Something people don’t often realize when they’re a tourist in the bigger Italian cities, is that the toilets that are normally used in the smaller towns are vastly different from what we are used to. La Turca is what these bad boys are called, but in all honesty, I just see a ceramic long drop.
No, this is not going to be a blog post about how people do their business in Italy. This is going to be a story of how I faced the Grand Canin, a really really steep slope in Sella Nevea (the place we go skiing in the Alps). It’s a story of preservation, dedication and facing my fears – of falling to my death. Pretty deep stuff (excuse the pun).
I thought I had mastered the plan to avoid these long drops. I don’t drink any liquids during at school or in most public places. I wait until I’m home. Seems pretty foolproof hey?
However, one fateful morning, in the middle of the Alps, Mother Nature came knocking. The only bathroom facilities near the kiddies slopes consisted of the long drops. My host family gave me the most riveting pep-talk, and I marched into the small cubicle – ski boots and all – I took one look at the hole in the floor and I just knew I was not about this life. I would like to meet the super human who can squat-pee into a hole that is 10 cm in diameter while wearing 4 layers of pants in sub-zero temperature and stay perfectly dry.
My host aunt then told me about the new bathrooms that had ‘normal’ toilets, but they were at the bottom of a pretty steep slope, and the only way back to where we started was skiing down the Grand Canin. This only being my second day of putting skis on (EVER). I considered the risks, but after watching a 4-year-old glide down effortlessly, I figured how hard could it be?
So after I had dealt with my business, we went into the ski lift and made it up to the top of the mountain. All I saw was white. We were in the middle of the clouds and it was snowing. After some practice going down some smaller slopes at the top, we decided it was time to make our way down. I do not know what I was thinking. Have you ever stood on the edge of a cliff with a drop so long you couldn’t even see where the bottom was? Now you had to make your way down this cliff while balancing on a pair of long metal slippery plates?
I’ll cut the story short – after winding my self, bruising my tummy and my bum, falling in every direction humanly possible, 4 hours later I made it to the bottom. As soon as I got in the car I swore to myself I would NEVER EVER let any European (no matter how much I trust and love them) convince me to do anything “really easy and exciting” again, NOPE.
The next day I went on a solo hike and took in the mesmerizing beauty of the mountains and the purity of nature.
On our last day, I went against my instincts and decided to join my family for one last ski – thinking I would keep it cool on the less death-defying slopes. Nope, straight to the top of the mountain we went. This day was far sunnier and there was music blasting. I honestly had the biggest joll. After practicing a bit more, my technique had gotten far better and I honestly felt ready to face the slopes again.
Slowly but surely I made my way down. I felt more and more confident as I got closer to the end. It came to me in that moment that this is not only what exchange is about, but this is what living is for. It’s about conquering your fears and learning new things about yourself, becoming stronger and braver and trusting and having faith in your abilities.
I fell only 4 times and in 1hour and 30 minutes I was celebrating my accomplishment at the bottom with my host family.
So you’re probably wondering how this ties in with the Italian toilets. It doesn’t. In fact, if I had been brave enough to try use the long drops in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to try ski down the Grand Canin, but how interesting of a story would that have been?
I have a few videos from that day that I will upload onto Youtube and leave a link as soon as I can!