The trees outside the window disappeared out of my sight as the bus was speeding past them. The music coming through the headphones to my ears faded as my mind wandered off doing its own thing. It was thursday, and my classmates and I were on a school trip to Altai. It was the day that many were waiting for, some in excitement and some in fear however my expectations were low, for I never have really enjoyed water related activities. It was the day we got to go rafting. When we finally arrived at the place where we were supposed to start our journey, we were handed the bottom of a wetsuit, a rain jacket, a life vest, and a helmet. Once we all put the cold wet suits that gave an uncomfortable sensation to every inch our body and the rest of the outfit on, we started resembling minion like creatures and as we looked around at each other we chuckled.
The instructors tried explaining the safety rules to us, however, our attention was on a completely different thing. Running around was and adorable and fluffy puppy, whose ears were recently cut off to improve it hearing. We looked at it with jealousy, the warm coat definitely keeping him warm in this climate, whilst we barely had anything on. Us, being quite a social bunch, were disappointing to hear that we would have to spend the next one and a half hours on the rafting with our advisories, not friends, but we did not let that ruin our mood. We climbed into the raft obviously not knowing how to, since we didn’t listen, and in about five minutes we were off. With time our excitement grew smaller and smaller. The joy of having a job (rowing the boat) turned into strong aching in our arms, and the enjoyment of the company has turned into us whining and shivering so hard the boat quivered. We were sitting there like lazy worms just wiening and asking the instructor every minute “Are we there yet?Are we there yet?”
Finally, in a what seemed like a day-long hour, we arrived at group’s A camp. We trembled out onto the ground and immediately took off our helmets and life vests. When we looked around and realized that we were located where our friends were around two hours ago we went to search for any sings of them. You see, even before the trip, the school split us up into two groups, group A and group B. Despite many pleads to change groups many people were stuck with no one to sit with during lunch and not the best choices of people to room with.
Not too long after, we had lunch. We assailed the ??????? as if we were a pack of hungry wild dogs. I poured out the powder in a hurry and obviously spilled half of it on myself. We all enjoyed the meal next to the small but warm campfire.
For a long and boring five minutes we were standing in front of the rafts waiting for the adults to finish their argument on how to arrange the sitting this time. However in the end they decided to have the sitting exactly the same and if we wanted to get to another boat to sit with our friends we would have to jump into the water and swim to the boat you wanted.
About ten minutes into our trip back the instructors said it was safe to jump into the water now. Soon enough I heard a loud splash; one of my classmates jumped into the water to fetch a ball one of the instructors throw. “What a dumb idea”. I thought “Why would you even ever want to to that?” However, seeing my friends do it, in about thirty seconds I found myself looking down into the water not comprehending why I am doing this I started counting down seconds to jump in. “One…. Two…. Three!”
I’m in the water. I am most definitely in the water. There is absolutely no doubt about that I am in the water. The water is…. Fresh, very very fresh. I would like to say that I felt like a bunch of needles and spears were pricked into every millimeter of my body and that it was as if biting me, however, I didn’t feel anything. At first it felt like i was in quicksand. My body became twice its weight and if it wasn’t for the life jacket I would have surely drowned. Then the sensation of “its so cold that it feels boiling hot” came in. That was when I realized that if I don’t swim now I will end up like Jack from Titanic. I started swimming freestyle but through the numbness I wasn’t sure whether i was using my legs or not. Once I finally swam close to the next boat I grabbed onto the rim and would refuse to let go. I felt a pair of hands grab onto my life vest and started to pull me up. I tried helping by kicking my legs as if trying to push of the water but once I realised that I was just making it more uncomfortable for whoever was pulling me up, so I just let them do their thing.
After many failed attempts to get onto the boat, I finally collapsed into the boat. For a while, I just layed there motionless, slightly shook from what had just happened. Unfortunately, soon I was forced to sit up by the supervising teacher on the boat. I grabbed the paddle, stuck it into the water and kept it there. The mix of adrenaline and numbness in every limb, finger, and I could have sworn I even felt it in my hair, gave this weird rush of emotions of not really understanding what is going on. However, just as my fingertips started feeling more alive, two people jumped onto our boat and fell right onto my leg. It all happened so fast I didn’t even notice how someone put a tight grip around my vest and started pulling me onto the other boat. Seconds later I found myself stretched out in between two boats: my leg stuck under two people, and my upper body above the water, still being pulled onto the other boat. I start hysterically screaming and punching the air. I feel the hands let go and I am in the water again. This time I feel how the water rises into my raincoat and spreads over all of my back and the back of my head. I haven’t really thought this through. I start yelling stronger than before. I tense up my core and pull myself up to the boat. Now only my butt is touching the water. There is an awkward silence on the boat as I hold eye contact with everybody. At last, one of my friends decides to help me onto the boat. Once I was finally on we all start to laugh. I grabbed the padel and started to padal not caring about the numbness because I was happy for a first time in a while. We joked around as we slowly approached the finish line when… Hold up, this is a story for another time.
Even though I froze my butt off and I might have not liked it then, it is one of the best memories I have now.