While in Spit, Croatia, I went canyoning! What is canyoning you ask? It involves a mix of hiking, cliff jumping, swimming, and sliding through rapids on your back. Kind of like a water park you might send your children to if you don’t love them very much.
After trying out this extreme-esk sport, I can see why I haven’t heard of it in the US- between tripping around on slippery stones and leaping off of high rocks into murky waters below, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Don’t Jump Into Water, You Could Drown
I was a bit nervous about canyoning since I have a tremendous fear of getting my foot stuck between rocks. A few stories about kids drowning this way show up every summer, and in classic American anxiety-ridden fashion, adults would often recite the news stories with words of caution whenever my friends and I went within 50 yards of any body of water that wasn’t a pool (not my mom though-she’d send me to one of those dangerous water parks).
As I went canyoning, I could hear my parents’ friends saying, “did you hear about that poor boy in Lowell…you should never jump if you can’t see the bottom.” One of the guests I was with made the mistake of asking our guide if anyone had ever died before on one of these trips. A 16 year old girl apparently got her leg stuck between rocks and drowned three years ago. This did wonders for my nerves of course.
Cessna canyon is beautiful, with waterfalls (we didn’t jump of any, thank goodness!) which kept reminding me of Homeword Bound. You know, the scene when Sassy falls off of the waterfall and surives? I wonder what is says about my psychological state thatwhen I see beautiful wonders of nature, my immediate association is a Disney movie, and not even one from the golden collection!
Most of the rapids we ended up wading through since the water wasn’t high, but other times we were able to let the current push us along and ride down the rapids on our backs, sea otter style. I’ve decided this could be a great new ab workout as well.
I took it upon myself to live dangerously and jump off of anything we were offered (you could pass and go a different way if you wanted). No one had asked us to sign waivers at the beginning, so I figured if I died, at least someone might me able to get some settlement money out of it (suuuch an American).
Old Couples vs. Young Couples
While canyoning itself was a ball, I had the misfortune of being in a group with three couples, plus old single me. Sometimes being with couples isn’t so bad. Old couples have been together long enough that they are mildly sick of each other and are often more than happy to engage you in conversations. These are the Grampas who happily chortle at their own jokes and love to tell past adventures they’ve been on with the Mrs, who pipes in with a solid quip to keep Grampa in line.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t with amiable, jolly elderly couples. I was with three young-ish couples, who all seemed quite content to stay in the company and conversation of their significant other. I’ll cut two couples some slack since they spoke different languages (although seemed to manage English just fine when the tour guide spoke). But the English-speaking couple was the youngest, and they were all over each other, kissing between splashes and jumps, walking to each station hand in hand. Yeesh, save it for the gondala ride!
At least our instructor was friendly, and definitely easy on the eyes, as adrenaline junkies commonly are the good looking sort. I theorize that this is why the lookers condemn themselves to death-defying activities–their handsome looks have made life far too easy for them, so they must seek challenges elsewhere.
About halfway through our journey, I started to realize something was not right with me. My eyes couldn’t focus well, and I was blinking and squinting constantly.
I think half of the problem was sleep deprivation, since I hadn’t gotten a good night sleep in my hostel since I arrived.
Backtrack. So first night in this hostel in Split, I went to bed fine around 11. Heard some guys arrive late at 12. They unpacked, then they went out. I woke up at three and realized my laptop, which I had left on top of the bureau next to my upper bunk bed, was missing.
I knew the new arriving English guys must have taken it, since they were the only ones awake in the room. I spent the night stewing–Why did they take it? Was it an accident? Why are there thieves and bad people in the world? Are they selling my laptop for crack?
I also was imaging what I’d have to say when they arrived. Finally, at 5 when they returned, I bolted out of bed and said, in one rush of breath “Hey, did-you-guys-take-my-latop-that-was-here?”
They realized they had mistaken it for their friend’s laptop and had put it in their locker (really dumb because they had just arrived and had barely unpacked–why would his laptop be up on the really high bureau next to my bed?) Anyway, all was well, but I had gotten no sleep. The next night I suffered from the common “I-need-to-sleep-because-I-have-to-wake-up-early-tomorrow-oh-my-god-why-am-i-still-awake” syndrome. That, and the partiers coming back late, and me thinking about how they would wake me up (which they might have if I wasn’t already still awake).
Right, so, sleep deprivation was playing a major factor at this point. The other half of the problem might have been the sunscreen. Oh sunscreen, sunscreen, what to do with you? You protect my skin from the angry sun’s rays of hate, but then you scald my eyeballs when I forget about you and rub my eyes.
I was a pretty big mess, and certainly wasn’t in the best condition to be stumbling along slippery river rocks and leaping off of boulders as I squished up one eye and squinted from another like a pirate. I soon took on the “they’ll never take me alive” attitude, convincing myself that while I probably will die, I must do everything in my power not to, just to prove “them” wrong. Cue inspirational Rocky-esk music.
There was one hilarious moment where I sat down to enter the water, and when an unexpectedly strong current flung me through a narrow space between two rocks, my butt got completely stuck! The rest of my body went through-both arms and legs and torso were fine, but just my big ol’ butt sat there, smooshed between two rocks.
I had to wiggle my crazy money-maker sideways to get free. This is why I know every word to “I Like Big Butts,” something many of my friends love to remind me of whenever we’ve had a few too many.
I survived canyoning, and while I really enjoyed the first half, by the end I was so relieved to have actually gotten through the trip unharmed that I think I couldn’t have been having a tremendous bundle of fun. That being said, it was super cool, and if I had been able to keep my eyes open for longer that 10 seconds, I would have probably loved every minute.