El Rio Pacuare!

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Jul 30, 2012

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, Limon,
Saturday, June 30, 2012

This entire trip so far has been one big adventure! There is nothing more exciting than being in a country that you have never been to and trying to make your way around! We have done some very exciting things and been to incredibly gorgeous places already, but white water rafting was one of my favorite things thus far!

As per usual, our morning started rather early on Saturday, as we were supposed to be picked up by 5:50 at the bank that is about a 10 minute walk from Chelsea's house. I met her at her house around 5:30 and we made our way towards the bank. Naturally, Shawn was late, but so was the bus that was supposed to pick us up! In Costa Rica they say "Tico time" because people say that they will meet you at one time and they are almost always at least 10 minutes late!

We were the first people to be picked up, and we had many more people to pick up all over San Jose! After our bus was full of eager white water rafters, we made our way towards the Rio Pacuare! About 3 hours later we made it to "base" which is where everyone met up to have breakfast. Our tour guide Daniel told us that it was very important to eat a good size breakfast because we would be rafting down the river for about 4 hours! They had a typical Costa Rican breakfast of gallopinto, eggs, sausage, as well as yogurt and granola, which I love! After breakfast we got sunscreened up and put all our stuff away in the lockers, hoping that it would still be there when we got back!

On the ride down to the river, our guide gave us instructions on how to sit in the raft, how to paddle, what to do if you fall out, etc. We also had to sign a waiver saying that we were not pregnant, high, or drunk. I guess it is not advisable to raft class 4 rapids under any of these conditions! It was not until after we had signed the waivers that our guide told us that we had a high possibility Of seeing crocodiles towards the end of the river that could be up to 20 feet long! At first we thought that he was just joking, but when he showed us his arm with an enormous scar across his elbow we knew that he was not joking! He said that he was kayaking with another guide one day and a crocodile jumped up and bit his elbow. He said that he was bleeding a lot and soon realized that there were many more crocodiles coming his way. Thankfully his friend came to the rescue and was able to get him to safety. It must have been quite a while before he got to any sort of hospital though, the river is pretty much in the middle of no where!

Needless to say the whole story really stirred up our nerves! Unfortunately, that was not even the worst part! There was a girl who was sitting next to us on the bus who was a wreck! She would not stop talking about how we were all going to be eaten alive by the crocodiles! It was not making things any better! And then as we were driving down the VERY steep and VERY narrow road to the river, she kept commenting about how we were going to fly off the side of the mountain, we were going to break all of our necks and then the crocodiles were going to come onto the land and eat every last one of us. It was ridiculous! I thought I was a worry-wart, but she blew me out of the water!

We made it to the river without flying off the mountain and started to put on our safety gear which included a life jacket and a helmet. We also found our raft guide, Yonder, as well as our raft. We got situated on the raft and started doing some basic moves in the water which would help us move forward, backwards, and turn around. We wanted to begin rafting away but Yonder informed us that they had an order to go in, which helped ensure safety. The great thing about the raft company was that all the guides were very conscious, not just of the people on their own rafts, but all of the rafts around us. There were 9 rafts in our caravan, and we were number 4 in the line.

Soon enough we were making our way down the river. The river moves along pretty fast but we still had to use our oars a lot. Yonder gave us directions on when to paddle forward and when not to paddle at all. He was also guiding the raft in the right direction. We could not have done it without him! The river is good for beginners (swimmers as the guides call them) because there is a rapid followed by a pool so if anyone falls out they will quickly be in a pool where it is easier to get back into the boat. I was really hoping that I would not fall out!

Rapids are divided into classes, with 1 being the easiest and 6 being the hardest. The part of the river we were on was composed of classes 1-4. Higher up in the river there are class 5 rapids, but our guide described them as "non- commercial rapids" meaning that they don't take tourists there. Class 6 rapids are pretty much the waterfalls which only kayaks can go down.

The rapids were so fun to go down! Our guide Yonder would tell us "Ok friends, get good foot position! This is a good one!" It was such an adrenaline rush to be tossed and turned around in the raft, all while you are getting soaked, and trying not to fall out of the raft! When we made it through a good rapid, Yonder would yell "Pura Vida team!" and we would all raise our oars to the sky and yell "Pura Vida!"

The company also provided "paparazzi" which stood out near a rapid and photographed us! They seemed to appear out of nowhere, but we soon realized that they were just the safety kayakers who kayak around us to help rescue anyone who feel out of the rafts. So when they got to a good rapid they would get out of their kayaks, prepare their cameras and wait for us to come down the rapid making crazy faces! Yonder was on their side, because we would make it through what we thought was the end of the rapid and so we would raise our oars to do our "Pura Vida" chant and then we would go through another part of the rapid and the photographer would get us nearly falling out of the raft with ridiculous faces!

We passed some really interesting bridges and waterfalls on our way down the river! But one of the most interesting things we saw was a line hanging over the river from one side to the other. The line had a small cable car which could manually travel on the line to the other side. This was used by the indigenous people of Costa Rica which live in the mountains around the river. Yonder told us that there are 2,000 indigenous people that live in Costa Rica and they use the cable car to cross the river. He also told us that the people must walk a minimum of 8 hours to get to any kind of hospital or grocery store! They even still have their own language!

About 2 hours into the trip we stopped along the river to have lunch. Each raft had a bucket which was used to carry our lunch to the site where we stopped. It was cool because our raft guides put on gloves and became our chefs! They made us sandwiches, burritos, and lots of fruit, all in the middle of the jungle! Lunch was very good, but there were wild pigs running around everywhere! It was crazy!

We soon returned to the river and paddled away! My muscles were already starting to feel sore, and I knew that it was only going to get worse! It's a lot of work to white water raft! At one point we were able to jump out of the raft to swim! The water was a great temperature, and it was so fun to just float down the river! There were people jumping off the rocks along the river and off bridges hanging over the river! It was such a great time! Yonder quickly informed us that it was time to get back onto the raft because we would be going through another rapid pretty soon. I managed to never fall out of the boat, and only one person on our raft flew out of the boat and we had quite a time rescuing her! I'm glad it wasn't me!

Unfortunately our time on the river was quickly coming to an end. We could tell because we suddenly saw a highway up ahead! There were many local people playing in the river. Some of them jumped onto our rafts and Yonder explained to us that they help haul the rafts up the hill and onto the trailers and then the guides give them the leftover food from our lunch! We were all very sad that our trip was coming to an end! We had such a blast!

When we got back to base we changed out of our soaking clothes and made our way to where they sell T-shirts. We decided to buy the CD of pictures that the photographers took because they took some great pictures! Soon enough we were back on the bus towards San Jose. We took off at the perfect time because shortly after we took off it started pouring rain! It must have been so stressful for our driver because you literally could not see out the window! At one point the windows started fogging up so he whipped out his windex and sprayed the window, without wiping it. It worked perfectly! Who needs defrosters anyways?! We finally made it back to our houses and after a quick dinner I made my way to bed. I slept so good that night!

En la mañana, nosotros vamos a ir a Monteverde! Estoy muy emocionado de conocer a mi nueva familia y ver la ciudad!

Until next time,

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chris on

I like how green it is, I wish I could live there. If there are pigs running around and fruit falling off the trees I could move there and fall of the grid.

Kimmilew on

Yeah you could just live like the indigenous people!

Shelby & Diane on

Looks like your having so much fun ! Shelby's birthday is Sat. - she wishes you were going to be here, but we're having fun reading about your travels - we really liked the rafting pics - Shelby really wants to try that - she was wondering if you went down some waterfalls -

kimmilew on

I am very sad that I am not going to be there but I know that she will have a great time! White water rafting was a blast! We didn't go down waterfalls though, those are class 6 rapids and you can only go down those in kayaks, and we were in a raft!

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