White Water Rafting Weekend

I hardly know where to start about this weekend. It was definitely one for the books! I suppose I’ll start with  us going to see John Carter on Friday night with two of Peter’s friends, Clint and Ryan. They are also the two who set up the whole white water rafting trip and invited us to come along, and I am SO glad they did! 

We woke up at 5:00a.m. Saturday and shared a cab with Clint and Ryan (b/c they are staying down the street from us). We were taken to the Quality Inn in an area of Santa Ana called Lindora where we waited for the van/bus to pick us up. They arrived around 6, and as we got on we realized that we were going to be travelling that day with 14 locals (Ticos), 1 American that was part of the large group of locals, and 1 kid from Missouri (weird!). For those of you that may not know, Peter is from MO. Actually, Peter’s friend, Clint, is from MO originally too! Half of the Americans in that van were from MO! Ok, done with the MO talk for now. 

We stopped in San Jose to pick up 5 of the 14 locals I mentioned, and after that we were on our way! It was about an hour and forty-five minute ride to our first destination. Peter and I both brought a pillow so we could sleep, but it was a difficult decision to choose between sleep and looking out the window at the gorgeous hills and country side. Honestly though, there was no way we could have slept on that bus though because all of the locals on the bus were riled up and making jokes and singing the whole way there. We could barely here some of the safety instructions that our bus guide was telling us! Eventually, we arrived at our first stop which had a breakfast buffet set up with a bunch of tables and bathrooms to change into whatever you were going to wear on the water. Breakfast was delicious!

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Gallo Pinto, potatoes in a tomato sauce (soooo good!), scrambled eggs and all different kinds of fruits! I was really glad that we had this huge breakfast at 8:30, because we didn’t eat again until almost 3! After breakfast we piled back into the van and headed down to the spot where we let in at which was 45 minutes away on these rocky, back country roads. Finally, by about 10 we had all of our gear (life jacket, helmet, and paddle), and our guide, and we were ready to go! I have to admit, I was a little nervous at this point, but I was also really excited!

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Next, we shipped off with our tour guide Albaro (sp?) who is a member of the Costa Rican National Rafting team! They got fourth in the World Championships for 2011, which was held on the very same river we were rafting on! The name of the river is Pecuare, and it is one of the top five rivers in the WORLD for rafting!! Anyway, here is our guide giving us a run down of safety and what to expect.

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He also told us how he got into rafting 12 years ago. He was living in San Jose and studying to be an architect. He said that he came rafting on the Pacuare River with some friends and he fell in love! Said he packed up all of his things and moved closer to the river. He got a job with one of the tourist companies out there, practiced the steering position, and eventually joined the national rafting team! It was an awesome story. 

The way it worked once we were on the river was by the rafts staying pretty close together for safety purposes. If someone falls in and their own raft moves on or can’t get to them, then another raft may be in a better position to pick them up from out of the water. Also, there was a kayaker named Walter that followed us along the river to warn the guide about major rocks or dangerous areas ahead. Although I was still nervous, I was ready to take on the river!

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And so was Peter.

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Oh, and I just wanted to post the pic of everyone who went! from our group!

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From left to right: Clint, Peter, Jordan (new Missouri friend), Ryan, and me!

The sixth person on our boat was a girl named Andrea who was around our age and she spoke English really well. She said she was the sports reporter for channel 6 in San Jose! Our guide said she’s famous in CR, but I think he was really just flirting with her, a lot! Either way, she was SUPER nice!

Over all the rapids were so much fun. We went down rapids that raged from grade 1-4. We were told that a grade 5 was the highest possible grade, so I was even more nervous once we started.

Once we got going though, it wasn’t so bad. I remember thinking that it always felt like you were about to bounce right out the boat and into the water, but you never did. Boy, was I wrong. I bet you can guess what happened not too long after that thought crossed my mind…yep, you guessed it. We went over a grade 4 rapid, and I bounced and slipped around some, and once I thought I had my bearings on my seat again we hit a bump that sent me right over the edge! We hadn’t even been on the river that long! Definitely less than 30 minutes. Peter said he just heard this little, short, “Op!” sound, and he looked back and no one was sitting in my spot. lol. It was actually quite scary for a moment though. You see, when I first fell out of the boat I popped right back up to the surface due to my life jacket. Peter said I looked a little worried when I popped up, but over all I was ok. Unfortunately, I was above water for only half a second when I got pulled under again by the current, because we weren’t totally at the end of the rapid, and there was another rough spot coming up. While I was under water I started to panic slightly (exactly what they tell you not to do), and was paddling as hard as I could to get back to the surface. After what felt like 30 seconds under water (reality, it was probably 3-5), I emerged from the surface far more worried than I was after I came up the first time. This is where Peter and Clint commented later with, “You should have seen your face!” I can only imagine what it did look like. The guide told me to swim to a rock on the side of the river where another raft came by, stuck a paddle out for me to grab onto, and pulled me into their boat. After we got to a more calm part of the river we pulled over and I got back into my boat, still slightly traumatized, but more just excited about the whole experience! It was really scary at some point, but it was an adrenaline rush at the same time!

The only other crazy things that happened after that was the girl, Andrea, trying to “ride the bull” by going down the rapids with us all sitting toward the back of the boat, and she sat on the very front tip and just held on to this one wet rope with her hands! She, obviously, fell in the water. Our friend, Ryan, also tried it and only ended up falling backwards into the boat.

Along the 4 1/2 hour float, we got to see some amazing things. Beautiful waterfalls, bright blue butterflies, and a zipline carriage that indigenous people use to get across the river for supplies, and the children use it to get to school! It was such a remote and breath-taking area. I can’t even describe it. Here are some of the pics we took along the way

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Just one of the many waterfalls. All a little different than the one before!

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Awesome bridge, and some people decided to take a swim! I had just had my time in the water, so I chose not to get in at this time..

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This is us looking up while we were floating under a waterfall. It was amazing! Almost as amazing as the downpour that began at one point on the float. It was such a cool feeling to be floating on a raft and have it pour down rain on you for about 5 minutes. Then it stopped, and the sun eventually came out!

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Peter jumped in for a swim! Our guide said that this water is so pure, that you could almost drink it! We didn’t test it out to see if he was right.

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Above is Clint, Peter (swimming), and Walter! The safety Kayaker!

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I decided to get in as well. This was the most beautiful spot on the whole trip, and the water was refreshingly cool!

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Just chillin’

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This pic has the best view of the really pretty area.

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This was at the very end of the trip. After this, we loaded the raft, paddles, life jackets, and helmets on to a big trailer bed and took the van back to where we ate breakfast. Here, we changed into dry clothes, ate lunch, and just relaxed for a bit. By now it’s around 3-3:30. Oh, and Peter saw a poisonous Dart Frog in the bushes while waiting on me to change! Apparently their skin secretes a poison that can be fatal if you touch it! Here’s the pic we took, but it’s kind of blurry from the water and humidity.

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We were so exhausted on the way home. I swear, the bus was so quiet. All but maybe three people out of the 20 people total were awake. Such a change from the energetic morning ride. I fell asleep for part of the time too. My body was just so sore and a little beat up. We didn’t get back to the hotel until around 6:30, and it was dark, cold, and windy out. The San Jose area gets cold at night.

We had such a great day. We used the company, Rios Tropicales, and $100 per person covered everything! At first, thinking of spending $100 each seemed like a lot. Neither of us had been rafting, so we didn’t really know what to expect or what it would be like. By the end of the day though, Peter and I both agreed that the whole experience was a great value at $100 each. I highly recommend using them if you ever come for a visit!

Hope everyone has a great week, and thank you for reading!

Pura vida!

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