28 Oct Doing Away With The Comfort Zone
This week’s blog is a contribution from High5 friend and community member, Rachel Becker! She wrote it on December 11, 2018 as an installment for her own page.
On November 30th, I ended my four-week volunteering stint on Nusa Penida. I left the simple volunteer digs to embark on an additional solo journey through Bali. I planned a one-week yoga retreat at a posh resort, and then a six-day adventure of day trips from a hotel in touristy Ubud.
Before the yoga retreat was to start, I had two days of free time. I decided to book a hotel relatively close to the retreat in the town of Sukawati. I knew nothing of Sukawati, so I headed straight to Booking.com to find a hotel and then Google Maps to find some good sites to visit in the town.
On Booking.com, I found, what looked to be, a luxury hotel at a reasonable price, and on Google Maps I found a place called “Hidden Canyon”. Googling Hidden Canyon, I discovered many stunning pictures of caves. I set my goal- I wanted to hike Hidden Canyon!
I did some research on Google to see if I could find any other information about this location besides the photos. Hidden Canyon had no website. Links for Hidden Canyon only took me to tour companies that offered tours to Hidden Canyon, and these tours required a minimum of two guests. I was frustrated to find that the place I wanted to go was so close, and yet, seemed unavailable.
When I arrived at my hotel, I asked at the front desk – did anyone know how I get to Hidden Canyon? No one at the front desk was aware of the place. I showed them the location and photos on Google Maps. The staff said they would look into it for me. As luck would have it, the front desk arranged a taxi for me to go to Hidden Canyon at 10 AM the next morning.
That night I did some more research. While Hidden Canyon didn’t have a website, there seemed to be lots of reviews of the canyon on the internet. Two items emerged from my research – everyone who visited Hidden Canyon thought it was an amazing place, AND everyone who visited Hidden Canyon had a guide. What about me? I didn’t have a guide. Could I get a guide once I got to Hidden Canyon? I couldn’t tell from the articles I had read. I started to think that maybe Hidden Canyon wasn’t a great idea.
The next morning I went to the front desk at 8 AM and informed them I didn’t think I should go without a guide. They assured me that I shouldn’t worry because my taxi driver would be my guide. So, at 10 AM, armed with my sunscreen, cell phone, wallet containing all my cash and credit card as well as my passport, and a tote bag to carry it all in, I set off with my driver/guide for Hidden Canyon.
My driver, like so may others in Bali, was named Wayan. In Bali there are very few given names. There are a few names to choose from for first borns, a few names for second borns, a name for third borns, and a name for fourth borns. Having 5 kids? You start all over again. Wayan is one of the first born names, so there are a lot of Wayans in Bali. Anyway, as we started on our ride, this Wayan informed me that when we get to Hidden Canyon the staff there may tell me I need an “official” guide, otherwise, he (Wayan) would guide me. When we got there, Hidden Canyon was pretty empty. There were many guides waiting around to be hired. The entrance staff explained that I needed one of their “official” guides. So, Rudy became my guide.
The first thing Rudy did was insist I put everything in a locker except my cell phone. He would carry my cell phone in his dry bag. So, all my valuables went off into the locker, and I hoped for the best. Meanwhile, Rudy informed me I was going to get wet up to my chest. I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, but being in the humidity of Bali is like wearing wet clothing all the time anyway, so I figured shorts and a T-shirt were okay. Next, he wanted to take my shoes. Most folks there had street shoes or flip flops – a no no in the water. I was wearing some strapped on Tevas, so I argued the point that these would be safe for our journey.
Off we went into the canyon. Interestingly enough, Wayan followed along. I guess he figured since the hotel signed him up as my guide, he would stay. He was wearing street clothes – a shirt, pants, street shoes. I wondered why he wore such an outfit if he was planning to be my guide.
We started out easy enough. The water was to our knees and we ambled along through the water with black stone cliffs above us. We stopped and Rudy insisted I climb up on some rocks for a photo. Wayan followed me so he could be part of my photo memories. We both gave a “thumbs up.”
As we continued through the canyon, the water got deeper and the current got stronger. Silently I thought, “This almost like whitewater.” Rudy climbed up on the rocks to avoid the upcoming whitewater. As I approached the rock ledge, Rudy gave me instructions. “There is a step up in the water here,” and he pointed to the step. He told me where to place each hand and foot. When I still looked unsteady, he reached out and grabbed my hand. I quickly understood that I needed to both trust Rudy and allow him to help me. This experience was going to challenge my ability to accept help. I started to realize the dangers in the canyon were not worth my “I-do-it-myself” attitude. We stopped for more pictures and Wayan quickly got in the photos again.
As we moved through the canyon it was getting trickier and trickier to navigate. At some points I had Rudy grabbing my hand from the front and Wayan grabbing my hand from the back. At one of these points, Wayan said, “Wow, this is exciting! I’ve never been here before!” I thought to myself, “What? This guy was supposed to be my guide!”
At a certain point along the water, Rudy stopped. He pointed to a spot across the river. He explained that he would quickly swim across, and then I should swim across and he would grab me. Normally, this task would be easy. This time, however, I could see that the water was moving quickly. At this spot on the river the current was fierce. Rather than stay in my spot and worry, I jumped into the current and worked to push myself across. Rudy grabbed my hand, but then, my hand slipped. I was quickly being pulled backwards by the current. Part of my head thought, “OMG! YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!” Luckily, another thought crept in. It said, “Be calm. Nothing good will come from panicking.” I chose to focus on that latter thought.
I did my best to direct my body toward the opposite riverbank. Suddenly, another guide caught me. Then a tourist on the other side of the riverbank grabbed my arm. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this stranger who didn’t seem to think twice about her own safety. She only wanted to get me out of the current.
When I got to shore I was exhilarated! I was laughing! Just a minute before it was scary, but wow! I had made it. I looked around for Rudy and Wayan. They were nowhere to be found. What happened? As it turned out, when Rudy lost my hand, Wayan also got dragged through the rapids. Rudy chased him down, and they had floated way down the river. So once Rudy caught Wayan, they had a long way to come back. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Looking back on my journey it seems as if it was pretty terrifying. When I think of the cliff edges Rudy walked me through and the current I was swept up in, I start to shiver. In the moment of it all, I kept total focus and trust on Rudy, my guide. I think I learned a lot that day about trust, receiving help, and staying calm. Would these lessons stay with me for future journeys in life? Only life will tell. ~Rachel Becker
To read more about Rachel’s adventures and her lessons learned, check her out at https://www.rockymountainyogigirl.net/