Friday, November 27, 2009

Falling on my ASSets

Having for the past 4 years been the primary person responsible for overseeing the University of RI Challenge Course and a challenge course facilitator trainer I thought it would be a good experience to go to an adventure park while in Mauritius.  My adventure began as we boarded our tour buses and traveled about an hour into the mountains of Mauritius.  We were able to see some beautiful landscapes along the way and finally arriving in the Chamarel region realized that we were nestled in the side of a mountain with a breath taking view of part of Mauritius: as was the adventure course.   The description on the Adventure Park Chamarel website is as follows:

Discover new outdoor activities in the heart of a unique 12 hectare tropical forest, in Mauritius, with Parc Aventure Chamarel.
Regardless of athletic ability, the young and not so young can roam from trees to trees, and path to path, attached to a lifeline (safety equipment). In order to fully enjoy the site’s fabulous views, kiosks have been placed overlooking the Chamarel valley.
A lot of fun of these outdoor activities resides in their ability to give you a fright, without ever putting you in danger.
...Parc Aventure Chamarel…Adventure at your fingertips…”

I was excited to participate but immediately knew I was in for a challenged, having learned a while ago how to read between the lines I knew this was going to be challenging: anytime you read “Regardless of athletic ability” you should question that in part because it is very difficult to build something that will challenge your experienced and athletic participants and not be too much for your first timers.  Also, “attached to a lifeline (safety equipment)” should be a warning to you that there is some risk whenever you have to don a harness with carabineer, which at times may be the only thing preventing you from falling on the ground, which I learned first-hand.  And lastly, “their ability to give you a fright, without ever putting you in danger”, this line alone makes me raise my eyebrow and should have been a huge red flag.  But I digress; let me continue to what happened when I visited the adventure park.

As we arrived we were fitted with the ever so attractive harness and ropes with attached carabineers.  We were then led down to our first bridge, which seemed safe enough, we were instructed how to attach our carabineer’s to the support cable and then safely cross the ladder bridge which was only about 3 feet off the ground, the rungs or steps on this ladder bridge were about 1 foot apart from each other which added a challenge but it was ok.  I watched as mostly all of the students some faculty and an elderly life-long learner went across the bridge with minimal effort. 

The next bridge crossed part of a ravine which at its deepest had about a 10 foot drop, and increasingly the challenges became a little harder, the steps a little more far apart from one another and the heights increasingly higher, until we came upon a bridge with nothing to support your hands, it was a straight bridge with steps about one foot from each other and at times 2 immediately next to one another but nothing for you to grab.  It was quite challenging, it was then followed by a steep hike and then another bridge with nothing more than a couple of ropes hanging from the support cable and each step about 3-4 feet apart from one another. 

I thought I was going to die from an increase in blood pressure, the drop below the bridge was only about 4 feet, but as anyone who has done these type of challenges before can tell you when you are 5 foot 5  a four foot drop looks like a nine foot drop.  Anyway I pressed on to meet my next challenge which I thought I was ready for. 

This next rope cave as I like to call it would be my undoing I approached it as all things looking at it strategically and deciding where to place my hands and feet.  Let me describe this to you, completely made of rope tied into squares it came up my right side, across over my head and down my left.  It was probably a distance of 10 or so feet.  The objective: start at point A and get to the end.  Well I placed my hands grabbing the rope and then gently placed my right foot and then my left, immediately before I got my left foot off the safety platform I felt myself go into what I describe as a Russian split(each of my legs in opposite direction) and then I lost my hand grip and immediately fell to the ground only scraping each side of my body as I fell.  I landed with both arms through the 2nd to the last rung on the rope and my right foot on the ground, left foot still in the rope rung.  I was hurt but more embarrassed than anything else.  I immediately jumped up onto my feet assessed the bruises and applied hand sanitizer to the one on my hand and realized the ones on my arms were more rope burn than bruises.  I kept going and finished the course with the zip line and felt I had accomplished something. 

Overall it was a great experience.  I enjoyed the bridges and the hikes, but mostly the amazing views.  It was only the next day that I realized how bad I had been bruised.  My arms looked bad.  The bruises are gone now but the experience of the day is forever embedded in my memory and helps me to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously.

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