lessons from white water rafting going awry

I was baptized in the Pacuare River.

It was my first time going white water rafting...what were the odds I’d have to end up being rescued?

Transportation between cities is always something that has fascinated me as a traveler. So many choices. Which one suits my travel style? Mood? Budget? As my cousin and I planned our journey back from Cahuita to San Jose- Costa Rica's largest city which we were flying out of, we decided on a tour bus transfer. Our options for the 5-hour trip were pretty standard: private van, shared bus, small plane… but when the AirBnB host suggested a tour transfer we hopped on it. A tour transfer meant that we would be picked up from our accommodations, fed breakfast, taken on a tour (in this case, white-water rafting), fed lunch, and then transferred to San Jose, our destination, for a fraction of the cost. When would we ever have this opportunity again?!

Everything seemed to be going according to plan. We had anxiously arrived at the river and prepared to tackle the level 3-4 rapids. Did I mention it was my first time? I'm no stranger to paddling and love all things water so when we were paired with 2 other couples that seemed capable, we were relieved. Our group was the strongest of the 3 rafts on this tour- leading the way, navigating each wave and rock with grace. About 45 minutes before reaching shore I began praying. As someone who feels led by their spiritual practices, I was surprised that I had not prayed before climbing onto the raft. Now seemed like the perfect time. Gracias, Yemaya. Gracias, Oshun. Thank you protectors and ancestors for your gifts. When I turned 37 a few short months ago, the message of “Be More Like Water” was offered to me and I have since been learning so much more about what that means. In that moment it meant understanding the strength, resilience, the softness, flexibility, the sacredness and femininity of water. I began to converse with the water goddesses, giving gratitude for their messages and for having kept me calm. “Why am I not scared?” I asked. “Because you are protected divinely”, they responded. “I am guessing that means I will make it to the end of this tour without issue”, I assumed. “We never promised that”, they responded. “Just know that you are protected divinely”. Within 10 minutes I would be leaping off of our capsized raft and onto a huge rock fixed between two rushing rapids. At this speed and velocity, the rapids have a force of several tonnes per square meter. We were unscathed.

Since then, I have been processing the shock of an experience like this. I am coming to understand the lessons that Costa Rica has offered during my month stay there. I am grateful for leaving a transformed person- much more clear on my path in this life. I’ve learned how to trust my intuition and how to stand firm in my boundaries. The Pacuare River taught me of risk, of trust, of protection, and the importance of staying connected to my ancestors and guides. Most profoundly, I feel as though my time on the river unearthed some very real feelings I have been holding surrounding my life as a traveler, a digital nomad, a freedom-seeker and the grief I feel having left my former life of rat-racing behind. I have finally been able to let go of the guilt I have held for constructing a life divinely led and full of joy and adventure. I am so grateful for my life and the many wonderful things I am able to experience. Surviving a traumatic experience and understanding that I am, indeed, protected divinely reminds me that there is a purpose for my life. I am committed to holding this journey with sacredness.

I was baptized in the Pacuare River.


Me after rescue- waiting for our new raft.

Attached: Actual footage of our rescue. You can see our capsized raft submerged on the left of the large rock. Footage was captured by a woman who was on another raft in our group.

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