15. 11. 2022
The alarm goes off. I reach straight for my cell phone and turn off the alarm clock. It's half past five in the morning. I look over the edge of the loft bed at my two cabin mates. They're still asleep.
I pull down my sleeping bag and slide to the end of the bed. My loft bed has no stairs, but the loft bed next to it does. I lean forward and grab the railing, place one foot on the step and slowly lower myself between the two beds until I feel the floor under my other foot. I quickly undress and put on my bikini. Pants over it, T-shirt, sweater, flip flops on. I check again whether I have packed my bag properly, grab a sultana from the cupboard and sneak out of the hut.

“Good morning”, I whisper to five other early birds who also thought it was a good idea to go on a single trip with 57 strangers. Five pairs of sleepy eyes look at me and greet me back. We wait in silence for the last two people and the attendant. Everyone close with shoulders pulled up and hands in pockets to warm up. In the distance, the clatter of the fully loaded trailer rumbles across the sleeping campground. The white van stops right in front of our feet and the Slovenian driver gets out.

“Good morning again”, he says laughing as he pulls his cap over his medium length blonde curls.
We were here three days earlier, but once we arrived at the destination the wind was too strong and we went back to the campsite.
We smile back, put on our face masks and get into the van. The other three people are now also there. After 25 minutes of reggae music, we arrive at our destination: Lake Velenje.

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We undress and shivering I pump up my SUP board on a lawn. I cross the parking lot with the board under my arm and walk along the shell path to the huge lake. In front is a green and white inflatable course with a red and white floating dividing line around it. Tall trees surround the lake. The mountain landscape of Slovenia lies beyond and is covered in a light fog. The lake is still slippery. I step into the water. It's nice and warm. Slowly the water ripples further and further away. I crawl tensely on the SUP board and slowly get up. The rest of the group also climbs onto their boards and slowly we paddle along.

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“See that cove over there on the right? That's where we're going!”, the guide shouts from his board. He is about 20 years old, has a goatee, wears a pink Daily Paper sweater and a white cap that he has put on backwards. He chats merrily about the history of the lake. “This was actually just a village, but all the mining has caused the ground to subside and this lake to form.” He points to the cove. There it is less deep and we can still see the treetops under the water.
Every now and then he keeps his mouth shut. My paddle glides smoothly through the water. We slowly sail closer and closer to the inlet. The steam from the warm water forms a mysterious layer of mist over the lake. To our right, a group of about twelve swans swims. Water droplets gently splash into the water as I swing my paddle to the other side. The tall trees that surround the lake are getting closer. They lean menacingly forward and do not let any rays of light through. A thick branch sticks straight up from the water. I look into the lake next to my board. Light gray branches hide under the dark water. “Don't fall into the water here, boys. Otherwise you'll end up in a tree!” the supervisor shouts laughing.

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More and more treetops light up under the water. A woolly layer envelops the branches. Suddenly we hear a soft hum that gets closer and closer. I look up. A drone. The nagging hum lingers around us. The drone tilts and flies back.
“Was he filming us?” asks one of my fellow holidaymakers. “Well, I hope not!” says the supervisor.
"Come on, let's paddle back to shore." We leave the treetops and slide back into the light.

It sounds ZZZZZ.

“Whoever hits it gets ten euros!” shouts the supervisor and waves his paddle in the air. In the distance we see two people walking. The attendant paddles wildly and shouts to the people. Everyone is a bit annoyed by this huge mechanical fly that disturbed our serene moment. The group cackles about what that drone could do with the footage. I smile a little and paddle slowly. After a while I see a streak of bright light in front of me. The sun peeps through the mountain peaks behind us and casts its light on the deep water. Everyone stops paddling. We are silent and watch the rising sun. I look at the others. I will probably never speak to them again after this holiday.
We paddle back to the side where the guide rushes towards us.
“Well, whole moment ruined, so they can make a movie for the campsite to promote this activity!” he laughs.
We're laughing. Suddenly that hum of a moment ago isn't so annoying anymore. All I can think about is the fog, the treetops and the sun.

Anneleen van de Ree

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