If you’re expecting to uncover the moral grounds on which I relay this story, better stop reading ‘coz I see no moral lesson with the obvious fact that unless you can swim you will always engage yourself in a hopeless battle with the rapids once you voluntarily jump into it.
It was the first day of our trip in Cagayan de Oro and number one on our itinerary was to do River Rafting with Bugsay guiding us through the 16 km. river stretch with 21 rapids for 3-4 hours in what we undertook as the Advance Course. Imagine the rowing and shouting we have to endure, but I didn’t mind because we were all feeling so adventurous. So what if I CAN’T SWIM? That’s why we have guides and life vests right? Everything was set and off we went!
According to Bugsay there were major rapids and there were ‘mild’ rapids, the latter I just named. So we were told that they weren’t going to turn the raft over on purpose but there’s an area where we can jump if we feel like not falling in the water or the boat not being turned over didn’t do justice to our activity.
After around 15 rapids we were informed that we can jump into the next, probably because it was only a ‘mild’ rapid. When we got there I jumped. Law of Nature dictates that I will sink first and then float because of the vest. My head went up the surface but when I breathed for air a wave of water splashed over my head once.
Be reminded that if you fall:
1. Don't panic
2. Keep your head against the flow of the rapids while lying down so you won't bump your head if there's any rocks ahead
3. Just let yourself float and somebody will throw a rope for you to grab back to the raft
4. Don't panic
I panicked. So much for Rule No.1
My body was in need of air and all my mind can think about is that I badly needed to keep my head against the flow then I remembered the reason why: so I won’t bump my head on the rocks. Being the non-swimmer that I am I struggled to turn because I was in the wrong way. So much for Rule No. 2
I’m going to drown…
Another wave of water splashed over my head. I needed to breathe but I was only taking in water through my mouth and nose but I still attempted a shout for help. I can see the guide in the raft rowing and just looking. I tried shouting for help which let out the remaining air I have left that I had to breathe in as another wave of water splashed over my head letting only water in my mouth. It was only to my distress that he wouldn’t hear me and I wasn’t even sure if he was looking at me or someone else. We didn’t fall. We jumped. No aid. No ropes. So much for Rule No. 3
I can’t believe I’m going to drown…
I didn’t drown. Before I can violate the last rule the splashing stopped and the waves started to calm down signalling the end of the rapids.
After that my head throbbed so bad and I felt like I was going to puke water. It didn’t stop that day. The next day we were supposed to do rivertrekking and canyoneering, the highlight of our trip, but before we even started the orientation my head throbbed so bad that I ended up volunteering to stay behind and not do the activity instead because I had to lie down and rest. A fortnight had to pass before the throbbing stopped bugging me every now and then.