sorry to momentarily derail the thread,but i'm curious about your using the word "feck"
Irish friend of mine uses it. I tend to use it as it sits well on the boards when you want to say [censored] but can't as they put a big [censored] over it.
Next installment. If this is starting to get boring someone please tell me so that I won't make a dick of myself.
I landed in Vancouver after my first international flight. I had seen so many of my friends off at airports in the past, now finally it was my turn. My girlfriend Elsa met me at the airport. We had about four or five days together in Van before I had to head up to the rafting base. On the second day I got a phone call at Elsaís house. It was from another rafting company owner up in Clearwater. He had called Australia to get my number and then called me in Van. He was extremely keen for me to work for him. I had had to choose between his company and another smaller outfit and I had gone for the other one. The reason being that another guide from Cairns was going to be working there. I wanted some familiarity around me. Although I had heard some faint whisperings of the company that I was going to work for having a slightly bad reputation on how they treated their guides. But I had shrugged it off. I had also signed up to an Advanced Wilderness for Leaders first aid course with the company as well as a Rescue 3 course, all of which were requirements for me to get my BC trip leader cert. I felt committed.
I headed up there and over the next two months proceeded to do the courses and check the rivers out. The rivers were balling. There was so much spring run off that we could only run The Coquihalla, a normally simple class III run. This is the river where they shot Rambo. It was a screaming express ride. Monsters holes with monster flips. When the water started to drop a little we were able to run The Nahatlatch. We also ran huge motor powered J-rigs on the Fraser which was running at over 600,000cfs. And oh my god was it cold. I was used to rafting in the tropics in shorts. Guides here were wearing dry-suits. I had purchased some gear in Van but it wasnít enough. I was freezing my butt off.
The company was a small family owned affair. I had been hired as the 2nd guide. Your priority in the guide list seriously effects your earning potential. Just after I arrived another local company went bust and suddenly there were a bunch of experienced guides available. The owner hired two of them and I was bumped down to 4th on the list. I got shafted and I wasnít impressed. I was also getting sick of being treated like a [censored] by the owner. The rumors had been not only true but downplayed. We did a trip and an Aussie guide that lived in the area came in to help out. He was much older than me. We got talking on the way back and he told me that he got his money upfront before doing the trip. I told him my situation and asked him what I should do. He told me to wait until I was really needed and then demand that I be reinstated as 2nd guide.
A week later the boss and two other guides were to set out on a 10 day trip from the mouth of the Fraser River. I was definitely required to hold the fort while they were gone. I confronted the owner. We went back and forth for hours. It was the night before they were to leave. We all lived in the same area as their family Ė they had the house, we had the big shed. So it was a very close affair. The kids were all crying, the wife was hysterical. I was determined to hold my ground. It was the first time in my life that I stood up to a boss in a clearly defined way. We got nowhere. After hours of back and forth I told him that I was leaving the next morning. I got paid out and jumped a bus to Vancouver. I had no job, and not much money but at least I had a place to stay.
When I got to Van my girlfriend was supportive. Two days after I got there she broke down and confessed that she had slept with another guy while I had been back in Australia. The whole trip was going pear shaped. I called a mate I knew and told him to find me a job guiding. Iíd work for anyone. He had a contact out on Vancouver Island. It was a sea kayaking company that ran 2-5 day trips in the islands off Nanaimo. I headed out there with my kit. The owner met me at the ferry. He told me that the punters for the next days trip were in a little campground. Was it OK if I camped out with them for the night? I said sure. He looked at me. He was in his late forties, a big bear of a guy with a soft attitude. He reached into his pocket and took out $50. ĎTake that,í he said. ĎThereís a shop up the road that do good burgers. Tell them I sent you.í
There was a week of work but then his regular guides got back and there wasnít anymore for me. I made a contact in the same area with another small sea kayaking company that desperately needed a guide. They took me on for the summer. It was the sweetest job that Iíve ever had. We were backed up by motorboat, so in the morning of a trip we would get up, Iíd cook, and then weíd leave. The support crew would come in and take down the tents then take them on to the next island where we were stopping for the night. When we arrived there would be a cooler with cold beer ready and all the tents set up. The scenery was breath-taking. I canít do justice to the place. It is extraordinary. If you ever get the chance to go there, go. At one point Elsa came out to see me. She was desperately sorry. I was enjoying my work so much that I didnít really want to have conflict in my life. We made up.
Around the end of August the work started to dry up. I was spending more money than I was earning. One morning I woke up in Vancouver and just decided to head home. Iíd had enough. Elsa was distraught. I called the airline company and scheduled my flight for the following day. My Canadian adventure was at an end. There was a stopover in Tokyo. I extended it to two weeks and caught up with some friends who were rafting in Japan. I blew all my remaining money partying it on in Japan. I stayed faithful to my girlfriend, although I had a hard time trying to work out why. I just figured that there was no point in doing the same thing myself. I felt that would be a fast track to relationship destruction. I arrived back in Cairns with no money at all. My credit card got eaten by a teller machine they day after I got back. They must have had a major red flag on me. I dropped by my old house. There was a room available. Theyíd kept it for me. I got my old job back and started the next day.
I flew my girlfriend out for Christmas. She arrived at the airport and when I went to kiss her she turned her head away. WTF?? We drove home and she admitted that she was seeing someone else. Like you couldnít have told me over the phone and saved me paying for your ticket out?? She left after a couple of weeks and I never heard from her again. I got a letter from Uncle Mick. He was rafting in Uganda of all places. Apparently the river was insane. He sent us a video. The river was insane. The White Nile. 5 meter standing waves. 6 meter holes that just ate boats and spat them out in pieces. I was determined to go. At the end of 1998 Mick told me that I had a job. I had to be there by the end of February. I didnít have enough time to get the money together. I decided to sell my vintage Gibson Les Paul. I figured that I could always buy another Les Paul, I would never have another chance at an experience like this. A little under two weeks before I was due to leave, 9 tourists were hacked to pieces in the Bwindi National Park in Uganda. What the hell was I getting myself in for?