Sunday, 23 June 2013

Camp: Day 5

The end is nigh!

And not a moment too soon; I feel like I've been reliving tho horror by blogging about it, but at least I got rid of all thoughts of: "Gee, it wasn't actually SO bad, maybe I should go again next year..."

We woke up bright and early, as usual, and once again attempted to cook int the middle of the veld, before strapping on our packs for the last time, and setting off over a "small" mountain. (Note: No mountain is EVER small. It may LOOK small, but really, it's just an illusion.) Within an hour we could see a dirt road - our first sign of civilisation in five days. I nearly wept with joy.

Then I saw how long the road was, and how far we had to walk to the place where the bus was meeting us, and I nearly wept in frustration.

Looking back on it, we REALLY over-reacted. Two of the instructors got picked up in bakkies to get there faster, and we spent the rest of the hike despising them even more for leaving us to walk. It really wasn't even that far, and at least it was on a relatively flat, dirt road.

When we finally arrived at The Spot, we really couldn't believe it. The next two hours spent waiting for the bus consisted of splitting up our last remains of food, which was actually quite a bit, and exclaiming, "It's OVER! I can't BELIEVE it's OVER!" followed by, "When will the $#%@ing bus arrive?! I wanna go HOME!" (understand that our language at this point was atrocious, and it took me weeks to correct various swear words with "f...udge," "cr...ayons," and "ohhh sh...oelaces"). When the bus finally did arrive, it took all of my self control not to go all barbarian on that thing, and instead stood open-mouthed at the sight of the amazing thing that would somehow transport me home.

Needless to say, the bus ride was veeeerrrryyyy long, and really, being stuck in a confined space with a group of girls who hadn't seen soap in five days was NOT pleasant. But we made it (obviously).

When I saw my parents, I was speechless. Until my dad took out his iPhone and tried to take a picture of me, then I burst into tears (partly at the sight of a cellphone, partly at the sight of someone who acually loved and cared about me, but mostly out of really NOT wanting a picture of me - looking super attractive in my hiking boots, muddy shorts and Mr. Price t-shirt - on Facebook. So I was bundled into the car and driven home, and then rewarded with a Mac Donald's Quarter Pounder Deluxe, large fries AND a large Coke - which I feel I totally deserved.

The sympathy lasted about two days, but my moaning is still continuing, and my family and friends are probably about to kill me in the hopes that I'll shut up about it.

And I know this blog was soooooo long and tedious, I totally won't blame you if you don't read the whole thing, it was more of a therapy session for me than it was entertainment for you.

Feel free to leave your comments below!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Camp: Day 4

By the fourth day, the final full day of hiking, we had come up with the revelation that the faster we walked, the sooner we got home. This motivated us for about the first fifteen minutes of the day, before we realised we had to hike BACK up the mountain we climbed yesterday, to get more water, then down again and up ANOTHER mountain.

Once the water had been collected, and the process of deciding whether to drink a mosquito larvae or die of thirst was repeated, we started up our first, muddy mountain of the day. Drenched in mud and sweat, we reached about halfway. At this point, while the rest of us were moaning and groaning about various blisters and injuries, one of the more hyperactive, ADHD girls piped up, "Come on guys! Just think, over that mountain is a seriously hot guy waiting to massage your feet." She then continued to relay her fantasy of meeting some Italian guy named "Alfredo" (don't even get me started - we tried to explain to her for three hours that Alfredo was a PASTA, NOT a name, but she had her heart set on it) who would rescue her from this horrible nightmare and beat up the camp instructors with his pinkie... while wearing only a loincloth.

At this point, all five of us behind her protested profusely, to which she responded with a devilish grin and proceeded to make up hot, built foreign guys for each of us, and then tell the story of how we would be rescued. It took two hours for us to convince her to let the fantasy males be fully dressed, while she continued to rattle on about the food they'd bring us, the ice cream we'd eat etc. - and all in a southern belle accent. We were later told that, even though we were about 500m behind the rest of the party, they could hear how far we were behind them just by listening to the sound of her voice (she has a very loud one, which proved to be very unfortunate when she got the the "juicy" parts of the story, leaving us shocked and horrified that such a small girl had a large enough brain capacity for such thoughts). 

We suddenly stopped in a forest of blackjacks, and were told that this was our campsite. Too tired to argue, we hacked at the blackjacks with sticks, and eventually gave up and set up our tents. Cooking was veeeery interesting - have you ever tried to light a gas stove in the middle of a patch of blackjacks? Don't. 

The final day of hiking was over, and the prospect of home seemed so close we could almost smell the soap and our mothers' cooking, but maybe those were just the hallucinations brought on by the large amounts of Deep Heat being used.

Camp: Day 3

After a surprisingly good night's sleep, we got up to see the sun rise at about 6 a.m. (not as awesome as it would have been if we'd spent the night in a hotel, but any way...) followed by a quick first aid session consisting of using plasters meant for paper cuts for blisters about the size of R5 coins and cuts and scratches that ran up the length of our legs and arms.

Once again, we started up a mountain. My friends and I chose to stay at the back with the "nice" camp instructor, Rosie, who assured us that today would not be as long as the day before. True that, it was not "as long", but when we did, however finish hiking up about the third mountain, we found that our water supply was running low. And this was at a top of a mountain. We could see a river near the bottom of the mountain, and were told that we would be camping near there, but were not allowed to drink from it. Or wash in it. Okay, so help me out here, surely if the water in a stream is undrinkable ANYWAY, you're allowed to wash in it? It wasn't even toxic (we asked and then checked), but we weren't allowed to use our special expensive biodegradable soap... Ooooookayyyy... 

So anyway, we came across this cabin with a water tank and filled up our water bottles with mosquito-larvae infested water. Just imagine, a group of private school girls, the majority of whom use bottled water in their TOILETS, trying to decide between dying of thirst, and drinking a bug. Actually, several bugs. It was EXTREMELY entertaining to watch. 

After we filled up our millions of water bottles, we hiked down the mountain into the valley with the river which we were not allowed to use. We set up camp in an arbitrary place in the centre of flat land surrounded by mountains (I don't do Geography - I don't know what it's called). Even a stupid person could see that in the morning we would have to climb ONE of those to get out of there in the morning. 

After all that, we managed to convince the camp instructors to let us swim in the river (i.e. washing without soap - so we won in a way), followed by another first aid session, a two-minute noodles dinner, and attempting to set up a tent on a rocky ground. The knowledge that we had just two more days to go was not as soothing as it should have been, those two more days seemed like a lifetime, and toilets seemed like a distant dream.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Camp: Day 2

After an "easy" first day of camp (well, for me it was "easy" - emphasis on the inverted commas - but once again, understand that I am a teenage girl whose favourite thing to do on the weekend is blog about going outside) we were not so worried about the rest of the trip. Boy were we wrong...

The second day was our first "real" hike - whereas the 2km walk down a dirt road to a river the previous day was - apparently - not. With great difficulty, we awoke at a decent time of six a.m. and proceeded to make our own breakfast on our little portable gas ovens. This proved to be a little difficult, as some people had never before in their lives cooked their own breakfast before. This is where I felt superior. Understand that I am an extremely organised and punctual person. There's a schedule to my morning, and if someone else has to cook my breakfast for me - i.e. my mom, who also has to make my sister's breakfast and lunch - the whole schedule is screwed up and we're late for school. But even then, I don't do the whole gourmet thing, usually just cereal or porridge or toast. But - and I am not even joking here - I had to teach some girls how to make Jungle Oats So Easy. You literally just add boiling water. 

So after breakfast and changing into our hiking boots etc. we all assembled outside to put on our backpacks and start hiking. The backpack hoisting was a workout on its own. Mine already weighed about sixteen kilograms - but it was by far the lightest one there. Once we had all fastened and re-fastened them onto us, then adjusted and re-adjusted the straps (multiple times), we set off on another dirt road. 

We had not even gone three kilometres when a girl fainted. No joke. So we waited on the side of the road while one of the camp instructors ran - RAN - back to the campsite to fetch a truck, and then she got to go home. SHE GOT TO GO HOME. And while we were waiting on the side of the road, a few girls even tried hitching a ride with the two cars that happened to drive past us. They didn't even care where they would take them; they just wanted to be anywhere but there. So we started off again - eventually, although the hour break was nowhere near long enough - and about fifteen minutes later we were all wishing we would faint so we could go home.

We eventually left the dirt road to hike through a farm and up "Just one mountain today, girls!" which turned out to be several mountains. When we got on top of the one-mountain-which-was-actually-mountain-number-five, the head instructor decided that one of the girls from the other school going with us was too slow, so we had to split all the stuff in her backpack, even though we were already carrying more than could actually fit in our own backpacks. Well, no wonder the poor girl was exhausted: she had a proper cooking pot - let me repeat that - COOKING POT, i.e. heavy stainless steel with a diameter of about thirty centimetres. Yup. And we had to carry that, plus all the food that her obviously very worried mother had packed her - enough to feed all of us for about ten days.

Just as the sun was setting, we finally reached a campsite, not even the one we were originally supposed to go to, which could've been ten to twenty kilometres further - we didn't know, we never got told how far we were, or how much longer until we had a break. We were told that we could use the bathrooms, but not the showers (?) because we weren't technically authorised to be staying there. Hot and sweaty and dirty, I stared at the counsellors in amazement, but uttered a barely audible, "Fine," my like third spoken word of the trip so far. My friends and I then proceeded to strip to our underwear and wash ourselves in the basins, wasting a whole lot more water and making a much larger mess than if we'd have been able to shower.

We slept in tents on a slope. Funnnnn...