February 6. I was really looking forward to starting the day because we had 3 amazing experiences planned. Elise and Erik explained that Sundays are usually dedicated to having as much fun as possible, so there was little cultural experience today. Upon explaining this to me, I had a realization that I want to share with you. The Rustic Pathways “Essentials” trips are described as deep cultural immersions, but in my experience, that is only half true. The time is split between the examination of the culture and experiencing fun activities that are usually exclusive to the country you are in. If you are looking for more of a volunteer or cultural experience activity, I would go with the “Skills” or “Give.” Many of the kids I’m with gave me useful info on these programs and they definitely tally with my notion.
Anyway, we left the hostel at 8am and drove 2 hours to a hill where you can Zorb. For those of you who don’t know what a Zorb is, it is a plastic orb 12’ in diameter that strongly resembles a hamster ball. There is a hole in which a person can slide into the center of the Zorb. They put about 10 gallons of water in with you as well. So we put on our bathing suits and were driven to the top of the hill. There was a choice of going in doubles, which most of the girls did, and there was the choice of going alone, which the guys did. The difference was that if you wanted to go tandem, you had to roll down the shorter path. If you wanted to go solo, you could roll down the longer, zigzag path. Naturally, I went solo. I climbed into my Zorb, with 10 gallons of freezing water, and was pushed from the top of the hill. It was chaos. I tried to stand up and run in the ball, but every time I tried I was thrown into the water. The mixture of banking the turns and not being able to see (due to the dirt on the ball) made for a hectic and dizzying ride, but it was part of the fun. I laughed out loud the entire time while the water attacked me from every which way. After they pulled me from the ball I bounced on the balls of my feet, trying to expel the rush of adrenaline. When they took my picture I jumped high into the air in my excitement (which I have posted no matter how embarrassing).
From there we left to an extreme sport activity center. The two activities they offered today were intense speed boating and free falling. We did the speed boating first, which is the second world class racing boat we have been on in our first 6 days. This was, however, the opposite of a sailboat. This boat, driven by the world class racer, carved the banks with intense speed that caused a
5 foot wall of water to expel from the back. I rode with Dave, who is easily the craziest and most fun kid on the trip. The driver turned out 180s like they were nothing. We lost our voices by the second loop (there were 4). The driver finished big with a legendary 360 into its slot and we stumbled onto the deck, too giddy to speak.
We headed up a nearby tower to the free fall area. 5 minutes later we were suited up with overlarge suits with large holes cut through them. Calling this experience a free fall is a bit misleading, because it consisted of you being pushed up by a powerful fan which simulates the experience of sky diving. So our group was shown the basic safety tips and silent instructions we would need when free falling. We individually strolled onto the area where you would be pushed up by the fan and laid down on a layer of netting, the only thing separating me from a fan that can lift 1000 pounds. The fan started and I was immediately lifted high into the air, almost hitting the top net. I didn’t have perfect form throughout the entire experience. On the contrary I kept looking down in exclamation and apprehension, taking temporary looks at the enormous blades of the fan. During the periods where I did have perfect the instructors spun me around and flipped me on my back where I hovered ominously. My face felt like it was being pushed into my skull and I would bet that I looked hilarious because my group kept chuckling during my turn. Suddenly the instructor thrust me out of the air and I floated gracefully to the ground. That was an experience that will be etched in my mind forever. Apparently it was nothing like sky diving however, because Dave (who has been sky diving) told me it was completely different. Maybe I’ll try sky diving in the states.
From there we drove to yet another hostel. I lathered up on sunscreen (hope your proud mom and dad) and went for another run. From there I dipped in the pool to cool off and helped cook dinner with the group leaders, which was a delicious dinner of make-your-own tacos. After dinner I came up to blog, a huge feat in my opinion because of how exhausted I feel. Even now I’m slipping off to sleep so this is where my day ends. Thanks for reading everyone.