In February 2010, I decided to take a trip to Costa Rica. It was an ideal vacation for me, as not only did I fit in some beach and drinking time, but I also was able to do fun, active things such as hiking, zip lining, horseback riding, waterfall repelling and white water rafting.
Traveling solo has become a bit of a pastime for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to places with friends/family/significant others. But there is something very freeing about going somewhere on your own, not knowing a single soul. I’ve met so many interesting people from around the world that I never would have otherwise met! I do this via a tour setting, as I’m a complete moron and really wouldn’t feel totally safe traveling on my own. The chances of me being abducted are pretty high. At my height, I’d be mistaken for a 10 year old and be caught in a child trafficking ring.
Maybe someday, though, if I’m hard up enough. “Don’t let the child-bearing hips and armpit stubble fool you! I swear I have a chromosome problem! Pick me! Pick me!”
My favorite new person on this Costa Rican tour was an older gentleman who was nicknamed “Willy” (his name was Wilhelm). He was Austrian and did not speak English very well. And it was an English-speaking tour. As you can imagine, this made things rather difficult for him. He wore the same outfit all week, which consisted of a long-sleeved button down and pants. (He smelled like a dream at the end of the week, as you might have guessed.) His hair was often found matted to his head, his glasses steaming and sweat dripping off his face. We were basically on the equator, mind you! He liked to purse his lips, put one finger in the air and go “Jaaaaaahhhh” when he would finally understand what we were trying to explain to him. Willy and I became buddies and he did ask for my address at the end of the trip. I seriously think he is one day going to show up on my doorstep.
The crux of this story, however, focuses on white water rafting. I had been rafting several times with my family and had an absolute blast. I eagerly signed up for a half-day trip, slathered on my sunscreen and was ready to go.
You might think that perhaps I fell out of the raft during a particularly difficult run or even fell into it sloshing around like a fish out of water.
I actually willingly jumped into the water. During part of the trip our rafting guide informed us that we had the option to jump in to cool off. Always looking for an opportunity to get wet (swimming in a foreign river qualifies as a bath, right?), I eagerly cannon-balled in. It was quite refreshing!
The guide then informed me that I had to get back into the raft and fast. I quickly swam over to the raft and it was right about then that I realized I was royally screwed. I have the arm strength of a 5 year old girl. The raft loomed up over me like a tower of death.
I grabbed on to the top of the raft and tried to pull my way in as I kicked my legs. I didn’t move. I feebly attempted this time after time as my arms shook with effort. It was not working! The guide looked at me and said, “Seriously, you really need to get back in the raft.” (Imagine this heavily laden with a Spanish accent.) I looked ahead as the water became a bit choppier.
“I can’t!” I whined. I began to panic as I thought ahead to my body being bounced around the river like a pinball.
It was then this little Costa Rican man grabbed onto my life preserver and heaved me into the raft like he was pulling a baby cow out of its mother’s vaginal canal. I slipped into the raft, landing on my face and quickly took my spot.
Overall, I survived unscathed. It definitely could have been worse. If anything, I was more embarrassed. Thankfully, we hung out with some of the guides later on that evening and I redeemed myself with my ability to drink them under the table and dance circles around them!
If you are the weakest person on Earth, don’t jump into a river if you will be required to pull your body back into a raft. Kicking furiously in the water is not going to help your cause. You will only draw attention to yourself by the crocodiles, piranhas or killer snakes. How my white, bloated ass did not get bit by something is a Godsend.