Fear is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report.
What is a thrill for me may be a fear for you and vice versa. Here are my biggest fears which I have yet to conquer and a brief explanation of why I am still scared.
I will hop on the back of a motorbike anywhere in the world. I am not scared of the Excitebike action. What I won’t do is drive one myself. They are too dangerous for my taste. As an adolescent, I recall driving my cousins moped in his neighborhood. I was supposed to turn left but, paralyzed by fear, hopped the curb right onto the lawn of a man watering his grass. He looked at me in disbelief. I tried it again another day and once again found myself steering onto another person’s lawn. And that’s in a suburban neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine doing it in a big city. I once was told that one person dies each day in Vietnam in a motorbike accident. I know how to cross the street in Vietnam, but riding a motorbike? No thank you. I would be terrified at the sight of oncoming traffic and would cave if a truck honked at me when it passed. I literally think I would wipe out just to be done with experience.
On par with motorbikes are bicycles. Though I’m prolific on the spin bike, I have no balance on a bicycle. Like the moped, I am scared of falling over. I’m also scared of traffic. Anytime a car is approaching in the opposite lane, I somehow wander towards it. If I sense a vehicle is coming from behind, I freeze and have to come to a complete stop. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around bicycling for some tourist activities. In Mendoza, I needed a bike to go on a wine tour (see “It’s Like Riding a Bike.” Those words have haunted me for years.). In Blenheim, it would’ve been so boring to go on a wine tour via minibus. There’s no way I could’ve seen the beauty of the vineyards (see Wine Tours by Bike NZ: A Must for Wine Enthusiasts). In Bagan, the best way to see the pagodas is with a rickety bike (see Guns & Butter: Bagan Travel Guide). In Bhutan, I should’ve skipped the downhill only ride from the Big Buddha (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 2).
Unlike motorbikes, I will get back on a bicycle and I think I’m making some progress.
Once upon a time, my friend and I were driving were driving to Canada when we were stopped by American border patrol for CWA – crossing while Arab. While it’s not uncommon to be questioned or detained by the country you are going to, it’s not very often that you’re stopped by the country you are leaving from (see “You Leave Only with Passport!” Detained in Tel Aviv Again). After a thorough pat-down which included a gentle massage of my privates, I was put back in the waiting room. My friend was still being interrogated. The agent, whose name I will never forget, came out and told me that my friend had a suspended drivers license. If I didn’t want to see him go to jail I would have to drive his car. At that point, Officer Hiscock asked me if I knew how to drive stick? With my friend’s freedom hanging in the balance, I said, “Absolutely!” We were released and taken to my friend’s car which had been ripped apart. With the agents watching, I had my crash course in driving a manual. The scariest part was reversing on a bridge with semi-trucks whizzing by. I thought I would slingshot the car right off the bridge. Somehow I managed to do it and got us to the Canadian entry point. Canada doesn’t have the same CWA rule and let us in right away. Despite stalling at the border, I got the hang of it and drove all the way to Hamilton. On the way home, I had to drive again. Though Officer Hiscock wasn’t there that day, we were still stopped. There was no ball touching this time around, but we were still detained momentarily.
Besides the PTSD from this experience, I’m also terrified of shifting from neutral to first while being on an incline. I feel I would start sliding backward, panic, and either hit the car behind me or descend uncontrollably to my death.
Driving on the Left
Manual or auto, my third and final fear is driving on the left. I can’t do it. I end up either being too close to the left shoulder or in the middle of the road. Like motorbikes and bicycles, I get nervous when other cars come towards me or from behind.
Here are fears that have since become thrills.
When I was a kid, I rode on the back of a jetski with my cousins. They thought it was fun to go as fast as possible straight and then jerk the jetski sideways so I would fly off. Falling off didn’t hurt but the anxiety of when it would happen was too much to bear. Since then I avoided jetskis for the most part, and if I did go on one, I would not go fast. Two summers ago, my friend invited me to go jet skiing on the Hudson. The water was choppy and I was nervous. I would hit the gas, let go, then hit the gas. This was getting me nowhere. Since I was scared of falling off, I abandoned this strategy and decided to go for it. Zipping along at speeds over 50mph, I started doing turns and having fun. I realized that it wasn’t jetskis that I should be wary of, it was my reckless cousins.
I’m not scared of heights, but I was scared of bungee jumping because of the risk that the rope would break (see Woman Survives Terrifying Bungee Accident) or that I would get whiplash. I said if I went to Zimbabwe, I would face this fear and jump off the bridge. On the ledge, jumpers hear the announcement, “3, 2, 1 bungee!” From there they have to jump. I wondered if I would freeze when it was my turn. I did not and actually was not scared at all (see 3,2,1 Bungee! Bungee Jumping Victoria Falls).
And there you have it. Those are the activities I am scared of. Some I have conquered, others I have not. Obviously, there are things that I will not do, like scaling a mountain with no rope but neither would 99.9 percent of people.