Friday, July 18, 2008

Canooing aka *Fried cheese hunt*

For the first time in Czech republic I got to experience "to go on a water". My supervisor invited me to join her and her friends to go for three days canooing, to ride the river. I was excited to hear that but nearly cancelled it due to the huge amount of work. Well, my supervisor did not let me get out of it, fortunately, which meant three days of great fun, with lots of alcohol.

Few of us met on Friday and took a train to Smrcna where we were to start canooing from. We were 10. When we arrived, the rest of the guys were already there waiting with boats announcing we have no place to camp since there was no official place to camp, plus one local farmer forbid us to camp on his field. Luckily though, the train stop had unusually big wooden waiting room where the 10 of us could comfortably fit to sleep. When we prepared our sleeping bags, guys took out bottles of coke followed by rum and vodka and started mixing. In a bit there were several Coke bottles circling while the guitar was being played...

On Saturday we packed our barrells and got boats on water (my supervisors' husband managed to sank his canoe with his wife the second they slid from the ground onto the river, pretty scary start :o)). Dry clothes is something very rare when on water. The water was pretty low in the river and there were lots of big stones to be slalomed around. As soon as we started canooing we got attacked by bunch of horse-flies so instead of paddling I started to kill the horse-flies with my paddle. It actually works :o).

There were rough stony waters mixed with calm waters where we always co-canooed and while waiting for all the 5 boats to come, we energized ourselves from our Coke bottles ;o). At that time my supervisor was already "bathed" three times, as well as two more boats tipped over... And it was our turn to tip over. The worst is that such accident comes out of the blue and to be completely fair I have to admit I quite dislike water, so tipping over was quite scary at first, especially in a rocky river water with strong current. Of course my paddle got taken by the current and since my partner was saving guitar (not me :o(( ) he lost his too. I thus got the privilige to "go" and hunt for the paddles while he was getting water out of the boat. Our friends managed to catch one paddle, for the other one I had to climb over the rocks in the river for some 50m. When I finally joined the group of the boats in the calm waters close by, I found out I completely messed up my leg by falling, scratching and hitting into the rocks. It was quite incredible as within seconds my knee swelled as several lumps appeared there while I continued bleeding from scratches. Pretty cool :o). But learning from past lessons (my Thai scar) I had a little medical supply with me and started curing myself on the very spot. Oh, and a new lesson learnt is, it is good to put the whole swim suit on straight away before setting of onto the river. It saves you the embarrasement of changing while balancing on a big stone in the middle of the river . :o)

When we arrived to Stvoridla, that is when the river got mostly calm and we continued most of the way by co-canooing (all five boats holding together) and refreshing our throats.
*We asked for fried cheese for lunch, they did not have it*

When we arrived to first town and a place where we where to spend the night, we went to one restaurant (there are some restaurants were you have parking for boats) to fill our tommies.
*The fried cheese was on the menu, but they did not have it!!!*

We crossed river to arrive to our camp, there we were told the camp is closed, so we unpacked, build tents and continued using nature as toilet. It kept on drizzling. So wet clothes kept on staying wet. Some of us set for the town to have a little party. When getting to a local hotel (4th category) they had this *great combination of fried cheese (eidam, camembert, blue cheese)... BUT my stomach was full. The plan was to go for lunch there next day.*

On Sunday morning two of us went shopping for breakfast before the others woke up. As we were eating the camp owner came shouting at us to leave within 10min as she had told us last night the camp was closed. Well, at least, she made us start canooing early :o). Although we stopped 100m later to park again and do some more Coke shopping but could not go to the hotel for lunch anymore.

In the middle of the day we did a little break and walked to see some local "castle". Mine and my supervisors' steerer stayed by the boats and by the time we got back they finished one buttle of rum. I guess it was thus good that they suggested that they go into one boat and I will go with my supervisor. The guys were so drunk they could not walk straight, they managed to tip over on a calm water, including falling into water once in a while from the bank when losing balance.
We did a short stop at one river pub while waiting for all the boats to arrive.
*The pub served fried cheese! We ordered one with my supervisor, paid for it, in order to be told 5 minutes later that the cheeses fell apart in the deep fryer and they gave us money back!*

Sunday afternoon was quite tough to paddle. The rain got worse, as well as the wind, so it was pretty chilly and we were happy to make it to our target place for the night. 10 of us rented a cottage for 4. Two more tramps who joined us during the evening stayed the night there with us. It was pretty hilarious night. *Especially since we finally got to eat fried cheese!"

Monday was final day, we did not go too far as we needed to return the boats. Thus most of the day we did co-canooing while we played guitar, sang and drank. Co-canooing was fun especially because we tried to co-canoe through rough waters too. :o) By 3pm we arrived to our hand-over place. Some were to return to Prague by car, some by train. The "best" was that we arrived at the train stop by 5.30pm to catch 8pm oclock train. But at least I got to learn cha-cha and salsa steps (I think I did not mention this group of people are all current or former dancers) and I got to eat corn straight from the field.

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