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My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - My Big Adventure

WORLDWIDE | Wednesday, 23 March 2011 | Views [334] | Scholarship Entry

I sputtered and flailed as I tried to keep my head above the icy cold water. Just a few moments ago, my foot had dislodged itself from our raft on the first bounce down the rapids. Trying to recall my 5 minute crash course on survival, I forced myself to keep my legs straight. Kept afloat by my lifejacket in the swirling water, I struggled to see where I was heading. Carried by the strong undercurrent, I bounced down the frothy Pacuare River, seemingly making contact with every rock in my path. Here I was in Costa Rica, 18,489km away from my comfort concrete jungle zone, soaked to the skin, but having the time of my life with adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Finally floating into decidedly calm water, I swam towards my raft. My group members grabbed my lifejacket and heaved me aboard. Scrambling in, I went red in the face since I was the first in my group to fall overboard. My group leader chuckled as he thumped the embarrassed me on the back. I grabbed my paddle and immediately steadied myself, readying myself for the next set of rapids.

After tackling rapids for close to an hour, our guide informed us we were reaching a calm stretch, where we could rest our aching arms and paddle gently for a stretch. Chatting amicably while lightly dipping our paddles, we were suddenly struck silent as our eyes greeted the untamed rainforest that rose up on both sides of the river. The unspoilt beauty of dense foliage, accompanied by a symphony of high-pitched birdcalls and low amphibious croaks, was biodiversity at its very best.

We could also hear the roar of a gushing waterfall, an invigorating soundtrack for the morning. As we rounded the bend, we stared agape at the thundering sight, unable to tear our eyes away from the majestic view.

Drifting past, the current picked up and we steadied ourselves for the upcoming rapids. Thinking ourselves somewhat expert by that time, we navigated downstream with apparent ease. However, severely underestimating the dangerous rocks that were hidden underneath the white froth, we forcefully struck a large one, unbalancing the raft in the process.

Seemingly airborne, we whooshed and whooped before gravity took hold and we fell back into the water with a jerk. Unbalanced, the raft flipped on its side and teetered for a few seconds. Splashes could be heard as my friends went for an unwilling dip. Hesitant to take another icy shower, I immediately flung myself to the opposite end of the raft and it slapped against the icy surface with a loud smack. This time, I was the only one who did not fall overboard.

Around the raft, my friends sputtered as they broke the surface, looking around wildly for the raft. Spotting me with a triumphant grin plastered to my face, they swam back with a wet grin that matched mine. This, was just the beginning of our month long graduation adventure.

Tags: #2011Writing, Travel Writing Scholarship 2011

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