Nouria, you are one of the most inspiring women on this planet! I was in tears for the full 13 minutes of this video. They came from a place of fear at first then shifted to joy, inspiration, and pure appreciation. I haven’t come across such an extreme act of athletic bravery performed by a female in my life (not saying it doesn’t exist, just that I have never seen it…not at this level). Full disclosure, I do not encourage people to paddle alone, especially on high consequence rivers. This could possibly resonate with me more because of my regular dance with fear with the river, as well as my connection and understanding of it. I should also note that this would be just as noteworthy if a man were to have done the same thing but means more to me because its a woman.
Traveling in a country as a woman, so far from home, requires an amount of courage in and of itself. But then to paddle some of the gnarliest whitewater that you’ve never paddled before solo? Damn girl! Some would say doing this alone is a sign of ego I don’t believe ego was at play here. I don’t want to make any assumptions but, to me, this seemed like an act of wanting to know what one is capable of mentally. This may seem like a test of physical strength, as well, but I think Nouria knows where she’s at in that arena. But mental strength, that is one that can be harder to gauge. Especially, when you’re always paddling with a crew. Your crew is like your buffer. If shit goes sideways you know they’ll be there. If you’re nervous about a rapid you have others to talk you through it or to follow. But when you’re alone it is all on you. Every mistake is yours to reconcile with. I can’t imagine a more empowering experience for Nouria.
Naturally, this made me examine my own life. I realized how much I can turn to others in the face of adversity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but watching this made me curious. It made me want to tackle things that scare me alone more often (just in case you trolls didn’t hear me the first time I do not encourage or endorse paddling alone). As a woman it can be really easy to be the vulnerable one. My ego often times doesn’t get in the way when I’m paddling. I’ll happily say that I’m scared and request that someone goes first down a rapid so I can watch their line. I want to be the first one more often (only when I am certain my fear is an irrational one). Not because I have something to prove to others but because I often underestimate my own abilities. I don’t give myself enough credit even though I am just as capable as the person going first. Paddling is only one example. I’d love more solo travel and pursue new business endeavors by myself. I see that so much can be learned about one’s self from these sort of experiences.
As I’m getting ready to hop on a plane to Costa Rica for the rest of the Winter by myself (not that I will be alone there, I’ve made some incredible friends) this could not have come at a better time. I might be paddling some new rivers and there will be other opportunities for me to step into the discomfort of doing things alone. I am really looking forward to these new challenges. And whenever I doubt myself I will think of Nouria. Thank you Nouria for being an endless source of inspiration for me! You are a beast!