It was the Discovery week of 2017, in Altai, a part of southern Serbia. This was my first discovery week in the new school in Moscow. I was coming from Africa and moving to a big city and now going on a school trip - to Serbia!? We were going to do many different activities that I have never done before. Out of all activities I was most agitated to go rafting. I had never done it before and I didn’t know what to expect. We sat with 9 kids, 1 teacher and a guide in the raft. In the middle of the day we would have a lunch break. While we were rafting for the first part of the day we couldn’t jump in or push people, which I was secretly relieved about, because after all, I had never gone rafting before.
After the lunch break we could finally push people in, I was so excited. My mood changed like a switch. Once I started paddling and looked around me, I realised how lucky I was. I couldn’t wait to jump in. As we left, the guides gave us a thumbs up to jump, but no one jumped. It took 30 seconds for the first person to actually jump, and from there -- it was just mayhem. I sat on the raft like a spy, trying not to get noticed, but still making sure I gather all my information, to get ready to jump. I stayed in the boat for a while and watched people fly into the water and freeze while others gingerly look around them. Then the rapids approached so we had to stop. I was ready to attack other boats. The rapids passed us and we could jump again. I dropped the paddle I had been holding onto the whole day and I looked around picking which boat should I conquer... It would be the boat right in front of us.
As I stood up and I tried to gain my balance. Once I started walking to the front of the boat, I was a newborn deer trying to take its first few steps, but struggled to find strength in my legs. I took and deep breath felt the air rush from my nose to my lungs giving me strength to keep moving. My legs catapulted me into the air and off of the boat excitedly. Suddenly, I felt regret. When we landed, I slipped and fell to the bottom of the raft. It meant safety, I hadn’t fallen in the water and now that I was low no one can try to push me in.
I slowly got up and looked around picking my pray. Once I picked my new prey I secretly stepped forward as he looked out and watched everyone else being pushed in from other boats. Then I went from secretive and quiet, to loud and determined. I pushed him from the shoulders - he started slowly falling in, but still wasn’t completely in. I started getting tired my thigh muscles were weakening, from all the work of jumping and helping people back on the boat. He had noticed me now, meaning I had to hurry and make sure he wouldn’t pull me in with him. I gave him one last heavy handed, full strength shove and he toppled over the edge of the raft into the frozen depths below. I walked up to him, he tried to get back on the raft and I laughed down at him feeling delight and confidence. The rapids were approaching us, I could see he was planning to push me in after all the misery I put him through. There was no doubt he would fail. I paddled as hard as I could, so that when I was pushed in it wouldn’t be so cold and shocking to my weak muscles.
“You can jump!” Our guide told us when we passed the rapids with his strong Russian accent.
When I sat waiting to be pushed in one of the boats started approaching us, it was my only way of escape. I dropped my paddle, stood up and flung myself to the other boat. In two split seconds in the air the only feeling I had was relief. I made it and I was still dry, but cold. I tightened my teeth trying to keep myself warm. I looked around me… suddenly my face drops from having a huge smile to mouth wide open. The devil made it to the same boat. Before I could even take in any other thoughts he pushed me once as hard as a kangaroo kick - I flew right into the water with a giant splash!
My head was the first thing to hit the water, I could just feel my brain loose 2,000 brain cells instantly. From my head, I felt the water go to my neck and straight down to my toes. As the pain washed through my body, I prayed someone would pull me out instantly. It was even colder now. My whole body was wet and coming into the cold wind made my body even colder. The devil who pushed me in hovered over me suggesting that he would help me out of my misery. At that moment I didn’t care who helped me as long as I was out of the torture. The devil couldn’t even get me out, so my teacher, Mr. Treinen helped pull me onto the safety of the dry boat. We both fell flat on the floor, piled over the paddles. The devil got me and he got me good. I looked at him and he laughed at me with an evil grin. I sat down freezing and tried to find ways to keep myself warm.
“Are you cold, Emma?” Mr. Treinen asked me.
“Ya, very!” I replied as I stared at the devil with evil eyes, trying to make him regret what he had done.
“Hold the top of the paddle and keep on squeezing, it will keep you warm,” Mr. Treinen suggested.
There was no point, I was freezing and squeezing the paddle and it did nothing but remind me how cold I was. I sat helplessly squeezing the paddle. I consistently gazed toward the devil hoping that my death stare would give me some satisfaction.
“No jump, rapids ahead!” Our guide told us as everyone reached for a paddle.
When I heard those words come out of his mouth I instantly started paddling. Nothing could stop me now! I wanted to get warm and get back to our camp so I could sit by the heater and do nothing else, but get warm.
We carried on rafting for a while and occasionally we would jump to other boats. Finally, we had a view of our destination! Mr. Treinen stood up as the guide gave him the thumbs up to jump. I secretly stood behind him and pushed him into the water. He was relieved, he couldn’t jump the whole time only now, and he was so excited for it, but I had beat him to it. He laughed as the fresh water washed through his body.
“ Good call, good call.” He told me.
The best part about pushing him in was that I didn’t get wet at all. As the boat approached the pebbles everyone ran off the boat. The first thing I did was take my shoes off. I didn’t feel a thing; my feet were too numb. Once we took all our gear off we ran to the bus. As we ran over thousands of pebbles and small rocks my feet felt absolutely nothing. When I was finally warm again, somehow I was able to realise how much fun and worthwhile rafting was despite having a scary devil on my boat.