Our special correspondent Marie-Sophie Joubert is aboard the Floréal frigate, accompanying a military manhunt for Somali pirates. Her first day made her nostalgic for her old PE teacher.
Saturday, February 28, 2009 – Day one on the Floréal
My first thought on boarding the Floréal – the military frigate towering over six metres in height – was that of my primary school physical education (PE) teacher, Mr. Pedru. I doubt he’d remember me, but at this moment my memories of him are crystal clear.
In particular, I remember how passionately he tried to teach us to climb ropes, and climb up the metal ladder attached to one of the outside walls of the school.
Now, 20 years later, I am actually putting it into practice. I’m completely soaked after a half-hour on the high seas in the zodiac boat. My Blackberry has basically become a fishless aquarium. My shoes are slippery and my hands are greasy, and in this state I have to climb up a rope ladder that’s been tossed down the ship’s hull. And the Floréal hasn’t stopped moving the whole time.
My heart raced – out of excitement though, not fear. I was so grateful for Mr. Pedru’s PE classes. In the midst of chaos my reflexes sharpened, my eyes were fixed to the goal, and not on what was below my feet. Especially important considering that what lay below me now was not exactly a gym mat.
Up went one foot, then one hand. Then the opposite foot and the other hand. I’m ecstatic. Again with the left hand and foot – but not together! Finally, a hand reaches from the top to pull me the rest of the way. I almost don’t want to grab it. Is my climb already over? It was just for one moment, but what memories it brought back. Thanks again, Mr. Pedru.
Date created : 2009-02-28