22.11.2016 25 °C
The wind is wild, I can see grey clouds creeping over the mountains and hearing thunder in the distance. We just came back from a tour on motor boats and learning a bit more about the river and seeing the dam and we are still wet from the rain which we then managed to eventually escape thanks to the high speed of the motor boats, but we could see that the clouds were beginning to catch up to us. I’m standing on the edge of the houseboat with the rest of my team. We are about to start the raft racing relay. There are four teams of 10 (In our case my group only had 9) The first half of each team would have to quickly get on rafts of bamboo and paddle with cut out bamboo paddles to a beach about 250 meters away. Once a team's boat has touched the beach one person would have to quickly get out collect a rock and the team would have to bring it back. There is a prize for the winning team, a huge basket which is overflowing with enough packets of junk food and to last us ages. However with me still being a bit ill I didn’t care at all about the prize, I just wanted to win.
My team consisted of Me, Paul-Emile, Amy, Alice, Lea, Maayan, Thea (Not the one is my class), Lexa and Mr Gunputh. Having a grown man on our team this can mean an advantage but we are a team of 9 and every other team has 10 which balances it all out. The first half of our team to go will be Paul-Emile, Alice, Maayan, Thea and Mr Gunputh. They climb onto the raft, one of the tour guides holds the whistle to his mouth, there is silence, my heart is pounding and with a puff of his cheeks he blows the whistle. In less than a second after the whistle is blown people are already shouting, cheering and yelling commandments.
I join the rest of my team in shouting encouragement. After about the first 7 minutes the shouting has died down as we all watch in silence as we see the boats over time starting to become further apart. We find it hard to tell who is winning and who is closer to the beach but wait, one of the boats has reached the shore and then another and then another and then to the rest of my team’s horror we realise that the first half of our team is coming last. They finally reach the shore and collect their rock but the other teams have already started paddling back. My team is looking out at all the different teams trying to think of a strategy to be able to catch up.
As all the teams get closer I realise something. Having mr Gunputh on our team wasn’t an advantage at all, wait….. HE’S JUST SITTING THERE! As the rest of our team is paddling he is just sitting at the back holding a paddle but barely paddling. My hands tighten over the rail in anger, the rest of my team are fuming with utter shame.
Now we just have extra weight and- wait a minute….. He’s fallen off! Me and the rest of my team are shouting to just leave him! 2 teams have just reached the houseboat and are about to swap to their second half. The first half of my team leaves him there in the water and continue on. I feel pretty bad leaving him there but he is right next to one of the guides with a raft and he was doing nothing but adding dead weight. My team’s raft reaches the houseboat with heavy hearts the second half of my team: Me, Lexa, Lea and Amy quickly climb into the raft but with our raft coming last with the first half of the teams we all knew we didn’t have a chance to catch up….. But wait! The other teams have been having confusion in changing! There not that far ahead! With intimidating volume we shout in synchronisation LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT RIGHT! And are all paddling in unison
It’s working! We’re taking over! In fact we had gotten so far ahead but the currents were changing our direction….. Out to open river! We began to panic! No matter where we paddled the only difference we made was how fast we were going. The rest of my group was begging to get really scared and panicky. One of the instructors are calling to us. He’s saying to just turn our bodies around. It’s a flat raft so we do that with much ease and continue on towards the beach. Dodging the trees but managing to keep a fast pace. We reach the shore, Lexa quickly jumps out we are urging her to hurry as much as possible. We had a lead! We don’t want to lose it! She snatches a rock, quickly gets back into the boat and we turn our bodies around once again and paddle with all our might back to the house boat.
THE OTHER GROUPS HAVEN’T REACHED THE SHORE YET! We are paddling faster and faster fuelled by our determination! “LEFT!, RIGHT!, LEFT!, RIGHT!”
I make the mistake by looking at my hands. Everyone wore gloves except me and when I look at them…… OH MY GOSH THE BLISTERS! There are massive deep red marks in between my thumb and index fingers. The sharp bamboo oars were too hard on them. I wasn’t going to let this stop us! I was at the front of the raft shouting encouragement to the rest of my team paddling as fast and as hard as possible! I pictured Captain Barbossa from pirates of the caribbean shouting over my shoulder “Is that the best you got! C’mon you filthy wretchling! Paddle!” I was paddling harder and harder. My lungs felt like they were going to burst, my shoulders ached, my hands…. MY HANDS WERE BURNING!
We’re so close! And the other teams are far behind! We gave no mercy. The rest of my team were getting really tired and painful. I continued to encourage them! Give them hope, tell them how they were about to achieve the ultimate comeback! Soooo close! And…… WE MADE IT! WE MANAGED TO COME FROM LAST TO FIRST BY A LONG SHOT! WE PULLED WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS THE IMPOSSIBLE COMEBACK!
The rest of my team celebrated and made a grab for what junk basket they wanted. I wasn’t taking a single nibble from that basket. I’m just so glad that even with me still feeling ill I managed to power through and not let my team down. I could not of been more proud of myself during this CEW. I was starting to feel many of the side effects from my parasite after pushing myself so hard. So I just sat down for the rest of the day and relaxed. This truly was a fantastic unpredictable race and a glorious comeback and victory.