Ok. Let’s be honest. I am not the most active of people. My idea of exercise is taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Yes, I’ve started running, but it’s running in the sense of ‘five-minute-run-god-I-can’t-breathe-oh-help-walk’ kind of running, as opposed to the ‘why-yes-I-am-so-fit-hour-long-sprint’ kind of running, so it’s safe to say, when it comes to outdoor activities I don’t cope very well. But, you know, I feel as if deep down inside there is a somewhat more-active, less-useless person just struggling to get out. A more gung-ho, let’s-do-this type of girl who loves hiking and can put up a tent faster than you can say ‘let’s rather stay in a chalet’. And that is the girl who approached the kayaking trip today.
I have been known to say, in the past (on a hiking trip that nearly ended my life), that the minutes an outdoor activity becomes dangerous, it becomes fun (which is a rather messed-up philosophy, but before we got lost on the mountain in that massive storm it had all been steep uphills and same-y scenery), the same applied to this kayaking adventure. Paddle down the beautiful, flat river? Boring. Get stuck in a rapid? Exciting. You see, Chelsea and I thought we’d be ok. Chels, afterall, had done many an Orange River Canoeing trip in her lifetime, and I figured I could just muddle along. I mean, we weren’t the only newcomers to the kayaking world, the rest of the international exchange kids were as well, for the most part, so we thought, if it were a fail, it’d probably be a group failing, one which we could all laugh over at lunch later. How wrong we were.
Rapid one: We got stuck. Came at it skew and got wedged in between two rocks. After trying to extricate ourselves for ages, we came to the conclusion that we’d need to push from outside the boat. So, being the kindly friend I am (read: being the danger whore I am, who only likes outdoor activity when it involves some kind of added adrenalin - sure, this wasn’t too dangerous, but still…), I made the self-sacrificing decision to get out of the boat and push us free. I did so, after a bit of work, but was unsuccessful in getting back into the boat when I was done. What I did succeed in doing, however, was hang on to the boat whilst it went down the rapid. With me trailing behind. Screaming like the proverbial banshee.
Rapid two: We did not get stuck. Point one in our favour. We did, however, crash into some other kayakers. Yes. Crash. With an almighty thud. A thud which caused one of the girls in the boat to come tumbling out, hitting her head and drowning her phone in the process. Also, she lost her shoes, so Chels and I rode around for the next ten minutes trying to fish them out of the water whilst the other girl attempted to pull her back into their boat. Fantastic.
Rapid three: Approached it at a funny angle, had to row around and around and AROUND until we found an angle which wouldn’t send us to meet our makers.
Rapid four: See rapid three. And another ‘and around’.
Rapid five: Success! Yes, you heard (read) me, success. This one went off without a hitch (the only one which went off without a hitch…)
Rapid six: Repeat rapid three.
Then we had a long stretch of river, some of which was so shallow and rock-filled that I had to get out of the kayak again and again (and again and again and AGAIN) and push us free. This period was beautiful, if a little dull, but filled with deep and meaningfuls and lovely poetic images of ducks and swans (and the occasional freak out about soaking wet cameras and phones - water rushing into the boat a LOT in the rapid debacles…).
In the end, we were the last people off of the river, we were the most soaking wet by a long shot and I had a giant scrape on my leg from Rapid One. However, good fun was had by all, and I would thoroughly recommend it (if you do decide to go kayaking, might I suggest trying to avoid what happened on rapids one through four - unless you like an element of excitement and copious amounts of rowing in a circle, in which case, go right ahead!)