How wonderful to have a bit of a lie-in this morning knowing our white-water rafting trip has been moved to the afternoon. Time for a rest, read a book and even a little sight-seeing…..things normal people do on holiday. Check the detail about our rafting on the internet site http://www.rafting.is/ : “Family rafting on the Blanda River….Class I to II…great fun for families with small children….rather slow-moving water…ideal for disabled people who require care”. Having read this I feel a lot better, nothing to be scared about, just a nice paddle down a stream.
Turn up at the Hestasport activity centre feeling rather relaxed. Instructors turn up, two young Nepalese men who have had plenty of rafting experience, welcoming our happy bunch with the words:
“So we’re all here for the Adventurous Raft on the West Glacial River?”
“No, I don’t think so, we’re here for the Family Rafting on the Blanda River,” I bravely exclaim.
“Oh, that was this morning, but we didn’t have enough people. This afternoon is the West Glacial River Trip”
“But…but…our son is only 11,” I start to whimper.
“Oh he’ll be fine, we usually say 12 to 14 but he will be okay”
At this point I’m all for going back to the hotel, but hubby is smiling. I look daggers at him, the non-verbal communication between us indicating to him that I’m NOT HAPPY and that he is fully to blame for bringing us on this trip in the first place. Manage to find a leaflet on the forthcoming session: “Fun on the West Glacial River…Class II to III….medium to moderately difficult rapids….high irregular waves…narrow channels, rocks and holes”. Before I can even start to hyperventilate, we’re told to make sure we’ve been to the toilet as we won’t be back for about five hours. FIVE HOURS??? Immediately bladder feels full so follow everyone else to the loo and still feel I need to go again! I’m tempted to run away but trying hard not to instill fear into my son who seems excited and carefree. So I grit my teeth and allow myself to be zipped into a huge dry-suit, rubber shoes, helmet and gloves. Feeling like a creature from the black lagoon, I waddle to the minibus and suffer the journey to the river in silence, sending husband to Coventry as it’s still his fault entirely!
The safety talk before we “put in” (technical term I pick up from our guide) is all about what position we need to hold when we fall in……great! Then can’t believe it when hubby and son gamely leap into the boat and take their seats right at the front. Instructor is telling them that they will have to lead the rest of us when it comes to paddling. At this point I find my voice and have an argument with hubby, telling him he can’t possibly think our son can be team leader when there are another 5 adults who could do the job. Instructor intervenes in the domestic and states that it’s fine for little boy to be in the front. I have visions of son careering over the side of the boat into the freezing river, never to be seen again. I can say now I am truly terrified. Get into the dinghy and am somewhat surprised that we sit with our bottoms on the edge and our feet inside the boat. Grabbing my oar very tightly I just do what I’m told, paddle forward, back, stop, left forward etc and somehow the sheer concentration that is needed miraculously takes away my fear and…..I hate to admit this but….I actually start to enjoy myself. Yes, I know, famous last words!
We pull in half way down the river for a rest and the guide hands us each a cup and tells us to fill it from the stream running alongside the glacial river. An odd suggestion but it’s only when I fill up my cup I realise the water is steaming hot; the guide spoons in a couple of big dollops of chocolate powder from a tin and amazingly we all have a gorgeous hot choccy drink by the side of the icy river! Even I, the Ice Maiden, have to smile at this point…..well chocolate has this effect on me!
Back in the boat we’re all paddling in time: a cross between Hawaii Five O and The University Boat Race. God I’m good at this! The scenery is fantastic, the sun in shining and all three of us are feeling like we’ve been doing this for years. A further stop for the idiots amongst us to jump from a rocky outcrop into the river. Hubby is all up for this and I watch in despair as the cheerful soul climbs up the bank and leaps 20 feet into the water, followed by a mad scramble to reach the bank against the flow, whilst being hampered by dry suit and life-jacket. He then whispers to me that he thinks there is a leak in the dry suit because his nether regions are feeling damp and do I think his wallet with credit cards and money will have been affected by the little swim?! Am tempted to push him back in but instead do the wifely thing and berate him endlessly for his stupidity in not leaving his wallet in the car!
Back on dry land after the “take out” (another techinical term I’ve picked up), a huge climb with wobbly legs up the steep bank and husband discovers his dry suit has indeed got a leak: his pants are soaking wet but his wallet is mercifully unscathed. My feet are completely numb with cold; the toes have gone white in colour. It takes a few hours to thaw out, helped by the now obligatory bottle of wine which celebrates another day we’re still alive……