Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Skiing in the Alps: 20/2/2011

     A loud racked woke me and I slowly got out of the bottom part of the bunk bed. Marie was already up before 7 o'clock: she getting ready for the day ahead. A few hours later the others got up and we sat at the table for breakfast. We snuck to the locker rooms in the hotel when we were dressed and ready to avoid begin caught with our snow shoes on. The hotel had a policy that all the snow gear were required to remain in the locker rooms. My group members ignored this rule since we couldn't fit all our supplies in our tiny locker.
     My progress was visible as I made it down the ski paths, falling only once in a while. My group insisted that we advance from the blue pistes - the easiest skiing hills, to the red pistes - the next level of difficulty on the mountain hills. The back pistes were the most severe of the skiing paths. To my luck, we did not try to battle with the tenuous slopes. With all the exercise, we stopped at a restaurant on the mountain to take a break. As we drank our hot chocolate drinks, we relaxed on the lawn chairs and watched the random skiers and snowboarders zoom by.
     We sat on the next forklift with renewed energy from our sugary drinks and landed on the highest skiing point in Val Thorens. A sensation of amazement filled me as I gazed down on the clouds. I felt like I was on top of the world, surrounded by the white capped mountains and cotton white clouds below me. The group was moving fast toward the next skiing path and I didn't have a long time to soak in my surroundings.
     We descended down the mountain and rushed toward the next lift. A crowd of people were already waiting to be picked up by the suspended benches. Marie was standing to my left and the others on my right. Suddently, Marie turned around and yelled at the women behind her. The woman was overlapping her skies on Marie's skies and she did not get the hint to back off when Marie threw her dirty looks. It wasn't necessary for Marie to lash out on the stranger, but she got her point across. Everyone waiting for the ski lift watched in amusement as the women trailed behind us with a gab sizable enough.
     Time seemed to disappear as we went up and down the mountains. The workers were getting ready to close down the lift while my group was trying to get through: we needed to ride the lift if we wanted to get on the right path directed toward our village. My group members rushed ahead of me to get through. The other pedestrians had the same idea and were jostling one another to be first - it was quite the violent battle. I did not want to be separated from my host family and friends, so I followed suit (without knocking people out of my way). The moment I passed through the gate, the worker closed off the ski lift entrance. With some physical effort and a little chance, I was the last one of our group to shuffle through.
     On the way down the last hill for the day I saw something green and rectangular laying in the snow. I stopped and bended over to get a better look at the 100 dollar bill. My host family and friends skied past me, indefinitely I stuffed the bill in my pocked and rushed after them. Many other people were heading to their apartments and most of them were drunk. Usually, the tourists drink lots of alcohol in the restaurants on the mountains then ski back to the village because it's the only way of timely travel. I swerved around trying to avoid an accident near the clumsily skiing people.
     I was so focused on the people around me that I did not notice that I was a mile ahead of my ski group. We stop and wait for each other after covering some ground for precautious reasons. I stopped and waited immediately after the moment I couldn't see them within my sight. After fifteen minutes I started to get nervous and thought they must have taken another path that connected to the main stream. There was nothing to be worried about since they found me. They took longer than usual to arrive because they were waiting for me further up the hill. I was done having a heart attack and continued.
     The path turned into a fork and the men in my group turned to the right. I was going to follow them when Floureen yelled for me to stop. She said I was going the wrong way. I tried to explain to her the situation, but she didn't listen as she turned toward the left past me. The decision was difficult, however, I skied after Floureen: I did not want her to be alone and lost. Règine was behind me and followed me blindly without knowing she was talking the wrong path as well. At the bottom of the hill, Floureen realised her mistake and we walked for a half a mile back to our hotel room with our ski boots latched to our feet. It would have been a pleasurable stroll if we were not wearing our heavy, bulky ski shoes with our skies on our backs. On the other hand, I discovered my lumberjack strength that carried me through.
     The sky turned dark by the time we entered our hotel room. I took a glance outside and was faced with fireworks streaming in front of my hotel window. They were bright and amusing contrasted to the dark surrounding with the Alps in the background and the other appartements and stores below. Carnaval week was being celebrated all over Europe and some people decided to signal its arrival.
     The firework show came to an end after a half an hour and we resumed our dinner. Stephen wanted to eat a pizza so he ordered one. Since the day we arrived he would resist eating the same foods as us and resort to buying a pizza. I didn't mind because he was a full grown adult and can decide for himself what he wanted to eat, on the other hand, it visibly upset the others. They couldn't stay mad forever with the free pizza.
     Our ski adventure on the Alps was challenging and rewarding. I managed to keep up with the others while we switched from the easier hills to the red pistes, which was the next level. During one point in the day, I stood above the clouds and looked at the enormous mountains laid out over the earth. Even though we were having a great time we were also faced with problems: when the stranger was scratching Maries skies as she was disrespectingly sliding over them with her skies. Toward the end of my journey I dodged many drunk skiers and snowboarders and got lost two times: once when I ended up by myself and the other time when Floureen, Règine, and I took the wrong path. For a grand finally, we watched muticoleured fireworks set off in the night.

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