Overcoming fear at Laguna Dudu

in Adventure Travel / Dominican Republic / Overland Travel
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laguna dudu cabrera dominican republic

Laguna Dudu, Cabrera, Dominica Republic

As I approached the ledge guarded by a skinny Dominican kid in an orange vest labeled “Rescate,” (Rescue, in Spanish), I wondered if this place called Dudu was comically named for the doo-doo I was about to get myself into. I mean, how the hell was this kid’s orange life preserver ever going to save me if something went wrong with the makeshift zip-line that ran across the canyon below?

rescate dudu dominican republic

Not exactly Baywatch.

laguna dudu rescate dominican republic

“Don’t worry. I have a plastic life preserver.”

The main attraction of Laguna Dudu in Cabrera, Dominican Republic, and the source of my anxiety, was essentially a metal wire tied around two large trees on either side of a massive canyon containing a cavernous pool of blue, brackish water of unknown depth.

As I peeked over the edge of the rock I was meant to launch myself off of, the soles of my feet and palms of my hands tingled, signifying a familiar and overwhelming terror reserved solely for those moments when I’m either about to deliver a speech or drop from an unfathomable height.

In this case, the height was 8 meters or, roughly, 26 feet. Like I said, unfathomable.

Sure, I’d just watched my husband Ryan, our friend Morgan and about a dozen Dominicans drop like stones from their zip-line handlebars into the pool of water below. And, sure, every single one of them had surfaced alive, unharmed and whooping with delight. But, even still, everything in my brain was screaming, “Don’t do it. You have nothing to prove. Step away from the edge.”

Meanwhile, Ryan was standing at my side, using a well-worn motivational tactic. “It’s okay if you don’t have the guts,” he said, smirking.

Which made me twitch, since Ryan was the one who was supposedly afraid of heights and, yet, I’d just watched him jump off the cliff not once, but twice. But I couldn’t ignore my brain, which was screaming in a voice that sounded like my mother’s, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”

Tasha, not happy about this peer pressure.

Tasha, not happy about this peer pressure.

“What are you so worried about?” Ryan asked, interrupting the screaming in my head.

“Dying,” I said.

Which was the truth, even though I knew it was irrational. All the evidence before me, including all the people I’d just watched not die, showed that I definitely wouldn’t die if I jumped off that cliff. Even though I’m pretty sure there’s no park in the entire United States that could get insurance to string a wire across a canyon and charge people to drop themselves off it, regardless of how many waivers they made you sign.

But we weren’t in the United States. We were deep in the Dominican jungle, well off the beaten path, where thousands of Dominicans had dropped themselves off this cliff before me and had the adrenalin rushes to show for it.

“You’re being a wimp,” my brave self accused. “You’ve jumped off cliffs before and you liked it. C’mon, it’ll be fun!”

“I’m not really convinced I liked it,” my wimpy self said. “I’m pretty sure I did it because there was no other way down.”

While I stood frozen at the edge of the rock arguing with myself, a long line of men formed behind me, making me even more nervous. So I backed up and let them go ahead while I continued the internal debate with myself over whether or not it was reasonable to be afraid of dying in a place called Dudú.

When the last guy in line grabbed hold of the zip handle, I knew I’d have to make a decision soon as to whether or not I was going to jump. And every nerve in my body was telling me not to.

But just as he grabbed the bar, the guy looked down, dropped the bar and, shaking his head, walked away from the edge and back toward his friends, who were now doubled over laughing at their fearful buddy. And, in that moment, I realized how silly I was being.

So before I could rethink my decision, I stepped up to the edge of the rock and grabbed the zip-line handle.

Moment of truth: real fear kicks in

Moment of truth: real fear kicks in.

And as soon as I stepped off the rock, I immediately regretted my decision.

laguna dudu jump

There’s no going back now.

If I thought I was terrified before, standing on the edge of the cliff, I was absolutely frozen with fear now, flying through the air towards my cavernous, water-filled doom. The only difference was now I no longer had a choice in the matter. I was going to have to drop into that water whether I liked it or not.

So I took a deep breath and let go.

Free fall laguna dudu

Free falling.

When I surfaced, my own laughter was met by the giggles of a dozen Dominican guys standing at the water’s edge. And it took me a moment to realize they weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing at their friend, who had just been shown up by a gringo girl. And now this poor guy would never live this humiliation down unless he grew some cojones and dropped off that cliff. Shame is a powerful motivator, I thought, as I watched the guy turn on his heels and march back up the hill and towards his fate, which was to ride that zip line with courage.

Happy to be alive laguna dudu

Happy to be alive.

By now, the fearful tingling in my feet had been replaced by the lingering thrill of speed mixed with positive elation at still being alive. Followed by a disproportionate sense of self-satisfaction. The kind of satisfaction that only comes from accomplishing something that – even for a brief moment –  seemed impossible.

I had conquered my own Dudu.

laguna dudu dr jump

“That was, like, a thousand meters, right?”

For more photos, visit Turf to Surf’s Photo Album for Rio San Juan and Laguna Dudu.

post-line-divide

This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

love with a chance of drowning

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

15 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • ParadiseParrot May 13, 2013, 6:40 am

    Well you certainly made the most literary use of a jump in pond I have read in a while.Bravo.

    • Tasha May 13, 2013, 6:47 am

      Oy! It will be hereby referred to from this point forward as a “death-defying leap into a great chasm”…not a “jump in a pond.” We wouldn’t want people to get the impression I was a wimp, now would we?! 😉

  • somanybeaches May 13, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Tasha! That looks sooo fun! Growing up in Texas, we jumped off cliffs all the time into lakes, springs, etc. I LOVE it! It’s such a thrill! And, it reminds me of this fun time playing Super Woman in the Exumas – did y’all do this?

    http://www.somanybeaches.com/2012/03/28/the-exumas-happy-birthday-to-me/

    • Tasha May 13, 2013, 3:51 pm

      Lol. You’ve got more cojones than I do! I did not do that at Thunderball Grotto, but it looks like fun! I hesitated a LOT before jumping off the cliff at the 27 Waterfalls, but this was much much higher. I was seriously afraid, but once I did it, the thrill was a blast! Heights is my bugbear…I don’t like it. I’ll cope, but my mind goes to some very dark places when faced with a height like that. I love the superman! Thanks for sharing!
      Tasha

  • Sarah May 16, 2013, 8:24 am

    That looks like so much fun. But I imagine it would be a bit for me like any time I go on one of those falling amusement park rides. I KNOW I’ll love it. I do. But the adrenaline and anxiety and fear sets in the entire lead up to it. Ha.

    • Tasha May 16, 2013, 10:59 am

      It WAS so much fun. I was being a total wimp. But heights REALLY terrify me for some reason. Well, maybe for good reason — my things slapped the water so hard, they’re still bruised a week later!
      Tasha

  • Michael Guay May 22, 2013, 12:20 am

    That looked like a lot of fun, I can understand the fear of the unknown. FatCatAnna may of had second thoughts much as yourself. In the end she would of loved it much as you did, thanks for sharing.

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:21 am

      It WAS a lot of fun! I hate it when I act like a wimp, but sometimes my brain just goes, “You don’t want to be uncomfortable and no one is forcing you to do this…” and then I have to talk my brain out of that mode and remind myself I hate missing out on the fun 🙂

  • Sarah Somewhere May 22, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Amazing! I am loving reading all the #myfearfuladventure posts, and I can totally relate to that paralyzing fear when faced with something like this! Moving past that is amazing, isn’t it?! Good on you, love the photos!!!!

    • Tasha Hacker May 22, 2013, 4:52 pm

      It WAS amazing. I don’t know why I was being such an irrational chicken. I just REALLY hate heights! 🙂

  • Lisa May 26, 2013, 3:37 am

    You were brave! Though I’ve ziplined, I couldn’t do that! Wow!

    • Tasha Hacker May 26, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Ha ha! It’s all relative. I was a wimp up until I launched!

  • Libs June 4, 2013, 12:35 pm

    This looks like a TON of fun. I went ziplining last year and really enjoyed it. Kudos to you for such an awesome adventure. Cheers

    • Tasha Hacker June 4, 2013, 1:34 pm

      This was my only zip-lining experience so far. Part of me hopes the next one won’t involve me dropping from the line!

  • christine clark July 5, 2016, 8:08 pm

    Hi, I just did jump at laguna DuDu and I hurt myself badly doing it..so for anyone thinking of doing it…it is far from simple fun and you can end up really hurting yourself (another man also got severely hurt)…I wish I had read all the way to the thighs hurting you after a week…

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