It wasn’t until we were approaching what our river guide called “The Washing Machine” of rapids, which according to him had the capability to capsize our little raft, that I thought to myself: What the hell were you thinking, you crazy woman?!
I had been going on and on about experiencing white-water rafting ever since my plane landed on the Davao International Airport, even managed to convince my sister and a couple of friends to go on this little escapade with me…but for all the confidence I showed in convincing them how much FUN it would end up being (my spiel: “Just think of the bragging rights you’ll earn after this!”), the 10 seconds before we “easy-paddled” into one of the highlight rapids of our trip saw me screaming the loudest among our motley crew.
See, I had forgotten the fact that there were rocks. Huge rocks that could very well kill me upon impact.
And the raft had no seatbelt. Only a foot strap that didn’t really make me feel secure at all.
The chances of us capsizing was also something our river guide, Mark, never failed to remind us of (I think he thrived on our fears because he did this at least twice every time we approached white water). And my dad’s story the previous night about one of his officers drowning in the Davao river and never resurfacing again just had to pop up in my head that very minute. When he was telling me and my sister all about it, I had the feeling that he was just making it all up because he was being his usual overprotective self. It had been raining a lot the last week of 2011 and the current was supposed to be really strong, so he was worried about me and Mina.
The moment we finally got sucked into the Washing Machine, I realized there was probably truth to his tale.
Nevertheless, my fate was already sealed the moment I chose to ignore my dad’s warning and go on ahead with the trip anyway.
Mina and I were at the Base Camp HQ even before seven in the morning, enduring an hour ride with Ai, Cy and Louie on the jeep all the way to Kalinan where the beginning of the river was located.
Mark taught us the three paddling techniques that we would need to get from Point A to Point B.
It sounded and looked pretty easy while he was demonstrating it, but the moment we experienced the raging rapids of the Davao River, turns out it wasn’t so easy after all. Thank God I had a hearty breakfast because paddling required all the energy my sleepy body could muster!
And yet, despite the whining I just did, it really was exhilarating in the end. Nothing will ever beat that feeling you get after staring fear straight in the face—or in this case, paddling through it—and then telling yourself, What the heck! I’m already here so I might as well JUST DO IT.
And do it, we did! We not only got through the Washing Machine, we also got through the “Drop and Suck,” a mammoth of a wave that could’ve very well turned our raft over had we not “hard-paddled” our hearts out.
The river spanned 13 kilometers and took us three hours to conquer. There were moments of calm when we’d just let ourselves go with the water’s steady flow—no paddling necessary, just us spacing out and enjoying the view down river…fun ones when we’d jump off the boat and let our bodies drift with the strong current (best way to cool off under the steady heat of the sun), and then the rapids would begin again (ayayay!). It was quite like riding a roller coaster, only with no safety harness on :P
Definitely an experience worth adding to one’s bucket list :D
January 2, 2011
Photos taken by Base Camp Davao. Check them out on Facebook. :)