Tag Archives: adventure

So you think you are brave…

Adventure travel is supposed to be … well …. an adventure and to some people that means taking a deep breath and saying to yourself over and over –

“I am not scared of …..  (insert your particular paranoia here, be it spiders, heights, dying, falling, weird food) and I am absolutely going to do this.”

First of all I am a coward.  Just doing a guided bike ride in Amsterdam had me quivering with fear but determined, nonetheless, to do this or regret it forever.  It worked out fine.  I wobbled a lot, concentrated so hard I was exhausted at the end, but I did it and I felt great about it.  A recent trip to Costa Rica brought more challenges as the group had signed up for a zip lining excursion.  Oh I had the option to cop-out and go and do a sedate boat cruise on the river but … wow …. ziplining!  How many times had I seen youtube clips friends had posted to facebook?  How many selfies can you take on a zipline?  How many times would I see this featured on BBC Travel Channel?  No – I had to do it.

It was only on the bus ride there that my first misgivings started to fidget around my heart, clustering together and setting up a nest there, raising my pulse slightly and making me second guess myself.  Then the guide came around with the forms – you know the ones where you totally forgive everyone on the planet if you should happen to slip and plunge to your death.  Yes, those ones.

OMG – I hate making a scene and I was afterall on the bus and committed.  So I signed the forms and started to think happy thoughts.

Finally we arrived at the base where we were given a talk on how to wear the equipment and what to do and how to zip.  All well and good.  They were all lovely people and very knowledgeable and the equipment looked top class.  Oh yeah – I am totally going to cream through this.

Right – off we go.  To the first platform where we climbed up and clipped on.  One by one getting to the edge.  No going back now Lesley.  Don’t close your eyes idiot – that’s the whole point of being there.  I took a leap of faith – literally – and jumped off.

Oh Wow – adrenaline overload – never saw a thing.  Got to the next platform.  Deep breath.  Thinks to self – Yeah girl – you rock!

Now imagine if I hadn’t done that.  How disappointed I would have been with myself.  My fear seems to be of killing myself or at least hurting myself badly.  Others however have other fears.  The fear of spiders – this is very real.  There are courses you can go on to get you over this particular fear.  Now myself – I am not really scared of spiders.  Yes of course growing up we would all scream when there was a spider in the house and jump on the nearest piece of furniture and the only person able to save us was my mother.  (Yeah my dad was on the furniture with us too!)  When I moved to Africa, however, it was a case of either get over it – or get over it!

My first scary experience was deep in the Transkei province of South Africa.  We were driving to Umgnazi River Bungalows and the only way there was on a dirt road.

umngazi River bungalows

Umngazi River Bungalows in the 70’s

As we travelled and travelled I began to realise how remote this place was.  We arrived at the Bungalows late at night – our accommodation being what they call a rondavel.  A round building with a thatched roof.  There was no electricity – the generator went off at 10 pm – and there were spiders and geckos everywhere.  What was worse was that you couldn’t see them on the thatched ceiling so of course my imagination doubled their size and tripled their numbers.  I spent a sleepless night with a torch in my hand intermittently checking the ceiling and no doubt giving the geckos a sleepless night too!

Every experience makes us grow and (after a long while) I went from this to sleeping out in the open under a tarp when we had forgotten our tent.  We were on the banks of a crocodile infested lake with leguaan (rock monitor) lizards rustling past us in the grasses and goodness knows what else.  I slept like a log although I did wake up in the morning covered in bites of some sort.
leguaan

So next time you travel and you are faced with a challenge think about how amazing you are going to feel about yourself the next day – even if at the moment you think that you are going to throw up!  It’s worth it – honestly!

You don’t want to live forever do you?

This was the question posed to me when I expressed concern and, yes, fear with regard to kayaking in the open sea off Vancouver Island.  Yes people – open sea.  I am talking about waves or swells so high that the rest of the kayaking group disappear from view.  No, I couldn’t do that.  “Aren’t you scared?” I asked my Irish friend (a veteran mountaineer, adventurer and dare-devil).  “Sure now” he said in his Irish brogue “You don’t want to live forever do you?”.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I have taken a leaf out of his book and am now meeting my fears head on.  My first uncharacteristic move was to sign up for ziplining  in Costa Rica.  To understand how uncharacteristic this is you have to know that my gym teacher noted on my report one year “Lesley is very heavy on her feet!”.  Yeah I was not a gymnast for sure.   The ziplining was easier than I expected – the worst thing was the adrenalin pumping through my system.  Once that had calmed down a bit I was able to enjoy the incredible views.  Yes I will do that one again.

zipline

So I was “gung-ho” as they say in the classics to try out the strenuous hike along the Amalfi Coast known as the Pathway of the Gods.  Actually I was a bit skeptical as to how strenuous it would be seeing as it was a cruise ship excursion.  Hmm – was I ever wrong!  The pathway disappears from time to time into large boulders over which you have to either scramble up or scramble down.
Pathway of the Gods - the climb
Our guide was extremely fit and you couldn’t help feeling that this was just a stroll in the park for him.
Pathway of the Gods - - more climbinin
It was worth every step and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  The views were incredible.  I DID IT!

Now my next adventure has me a bit worried.  I have signed up for rappelling in Colorado.  Should I do it?  Should I pull out.  I have had second, third and even fourth thoughts about this.  But what the hell?  None of us get to live forever but while we do we should make it worth while.  Right?  I am right….. aren’t I?  I am not being stupid about this – taking unnecessary risks am I?

Oh shut up Lesley – just go out and do it already!

So who’s a scaredy cat?

scared catMe! So no-one was more surprised than yours truly when I signed up for the Witch’s Rock Canopy Zip line tour in Costa Rica. Holy Cow! What was I thinking? This is definitely not the sort of activity for a girl who is allergic to adrenalin. But really – how can you go to Costa Rica and not zip line? You gotta do it.

The briefing started on the bus – just after we signed the waiver that confirmed that we were not pregnant, allergic, drunk, high or crazy. Don’t do this but do that – the zip lines are strong – they can hold up 10 cars etc. etc. Ok, enough already. Just get me on the damn zip line so I can do it before my resolve takes to the hills.

Off the bus we piled and there were a whole team of Costa Ricans ready to fit us into our harnesses. Now I might tell you that this can be a pretty intimate exercise bearing in mind that you certainly want the straps to be tight and secure. The young Costa Rican guy who fitted me was professional and friendly and graciously did not notice that my boobs were sitting at odd angles underneath the tight straps.

Then the second briefing –

Rule number one – lean back and just gently hold the line behind your head for guidance – this will prevent you from turning round and round.

Rule number two – don’t hold the zip line in front of the running clasp – otherwise Ouch.

Rule number three – have fun.

OK – deep breath and the first zip line was upon me. By this stage my heart rate had gone up and my hands were shaking but no-one could see that inside those big gloves. Hands on the wire and a quick jump so the guide could hook me onto the zip line. Are you ready he asked – I just tersely nodded as he pushed me off the platform into the void.

Oh………..my………g………….  IF

Silence – just the vibration of the wire, the sound of my heart beating, the wind in my face. Oh wow – is that a waterfall. I am swooping like a bird over the tops of the trees.

24 stations later we trooped back to the start where ice cold beers were waiting for us on the rooftop verandah of the little hacienda style building. Sitting at the bar there hot and sweaty looking out over the hills to the sea beyond I felt like a superstar!