Wednesday, 9 September 2015

White Water Rafting for Beginners

We signed up for white water rafting because of a persuasive young lady at the campsite welcoming drink. It's amazing what you can do with a charming smile.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous despite her frequent assurances that "c'est pas difficile" (it's not hard); then I googled a bit and read that "it's a good workout for the upper body". Eek!  My upper body probably needed a workout but I didn't think I could manage it! What had we got ourselves into?

I was ready to call the whole thing off but we decided to go along and see. After all, I thought, I can always back out if it's too scary.

The rafting reception area wasn't exactly reassuring. The facilities were really basic and everyone seemed to know what to do, except us.

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.

The bus taking us the 5km up the river was old and tatty with stuffing coming out of the seat backs. It had no seat belts and it hurtled along the winding road. I just went into child mode: someone else is in charge and I hope to god they know what they're doing.

The rafts had to be carried down a steep slope to the river. I explained to our guide that Neil doesn't speak much French and I'm mostly deaf without my hearing aids which I'd removed because I couldn't get them wet. "Ça commence bien (that's a good start)" he said but at least he was smiling.

We climbed awkwardly into the raft and 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. 
It turned out that the charming young woman who had got us into this was right after all: it was "pas difficile". The river carries you down whether you paddle or not and when we reached the first shallow rapid we splashed over it with no problems but a lot of excitement.
It was magical.

Insects hovered near the banks: iridescent dragonflies and black winged damsel flies. Birds swooped across. The river opened out into a shallow area where we picked flowers from the banks, and rubbed them in our hands. It was a form of soapweed.

Further on, the river opened out and the guide invited us to get in and swim if we wanted to. No one from our boat got in: after all, we'd been told that the water was 15°C! But we were given a second and last chance a bit further on and by then 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 so much fun.

I'd come a long way since my initial fears and I was on a high. We booked to go again the following week.

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