Day 8: Running a Waterfall - El Descabezadero
Trip Start Feb 06, 2009
9Trip End Feb 14, 2009
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Where I stayed
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
After breakfast we took a walk around the village and looked in a few last shops before leaving. We returned to Aventuras and finished packing but got changed into our river clothes. The van came and picked us and our river gear up. We left our luggage at Aventuras to be picked up later.
The ride to the Actopan River took about an hour. We drove past fields of sugar cane and agave and the landscape became much more mountainous. We got all of our gear on and carried our kayaks to the put in area. While we were getting ready the instructors played "Eye of the Tiger", the Rocky theme song, to get us psyched up to run the waterfall
The Actopan is a beautiful aquamarine colored river that springs out of the mountains at the put-in area called El Descabezadero, the Guillotine. There are gorgeous blue-green pools above the waterfall that cascade down one drop and then runs over a drop of roughly 20 feet into a flat pool below.
We climbed down the cliff-side with our paddles as our kayaks were being lowered down on ropes. At the bottom we were confronted with the Actopan Waterfall. Anna stood there with us and talked us through the run. The major source of concern was at the bottom of the waterfall, that is where the Actopan takes off into a class 4 rapid and continues downstream. It was imperative that after running the waterfall that we get to shore as quickly as possible so we didn't end up down river.
We watched as Mil, Karine and Eileen ran the waterfall and got into place to set safety and take pictures. It didn't look too hard but it was enough to make your pulse race! I watches as Mandy and Helen ran the waterfall and then I decided it was my turn!
So on Friday the 13th I found myself perched 20 ft above a waterfall on a class 4 river at a put in area called the Guillotine
I stayed at the bottom of the waterfall and got video of the other ladies running it. Connie had been kind enough to take video of me running the waterfall. Carol took some pictures of me celebrating after my waterfall run.
Check out the video here: http://yourtrip.travelchannel.com/clip.aspx?key=43CE05DFBB7CA48E
Everyone had a blast! Some ladies even ran the waterfall several times. I would have liked to do it more but my stomach told me, enough is enough! It was quite an adrenaline rush! To celebrate such a great event and really a great trip we had several group pictures taken right above the waterfall
Slowly we made our way back to the put-in. Carrying the kayaks all the way up that steep hill was tiring! We got changed and had lunch. I was feeling really queasy so I skipped lunch. There was bread, lunch meat, cheese, chips, fresh fruit, cookies, water and condiments. On our drive back to Veracruz they played "We are the Champions" by Queen and ofcourse a bunch of latin music.
Along the way we stopped at a road side fruit market. This served two purposes. It let us go shopping and pick up a snack or last minute souvenir and it also allowed the ladies from Esprit to take the van with the kayak trailer and gear back to Jalcomulco and for Katie to drive us and our luggage to Veracruz.
The fruit market was cool. They had all types of fresh and exotic looking fruits. The ladies even cut up some mangoes and guanabana for us to try. The guanabana is a tropical fruit native to many South American and Latin American countries. In Mexico its used as a dessert, or in agua fresca. It is sometimes made into ice cream or fruit bars. Its hard to describe the taste. It was good but the texture is very funky! They also had vanilla extract made locally and some peanut brittle candies. It always shocked me how cheap the fresh fruit was in Mexico. I enjoyed the fruit but didn't buy any since I knew I couldn't bring it back in the States anyway
The ride back to Veracruz took about an hour. We were staying in the Hotel Centro Historico Veracruz again. We arrived at around 2:30 p.m. I used the time to try to dry my wet clothes, re-pack my suitcase, take a nap and get a relaxing hot shower.
We made plans to meet in the lobby at 6:00 p.m. After discussing some dining options we decided to try Sanborn's the restaurant in our hotel. We selected a nice long table outside on the terrace. I had chicken tacos, with guacamole, chips, salsa, and a cocktail. The food was good but nothing compared to the Berta's cooking! Katie brought our photo and video dvds for us so we could take them with us. She also promised us that our waterfall pictures would be emailed to us. Anna gave us an evaluation sheet for the trip and asked us to fill it out for her. We sat there talking for awhile about the trip and how much fun we had.
Afterwards we headed to the zocalo to walk around, shop and take in the scenery. All over the city big grand stands were put out and stores were decorated. They were getting ready for Carnival. Carnival is a festive season which occurs prior to Lent, usually in late January or early February. Typically there is a parade and people dress in costume and have lavish parties and food. Carnival was starting two days after we left, such a disappointment I really wanted to see it. Since we were also there the day prior to Valentine's Day all the vendors had heart balloons and red and pink scarves and other cutsie things to buy for your sweetheart.
We walked around and found the same little market set up by the Libros y Arte store so we walked through and looked at all the jewelry. Lorelei and Carol took forever trying to decide what bracelets to get at the leather-makers stand. I was called in to try to translate for them and find out the prices. Ofcourse all the mariachi bands were out and entertaining people, there were even a few dancers in costumes performing in the zocalo.
After awhile we returned to the hotel for the night to finish packing and go to sleep. We had to meet at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport.
Things Learned on Day 8 in Mexico:
1. El Descabezadero means the Guillotine in Spanish.
2. To properly run a waterfall, you have to lean forward, tuck your paddle to the side, and right as you hit the bottom sit upright to avoid being flipped. Its important to keep your paddle away from your fact to avoid a possible broken nose.
3. The guanabana is a tropical fruit native to many South American and Latin American countries. In Mexico its used as a dessert, or in agua fresca. It is sometimes made into ice cream or fruit bars.
4. Agua Fresca is a term used in Mexico that refers to a combination of fruits, sugars and water blended together to make a refreshing drink.
5. Carnival is a festive season which occurs prior to Lent, usually in late January or early February. Typically there is a parade and people dress in costume and have lavish parties and food.