<!-- June 1, 2003 -->
Woke up without an alarm! What a treat! I should have known right then it was going to be a great day.
I'm so glad I went Abseiling. A half day was enough to get a 5m, 15m and two 30m drops. 30m was just enough for me. Being a little afriad of heights made it even more exciting, I reckon.
I was fine, concentrating on the position of my feet on the rockface. But when that ran out and I turned around to face the valley, my heart leapt into my throat. There I was, hanging literally by a thread, the wind blowing me around. The massive valley spreading out below me... far below me. Martin, our guide, somewhere above me, I'll assume carefully watching my descent and ready with my emergency oh-shit line.
Marin was extremely competant and I can say nothing but positive things about his skill, attention to safety protocols and sense of light-hearted humour. However, it did seem to me that he was a little less than attentive to those he considered competent.And he tended to lose interest in their descent after a minute or two. Not that I can blame him. He does the same trip pretty much every day. It's got to geta little routine.
None of that was very comforting when you're twirling about on what seems a dangerously thin rope from a cliff face at the top of a very low lying valley. I swore a little as I calmly and smoothly fed the rope through my hand. It was just SUCH a long way down and so comparitively seemingly little holding me up. The wind and the lciff and the valley and the sky all seemed so ginormous at that moment.
I told myself "Many people have done this before you. No one has ever died. Neither wil you. People do this every day. You can do this."
And I did.
I focussed on the instructions Martin had given us. Keep the rope running smoothly. Keep your legs out in front of you. Don't let your face get close to the metal figure -8 that your ropes are fed through -- they are now hot and will burn your face. Keep your left hand away from it all, tucked in your harness, so as not to get caught, even though your immediate instinct is to grab the lead line.
It all calmed me. I knew what I was doing. I was fine. I was doing it. I was doing something amazing. I was seeing amazing scenery while doing it; I was inside of and a PART of the scenery. I was testing my mettle and winning.
And then my feet touched the solid ground. I did it. By myself.
* * *
Back to the YHA, where Martin dropped me off, making me promise to come back for canyoning in the summer.
Met up with Andrea and Sarah in the lounge, where they were, well, lounging. They decided to come with me for a walk back to town to see about my return train money. We stopped for another lovely coffee at the Elephant Bean. And went to a fantastic art gallery.
Micheal White, David Beschi, Ian Smith and those amazing vases of the most incredible colours. How I wanted to buy one of the deep garnet with gold yellow, deep blue and flecks of green. Like flower petals floating on glassy water. But at $300, I decided it just wasn't within my means.
Also stopped at Plate World. Over 400 plates and the poor fellow probably hadn't had another visitor in days. He seemed starved for conversation. He held us up for over an hour, sharing his conspiracy theories about the so-called first moon-walk, the Iraqui war; but he'd certainly fallen for the SARS story, hook line and sinker. But for his 70th birthday, he's off for a hiking tour of Calgary in September. I hope that's me at 70.
We returned to the hostel to decide on a restaurant for dinner and then got some wine and hors d'oevres of pizza bread from the bakery. We were all slightly buzzed after the first bottle, before we even got to the thai restaurant.
The Thai food was quite good. The wine we chose was great. We chatted for an extra hour. Which meant I'd missed my train. Well, that just meant I'd have to catch the last one at 11:15pm.
We went back tot he Liquor Store for more wine and then Coles to buy dessert. BAck at the hostel, we cracked open the Caramello ice cream and brownies and covered the combination in cream Tia Maria liqueur and drank more wine. Sure, it was a bit of an expensive night, as far as travellers are concerned. But so good.
I left Andrea and Sarah cleaning the kitchen, talking about men and I went to catch my train. The rain held out off until I was on the train. i can't believe what a great day it was!
13-15 degrees, sunny and windy
In a Sunburned Country