Friday, August 19, 2011

Survival school journal: Sunday (day 0)

My survival school course started on Sunday after a 4-hour van ride from Provo, Utah to the desert outside the small town of Boulder, Utah. The school is Boulder Outdoor Survival School, or BOSS for short.

From my journal that afternoon:
We just finished gear check and got a photo taken in our hiking clothes, in case anything happens to us. I made a pack from my wool blanket and rain poncho, wrapping the pack using parachute cord and seatbelt webbing. It feels great on my back! Just as sturdy as a REI pack :)

I am already accustomed to ants crawling on me. I've been bitten by ants a dozen times by now.

We are requested not to ask questions about our itinerary. These are called "inappropriate questions".

I am experiencing effects of altitude or heat or both. Headache, low energy. Occasional slight chest pains near my heart. My resting heartrate is up to 86 (in SF, it's in the low 60s).

Michael (student who is ex-pat in Jakarta) told me about going on a Habitat for Humanity trip, where he built a brick wall for a family in povery. So cool!! I will research it when I get home. I've wanted to combine travel, learning a skill, helping a family in need, and being in a community. Michael said some people who go on Habitat on Humanity come back and give away all their possessions. The high lasts for three months, and then they freak out. I'm shocked that it lasts for three months. I thought it'd be over in a few days.


Earlier we sat under a tree and shared our expectations. Much to my shock, four of the five others are doing this to learn skills in case of apocalypse and we experience a breakdown in plumbing and electricity. That did not even occur to me. I shared that my reason is to develop trust that my body is strong and will do what I ask of it, and isn't just a burden that I drag around in order to house my brain. Also, I live in a bubble, and need to immerse myself in other worldviews to wash out biases that have seeped into my thinking despite my preventive efforts.

I am thrilled that I ran the entire 1.5 mile test. Altitude is very powerful! My breathing became ragged almost immediately -- at nearly a 12-minute pace. In SF, I could do that pace for a long time without feeling much effect.

I just got up from the log I was sitting on, and discovered I had squashed several ants.

Shana is assigned as my buddy. We paired by birthday month/day and magically ended in the same configurations as the rows we formed in the van. That's a 1 in 15 chance! Shana is a redhead with green eyes from NYC. she is a regular Burning Man attendee. She is very warm and easygoing. I am happy she is my assigned buddy.

Shana and Michael standing near our luggage

We are setting off imminently. I'm carrying a cloth pack over my shoulder, like how women in rice paddies carried their babies.

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