Saturday 18 May 2013

Conquering My Fears at Kakum National Park


The canopy walk was something I was looking forward to since the trip planning had begun.  Walking through the rainforest on rope bridges, high in the trees wasn’t like anything I had done before.  I was excited to experience the foliage and animals that live in the forest. 

After a bumpy and twisting ride in “the fridge,” we arrived at Kakum National Park.  It proved to be a very nice spot with stone walkways, a museum, gift shop and café.  With our guide, we hiked up a steep slope, with many stairs.  I was a little nervous to begin, as I have a fear of heights, but I was still excited for the experience. 

Two Canadians, with the help of many Ghanaians, designed and built the bridges and every six months, the tree platforms and bridges are replaced.  The bridges can each hold the weight of two elephants!  The system is built over a valley, so even though the bridges are all level, the farther you go, the taller they get, with the highest point being 40 metres.

I decided to be one of the first to cross the bridge, along with Kathy and Ashley.  I began on the bridge (made of rope, with wooden planks to walk on), and immediately became nervous.  The bridges are bouncy and swing a little, too.  When I reached the first platform I was sure I was going to take the bypass of only three bridges, instead of all seven.  As each person came to the platform, where I clung to the ant-covered tree, they all suggested I just do it all.  They said I would be proud of myself for completing the challenge, and if I didn’t, I would regret it.  I kept asking if anyone else would take the bypass with me, but I finally decided to just do it!  
As I went along, and the bridges got higher and longer, my nerves lessened.  I was still a little nervous as I moved along at a steady pace, but near the end, I was able to stop and look down.  I trusted the construction of the bridges and their safety, but it was the human instinct to fear falling that trapped me.  When I reached the very end I felt triumphant!  I was so excited that had been able to conquer my fear and make it across all seven bridges.  I survived the canopy walk!  And it was so fun.  

One thing I keep telling myself in life is, if it scares you, do it.  You’re never going to experience anything great or new if you only do things you are comfortable with.  In retrospect, conquering the canopy walk was only one small fear I conquered.

Even our adventure to Cape Coast proved to be another fear conquered.  I am a very shy person, and have trouble getting to know other people.  As a group, we decided that switching roommates would be a great idea; we could get to know each other a little better.  I did not want to do this, and was rather uncomfortable with the idea at first.  However, in the end, I am super happy that we did.  I got to know someone better who I thought was very opposite of me.  I believe travelling let’s you meet and enjoy people who you might not in your normal life.  I am grateful for the friendships I have made on this trip, and for the additions to my “people collection!” ;)

My entire adventure in Ghana has been an accomplishment for me.  I was so nervous to journey far away from home into a culture I knew hardly anything about.  But I did it, and I’m so happy I did.  This journey has been like nothing I have ever experienced, and I would trade it for nothing.


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