On Saturday afternoon, I sat in the Balmers hostel lobby, nibbling on the remainder of my manchego cheese from Zurich and some salami that survived in my backpack along the way. I was battling the exhaustion of two days in a row with less than 4 hours of sleep and a morning of canyoning, wondering how I would make it through an afternoon of water rafting. When I arrived at the Outdoor Interlaken facilities I realized quickly that things were a bit different than the morning. There was a group of 25 people that were going out on the trip with me; all of which spoke German. As we started suiting up, I stood near the back as directions were being shouted out in German. I mentioned to a guide that I couldn’t understand anything, and he affirmed me that I’d get a run-down from someone soon. Meanwhile, I thought back to the brochure that talked about the strong need for communication and team work; language created an interesting barrier for that. When we got to the dropping site, I sat and listened to the safety talk in German, pretty discouraged by it all. Fortunately, one of the guides had his friends that were skydiving instructors come out for a trip along with a few other friends in Interlaken. They all spoke English and swapped over to it so I could actually talk. The trip ended up being incredible. The adrenaline junkies came out in all of us and we spent most of our time leaning back and holding on for dear life as we battled Level 4 White Water waters. While some of the teams were fighting the waves and working hard to collaborate, our team was goofing off and trying to toss each other into the water. After an hour or so of rapids, we ended up in the lake underneath Jungfrau, one of the most incredible views I’ve seen in my life. We kicked each other out of our rafts into the freezing cold water then took one last jump off before loading up and heading back to town.
I spent the evening with some of my hostelmates, a group of people from all over that work and live in Germany but travel to a new place every weekend. Sharing stories of travel is encouraging and always full of knowledge and excitement for what we do; it can be really hard trying to relate to people who are working more “standard” jobs. Our social media is filled with incredible experiences, but what people don’t see are the 50+ hours of work that go behind it every few days. Relaxing with people with a similar lifestyle is like going to camp and hanging with kids with the same hobbies. We grabbed a meal in town, the most expensive Mexican I have ever eaten at 37 Swiss Francs. Our server said there was a three hour wait, so we offered to sit outside (and got a lot of weird gazes for it). It ended up being a great decision as the server was extremely entertaining and hitting on the shyest person that we had in our group. He offered us tablecloths as stand-in blankets and was sure to give us a fun night. By the time dinner was over, we headed back to the hostel, fought off my desire to nap, and hung out with some of the others that we met during the canyoning trip.
On Sunday morning, I woke early before most had been up for breakfast to pack up the bags and prepare for a day of travel; 9 hours on trains took my from Interlaken to South France, where I currently am sitting in Cannes. The view is extraordinary, as we got a beachside apartment this year. We spent most of the day getting accreditation badges arranged, setting up our booth in the Short Film Corner, and taking the lovely 3 mile way to the Palais (main building for Cannes). Students are arriving from the USA and we are gearing up for a very busy day tomorrow of training, touring, and explaining a somewhat complicated process that is unlike any conference or event I’ve been too. The calm before the storm is now; so I think I’ll go enjoy that.