much. In fact, throughout the entire course he will only utter four words but those four can either make or break you. Those four important words are key to the success of your whitewater rafting experience and of course your survival. Not saying this to creep you out and to be honest yes it is dangerous so it is necessary to take precaution and you might as well bear in mind these four words that were Paddle Forward, Paddle Backward, Stop, and Paddles Up. Our instructor might have thought this was too much for our amateur brains to handle so he was so kind to narrow it down to Paddle forward, Paddle Backward, and Stop.. Got it? Ok then… High Fiiiive!!!!
When we boarded the raft, I could feel the relentless water wanting to throw it down the drain along with us. When we started moving towards the rapids, that’s when real adventure started to kick in. It got me panicky that I lost grip of the paddle. I got my first scolding for violating the most important rule of safety by losing grip of the grip! It got me more frustrated with myself but we are nearing the 1st set of rapids with their ferocious teeth pointed at us impatiently waiting to devour us whole. There was no time for brooding over my mishap so I collected myself and started to paddle forward upon hearing our raft captain’s first set of instructions.
Author’s note: It is important to know the parts of the paddle. For safety, you should never lose hold of the grip. You can use your other hand for support when you feel like falling off the raft but your other hand should always hold the grip.
I have no words to describe my experience paddling through the rapids. It was frightening. Exhilarating. Fun. Nerve-wrecking. All at the same time. I was soaking wet! I must have drunk a little bit of water making me think there might be an underlying purpose why the captain put me in front of the raft. I should hate him right but no I was enjoying it to bits. The sound of my heart beating fast was of fear as well as of tremendous joy and excitement. I’ve never felt like that in a while and it was sensational and incomprehensible. How could one feel so much joy and fear all in one time?! It reminded me of that roller coaster ride I took for the first time a year before but only this time, I’m faced with my greatest fears. Water. Drowning. Dying with a bloated tummy! LOL
But it was really fun. It completely took my fears away. I realized I was paddling even better all throughout the next set of rapids. I was braver to let go of the rope that was keeping me from falling down. Both my hands were holding the paddle. The left on the grip and the right always on the shaft as I paddle forward and backwards heeding the captain’s directions. My laugh sounds less hysterical each time we survive the angry rapids that are becoming more and more ferocious every time. I was no longer questioning “Why am I even here?” because in my mind it is DAMN RIGHT for me to be here! We’ve survived close to 20 rapids and when it was the end I thought I heard myself asking for more. I felt a little bit of pang when I realized it was already over. The joyous, daredevil ride that rocked the heck out of me has ended but looking at my wet, sun-kissed and all smiling self, I thought it couldn’t have been any better. 🙂
Whitewater rafting in CDO has 3 categories. The lower, middle and upper/advance classes each one more difficult than the other. We only got the chance to join the middle class because that was what our schedule permitted but we are definitely coming back to experience the upper class consists of more than 21 rapids that are way more difficult that the rapids we have encountered. To console for the miss opportunity of not experiencing the advance whitewater rafting level, our guide told us that what we had experienced was close to how advance whitewater rafting is, crediting the river’s high water level but I wasn’t at all convinced. Nothing could ever compensate for that missed experience than to really experiencing it firsthand. Next time I would also try kayaking or water tubing! Alas! That’s the plan.
Was my narrative convincing enough for you to also try whitewater rafting in Cagayan De Oro? Well, if it was and you can no longer contain your excitement causing you to fall off your seat then here are the “nitty gritties.”
1. Secure a reservation from your preferred CDO Whitewater Rafting Team – This is one of the fundamentals for a hassle free extreme outdoor adventure experience. You may do that with KAGAY or 1st Rafting Adventure Philippines just to name a few. You need not to pay upfront for the reservation (depends on their payment policy). Cost starts at P700 per person. Additional P500 if you want your mishaps or not-so-instagram-worthy self captured in a photo or a short video.
2. Book your hotel accommodation – This is optional but if you are only here for the whitewater rafting experience and you got nothing else to do then might as well check Iligan City for its amazing waterfalls or Camiguin Island which are barely an hour or 2 away from the city. Yet if you insist and you are on a budget, I would highly recommend Win Min Transient Inn. Their inexpensive room rates starts at P750 and they are strategically located next to PUV/bus terminals and supermarket but if money is not an issue then there are plenty of other hotels surrounding the entire city.
3. Go to Cagayan De Oro! – From Manila and parts of the country other than Mindanao, you can fly via your preferred Airline directly to CDO. From Surigao and Davao, ride a Bachelor Express or Rural Transit bus to Butuan then ride another bus to CDO.
WHAT TO EXPECT
1. Water is going to splash at you in every direction or you might even unexpectedly piss yourself and you are going to be soaking wet so bring extra clothes.
2. Beach wears with the exception of two-piece or one-piece bikini is perfect outfit for whitewater rafting as they are just made of light materials and wouldn’t add too much weight ever you fall off the raft.
3. If you don’t want your skin to get burned then by all means bathe yourself with sunblock lotion or wear arm sleeves or rash guard.
4. Bring a big bottle of drinking water enough to hydrate you all throughout the 3-4 hours you will be paddling hard under the sun not that you are gonna be paddling most of the time, but the sun, there’s no escaping it.
5. You need not to be a swimmer to go whitewater rafting. In fact when you fall off the raft, swimming your way against the raging water is futile. Better to wait for your teammates to throw you a rope and pull you back into the raft.
IMPORTANT RULES OF SAFETY
1. Always listen to the raft captain and act according to what he says.
2. Pay attention to the safety guidelines discussed before the course because you may never know when it will come handy.
3. Don’t get too happy or overly excited cause sometimes it could kill. Lol.
There you go! Tell me if I miss anything on the comments box below. Don’t forget to share. Share. Share this article!