We left the hotel, and we even got the chance to sleep in! We woke up at seven, baby! How's that for living in style? We had been waking up as early as five, which is hard on the traveling body. We ate food, and I couldn't tell you what we ate 'cause my journal won't tell me. (At least I'm honest) Soon, we were on our trip to Wales!
It was a four hour journey, with a ten minute pit stop in the middle. I hadn't brought any entertainment like Ipods, so I basically just sat and stared out the window. And boy, did the view keep me occupied. I didn't know much about Wales until I traveled there, so I wasn't expected it to be so beautiful. It's incredibly mountainous and green, with small streams stretching through the landscape like veins. Pictures really don't do the place justice.
The fact that we were in a moving bus kind of hampered my photography abilities. Still, I got a few good pictures.
By the time that we arrived, we were all ready to stretch our legs. We stopped at a cozy little inn for lunch. There, we met Anna and Will, two Welsh locals and our culture guides for the rest of the day. They were both quite friendly. We ate lunch, which was. . . (searches pictures)
This! Which appears to be carrot and onion mash, roast beef, boiled potatoes, peas, and bread. I remember it being pretty good. Anna tried to learn all of our names. She did very well, actually. When she was going about naming everyone at my table, she got every name except mine. She squinted at me and was going, "Oh, one moment! I got it, I got it!"
"Think the Bible," I offered.
"Ah, you're Esther!" she said.
Ding ding ding! The bible thing doesn't usually work! Oh well.
We gathered outside for our walk to a lake. The entire town (the more proper town would be village) was on a mountain, so buildings were scattered across the uneven terrain. I thought it was cool that a lake was up there.
On a side note, I remember us gathering outside the inn, and that there were a set of about 12 steps leading from the entrance to the ground, protected by a rail. I remember one guy (his name withheld) letting out a cry and then trying to slide down the rail at high speeds. He went too fast and soared into the gravel parking lot, scratching up his palms. Score one for common sense! I remember him begging us not to let the delegation leaders know, because, well, it wasn't a very smart thing to do. (He WAS usually very intelligent)
So, to the lake! It was a lovely, green spot, full of swans and ducks! DUCKS!
|And yet here is a picture of a swan.|
We played a few team-building games before proceeding to attempt to learn the Welsh language. It is the third most difficult language for an English speaking person to learn. It is incredibly guttural, some sounds of the alphabet are more than two syllables long, and I can't even create some of the noises Will was pulling off. I don't remember much, but I do remember how to say the number thirty-six. It's pronounced TREE-dahg-qwakgh. We all had to recite our delegation numbers in Welsh, and in 17 seconds. There are forty of us! It took us a while, but we did it, and beat the Texas Delegation (the delegation that was here before us) record. Eat that, Texas. We beat them in numerous endeavors throughout the trip.
|Our delegation after destroying the second largest state with the power of harsh and guttural sounds.|
The only problem was the lock on my door.
Okay, there wasn't a problem with the lock. There was a problem with me. This sounds utterly ridiculous, but I have little experience with key-and-lock doors, so when I was handed my door key I was caught off guard. But no worries, right? I mean, you just stick the key in the hole and twist, right? So I did that, and locked myself out of room. My friend turned and said
FRIEND: Esther, what are you doing over there?
ESTHER: (while desperately fiddling with the lock) I'm just trying to figure out how this door works!
FRIEND: What, you mean you can't open the door?
ESTHER: (leans against the door casually) What do you mean? Of course I can open the door. It's not like I have First Born Child syndrome or anything! Ha ha!
FRIEND: Do you want help with that?
ESTHER: Psh, sure, if you want to.
So the girl went to fiddle with my lock, but I had somehow kind-of-sort-of jammed my key in there. After a few moments of frustration, I finally managed to unlock the door all by my lonesome.
So take that, unfaithfuls.
Dinner was at the cafeteria. I had a sausage stew, lasagna, and tater tots. I know, sounds weird, but it was pretty good.
|'Tis my food.|
|'Tis the cafeteria|
Today was basically an introduction class for what we were going to do the next day, which was rappelling down a castle. We had a lot of games and lessons though, and I learned so much. I really can't tell you all of what was discussed, but I feel like I changed a little after it. We talked about the differences between being a reactive and proactive human being, what excuses really are, and it was all suprisingly deep and not cheesy. A lot of the ambassadors came in thinking it was one of those, "You can do it if you just believe classes", and it was, but it was more than that.
After our egos were pysched up, boards of wood were introduced. We were to break them in half with our hands. We all were separated into three groups so the wood-chopping madness would go faster. We were given the option to "soft break" or "hard break" the wood. I chose the latter. Hard break is slamming the lower half of your hand through the wood, standing up. Soft break looks really cool: it's a quick movement were you sort of slap through the wood. However, our full-on coach said to pick the one that seemed the most difficult for us, so I chose the hard-break.
While everyone was taking turns, we all supported each other and cheered each other on. It was really fun. Some people were nervous, but they all mananged do it on their second or third try. (you only got three tries) When my turn was up, I was ready to break stuff. I was the only one to choose the "hard-break", so I got the tutorial, ha! So after going through all the steps, I took a deep breath, and popped through the board on my first try. It collapsed under my hand so easily and quickly that I hadn't even processed that I broke it until its halves were lying at my feet. So much fun! I think only two people were unable to break the board, but I felt like a super-human. We all got our boards signed: I still have mine in my memory box. After that, we went home to our nice, soft, beds.