All my life I’ve been lucky enough to live in a city close to nature. It was a small city, and a lot of people didn’t enjoy bothering visiting anyone who lived there. Luckily, my entire family lived in that city, so we only ever leave the city if it was essential or because we genuinely wanted to. That was serious business, because not even for recreational purposes we had to leave. Since it was so close to nature, with just a short trip on a car, we were in the forest, in the mountains, reaching a grand river that moved beside the length of the city. It was gorgeous, kind of magical.
Fantastic fairy tales and amazing real-life stories surrounded our everyday lives. I started getting lost in the woods as soon as I knew how to walk and my sister probably learned how to swim in the lake before she knew how to write down her name. My brother was the only one that often left the city to participate in mountain bike contests because he used to spend every single day of his life in the middle of the hills around our city.
Of course, anyone could imagine the kind of family that grows in a city like that. For the perfect example, there’s the accident we had that one time our grandfather decided it was a good idea to go white water rafting. That’s right, our grandfather. The old man was over seventy years old, and he had the physical strength of his youth. Well, maybe not exactly like that. But still, he was ridiculously active for someone of his age. At least it was enjoyable for all of us. We inherited his sense of adventure and when we called us during a sunny Sunday morning and said he had borrowed a raft to fit the entire family in the river… we jumped at the opportunity.
We got in the car, my father, mother, sister brother, grandfather and I. We were a little tight there, but the journey was short. Then we started walking, and walking and walking. The path seemed endless, and no matter how many times we asked our guide and grandfather, he wouldn’t give us any hints about the location of the raft, how he got it or what exactly were his plans.
“It’s ok if we got lost, dad, we understand. But please admit it. We have been walking for ages.” My mother pleaded.
“No, no, no. Nothing of that. We are almost there! I can feel it!”
“Feel it? Aren’t you supposed to actually… know it?” my sister reacted. Her young lady sarcasm not being really appreciated.
However, true to his word, a few minutes later we ran into the raft. We stumbled upon it. I, particularly, stumbled upon one of the paddles and fell. Everyone laughed with the added relief of finally finding our… vehicle, let’s call it that.
The next few minutes were a blur. Everyone rushed to get helmets, lifejackets, and paddles. We were all little kids excited for our first time rafting in the kind of local river. It happened in the blink of an eye. One second we were sure we were lost in the woods and the next we were already on the river. We were moving! It was so much fun, it started out nicely, with just enough movement to keep things interesting and keep us calm. That was until my grandfather decided it was time to talk.
“I told you kids. You should always trust me!”
“You were right, grandpa, we weren’t lost, huh?” My brother said, laughing in a relaxed manner.
“Of course we were lost! But, you know, the river was there.” We all looked at each other with wide eyes, but things were about to get worse. “I knew we would find a raft sooner or later.”
“A raft? Don’t you mean your raft?” My father questioned.
“My raft?! What? Do you think I’m a millionaire?” My grandfather laughed loudly for a second, then, to everybody’s dismay further explained. “I don’t know who owns this thing. But every time I take a walk by the river there’s always a raft unused there so I thought I’d bring my family.”
The rest of us are left totally dumbfounded. Next thing I know my sister screams, but it’s not because of our grandfather’s strange occurrences. It’s actually because suddenly we got to a treacherous part of the river and the raft was moving wildly, we started paddling with all our strength and letting out screams all the same.
“Grandpa, you’re guiding! What do we do? Where do we go?” I shouted over the sound of the angry river.
“I have no idea! I have never gone rafting and much less in this crazy river!”
That was it, that old man was crazy. He continued to laugh, maybe sincerely, maybe to hide something, maybe so we wouldn’t see he was worried as well. But the funny thing was to see the extreme splashing of the water get into the old guy’s mouth while he laughed. Of course, the water also got into our mouths as we screamed in fear. I’m sure I must have swallowed at least one fish in that ride. It was absolute madness, the raft going from one side of the other like an animal gone wild, almost throwing us all away, almost going completely under the surface of the water. We paddled like crazy people, as our life depended on it, maybe it did, but also it was the first time we did that so maybe we were doing it all completely wrong.
It’s an understatement that my family screamed that day as if we were dying. We didn’t die, of course. But we hardly trusted our grandfather anymore. Still, if I’m entirely truthful, we continued to take trips to the river, stumble upon lonely rafts and to take crazy adventures every once in a while.