Saturday, November 20, 2010

Firbush Day 1

Since arriving back from Prague I have been taking it easy as I caught an epic cold on the plane ride home. I had to spend most of my week in bed, except for Wednesday when I had to pull myself together for a volleyball try out. There is a competitive traveling women's volleyball team in the city and even though I was feeling under the weather I managed to make my way onto the team. I am really excited to get back to competitive volleyball, and have weekly practices and games! I have my first game next weekend and my team has international players from all over the world.

Yesterday afternoon I set out with a group of students to one of our University facilities called Firbush. Firbush is an outdoor centre for sport and activity located in Scotland's highland area about 80 miles from the city.  I have been looking forward to attending the trip since I arrived here in September, but feeling sick this past week I had doubted I would be able to enjoy myself.  Last night I left the Dayquil behind and loaded onto our mini bus to venture out on our journey.  Our group arrived here around 7pm and it being already dark I wasn't sure what I was in for. Upon arriving to the cabin I discovered what the weekend would be like, picture summer camps for adults crossed with what commune living. The cabin where we are all staying has bunk beds in the bedrooms and shared bathrooms and showers. I was a little surprised when I learned that there would be 30 other people staying at the cabin, one group here for a yoga weekend, and another for a mountain biking training course. The rooms are shared between all participants, and get this- no locks on the doors. Everything is open and the trust system here is remarkable.  The concept of leaving my belongings unlocked in my room worried me at first, but then I realized that everyone else had to trust each other to respect their belongings.  Our first meal was delicious and there were 3 courses. We all helped serve one another from the kitchen and then at the end we cleaned up as a group. I sat at a table with an older woman who was here for her 4th yoga trip and couldn't talk more highly of the program.

This morning after our breakfast my group decided to do a 1/2 day kayaking trip in Loch Tay. It was really cold out, so we had to bundle up with wet suit gear and water proof jackets. After getting a bit of training and our gear, we each got into our kayaks and spent around 2 hours kayaking up the Loch. It was really hard work, but well worth it! In the end only 4 from our group fell in, and I had a close call but was able to regain my balance and stay relatively dry. Since I have been battling a cold the past week and been hiding in my bed, it was nice to get out into the fresh air and be active.

 Don't I look amazing in my wet suit gear! (ya right!)


After our kayaking adventure we took a break for lunch and then met up to pick our next outdoor activity for the afternoon. Most of the group chose mountain biking, so I decided to take a road bike and head into town which was about a 3 mile trip one way. I was exhausted from kayaking, so I thought this would be a relaxing option, but boy was I wrong. Scotland is hilly, which I should have realized since I was in the highland area. Biking to town took about 45 minutes, and at times seemed endless.Tthe rapids waiting for me at the end were really nice and caused good reason for a break from my bike trip. After checking out the town, where I bought a new winter hat, I hopped back on my bike and headed back to the cabin.  It was freezing at this point and all I wanted was a hot shower and meal, after all I felt like I earned it!


The group is quite interesting, we have 5 girls from China, 1 girl from Switzerland, 4 from England and 3 from Scotland (I am the only American). It has been really nice getting to know the girls from China; I have learned things like how they choose their American name and what their life back home is like. One girl came here and had to leave her husband behind. She is getting her post grad degree in order to teach English. When I moved to Scotland I really tried to think about brave women I have met, because after all moving to a place you have never been can be a bit scary. I can't even imagine what Diane, the Chinese student, must have felt like when she had to say goodbye to her newlywed husband of just one year to move to Scotland. I am so glad I have had the chance to get to know her and learn her story. Diane, like myself chose to take the road less travelled. One of my favourite movie quotes is from A League of Their Own. Tom Hanks who is the coach of a women's baseball team is talking to one of his players, who wants to quit and she says to her coach, "it just got too hard." Tom then responds "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."  Tomorrow we are scheduled to venture on a 3000 ft. hike reaching the snowline on Ben Glass Mountain. We are using equipment such as crampons and ice axes. Since we are as far north as Alaska the weather will make it very challenging, but I am looking forward to attempting the climb. After all, it's the hard that makes it great. Until next time I will see you on the internet.

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