It's amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year, the ski trip was one of the worst memorable experiences of my life (to be a little dramatic about it). This year it was incredible.
For a reminder of how bad things went last year, you can click this link and reread my post:
Anyway, I knew this year's ski trip was coming up, and I wasn't sure what to do about it. My first reaction was to say I'd go. But then the more I thought about it, and the more I remembered the horrors of last year, the less I wanted to go. So I started to talk myself out of it. However, my friends convinced me to go, and being as swayable by peer influence as I am (positive peer influence, mind you), I decided to go.
And I gotta say, IT WAS AWESOME!
Let me explain the differences.
First of all, I was not slightly sick and sleep deprived, like I was last year. Secondly, I bought some dramamine-like medicine to help deal with the insanely curvy mountain road. Thirdly, I sat near the front of the bus and slept for most of the ride. Although I did wake up when we got to an icy curve that the bus couldn't pass. We all kind of gritted our teeth and pretended to smile nonchalantly as the bus backed up, closer and closer to the small guard rail protecting us from the precipice, in order to stop on dry pavement and avoid slipping. This was quite the experience. (And really, not nearly as dangerous as I'm portraying it, although it did have potential). The driver got out and put chains on the tires while the rest of us were entertained by watching cars try to race around the curve and over the ice. We cheered those who made it and laughed at those who didn't, and the whole time heard the commentaries of the 3 or 4 young, 20something guys who felt they could do it better.
We finally got up to the top, got in line to get our equipment, and headed back over to the lodge. Somehow, once again, I was one of the last ones through. And it was stressful, because people were rushing me, and I HATE being rushed when I'm in an unfamiliar situation. And skiing is one of those situations. Although, I will say, this year I decided to try snowboarding. I will never in my life ski again, but I was willing to try something else. This made all the difference in the world!
The boots are soooooo much more comfortable! They have a little structure to them, but you just tie relatively firmly two different sets of laces. So much better than the vice-like contraptions that are called ski boots!!
By the time I got everything settled, all the good snowboarders (one who used to actually be an instructor) were long gone, so I decided to take the class with one of the ninth grade girls. The problem was, we had to wait a little over an hour for our class to start (so why all the rush earlier? I don't know!). When we finally got to the class, it consisted of me, my student, and 4 Chilean girls from another school. I was the oldest person there, besides the instructor. His name was Cristian, and he did a quick survey to see what language people spoke. He discovered that I understood most of his instructions in Spanish, so very little of it was in English. For the first half of the class, he didn't know my name, so he just referred to me as "Teacher." :o) After he heard my student call me by name, he picked right up on it. Anyway, I'm glad I waited for the lesson, because I never would've figured that stuff out on my own.
He'd teach us something, and we'd try it. When he'd ask me if I wanted to try again, I'd always say yes. Many of the other girls were not very bold in their practicing. This may be why I made an impression on him. This is not a usual occurrence for me...usually I'm in the bottom of the middle of these types of groups. Anyway, my first little attempt at snowboarding resulted in a fall, and I immediately heard Cristian say, "Muy bien!"...which means "Very good!" Ha! I don't know what he saw, but it certainly didn't feel "very good"! In fact, I fell pretty much every time I tried something, but I always smiled and jumped back up again, so maybe that's why he said "very good." Who knows.
Every new thing he'd teach, I'd try (although not very successfully). He seemed to help me more and more as the other girls slowly gave up in varying degrees. I was the first one to make it down the little mini-hill that was the practice slope. Then he taught me how to take the little rope-y thing back up. I'd make small squeals and groans intermittently throughout the lesson. The word I heard most from my instructor was "Tranquila, tranquila," which means "Calm, stay calm." Easier said than done!
After an hour, class was over and he had to leave for his next class. But he stopped to say bye to me, and to say he was sorry he had to go. He said I was doing very well, and that now that I've had a base lesson, next time I should come and have a TWO hour lesson, but one-on-one...not in a class. Wow! When am I ever the one to pick up something sporty? Rarely.
Anyway, I went down the mini-slope, this time with no instructor, no one yelling tips to me. And I flew down the hill, at break neck speed (or so it seemed to me) and with almost no control. However, I didn't fall til the end! So I went back up, and talked to my student as I recooped. She had given up at this point. But she did say I "looked hot" going down the hill. I don't know how that's possible, with arms flailing and body jerking in a desperate attempt to maintain balance, and then tumbling to a snow-covered stop, but apparently I did. :o)
I tried it again, this time practicing the turns he had taught me. I was doing ok, turning a teensy bit, when I saw a skiier standing in front of me, watching me. He made no signs of moving (I figured as a beginner he didn't know how), and I didn't have enough control to turn, so I fell down on purpose and skidded to a stop. He smiled at me, and then turned as someone from his ski class asked for a tip. He was an instructor!! I stood up, changed directions, and went again. Two falls later, I was at the bottom again. I collected myself for a bit, and the ski instructor asked me where I was from...in English. I said the States, and he asked where. At this point I noticed that he had an American accent. We ended up chatting for awhile, he asked me what I'm doing here and how long I'll stay. He told me he just graduated from Penn State and took the summer to teach skiing and be able to ski for free before having to settle down to a real job. It was very interesting to meet someone who lives so close to my home on the side of a mountain in the Andes!
It was time for lunch, and then I headed out for a little more snowboarding. This time I was by myself, and the practice slope was almost completely empty. I tried a few more times, and I think I gained a little more control, but I still didn't turn or stop very well. I think I stopped without falling just once the whole time. One time, as I tumbled down the slope, the board stuck in the snow as my body kept rolling, so that by the time I stopped, my leg was almost completely backwards! That hurt a little, and I quickly spun the other way to straighten out my leg. Another quarter turn and I probably would've torn and/or broken something. It was about then that I decided to call it quits since I was virtually alone...after one more run. :o)
The day was over and we headed home. I was a little sore, but not all that bad. My knee hurt a little bit from the twist the next day, but not too much. All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience. I don't know if I'll ever get enough practice to be a competent snowboarder, but I'd definitely try it again!