“If I yell ‘PANIC’, it means everyone gets into the middle of the boat, oars up, until I say when,” our guide explained. “The river is very high today so we will need to do this command.”
So, yelling PANIC means stay calm? Are you kidding me.
I wrap my feet around the ropes inside the boat much, much tighter. I look at Rachel who’s mirroring my same very extreme outfit right now: yellow helmet, windbreaker, wetsuit, booties. We are in Bovec, Slovenia white water rafting on the Soca River, having an amazing time during the lazy part of the river talking to the other travelers in our boat but now gripping our paddles, listening to what PANIC means while trying not to panic. The bigger rapids are ahead of us, coming up fast.
We all dig our oars into the churning river; any rhythm we had before in the calmer waters gone now. The guide expertly steers us around boulders and shallow parts but we’re flying, I don’t know how he has any control of this boat. I’m waiting for the one word and it comes.
Rachel, me and the three others in the boat leap into the middle; my oar absolutely smacked our guide in the side of the face. We hit against two huge rocks on each side but the balance of everyone in the middle keeps the boat steady.
We paddle hard fighting the current and arrive at the end of the rapids safely, slapping the water with all of our oars in a rafting high five. Rachel and I jump out of the boat into the freezing river, everyone’s splashing everyone and I’m asking myself how did I not know Slovenia was this awesome?
Bovec, the tiny mountain town we stayed in, is a true hidden gem of a place. The people are friendly and warm, the river and waterfalls are stunning, and the hiking provided some of the most scenic and gorgeous nature views I’ve ever witnessed.
We stayed in a place called Hostel Soca Rocks near the center of the town. Rachel and I met other backpackers and had amazing conversations with many of them. I loved chatting with a woman we met in our dorm our last night there, who was traveling through Europe with her niece. She’d done solo backpacking before and enjoyed hearing about Rachel’s and my travels so far. We asked if she had any advice on being on the road, staying safe, keeping your wits about you. She paused and smiled at us.
“You have to know you’re strong,” she finally said. “And you don’t need anyone’s help.”
Follow Anna’s world travels:
26 year-old Anna Idler lives in Montgomery County, PA and is a freelance writer for Montco Happening. To learn more about her travels, check out her website Outlaw Summer.