Whaaat a birthday weekend I had! Best one ever. My super generous friend lent me access to his cabin on a private Ukrainian community road, in a beautiful pine tree forest. We installed a big tarp, so we can all hang out outside and keep a social distance. We were about 14 people, but it truly felt like less because it really was the absolute minimum core group. I got to show my friends the Ukrainian camp across the road, where I met my boyfriend 8 years ago. It was funny to see their reaction and how excited they were to have that glimpse into our past! The rainy first half of the day Saturday meant most other people stayed back in the city and we had the beach to ourselves to go swimming.
The beach is about 15 min walk from the cabin. And we've been talking about getting there through the river for months now with my friend. So we finally did it last Saturday in a little inflatable boat. My friend's been on many rafting expeditions in his life, and having this little crash course was super cool. He was showing me how to read the water, avoid rocks and navigate potential rapids. The moment imprinted in my brain is us floating down, under the rain in rain coats, the boat is upside-down because it worked better that way - and waving at some local neighbours across the river sipping beer on their patio. A truly comical moment, i'm sure we looked ridiculous but I was having a blast. We also saw about 7 ducks bathing, from a 2m distance. It was like stock footage from National geographic - I had never seen animals like that up close in their natural habitat doing their thing. And they didn't even get spooked by us.
I had practiced a little rope dart (a spinning toy - basically a weight attached to a rope) in the past year, but had stopped since I broke the one I had in the Netherlands this fall. Never got around making a new one. But the friend I had initially started practicing with, went all in during Covid - and had progressed to fire spinning with it. She brought all the gear and fuel, my other friend has done plenty fire and had all the safety training. We went to the sand pit to watch them spin - and unexpectedly she places the rope dart in my hands and starts safety-briefing me. Everything was set up, and all i had to do was to spin that fire ball! I had so much fun, but I did regret not having more moves. Time to make/buy a new one and practice some moves so that next time it's even better! Definitely a highlight of my birthday to have done fire, without all the usual learning and prep involved. Just handed to me on a silver platter, it was epic :)