Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rafting for beginners

We signed up for white water rafting because of a persuasive young lady at the campsite welcoming drink. I was a bit nervous despite her frequent assurances that "c'est pas difficile" then I googled a bit and felt even more nervous when I read "it's a good workout for the upper body". Eek! What had we got ourselves into? My upper body probably needs a workout but I don't think I'm up for it! I was ready to call it off but we decided as we'd paid we'd at least go along and see.

When we got there it wasn't exactly reassuring. The facilities were basic with nowhere to buy food just a picnic area and a place to get soft drinks and ices. Other people seemed to know what to do and when but we never did get the briefing promised by the woman at reception so we had to keep asking for directions and help.

The wet suit was wet. The life jacket was too big and so was the helmet. At least the wetboots fit OK, although they were wet and clammy too.

Then there was the bus to take us the 5km up the river. It was old and tatty with stuffing coming out of the seat backs, it had no seat belts, and it went too fast. I just went into child mode: someone else is in charge and I hope to god they know what they're doing.

When we got to the start point and got told who our guide was, I explained to him that Neil doesn't speak much French and I'm mostly deaf without my hearing aids which I'd removed because I daren't get them wet. "Ca commence bien (that's a good start)" he said but at least he was smiling.

It all changed once we got into the raft. The guide laid out the rules about hanging onto your paddle for dear life, and trying not to fall in. One of the rules is that if the guide yells "Pizza!" you all have to fling yourselves into the middle of the raft with your paddle straight up in the air! It's a good position for when you bump into a rock, and guaranteed to break the ice at parties. 
Paddling was much easier than I'd expected, except for trying not to hit the paddle of the person in front. The river carries you down whether you paddle or not and the small rapids are exciting but not terrifying. No one in our group fell in, although we got splashed by another group which I admit I hated. Given that we were already wet and going to get wetter I'm not sure what my problem was.
We saw insects and birds and stopped to pick wildflowers. There were two places where the river opened out and the guide invited us to get in and swim if we wanted to. I chickened out the first time and no one from our boat got in but by the time we got to the second place I was so full of adrenaline that I was the first one into the water. Oh my word it was cold! So very cold! But it was the most fun I've had in ages.

I'd come a long way since my initial fears and it felt really good. We're going again next week.


Lexi said...

Intrepid is the word. I'm especially impressed that you white water rafted in France, in French.

fairyhedgehog said...

I felt more intrepid after than before! It was a very close thing as to whether I pulled out or not!

I speak a certain amount of French (I've a degree in it and spent two years living in France, but very many years ago) and the guide had enough English for Neil to understand.

And the water wasn't very white - they were very small, shallow rapids.

Great fun though!

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