There are two things that are high on my Fears list: high places, and deep waters. I have incredibly poor balance (physically, that is, although sometimes it applies on my mental condition, as well) that my knees buckle even if I’m just standing on top of a chair. I think it has something to do with the fact that my body is too big for my incredibly small feet (I’m technically a size 7, but I have chubby feet so I wear size 8 shoes). As for deep waters, I almost got drowned when I was a kid, so I developed a phobia because of that. I’m the type of person who easily gives up once I had a bad experience, so I never attempted to learn swimming. It is also for this same reason why I never learned to ride a bike (very minor bike accident = forget about biking).
Last week, I faced both of those fears head on by allowing myself to try parasailing in Boracay.
My childhood friend Mac is probably the gutsiest person I’ve ever known. She tries everything, and excels with it. She’s a mom of two boys and looks very girly-girl, but don’t be fooled by that. She’s the type who would travel from one end of the country to another on her motorbike, or just jump off the open sea without a life vest on. She’s also the one who literally pushed me to try parasailing (which she had naturally done before), and would’ve pushed me to try helmet diving, as well, if not for the fact that it costs way above our budget.
To get to the parasailing spot, we had to take a small speedboat to transfer to a bigger yacht where the parasail would be anchored. As I’ve said, I have a fear of deep waters so every time the speed boat gives a sharp turn, my heart would literally jump off my chest. And then, we had to transfer to the yacht and since we did this in the late afternoon, the waves have become quite big so the boats were wobbly. My legs have turned into mush by this time and I literally was picturing myself being washed off the boat towards the sea.
Anyway, we’ve already paid, I’m already there, so what the hell, let’s do this.
We let the kids do it first, then our other friends second. I had roughly 20-30 minutes to psyche myself up, which didn’t really work when you have a very supportive friend who would tell you that you’ll be hoisted up 500 feet with just a couple of hooks holding you, and those hooks could be released so easily. I took a mental note to keep my fingers away from the hooks lest I accidentally detach myself from the harness.
Finally, our turn came. I told my knees to stop shaking as I climbed towards the landing pad, and sat there while the crew attached us to the parachute.
They gave us instructions on what hand signal to give if we want to go higher or lower or whatever. I didn’t bother to learn it because I plan on keeping my hands firmly grasped on the harness.
Finally, we took off. However, we’re about three feet away from the boat and I was ready to scream my head off when they suddenly pulled us back because according to them, our weights were not balanced. Gee, thanks, Captain Obvious. We were asked to sit on the landing pad again while they adjusted something on the bar. Then, FINALLY, we’re off.
How did it feel as we’re ascending towards the sky with nothing but a harness on? I dunno. I just remembered that we were screaming our heads off, and Mac was telling me to move while she’s wriggling beside me, and I was like, “mare. wag. kang. malikot!” (Mac, stop moving!) I had all these thoughts in my head: what if I let go of the harness and I fell backwards? What if the rope – which looked so flimsy in my eyes – gave way because I’m too heavy? What if there’s some freak accident that is waiting to happen and it decides to happen now? More importantly: Why the heck did I agree to do this? I don’t even take the rides in theme parks!
I then looked ahead at the wonderful view and thought: WOW. I’m 500 feet up in the air. And it doesn’t feel so bad at all.
It’s a good thing that Mac had this brilliant idea of taking a camera with us while parasailing. I didn’t bring Pinky on this trip, but thankfully my Nokia N8 had a strap that she can securely tie around her wrist to take pics. Of course, with me being scared to take out my hand away from the harness, there’s no way I can still take photos from 500 feet up, so it’s up to her to do the job documenting this experience.
I’m also fortunate that we went there with a trained photographer (the husband of another friend), so I entrusted GD-TOP to him. He took some really amazing photos of us while parasailing with a view of the famed Boracay sunset in the background. Talk about perfect timing.
The thing is, just when I was getting the hang of it – by that, I mean I had the guts to remove my hands from the harness since they’ve already started to hurt and that’s when I realized that it wasn’t that scary, plus I realized too late that keeping my hands on the harness means I am in more danger of accidentally releasing the hooks – it’s time for us to go back to land. Or to be more accurate, back to the boat. What I initially thought to be the longest fifteen minutes of my life felt really short. I even felt a bit disappointed that they didn’t give us the short dip on the ocean before pulling us back in the boat. Apparently, Mac signaled them not to do it because she was afraid that my cellphone will get wet. Imagine, I was even looking forward to that when before I parasailed, I was scared out of my wits of the ocean.
To my surprise, when we had to transfer back to the smaller boat to go back to the beach, not only did I do it so easily, I didn’t even flinch when we were speeding off to big waves and sharp turns in the open sea. I was even wishing that we didn’t give up helmet diving. I guess that’s what facing one’s fears does to a person. You suddenly feel like you could do anything, and nothing will ever go wrong. I know it sounds overly-profound for something as simple as parasailing, but it’s true.