What followed was the most frightening few minutes of my entire life. The very first rapid (rapid #10, a class 4/5), “The Gnashing Jaws of Death” would be my nightmare for the next short while. The instant we hit the wave, I knew we were going over. As the raft tumbled over, it landed right on top of me, trapping me in the churning water. I could feel the raft slip away as a whirlpool dragged me down into the depths of the river and the light of the sun faded into a dark brown as I was dragged deeper under. I felt like death himself had a hold on my neck and was pulling me into an abyss. My life passed before my eyes as I looked out into a dark brown fury of water.
Kicking my legs and thrashing my arms, I desperately tried to resurface but I kept being pulled deeper. What was probably only about 60 seconds felt like a millennium as I swallowed huge gulps of the Zambezi.
As I kicked and fought for my life, I swallowed more water and that 60 or so seconds felt like an hour. Then, it happened. My body just went still as I gave up, I thought that this was the end of my life. A calmness came over me.
A split second later, the life jacket did its job and I resurfaced, only to see that my raft was long gone. A splash of colour caught my attention in the sea of brown ferocious water. It was a blue kayak, manned by one of the safety team! As I gasped for air, “Enock” quickly made his way over to me, a sense of urgency and worry on his face. He instructed me to stay calm and how to hold on to his kayak as he steered me to a calmer part of the river. He literally saved my life.
This man is my hero, I told him he was my guardian angel and that he had in fact saved a life today. I kept smiling at him and high fiving him the rest of the day. I am alive today because of this man.