Welcome to Croatia where the glittering, crystal clear turquoise waters stretch out as far as the eye could see. Welcome to Croatia where green, lush, and tropical palm trees conquer the land, towering over everything. Welcome to Croatia where one is able to take a casual swim next to gorgeous roaring waterfalls.
After an excruciating 16 hour bus ride, arriving anywhere would seem like a paradise. However, all thoughts about the bus ride, grogginess in my eyes and the growling sensation in my stomach disappeared as soon as I stepped foot in Split, Croatia. Suddenly, all I could think about was the itinerary for the next couple of days. One of which, included white water rafting down the Cetina River and cliff jumping.
They say there’s a first time for everything…and what better place to experience a couple of firsts than in Croatia? As I carefully stepped into the bright yellow raft, armed with a paddle and life vest, I blurted out question after question to my white water rafting experienced friend in order to mentally prepare myself for the adventure to come. What level are these rapids? What if I fall out of the raft? What if the raft flips over and we all die?
My anxious nerves were soon eased after stroke after stroke of the paddle, as we began to raft down the Cetina River. Lush forests full of beautiful green trees and foliage bordered and surrounded both sides of the river. The crystal clear waters allowed everything underwater to be seen, including the trout swimming underneath the raft.
The rapids remained calm and hardly phased any of us until towards the middle of the adventure. As the rapids picked up speed and intensity, I dug my already red and calloused feet underneath the rough rope in order to avoid any incidents that involve falling on sharp rocks and making friends with the trout underwater.
Out of all the rafting commands given by our instructor, I mostly remember the command of “stop, relax and enjoy”, which were the magic words that signaled us to stop paddling and to merely enjoy the scenic views. Eventually, all the paddling, splashing, clinging on to dear life, ducking to avoid pointy tree branches and plants and ogling the picturesque panorama that surrounded us all, led the raft to a cliff of about 30 feet. As soon as I saw the cliff, my heart raced and I grinned all knowing that I would finally cliff jump for the very first time.
“1…2…3…GO!”, the rafting leaders shouted as each brave and daring soul jumped off the cliff one by one. Stepping up to the rocky edge of the cliff, I did the one thing cliff jumpers are always told NOT to do. I looked down. Peering into the depths of my crystal clear, trout-filled watery death, I heard the infamous “1…2…3…GO!”
Time came to a stop as I pinched my nose, and jumped off the cliff. During those two seconds of free falling, my mind went blank. Gone were the worries and nerves and for two whole seconds, I let go of all responsibility, anxiousness and thought. For two whole seconds I felt as free as a bird. I submerged to the surface with the greatest adrenaline rush I have ever experienced.
As I swam through the cold waters back to shore for round two, I quietly smiled to myself. Day 1 in Croparadise is complete and it is finally time to stop, relax and enjoy.
Amanda Thompson is a student at Colorado State University and an official API Blogger. Amanda is studying abroad with API in Rome, Italy.