Saturday, November 10, 2012

Los Pirineos

I'm still really behind. But that's only because I've been living the life. October 11-14 the Knox Program took the entire group to the Pyrenee Mountains to commune with nature. We hiked, mountain biked and rafted. We also celebrated la Fiesta Mayor with the tiny village of Mantenartro. The scenery was so picturesque that we were continually reminding each other that this was real life. By the end of the trip the majority of us weren't ready to leave.

Thursday
We took the long, windy bus ride to our hostel in Mantenartro. Once we got there it was kind of like a horror movie. We were high up in the mountains, wandering around a tiny, silent town attempting to find our hostel. We found it and were treated to a delicious meal and an incredible amount of hospitality from the owners.

Friday
Hiking day. In the morning we walked outside and saw what the town looked like. Here's a picture because was words can't describe how beautiful it is. Words can't describe a lot of this trip, so I'm going to rely heavily on visuals. They definitely don't do justice to how beautiful the mountains were, but they can give you an idea.
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After admiring the town we got into cars and started winding our way to the beginning of the trail. We hiked around a preservation for awhile. I don't know how many times I can can it was beautiful, but the entire hike was. The weather was perfect, a little chilly and sunny and the sky was perfectly clear. The way uphill was tiring but super fun. We all had extra energy because we were so excited and awestruck by the views. When we got to the top we ate lunch and rested. Then we made the slippery way down. I almost slipped a couple of times but I made my way down slowly and I am happy to say I didn't fall off the side of the mountain. When we got back we showered, changed and headed to a dance that the town was holding in celebration of la Fiesta Mayor.
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Saturday
Mountain biking day. I don't think any of us had any idea what we were getting into when we went biking. We were told we would be driving to the starting point but then biking all the way back to the town. Perfect and convenient right? Well...we'll get there. The way to our lunch spot was tiring and mostly uphill. On our way we stopped by some ruins, snapped some pictures and when we got back on our bikes we realized how much all of our butts hurt. I was not a happy camper. My bike was a little too big and the seat was not very padded. It got to the point where I couldn't even sit on the bike seat. I was so relieved when we made it to the lunch point and got to eat. We warmed up a little and then hopped back on our bikes to head back to our hostel. Our guide had told us that the way down would be down hill and not to worry. Well the beginning was not down hill. I will admit I complained and groaned my way back to the hostel. I was tired, in pain, and trying to make my way up a steady incline. But then it became VERY downhill. Like rocks, skidding tires, breaks on at all times, fearing for my life kind of downhill. None of us were expecting that. There were some falls, some tears, but we made it alive. We would all go as a group down a little bit (leaving lot's of space between one another, of course), then we would stop to catch our breath and tell stories about how we almost fell off the mountain during that short stretch straight downhill. We were told to pump the breaks to slow down, but any time my hand went off the break I would start going 100mph, so I breaked like my life depended on it. Even when my hand got tired I kept breaking, raw instinct took over. I refused to fall. When we got back we were all on top of the world. We were full of adrenaline. We showered, rested and then headed over to the town center to celebrate the Fiesta Mayor. There were games, hot chocolate, sweet bread, and desert wine. During the fiesta my friends and I stopped by the tiny church in the town. When I was sitting there it kind of hit me. I'm in this beautiful church and outside is the most beautiful view in the world. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world and I feel so lucky to have had all of these opportunities. The day ended with a comedy/musical performance by a relative of someone who lives in the town. Some of it was in Catalán so I didn't understand what was really gong on. But judging by the laughter, the guy was hilarious.
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Sunday
We went rafting! I don't have any pictures because I didn't want to ruin my camera but there are some of me on my Facebook. I had never gone rafting before and I can now say it is as fun as everyone says it is. I ended up in a kids wetsuit, kids shoes and a kids helmut. The people helping us get ready kept laughing at me. I'm little, okay! The day we went rafting was the last day of the season, so we got lucky. The water wasn't very high which meant the rapids weren't too bad. They were enough to make you a little nervous and have fun but you didn't have to worry about falling out of the raft. Claudia was in our raft and was hilarious. She hadn't wanted to go in the first place but we had convinced her and she screamed her way down the river. The entire trip she kept saying she was a "city girl" and this wasn't for her. But she was a trooper and looked out for the rest of us to make sure we were having as enjoyable a time as possible. 

We got back to Barcelona around midnight. All of us kept saying that this weekend couldn't have been real. It was hard to believe we had to get up and go to school the next day.

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