“What?… All seven of us are getting into that sliver-thin canoe?”
My first thoughts were of keeping my camera equipment safe in the event that we were to tip over.
We loaded single file into the tiny boat. Each person had to sit down before the other person could set foot in the boat in order to keep balance. Once the first person sat down, our guide then placed a small, wooden seat in front of them for the next person to sit on.
I wanted to be the last one on the boat, but of course there was always somebody else in my group who insisted they were helpless and needed to have special treatment. I had already spent ten days with the people in this group and I was a bit apprehensive about trusting them to keep the boat from tipping over.
Our guide was the last to pile in the boat and right before take off he has the nerve to say, “Keep your balance or we will tip over.”
My muscles tightened as I spent all of my concentration making sure I didn’t move an inch. I didn’t even want to get my camera from my bag. This boat trip would never fly as a tour in the States.
Our guide pointed out wildlife as our boat swayed back and forth. I had a hard time enjoying the scenery and kept wondering how long I would have to endure this boat ride.
And then my worst nightmare came true.
Our guide began pointing out all the crocodiles lounging in the water around us. Now my biggest fear is no longer ruining my camera equipment and photos, but the fact that tipping over could mean slow death by crocodile.
The other tourists in the boat began turning their bodies in order to get a better shot of the man-eaters along the shore and in the water causing our boat to rock more aggressively from side to side.
Finally, I yelled… “Don’t rock the boat!!”
Followed by our guide’s calm voice, “Sit still or we will tip over.”
All I wanted was for every person in the canoe to stop talking and moving so we could regain our balance. I didn’t even want anybody to breathe.
The next twenty minutes were all a blur. When our boat docked along the mud embankment, I could finally feel the calming of my heartbeat.
I wish I could say that was the extent of my life-threatening experience, but the drama continued.
Once on dry land, our guide insisted we gather for a pep talk before we entered the walking part of our tour through the jungle.
“Now I want to prepare you for what to do in the event that we are spotted by a rhinoceros, a tiger or a bear.”
“Seriously?! I think I want to get back on the boat!!!!”
You can read Part II to this story here: Nature Walk from Hell