We don’t have PE lessons like this in England

Remember when I told you about beautiful Bassin La Paix? Well today Ellen and I were allowed to accompany some of the classes of Patu to this wonderful place to do ‘une randonnée aquatique’ badly translated as water hiking or rambling.
But first there was a 2 hour walk from the school to the bassin. It was a lovely walk, not too difficult and we were walking in between all of the sugar cane fields as they were harvesting, with a constant view of the mountains! Despite being here for a month now I am still so amazed by how beautiful it is and it’s interesting how the students really take it for granted; when one of them was told to take out his earphones and appreciate the nature he rather sarcastically said “Ah, what a beautiful blue sky!” and I thought “Well coming from England I genuinely think it’s amazing!”. It was really sunny and rather hot so of course all the teenage boys whipped their tops off, but what was funny was turning a corner to find maybe half the boys casually doing pull-ups in a kids’ park. Ah those creole men, always showing off. Actually even funnier than this was a very large and fat student who was blasting ‘Boombastic’ by Shaggy on his speakers and walking like a gangsta through the fields. (Link here if anyone doesn’t know this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrI0kTGuVA4)

After we arrived at Bassin La Paix, Ellen and I quickly got changed into our wetsuits behind some sugar cane and unfortunately she stepped right into an ant nest! Anyway, I shall quickly explain what une randonnée aquatique is: it is apparently the little sister of canyoning and involves walking/climbing in rivers, jumping into the little bassins and floating down mini waterfalls. I didn’t really know what it was before arriving and was expecting that we’d just hop into the water and float down the ravine and have fun. Instead it was much more challenging..

Having a done a small practice jump that scared me enough, we then climbed up to a jump-off point that was 4/5m high. I was the last to jump and am not ashamed to say that I was shitting myself. Logically I knew that there was no danger, everyone else before me had been fine; all I had to do was step off the ledge down into the pool below, but that is much easier said than done. I was probably standing at the edge of that ledge for 2/3 minutes wanting to jump but not having the courage too. I nearly jumped about 3 times and backed out at the last minute which was much more dangerous than just throwing myself out there. Eventually after much encouragement from the teachers with me on the cliff and all the lovely students below shouting ‘Allez, allez!’ I jumped off. Phew! It was over. I felt rather proud of myself (and slightly embarrassed for being such a wimp), but everyone told me that that was the only jump so I looked forward to just floating down the river, enjoying the Jurassic Park-esque landscape. Except that they all lied. There were probably more than 5 jumps after that, not as high but still difficult for me. That being said I had a great time; it was so much fun and an amazing experience. The students were all very sweet and sympathetic to my fear too which was somewhat comforting and it was wonderful after jumping to turn back and look at the scenery –  to be floating down a river in the middle of a ravine with vegetation growing in abundance all around and a backdrop of a series of waterfalls. Absolutely incredible.

After a lunch with the teachers which involved red wine – classic French! We headed back to school, this time on bikes. As most of you know I don’t cycle, but I thought “Hey, I’m an adventurous girl, I’ve already faced some fears today, why not give it a go?” Well I was comically bad. I suppose that at least no one can say that I didn’t try. It started off with an uphill struggle as the bike slid on the sugar cane plants, so as I don’t really understand gears I just had to push the bike up. Then once on a flat route I was quite incapable of controlling my bike or keeping it straight, so I smacked into several branches and I also have a severely bruised arse from all the rocks that littered the path and that I just couldn’t avoid no matter how I tried. I felt particularly sorry for the P.E teacher whose duty it was to stay at the back of the group as I had to stop so frequently to sort myself out, but she was lovely about it. Once again all the students were very helpful: sorting out my seat for me; changing my gears for me when we stopped and generally just checking up on me. In fact I have never felt like such a big, useless girl. And I was skidding along I was continuously swearing to myself as to why I had ever thought that that would have been a good idea, so the kids probably thought I was crazy, but what made up for all the stress and hardship of that trip back was when I cycled right next to the wonderful Indian Ocean on a nice, smooth path and just cruised along with the wind in my hair.

A good Monday all in all! 🙂 And I may even be going paragliding on Thursday! Eeek.

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