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The Trip To Altai

 I left for my school field trip to Altai on the eighth of September. I had spent my whole evening packing up for Altai. When I reached my school , everyone looked really excited. We got on our school bus. My eyes were heavy with sleep. I walked on the bus like a zombie. Those two hours were the shortest hours of my life. We boarded the flight at twelve am. The flight was supposed to be four hours, but due to the time difference it took us six hours. We reached there at nine in the morning. It was five in Moscow. It was five degrees celsius outside. The airport was really small. We divided into our two groups and then got on our two respective buses. On the way to our basecamps, We had a view of Altai. In the middle of the road we saw a dead fox. It took us one hour to reach our camp. Right after we reached we moved to the cafeteria and got allotted our roommates and cabins. My roommate was my friend Diyora. We were told to go to our cabin and freshen up. Our cabin was small, cosy and it gave us a feeling of home. Our heater was switched on, so the cabin was really warm. We had about an hour or two so first we decided to check out our cabin and then unpack. There were two beds. One was small and near the window, the second one was big and adjoined to the bamboo wall. I immediately jumped at the smaller bed. Then I jumped out. Why? The bed was filled with insects! The curtains were full of them. Diyora got out her insect spray and sprayed all over the curtains. Only 5% were removed. The bed was now full of insects and chemicals( insect repellent). I couldn’t sleep there anymore. I helplessly looked at Diyora. We both decided that I had no option but to sleep on the same bed as her. We finished Diyora’s spray and then called Esenia. She was our friend. She came to help us remove the bugs. After twenty minutes there was no trace of any bug of any kind. Even though there were no more bugs left, the cloth was still drenched in insect repellent. There was no way I was going to sleep in that. After deciding for about five minutes we started unpacking. We both brushed our teeth and then changed into sports wear. We headed out for lunch. We had boiled pasta with shredded cheese. After fifteen minutes we were further divided into two more groups, informed about our schedule and then told to wear our clothes accordingly. Diyora and I were already dressed in sportswear, so we didn’t have to change. After three minutes we headed out to the bus, today we had the obstacle course. My friends Chae and Diyora were with me. We reached there after twenty minutes. It was in the middle of a forest. First we had a treasure hunt. Chae and I headed out in the dense jungle and began searching. So basically, we were given these chips which had to be swiped on small metal detectors hidden all around the jungle. We were given a map. We both teamed up. We first went slowly but gradually gained speed. In the last metal detector we were quite clueless. Ultimately we ended up in a deep ditch. Over there behind the tree was our metal detector. We were on the opposite end of where we began. We ran through the knee-length grass with mistletoe all over our pants. We were the first ones to reach even though we left last. After waiting and cheering for the upcoming people we moved on to zip-lining. I think I was the lightest as when the real challenge came, I simply glided away, seriously.  After buckling up, we did several activities. For example when a knot comes in and etc.We all were really tired. We moved to the hut, and learned some survival activities. For example we learned how to make fire out of iron and wood. After fifteen minutes we took a picture, got a certificate and a free bandana. We were so tired that we slept all along the way to our base camp. When the bus reached the destination we rushed out of our bus and into the cafeteria. We all grabbed food and sat down. After stuffing our throats with food and calming down we started sharing our experiences. The other group had gone for a ski-lift. They told us all about the view. We all grew more excited about when we are going to go on the same activity as well. After being briefed about the next day’s schedule, we were sent off to sleep. After reaching our cabin, we took a shower, changed, and then slept. The next morning we woke up at nine am. My partner woke me up and quickly changed. After grumbling for five minutes, I got up and brushed my teeth. I changed my clothes and came out of our toilet. I was surprised to see that Diyora had arranged our bed. We both locked our cabin and left. I looked back at our beautiful ivy-covered cabin. I was thinking how lucky we are. We deposited our key and then sat down. For breakfast we had sausage, bread, salad and the best of all, paper-thin pancakes with Nutella. After eating, we were told what we had for the day. Turns out we had hiking. We went back and quickly changed into the comfortable hiking attire I had bought. We had to climb the Devil’s Finger. After one hour, we reached the mountain. We climbed for one hour and reached the first base. We took loads of pictures and then climbed for twenty minutes. We then reached second base. I remember seeing a dead snake crushed by a car. I gave it a proper funeral by burying it and then putting a flower on the mound. We took some more pictures and then continued to the last base. We took lots of pictures for the picture competition and then finally proceeded downhill. I led the group to the bus and then boarded it. We reached after an hour and then rushed for dinner. We had spaghetti with chicken. We shared our experiences. We had banya that day. After changing into our swimming costume, we headed out for the banya. It was so warm inside and the place smelt like a particular leaf. After an hour we left the place. I got to know a lot about everyone. I reached my room and took a shower. After changing I went to my other friend’s cabin. Since she is Korean she had lots of ramen. We quickly made it and sat outside. Our noses were red and we were drinking the hot soup. It was very satisfying. After two hours of chatting and eating we decided to sleep. We dragged yourself to our cabin and fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillow. The next day I woke up to hear Diyora complaining about how I took all the blanket from her. I woke up and ignored her cries. I went, brushed and then changed. I came out to find the bed arranged. We both left for the cafeteria, we had the same breakfast again and were told it would be the same everyday. After having a wholesome meal, we were told that we had river-rafting. This was what I was looking forward to the whole time. I went back and changed into my swimming costume. I wore my father’s dark blue high-neck and then wore tights. After ten minutes, we reached. We were on the banks of the Katun river. After dressing up I realised that I am the only one with the smallest pullover, smallest helmet and the baby jacket. We got on the raft. The man saw me and said that if I don’t want to row, then I don’t have to. I insisted on rowing. He told me that there are big waves, I told him that I was looking forward to it. He said that I was small and brave. After some rapids I got frustrated that I had not gotten splashed by any wave yet. So the teacher went behind and left Petr and me to lead the raft. Suddenly a huge wave splashed me and nearly overturned the boat. The man asked me if I enjoyed that, I turned around and smiled. I could feel my eyes smiling.According to Diyora he whispered under his breath that I am wonderful. His after comment was now you are small, brave and wet. After getting off the boat we had ramen with chips. I jumped at the cup filled with warm water. The warm water sent shivers down my spine. I let the feeling overwhelm me. At that moment I felt an indescribable bang. I suddenly felt so homesick. I wanted to know what my parents would say if they were here right now. I don’t know if it was my face or my ignoring the ramen. Because all of a sudden, all my friends enveloped me in a hug. I looked up at them confused and suddenly cold. I realised I was shivering.  I laughed as they all were more wet than me. Discussing whatever had happened some time back, we broke on our food like a pack of wild animals. After five minutes and three more ramens we were at ease. Mr. Wolf then came up and proudly announced that we had been on the river for three hours. We all were so shocked. Looks were exchanged all over the room. He told us that after rowing for another three hours we will go back. We all walked down the stairs arm in arm ready to face the rapids as it challenged us. We got back on the boat and rowed for three more hours. We all sat on the boat. The paddles became a part of our hands. It was as if the waves had abandoned the sand and had considered the boat as the shore. We struggled to keep our boat in place. All of a sudden the waves bore down on us from all the sides. We were stuck in a rapid. The boat was filled with water. We started coordinating our paddling. Quickly moving through the danger. After a wet five minutes, we gazed at each other.  A sense of glory filled us. We had conquered the waves. We finally reached our destination. When I took off my suit, I wasn’t wet at all. I didn’t have to change my clothes. I then boarded the bus with my friends. I was cold and the bus had it’s heater switched on. I felt warm and happy. I slept the whole ride back. We reached and I had pasta with fried and grilled chicken. After that I rushed to the banya. My friends were already there. With all the power left I pushed myself towards them and plopped down. After an hour of gossip we drowsily headed back to our cabins to change. After changing I dragged myself to the bonfire. We had some marshmallows and then I went back and slept. The next day we woke up at nine and completed our basic activities. We reached the cafeteria. This time we had horse riding. I was excited. My friend Diyora goes for horse riding classes. She told me lots of things. One of them was that ‘it’s never the horse’s fault’.We reached after half an hour. In a matter of seconds everyone had chosen their horse and was on it. Chaeyoon, Saki and I were left. They brought out two horses and untied a tied up horse. All the tied up horses were making a fuss. But at the moment none of us thought about that. I mean they were trained professionals, right? We didn’t know how wrong we were. The first two horses were light brown and white with uneven grey spots. The now- untied horse was a black beauty. The exact horse I wanted. It had a white star in the middle of her forehead. It was as if she came straight out of the book. I devoured her with my eyes. As I climbed her I noticed a smaller creature beside her. My horse had a foal. I didn’t know if I should be happy or scared. I was the only person who had a horse with a foal beside him/her. Now the problem was that the foal was in front of my feet! Again what is the problem? Now one important fact about horses is that they kick if you're behind them. Now, this foal was merrily trotting in front of my feet. I was second in leading the line. My arch enemy was in front of me. He wasn’t moving fast enough. It was as if he really wanted my horse to get kicked. Finally I couldn’t bear it,”Hey move your horse,” I whisper-screamed. Another fact, never scream or yell in front of your horse. They may panic. He turned around, and I could swear no villain’s smile ever looked so scary. Then I heard him say,”make me.” He smirked and turned around. I was about to yell when someone else did it for me. I saw a teacher swiftly pass by me. He gave the horse a slight whip. The horse trotted away. My horse followed. While my horse was trotting I could promise that four in five times I was about to fall. Then I thought if it is this dangerous when the horse is trotting, what will it be like when the horse is galloping? As if, I thought, I am from the Anglo-American School of Moscow I said, that is not happening to me. Right then we happened to pass a river. And then it all happened. I feel that I remember every single detail and then sometimes I just remember a blur. The foal looked at the river and then whimpered and backed away. As I bent to reach down to the poor, small,scared creature. Something pulled me away. I remember that we were going straight but my horse ran towards the right. Opposite to the river. I remember nearly falling sideways and then getting back up. I tried holding the horse’s reins but that just scared the horse more. We cut through air and ran up the hill. Then my horse started downhill. No, I whispered I think I heard my horse say yes, because the next second we were down running through the trees. Fighting the wind, I flung my reins in the air and threw my arms around the horse’s neck. Suddenly my horse came to a sharp halt and then put both its feet up in the air. It looked uneasy. The instructors took five minutes to quieten it. Then as if nothing had happened, it started chewing on the lush,green grass. The foal was drinking milk from its mother. At that time Phoenix came to me and told me,” Your horse and foal look so cute. I mean your horse is eating , you foal is drinking milk and you-,” his sentence was interrupted by a sharp scream. When I looked in the direction of the scream, I felt all the blood drain from my face. I saw my friend Emma on the grass, her blonde hair strewn around and I saw Sasha, blood all over his clothes. A feeling of guilt washed over me. I ignored Phoenix and went towards my friend Chae. She got off her horse and hugged me. I heard someone say,”hey be careful with the horses.” I ignored him. Noticing me acting like this Chae realised. Something was going on. Frantically she called our other friends. In sometime they all were around me. I was on the edge of crying. They hugged me. But I was in no mood for that. I rushed over to Emma. And then I saw it. The area above her eye was cut. She was bleeding from there. She was crying and the teachers were helplessly watching. I hugged her and then whispered,”I’m so sorry. This all happened because of me. I’m so sorry.” She kept saying it’s not my fault but then again, why wouldn’t she? I apologised to Sasha. He was dragged by the horse and amidst that excitement his lower was bleeding. He was shaken up, I couldn’t even look at him. They both went back in a car. I looked back at my horse. How could something so innocent do this? I was going to ride this horse back, I decided. Either this will be a stupid decision or a brave one. My horse almost started galloping as soon as I got on it. A few people asked me if anything had happened. I mean I wasn’t invisible! Something had happened and it was because of me. I ignored them, not because of their reassuring words but because I didn’t trust my voice. I went back and washed my face. Stay strong, I said to myself. Just then my friends burst into the room. They told me that the two injured people had gone to the hospital. I was not only guilty I also was mad at myself now. They were back by dinner. They had been treated. They both were cracking jokes. But the heavy atmosphere around me remained. After some time my friends asked me what was going on. I told them everything. After twenty minutes I accepted the fact that it was just my horse’s adrenaline. We had our social day today. I was really happy. Some of my friends were in the other group. I saw the bus heave itself towards us. With a final push from the engines, the wheels gave in. The prisoners ran out like bees from a beehive. We went out to the river bank. The monster was sleeping so it was quiet. We looked up to see firecrackers bursting all around us. We happily took pictures. This was our last day in Altai. The next morning we headed back. My friend gave me her shoulder to sleep on. As soon as we got off, I knew that a lot had changed. To conclude, people say they made enemies. But when I think about it, Altai was meant to bring us together. For the better, for the worse.

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