I almost drowned when I was 17.

I was in a canoe floating down a river towards an indigenous village located in a Panamanian jungle. These things happen when you’re a teenager who thinks he can save the world. The water had been calm when we pushed off hours earlier. Not a cloud in the sky and fair weather in the forecast. We didn’t have enough life jackets for everyone, but none of us were worried.

Hours later rain was coming down cold and heavy. Storms have a sense of irony, I think. We had no umbrellas or coats. We were not prepared. The rain agitated the river and the water was running wildly, dragging us with it. Someone in my canoe shouted and pointed ahead. Further down the river, a small whirlpool had formed. There was nothing we could do. Within moments our canoe was tossed upside down, hurling us into the water. Continue reading