“BING BONG BING” As my eyes opened, I noticed the sun was shining through our window. I gazed at the alarm with a angry look hoping it would explode. “BING BONG BING” I stood up and safely maneuvered through the tight and small space of our cabin. I turned it off and looked at the bed next to me, and realized Greg was still dead asleep. I woke him up and we both dressed up for breakfast. Opening our door and walking onto our tiny porch, ahead of us was the beautiful Altai landscape. The river current softly drifted by a couple meters ahead and the wind softly brushed our coats. We were ready to start our second day in Siberia. We came here on a four hour flight from Moscow, where we were attending The Anglo-American School of Moscow. Every year 8th graders attending the school would travel at the beginning of the year to Altai for a week. The day before we left Moscow I was mournful. Not only was I leaving my warm bed, but I was leaving to Altai, I mean where is that? We called it Discovery Week and all grades traveled to different places. It was our time in Altai so here we were. We walked down the steps and headed of to breakfast.
The clouds were covering the sun. The wind pushed us across the water creating a slow current. The cold mist filled my nose as it dryed of the grass. I looked forward into the horizon. Our raft was filled with 11 people, the almighty Mackenzie advisory and our tour guide. The trip had started an hour ago, after we had ate breakfast and suffered through the boring bus ride. We fitted ourselves with rafting gear. This was a problem for me as the only gear they had was 2 sizes too big for me. I had gotten onto the raft looking like I was wearing a dress. We had departed under a bridge, and went downstream. The mountains rose on our sides as big as the sides of Wembley. All around us was the mild sound of nature, chirping birds and the soft wind brushing against the leaves. The rustle of the leaves sounded gently.
As the current pushed us onward, we decided to make a chant for our advisory. We quickly discussed the ideas and came to a conclusion. Our chant was inspired by what Mr. Mackenzie called us on the first day of school: “huhas”. As we went further downstream, we all chanted “huhu haha huhu haha HUHU HAHA”. Together we paddled synchronized and in a short time we reached our first strong current. Looking ahead we came across our first strong rapid. The atmosphere on the boat rose instantaneously as if we just got tickets to the Champions League final. The rapid was like a wild bull. Our boat swung to the right and then back to the left. We zoomed past all the other rafts, then the water slowed and we reached still water once again. Our boat slowed and we stopped paddling. We then began to chatter. Mr. Mackenzie the loving teacher he is, wanted to push Giorgio into the water desperately. He told us all:
“We have to get Giorgio into the water and then back onto our boat”
Our whole boat nodded our heads and waited until Giorgio’s boat was ahead of us and then we attacked. Mr. Mackenzie grabbed Giorgio and dragged him onto our boat. As we claimed our prize, we paddled on.
We reached the second place where we could jump into the water. I decided to go in a second time. I stood up and got ready to jump, suddenly out of nowhere like a panther attacking its prey I feel a firm push and fall backwards - SPLASH. The cold water sting spread across my face as I fall in head first. The water is so cold it stings as if there were a swarm of mosquitos attacking me. Underwater everything seemed so peaceful, slow and beautiful. My head broke the surface of the water and I took a breath. My helmet had fallen onto my eyes and I could barely see. I spotted my raft through the tiny gap between the helmet. I hurried over scared that I was going to be taken away by the current in a matter of seconds. I grabbed onto the boat and tried to pull myself up. Shortly, I saw that it was unachievable. Luckily, one of the people on the raft grabbed me by the life jacket and pulled me out and onto the raft floor. Laying down in the middle of everybody I was happy that the cold feeling had gone away. I started to change my mind maybe Altai was not that bad after all. I stood up and went back to my seat. I put my feet under the rope and grabbed my paddle. We rowed onwards and in short time we arrived to the end point of our wonderful trip. We got off and then suddenly the information hit me like somebody just tossed a house against my chest -- the girls were changing first. The boys standing by the river were hawkish, we were told to take off our water protective clothes… our only source of heat. Standing there quavering intensely I looked over to the right and saw the gentle river stream rush by. I thought “Yes! Altai is the BEST!!!”. I had loved the rafting trip and couldn't wait for the next days to come.
Grabbing my cup of warm tea from the table in Moscow I look back on the experience. My fingers begin to dance on the keyboard as I pour the experience onto a document. I think, I wish I could do it again.