Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 24 - Dizzying Heights

I'm scared of heights.  Yep, surprised me too.  Trust me, its not something you want to find out the hard way.  I found out today in fact. Let me paint the picture for you.

We're at Pai Canyon. I'm perched on a rock that I'm pretty sure is limestone, and it feels insecure. Slippery. Like at any second I could lose my footing and fall to my death. My body goes into panic mode. I am literally paralysed with fear.  My legs start shaking and I feel like I cannot go on. Im stuck on this rock and my body won't work.  Hot, steamy tears spring from my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  This is not the first time this has happened.

Let me digress for a moment.  The first time this happened to me was on this trip also, we were in the Cameron Highlands doing that massive hike.  We were at the point when it really changes from hiking to climbing.  The ground is wet and muddy.  The branches are mossy, slippery and never entirely secure.  I've slipped about four times now and I'm stuck in a little crevice and cannot move.  My body is in panic mode. I can't breathe. I can't do anything to make my feet move.

So, back to the rock in Pai.  Tom comes over and counts me through my breathing. A technique he showed me when I fell off the ute, and is supremely effective.  It did not work so well this time. I could barely get the air down my lungs.  Tom made the comment that I dealt with  "falling off the back of a truck" better. It took a minute or two, but I finally regained the ability to breathe, stopped my legs from shaking and was able to continue on. I clambered out of that canyon as fast as I could and still feeling a bit shakey, sat in the shade for a minute.

In both of these circumstances, Tom has helped me to calm down and carry on.  In the first instance, I put it down to being extremely dehydrated and underfed.  I was embarrassed about it, and so put it out of my mind.  In the second instance it was worse.  It was scarier, and I had no logical explanation for what happened. I wasn't dehydrated, I wasn't hungover, I was fucking scared.  It sounds funny to say, but it scares me how scared I was.  It is a weakness I didn't know I had.  And I don't like weaknesses.  Not unless they involve say, chocolate or sex (hey, or both!). This is something I'm definitely going to have to work through.  But I will.  By the end of this trip (and with heaps of Tom's help) I'm sure I'll be rock climbing over the scariest of peaks.

After that ordeal, it was onto the waterfall! Or rather, a waterfall, as Pai has many, many waterfalls.  We scootered to one yesterday as well in fact.  The problem is, I don't remember the obscure names of these beautiful waterfalls.  But yesterday's waterfall will be known as the Waterfall of Lost Possessions.  Mallery lost her sunglasses when they fell down a particularly steep rock, and Tom lost his glasses in the pursuit of a piece of tropical fruit.  His efforts were infact fruitless (pun intended), as when we cracked open said fruit, that he had worked so hard to reach, it smelt like moldy soap, and tasted even worse. But today's waterfall wasn't so bittersweet.  The water level was really low, so we couldn't really swim, but it was so nice to cool off under the pounding water, and I could feel it realising all the tension in me after the canyon.  So I'm calling today's waterfall the Waterfall of Therapeutic Powers, because it instantly made me feel so much better.

So that's day 3 in Pai.  Tomorrow is my last day in Pai, hopefully it won't have me pushing the panic button quite so vigorously.  But who knows what adventures tomorrow will bring? That is the beauty of travelling.

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