Yes, I live smack dab in the middle of a desert. I don’t even get the benefit of living near the sea like those in Dubai or Abu Dhabi do. However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t go white water rafting. What? That’s right. In Al Ain, there is Wadi Adventure. It is a man-made park for rafting, kayaking, and surfing.
On Valentine’s Day this year, Kassandra and I went to Wadi Adventure for our second time. We joined my friend, Geraint, and his parents, who were visiting from the U.K. The first time I was here I was a little disappointed about the intensity of the rapids. I think I was making an unfair comparison to rafting on a real river. Kassandra and I felt like it wasn’t enough bang for our buck, which is why we didn’t go back for over a year. However, this time I went with the purpose of spending time with Geraint and his family – not to get an adrenaline rush. Going in with adjusted expectations helped me enjoy it for what it is instead of thinking about what it isn’t. Does that make sense?
First, we watched a safety video and then got all geared up to tackle the rapids. Once in the raft, the guide takes you around a training river to make sure you understand the rules and can follow directions. Then you are taken up a ramp to the real rapids. The first time I was here, the ramp was broken, so we had to carry the boat up. Maybe this was another thing that had tainted my first experience. It was a much more enjoyable experience knowing that each time we went around the river we wouldn’t have to lug the heavy boat up manually.
Our first time around the river was fairly uneventful, but still fun. There were some weird plastic tubes hanging down from the overhead wires. I didn’t quite understand why they were there, but it felt like we should have earned bonus points for each time a tube hit us. It didn’t hurt, but it did seem to add an extra element of surprise. On our second time around the river, the guide said we could get out of the boat and float down the last rapid. Yep, I was all for that.
Geraint’s father had had enough with two rounds, but Kassandra, Geraint, and I decided to go around a third time. This time the guide asked us if we wanted to flip the boat. Sure! So, after four attempts of actively trying to get the raft to flip over, the guide managed to send us all overboard. Besides feeling like I drank half of the river, I managed to survive the capsizing. Kassandra didn’t fair as well. She scraped up her shoulder and hands, but she was still smiling. The park has a first aid center where they were able to bandage her all up just in time for us to move on to the Air Park.
The Air Park consists of a Giant Swing, an Obstacle Course, and a Zipline. Geraint has a fear of heights, and is generally just plain chicken when it comes to these kinds of things, so I was excited and surprised when he agreed to go on the Giant Swing with Kassandra and me.
After surviving the swing, Kassandra and I harnessed up to go through the Obstacle Course. It is a two level course that has different things for you to maneuver through at what feels like a very high altitude. As we were almost done with the first level, we had acquired a fan group. There were a group of men (5-7?), laborers, just on the other side of the park fence watching us complete the course. At one point, much to my annoyance, they started taking our pictures or videoing us. I think this annoyed me more here than it would have in the United States. I have become accustomed to the idea that you should not take a person’s picture without their permission – especially a woman’s, so it bothered me that there wasn’t really anything I could say or do about them taking my picture as I was walking on wires 60 feet in the air.
On the other hand, I was quite happy that Geraint and his family were around to take our pictures. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I have very few pictures of things like this because we are never with someone to take our pictures. The final adventure of the day was ziplining from the top of the obstacle course to the other side of the park.
And then we were done. It was fun, but also exhausting. I was quite happy to get to spend time with Geraint’s parents. As my friends’ families come for visits, it makes me miss my family and friends back home even more. I think of all the things I would like to show them. But, I guess for now, I will just continue showing them by means of this blog.