Our alarms awoke us ridiculously early the next day. And we were hungry. That wine had given us all a ravenous morning appetite.
We went to the restaurant for breakfast but of course nobody was even there. Although we had kept good humor about this adventure, the truth is that this place was a nightmare. Terrible dinner. No electricity. And now it was closed for breakfast. We were all glad that we weren’t staying here any longer than possible.
Mike seemed to be feeling better. He was also eating Advil like skittles. We advised him that he probably shouldn’t go white water rafting when he was so sick, but he didn’t heed our advice. To be honest, I didn’t blame him. I would hate to go all the way to Costa Rica and miss out on a white water rafting adventure.
So we got in the car and started driving down the mountain to find some breakfast. The rafting company called us as we were driving down, and we met them down the road. They led us to their main location and the guy running the place made us all pay for our adventure up front with cash. It was a lot of money, so it is kind of ridiculous that he made us pay in cash without much notice. Fortunately between the four of us, we had enough cash to make it work out.
We got in the van and asked the driver if we could stop somewhere real quick to get some food in our stomachs. He said sure, but he never actually stopped. There were several groups of people to pick up, so the van kept going to new places and picking up new people. And then next thing I knew, we were at the river. My stomach was growling and it was too late to go grab something to eat. I knew now that it would be a LONG time before we got any food.
We got out of the van and started walking towards the edge of the river. Many inflated rafts lined the edge of the water, along with piles of paddles and lifejackets. This area was a big clearing, but I could tell that most of the river was lined with huge jungle trees.
I felt a growing sense of anticipation. I had never been white water rafting, and didn’t know what to expect. We met our guide, a Costa Rican named Chalo. He told us that he didn’t like taking the easy routes, so we better be adventurous. Yes, our group was indeed adventurous, we had just gone bungee jumping off a tram.
Chalo was a very experienced rafter. He had won several competitions. He demonstrated the different ways to paddle, and the key words he would use during the expedition to tell us which paddling method to use. He explained that sometimes the river would be fast and furious, and sometimes it would just be slow and relaxing.
And then we were pushing our raft off the shore and feeling the rush of the current begin to carry us forward. The fresh air and soft spray of water cooled us down under the warm Costa Rican sun. We spent some time practicing the different ways to paddle. And then we were hitting rapids before we even knew it.
IT WAS FUN!
The rapids were fast and exciting! At times, it felt like I was on a rollercoaster. The raft would bounce all over, spinning and sliding us around the river. There were also many times when the river was slow and lazy and we could just float. During these times, I tried to really pay attention to where I was. The green jungle trees towered high on either side of us. The cool wind and fresh air felt amazing. The sky was brilliant blue above us. This was just an incredible day to be outside coasting down a river. I realized how lucky I was to be spending the day rafting down a jungle river in the middle of Central America. Life was good.
The rafting trip was amazing, but it was long. It was an 8 hour ordeal. After a while I started to find myself vey irritated, exhausted, and cranky. I think we all were. The lack of breakfast was catching up to us. We had been at this for several hours, and didn’t have enough food and energy in our bodies to handle this physical endurance workout. To make matters worse, Chalo kept teasing us with fake promises of beer in the cooler.
It felt like ages before we could finally stop for lunch. We pulled up to a little clearing on the edge of the jungle, climbed out of our rafts, and headed toward the pavillion and benches. There were many different groups of rafters in our expedition, and one by one they all came and docked their rafts on the shore. But even after we docked, we had to wait a long time for the tour guides to prepare the food.
Lunch ended up being amazing, and well worth the wait. They made us burritos and there was a surfeit of fresh fruit and vegetables. It made me realize that aside from the terrible pastas, and the bout of food poisoning, all the food in Costa Rica had been great. There was so much fresh fruit and vegetables, and the juices were all fresh squeezed as well. It seemed so much easier to eat healthy and natural in this country. There was not much processed food. Not only was the food much more natural, but so was the way of life. There was a simplicity and calmness to the pace of living in this country that I was growing to love.
But I digress. We were starving after rafting all morning and so we basically inhaled our food. It had been so long since we had eaten and the four hours of intense physical activity in the mid day sun was brutal. I felt so satisfied when I finally had a full stomach. As the food coma overcame me, I honestly kind of regretted that we had a full day expedition. I was satisfied with our adventure and just ready to go relax somewhere.
Fortunately that feeling changed once we got back on the river. The food energized me and I found I had developed a second wind. Our whole group seemed recharged. Chalo’s high energy and enthusiasm became contagious. Now that I wasn’t starving, I could appreciate what a fantastic tour guide Chalo actually was. He was a champion competitive white water rafter, and he was dedicated to ensuring we had a great time. He took us on some insane rapids that the other groups didn’t get to experience. He led us under some beautiful waterfalls. He even fell off the raft at one point.
There was a big long narrow passage between two high cliffs. All the rafts went very slowly through this. Brian actually got out to swim and enjoy the water. I considered joining in the water, but felt too lazy. Another time Chalo let Omnia and I just lay back and stop paddling completely. The whole second half of the trip was much more enjoyable once my hunger was satiated.
It was late in the day when we were finally done with our white water rafting expedition. It had been an amazing and memorable adventure. We relaxed and enjoyed a celebratory beer with Chalo afterwards.
After the rafting adventure, we went to our new hostel. I think the town was called Turrialba. The hostel was great actually. We could finally do our laundry. (Some of our clothes from the Jacó beach had become quite disgusting). I loved this hostel. It had hammocks, patios, and a lounge area on the roof that overlooked the town. It was nice to just relax for a bit.
However, now that the white water adventure was over and Mike’s Advil overdose was wearing off, he began to get really sick again. It seemed a trend that he would look ok in the day, and get very sick at night. But being soaking wet and engaging in physical activity for 8 hours probably did not help at all. We were getting pretty worried. I hated to see him having a bad time, and was scared he would take a turn for the worse. We let him sleep in the hostel as we explored the town for a while. He didn’t miss much. After a day of white water rafting, were all exhausted. It ended up being an early night for all of us.
The next day was nice because it was a later start. We didn’t have to wake up so early. Unlike the day before, today there was actually time to get food before our next adventure…. CANYONING.
Mike was still sick, but once again he was determined to embark on these adventures. Even though he probably shouldn’t have, I was still glad he did. It was fun to have the whole group enjoying the trip together, and in the end Mike probably would have regretted missing it. The large amount of Advil seemed to satisfactorily suppress his fever.
Our canyoning trip was great. We got to ride ziplines at high speeds through the jungle. We got to rappel down the edge of several waterfalls. The water was freezing cold, but the experience was too unique for me to care. I was shaking from the cold by the end, but having too much fun to complain. Mike, with his daily Advil overdose, seemed to be doing great. I cringed every time i watched him rappel down an ice cold waterfall, but he seemed to be having a good time.
Brian was also having a good time. A little too good of a time. On one of the waterfalls, he got too excited as he rappelled down. We all watched in horror as he swung forward and slammed his face into the jagged rocks of the waterfall. He wandered back over to the group seeming a bit stunned but mostly okay. Except for the large bloody gash on his forehead. He was actually bleeding a lot! They took him over to the side, cleaned up his wound, and put some bandage gauze on his forehead. He looked hilarious now.
Waterfall 1, Brian 0.
After the adventure, they fed us another delicious meal. We were able to socialize with other people in the tour and just relax. I felt so free and alive. We had experienced so many adventures on this trip. We had bungee jumped into a canyon. We had partied on the beach for New Years. We had gone white water rafting in the middle of the jungle. And now we had spent the day rappelling down waterfalls.
And our trip wasn’t even close to over.