Thursday, April 27, 2017

White Water River Rafting Trip: 15 Apr 2017

I received an email from my leadership about a sponsored white water river rafting trip through the on base church. I love outdoors activities and immediately signed up (free trips go fast!). Then it was finally the day of the trip and I headed over to the AFRC where the bus was waiting. It was pouring outside and I had to drive slower than normal. I sat comfortably on the bus and waited for us to head out. The chaplin got roll call and we left a couple minutes after 0800. The weather was not looking the best but in my mind it did not matter (we were going to be in the water anyway). The bus made a pit stop so peole could use the bathroom. People took longer than we were supposed to and the bus driver was a bit unhappy because it threw off our schedule. I arrived at X-point in Kobarid, Slovenia where we signed waivers and picked up our gear (wet suit, life vest, wet shoes, and helmet). Everyone had to change either on the bus, in the bathroom, or outside. Next, the bus drove us to a parking lot where we formed groups. A guy named matt approached me and asked if I wanted to join his team. In total, we had 7 people in our rafting group including the instructor and I. The other groups were larger so they went first on their rafts on the Soca river. As we waited we joked around and piled rocks on top of each other to make towers. Our guid gave us instructions on how to paddle, what to do if we fell out of the raft, etc. Finally, our turn came and we jumped into the raft. I sat in inbetween Matt in front of me and Jaramia behind me on the left side of the raft. Dayna (the only other female in the group) sat across from me and david and Benjamin also sat on the right side of the raft. The guide took charge of stearing from the back of the raft. We practiced rowing in sych with each other and followed the guide's commands. Matt was too far away from the guide so I had to shout the commands to him once in a while. The waters were calm so the guide allowed us to jump in the water for fun. The moment my body hit the water I froze up; it was super super cold! My life vest kept me afloat as my teeth chattered. I floated down the river for a couple minutes then grabbed onto the side of the raft. The others in my group took hold of my arm and dragged me back into the raft along with the other who decided to take a swim. The rapids started to become more lively and we were paddling faster to keep the raft from hitting the surrounding boulders. Dayna kept falling into the middle of the raft and we would chuckle because the water made the raft unstable. As we were cruising along  during a calmer part of the river, I made a comment that a rock looked like a dinosaur egg and they all laughed and made jokes about it (I also thought it was silly I said that, but sometimes people say funny things). A couple times we ran into rocks and when we did it would send Jeremia who was sitting behind me flying and he would run into me which made me run into Matt. I was having a blast! Whenever we passed the more intense rapids, we would all raise our paddles then slap them on the water. If another raft tried to surpase us or if we passed another raft then we would start a splashing war and get the others as drenched as possible. All the groups pulled up short at one point and took a break on the bank of the river. We were near an area where the river had a small waterfall. We took turns jumping in the water, let the current take us over the mini waterfall then float to where a guide was standing and pull us out of the water before the current took us away (this was my favorite part). The water was ice cold but I didn't let that affect me. We hopped back into the raftes and were on our way again. We were nearing the end of our rafting adventure when the guide suggested again that we could get out and swim. Matt immediately took the opportunity to tell everyone that we had to get out and swim and that it was not an option (which was super funny because I would not have jumped out!). The water froze my body and the people in my group grabbed onto each others life vests, arms, legs, or whatever limb was available to keep us floating together down the stream. I let the guys swim us to shore because I was too frozen to move. The guide showed up a couple seconds later with the raft and we all took a side of the raft and lifted it above our heads. We had to carry it up the hill to the parking lot and it was really heavy! The guys were a lot taller than Dayna and I so we didn't do as much strength work as they did. Everyone was changing and trying to put on some dry clothes. One of the portable toilets were unoccupied so I went in to change. I started undressing then immediately regretted my decision; a huge bee was flying around the ceilling of the portable toilet! I was already naked and hurried to dress myself. the moment I had enough clothes on I ran out of the portable toilet just thankful that the bee didn't sting me. Our next desitnation was a nearby restaurant. The chaplin announced good news that we were not only going to be served hamburgers, french fries, and soda, we were also going to be served salad, potatoes, bread, and a lot more food than planned. The bus parked near the restaurant and my group grabbed a table overlooking the valley below with the mountains looming over us. The restarant was build half way up one of the mountains on the edge of a cliff. The view was spectacular. I was no longer cold but the members of my group were still freezing (I felt bad for them). Everyone else went inside to sit down. We watched as the waitress brought all the food downstairs to where everyone else was sitting and we were starring with our stomachs growling. At one point, one of the guides came up the stairs and told us that it was self serve (I think they said it was self serve in the beginning of the trip but we all honestly forgot). We all ran down the stairs and got in line. We just grabbed our plates and were about to get to the food when the guide announced that the children should go first. We made way for the children and their mothers to get their share of the food then the line resumed. I admit that I ate a top of food but it was really delicious. Once we were all full, everyone returned to the bus and we headed back towards home. It took about an hour to an hour and a half to return to base. I jumped back in my car and went home and relaxed on the couch for a while thinking about the day that just passed. I was thankful to the church for sponsoring the trip. The church was able to do the trip through Outdoor Rec and some people who went through outdoor rec had to pay the $95. I promised myself that I would go back to Slovenia again one day to take another adventure on the river. The best part of all was the new friends I made with whom made the trip one of the better trips I've been on. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More car issues: 19 Apr 2017

I went to the legal office today because all 4 rotors (a part of the breaks) in my car need to be fixed and I just bought the car in 21 Feb 2017. Montana Cars, the dealership I bought the car from, does not want to pay to fix it. They said that in my contract they will only fix issues with the engine or clutch. I was so upset. It will cost me $620 to get it fixed. I feel ripped off. Italy does not have lemon laws so there is no protection for those who buy bad cars. I wish I would have not had such bad luck. My friend from Jiu Jitsu suggested I order the rotors online and I may just do that to save some money.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pordenone food festival

I picked up Miho from her house in Aviano then drove to Pordenone. It was about a 20 minute drive but it passed quickly as we chatted. We parked next to the train station and walk a couple minutes to get to the center square where the festival was being held. We walked past different tables full of various items. We continued to another street to an area with food trucks and tents. I got hummus and deep fried bread which was amazingly delicious. Miho got pad thai. She let me try some and it did not taste like pad thai; it tasted like spaghetti with white sauce. I thought this was amusing since we are in Italy and the people here prepare foreign dishes similar to their own. As we walked back to the car I bought 3 small paintings. The interior of my apartment is themed green and orange so I thought it would be perfect. I dropped Miho off back at her house then went home to do laundry.
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Gas coupons/22 Mar 2017

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Gas in Italy and Europe is expensive, so my work provides a benefit called gas coupons. They are convenient because they offset the price of the gas so we don't go broke! Only a certain amount can be purchased within each month and they all expire in August. They are only accepted at a gas stations called Eni. We have plenty of those gas stations in Aviano, but in places elsewhere the gas coupons may not be recognized. Whenever I go to the Eni gas station, one of the workers comes up to my car and fills the gas for me, a luxury that I will enjoy while being in Italy! On a different note, the sign Eni is quite peculiar. I cannot decide if the image is a dragon or some other mythical creature.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Broken computer/05 Apr 17

One of the things that you should never do it put a water bottle in the same bag as a computer, which I did. I learned the lesson the hard way and now my laptop has liquid damage to the screen. I had someone in the states fixing it, however, it has been about 2 months because they accidentally ordered the wrong part three times then when the correct part came it they accidently broke it while trying to replace it on my computer. Its strange being without a computer and I realize now how much I used it. I waited until the afternoon to call them again (due to the time difference) and they are going to give me a new labtop that is a similar model but newer for the same price I would have paid to get my broken computer repaired. They offered me this option since it has been such a long time. I decided to go with that option since I have little hope that my old computer will be able to be repaired. In the end it is probably a better deal for me since I get a new computer and get to have my memory/data transfered from my broken labtop. Bad situations can lead to better ones.

Almost left at the wrong time!/23 Mar 2017

My co-worker and I take turns back and forth grabbing patients. One of the patients were scheduled for 11 but was told to come in early. My co-worker said he would take the patient and I was good with it because I was ready to take my lunch. I packed up my papers and was on my way out the door but stopped before I got outside. Something did not feel right. I double checked the time and it was only 10! I convinced myself it was 11 because the patient was originally scheduled for 11 so I thought it was 11 until I saw the time was actually 10. I hurried back to grab the next patient. Disaster averted!

Internet deal/24 Mar 2017

Its been a couple of weeks and I am still trying to figure out the situation with my internet. Iv been on base and it was not cheap. It was going to cost 260 euros for the router and to get it installed then I would have to pay 30 euros per month for the first year then 40 euros per month for the next. My co-workers suggested I talk with a guy named Joe who could hook me up with internet, but it was pretty much the same price...My last resort was going off base to the TIM store (internet/phone store) to see what they had to offer. In the end it was the best deal. It cost 200 euros for the router and modem, free installation, and would only cost me 30 euros per month for 2 years. They were having a promoting and it was ending after the day I went in, so I signed the contract on the spot. They told me to expect a call to make an appointment with the installers. My concern is that I do not speak will be a very interesting conversation when it happens! I hope to get the internet all set up within the next month or two. It is known that it takes a long time to get it installed. 

Wine tour/25 Mar 2017

My body naturally wakes up at 0600 most days and today was no different. I didn’t have to leave for another hour and a half to meet up with my friend to go on the wine tour so I decided to lay in bed for a little bit. I eventually got up and opened the windows to let fresh air and sunlight into the apartment. Before I knew it, it was already time to head out. The weather was perfect and I didn’t need a jacket. It took about 15 minutes to get to the spaghetti house (a restaurant in Aviano) where I met up with Miho for the tour. People were boarding the bus and Miho, Miho’s friends, and I followed suit. We sat down on the second story in the back of the bus. Miho and her friends are Japanese so they spoke a bit while we traveled through the narrow streets. I remember some Japanese but I understand more than I can speak. Our destination was a vineyard and winery. The owner of the winery gave us a tour of her factory and lead us to a table where wine, bread, cheese, and meat was served. I tasted different types of reds and whites. I enjoyed the dry white wine and the sweater red wine. We ventured out into the vineyard afterwards and came face to face with the grape vines. It was very beautiful, especially with the mountains in the background. Next we drove to a restaurant where we had lunch. I was already full but I managed to eat a bit more (there is always room for more!). The time passed so quickly and we were all back at the spaghetti house restaurant before I knew it. My friends went on their way and I decided to stop at the local gelato shop before going home. My favorite flavor they have is pistachio and my second favorite is hazelnut. The other flavors are amazing as well. They change out the flavors depending on the season. I can truly say that gelato is one of my favorite desserts!
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