Since being in France, I have tried so many new things. We had a two-week vacation from school, the second week that I was here, so we went on a two-week long road trip! Our first stop was to my exchange partner, Mailis' grandparents, which is about four hours away from our home in Dieppe. Their home was our home base for several days, and each day we travelled to surrounding villages, cities and towns.
Before heading to bed, I would always ask what we were doing the next day, so that I would know how to dress. One Saturday night, I asked what we would be doing the following day, and they said we would be rock climbing. The only rock climbing I had ever known was my little brothers' 6th birthday party and the indoor climbing gym at Washington Community College. I had flashbacks of chubby 9-year-old me hanging there, helpless, on the fifth rock up, confused as to how others were getting up any further. I spent the rest of the party jealous of the other boys who were easily ringing the bell of victory at the top, while I drank my Kool-Aid, and snuck a few extra pieces of birthday cake.
Mailis' grandfather had done a lot of rock climbing, and I could be wrong, but I believe that he did some coaching as well. He assured me many times that you do not need much upper body strength, and that it's all in the legs. He promised me that real rock climbing is different than indoor rock climbing, but I was still a little nervous that my 16-year-old self would feel the same as my 9-year-old self did, seven years ago.
In order to get to the rocks, we had to jump a fence, so of course, rebellious me was so pumped that someone was giving me permission to jump a fence. I was so focused on being a rebel that I completely forgot my petty memories, and I was so excited. I was the first one to get geared up, and I was eager to climb. My first go went smoothly, and I was getting the hang of trusting myself and trusting my handy rock-climbing shoes against the rocks.
I made it to the top, and getting down was almost as fun as climbing up. I was so excited to do it again. The second time, I had much less coaching, and I was much more trusting with myself.
After the whole family had climbed the same rocks twice, we decided to change locations. These rocks weren't as big, so we decided to create a bit of a challenge. We timed everyone from the bottom to the top. The first go I took my time and was still a little hesitant with where I put my feet but the second time I was much more careless and determined to win.. with the help of Mailis, who screaming at me from the bottom, I made the second best time. (The first was Mailis' dad).
We decided to take everything a step further, and I learned how to rappel to get back down. Rappeling is when you control your descent, and your ropes by yourself. The other two times, I had Mailis' dad who eased the ropes, and I just pushed off the rocks. This time, I was in control of easing up on the ropes while pushing off the rocks. It was nerve-racking because if I let go of the ropes completely I would fall, but it was so exciting.
Overall it was such a liberating experience, and now I am left with nothing but positive thoughts when it comes to rock climbing. I cannot wait to try it again! However, maybe I'll just stick to outdoor rock climbing. :)
Until Next Time,