Whitewater adventures

Trip Start Dec 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Villa Hotel

Flag of Mexico  , Veracruz-Llave,
Sunday, February 7, 2010

As we near the halfway mark of our trip, we find ourselves in the town of Jalcomulco in the state of Veracruz. The rain which has been hitting Mexico hard (Mexico City is flooded) didn't forget this part.  We arrived to town in the rain and didn’t hold much hope for it to stop for our adventures.  We’re booked for 3 nights/2 days of amazing activities with a Canadian outfitter called Esprit.  They were ranked #1 Adventure Ecotour Operator in the world by National Geographic and were recommended to me by my paddler friend, Byran.

I find it ironic that our most "Mexican" experience (so far) should come to us by way of a Canadian company.  The town of Jalcomulco is rather out of the way; not a via point for anywhere.  Supposedly there are over 5000 people in this town but it beats me where they’re all hiding.  It wasn’t long ago that the donkeys outnumbered the cars here.  We’re staying right in town; the van is parked on the street.  In the evening, the bakers walk door to door with their large basket of goods.  And with all the whitewater tour companies nearby, they see their fair share of Gringos… so the staring is at a minimum.  It is an entirely different eco-system here than the arid parts we’ve seen so far.  The mountains are lush green and there are many crops grown – coffee, sugar, & mango being the largest.

Our accommodations are simple but the beds are quite comfortable.  There is a large window in our bathroom over the toilet; it has neither glass nor screen.  Our first night, I was awakened by the call of several roosters at 3am  Then, in the morning, I was awakened by birds at about 6am… thousands and thousands of very noisy birds.  And would you believe it was gorgeous blue sky!  It was perfect weather for our day of whitewater rafting on the Hummingbird River (the very same that Cortez sailed up and burned his ships).  It was so much fun!  It was just our family and our guide, Lalo, on the raft accompanied by Emily (Canadian) in a safety kayak.  They both did an awesome job.  Nonetheless, Adam did fall out at one point but never actually let go of the boat – what a trooper.  I’m sure I was more scared than he was… he was just cold but the sun quickly warmed him.  Of course I have no pictures of all this breathtaking river/canyon scenery from water level but I did get some on our next activity… zip lining overhead across the river.  It’s done a little bit differently here than our experience in Whistler.  For example, here you also hold onto a wooden block with straps that is your 'brake’ and which also keeps you from spinning since you’re connected to the line in two places.  And the lines are shorter and less steep but beautiful nonetheless. 

With lush and green comes moisture and bugs.  Everything has that feel like it was taken out of the dryer before it was finished drying.  And I’m getting eaten alive by I don’t know what!  I itch all over and am slowly going insane.  I have become hyper aware of several (hundreds?) 1cmx1cm spots all over my limbs.  And worse than mosquito bites, these each have a tiny blood blister (that bleeds if you scratch it!) at their centre.  I don’t notice the biting/stinging when it happens but I sure pay the price later. 

Day 2 of our river adventures

Today we went ‘ducking’ on inflatable double kayaks.  I was in the back, paired up with Nicky who figured I was doing a lousy job - I was having way more fun than him!  But further evidence that kids have no idea how much we sacrifice for them, as we entered Hell’s Gates, rather than let the boat tip, I went out.  If I’d known what I was in for, I probably would have tried harder to keep the boat level.  I took a paddle handle to the mouth then I was bashed around some boulders all the while not knowing if my next breath was going to be another face/mouthful of water.  And of course, what’s going through my mind?  “I hope Nicky’s alright,” which of course he was.  He had lost track of the rapids as he got turned backwards and watched me bob in and out of sight but not to worry, he was in the skilled hands of Emily on the safety kayak.  By the time I made it through to Adam and Lalo (the look of sheer worry on Adam’s face was enough to break any mother’s heart), Nicky had gotten totally beached.  My knee was bleeding and my gums were swollen.  Climbing back into the boat was an insurmountable task for me so we had to move to shore in order for me to get in.  After the next set of rapids, we could hop out and float down the river, but I was the only one to do so.  As we exited the water, poor Adam put his hand down on bees which stung him twice.  Bees are Adam’s nemesis and he was inconsolable.  He’s more brave holding onto a boat for dear life in rapids than with two little stingers sticking into him.  Eventually though, he forgot about his three blue fingers (cold) and two pink fingers.

Next stop, Tea Cup Falls.  We took a small hike to spring fed travertine falls.  We went for a dip at the source – approx 26 degrees C.  There were minnows and frogs, butterflies and philodendrons.  Again, I’d love to show you pictures, but when I asked Keara to hold the camera, she put it back down in the van… so no photos of this natural wonder.  The calcium in the water was creating these growing pools and formations that were splendid.

And wouldn’t you know it, the rain started up again shortly after we got back to our hotel.  It was as though it held off just for us!
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Grannie on

Poor Adam! Right hand or left? Fingers or thumbs? I mean, is this going to affect his abilitiy to write postcards, or DS? or wrse yt -- to txt! No, seriously, hope his bee stings are much better today...

Courtney on

Hi Stef, thanks for sharing your trip - I'm loving reading about your adventures!

Heidi on

Wow! What an adventure... Why is it that the person who hates bees the most always seems to attract them? Also,'Hell's Gates' sounds like a pretty bad place to be bobbing around in the water hitting boulders and paddles with your face. Hope your body recovered from your unplanned swim, Steph!

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