Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 7 -- Canyoning in Wales

Helo (Hello in Welsh) from Dera on the outskirts of Bala, Wales!

Day 6 was spent traveling on a bus, so we're skipping ahead to day 7!

Right now it’s a sunny, yet brisk evening at our recreational lodge. The weather today has been wonderful! Wales has the best weather and landscape we’ve really seen so far and it’s great since today was filled with a recreational outdoor activity called ‘canyoning’. We left this morning around 8:30 a.m. for our 30 minute drive through the hilly gorgeousness to our destination. With my, according to Eric, ‘flowery’ writing skills I shall tell you about the wonderful experience we had today.

We all were dressed in SUPER tight wetsuits, old tennis shoes, helmets, life jackets (a.k.a. buoyancy aids), and diaper type things for our harnesses. Sweat all started to accumulate on our bodies as we hiked back with our guides to the headwaters of the river. I really didn’t know what to expect out of this day, but my mind was surely blown as I jumped off of our starting point from a six foot rock into ice cold spring water. Talk about freezing! Fortunately it wasn’t that bad since we were pumped with adrenaline and had wonderful clear blue and sunny skies all day. We were literally out in this awesomely amazing looking forest following a river of deeply incised gorges that we scrambled, slid and jumped down. Our gorge walking through the rugged rocks, chilly water, and forest reminded a few of us of Lord of the Rings, but maybe that was just what we thought of to pass the time until we canyoned again. When we canyoned we would either be sliding down rocks, free falling into pools of water, jumping off of cliffs, or zip lining from a waterfall but we always stayed on the river’s path. My favorite part about today was zip lining from a waterfall, sliding down and free falling from another waterfall, and jumping off of a high cliff. Honestly I loved it all and I am so glad I had the experience we did today because it didn’t make me feel like the typical tourist in the UK. I can’t really put into words how awesome of a day I had! If you ever have the opportunity to go, no matter the temperature of the water or day, please do go! We took some Go Pro videos of our day so hopefully we’ll be able to share a few of those at some point. Here’s a few of our student’s experiences today:

• Nicole B. literally could not stay up even if she was standing still, but she was a trouper and survived!
• Marissa almost didn’t want to zip line off of the waterfall, but with a little shove she braved the plunge and loved it!
• Callie was just amazing and wasn’t afraid to do anything or try canyoning before everyone else.
• Ari was awesome and jumped off of the highest cliff since her center of gravity was lower than the rest of ours at the end of our day. She was then followed by Brett, Olivia, and Callie! Way to go you crazy kids!
• Jill remained her cool self and before she hit the water while zip lining she yelled “wedgie”, which made everyone’s day even better.

(I would really like to emphasize everyone’s ‘awesomeness’ with a cuss word, but I won’t so keep in mind that everything was amazing and such a good time for all of us)

We’ve been having some wonderful days here, but unfortunately our trip is half over as of today ☹ Some of my favorites while on this trip have been seeing two of my favorite musicals, meeting Bradley Cooper with Callie and Nicole B., viewing London’s architecture and sites, and so much more!

Tomorrow’s schedule is set for hiking the mountain or seeing Llandundo, Wales but the rain might be an issue. Thank goodness today was gorgeous out so we were all able to enjoy today and will be able to tonight since the sun doesn’t set until after 9. As of right now it is 7:14 here and we’re all in our living room area eating pizza and watching TV or enjoying the outdoors. We’ve all been having a wonderful experience through UNI with Eric, Jill, and everyone else! This trip is definitely life changing and I can’t wait to see what this next week has to offer. 

Hwyl fawr am y tro (goodbye for now in Welsh)! ☺ Hope the Iowa rain is enjoyable as we relish in our Welsh sunshine tonight!