White Water Rapids- Level 4 Rapids, too much

Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
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Trip End Mar 26, 2010


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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Thursday, August 27, 2009

We left the sandy beach town of Cahuita early for some white water adventure along the Rio Pacuare. My mother had experienced white water rafting on the Columbia River once before and had very fond memories, but we were not quite prepared for what lay ahead. We drove to a little town just past the main town of Puerto Limon to meet our guides. They were all locals with Juan as the raft leader, Marvin our driver, and another guy whose name we can't remember! However, he was an amazing Kayaker and spotter.

Marvin drove us up the long, windy dirt road to the river Pacuare, telling us stories of conservation and the philosophies of life that had a twist of humor. Our guide Juan gave us a quick briefing on the commands for the trip, which we couldn’t really understand do to his limited English. The day became rainy and cloudy but we all quickly realized that it would not matter… as soon as we got into the raft and headed down the river we were all soaked from top to bottom. The rapids came often and were quite exhilarating; we were all having a blast. Nearly 1/3rd of the way down the river we stopped at a waterfall, jumping in the pools fully clothed. It no longer mattered that we might get wet.

Upon leaving the falls Juan told us that we needed to be prepared, paddling hard and not stopping, when we arrive at the next set of rapids. He told us that we would be going through two level three rapids and finally a level four. I find that whenever you do something for the first time that is out of your comfort zone it gives you a feeling in the pit of your stomach. It can only be described as the thought, 'what did I just get myself into.’ The rapids up until then were exciting and I was wondering what exactly he meant by "paddle hard and don’t stop"… is this going to be bad? But off we went with no turning back. The river became very windy and we could hear the rushing of the rapids ahead. I knew we where approaching the first set of rapids, and you could see the river suddenly becoming extremely choppy with huge boulders popping out everywhere. Juan suddenly instructed us to paddle hard, hard, hard, and we did. The raft dipped and turned out of control and we were suddenly out. We made it and it was awesome, we gave each other a high five with our paddles and cheered ourselves to the next set. The adrenalin must have been flowing in all of us and I was so proud of my mother to be able to experience this adventure with Christina and I.

Again, we arrive to second set of level 3 rapids and we dipped and turned through them without any problems. It was now the time of reckoning and our confidence was high by conquering the last two sets with out a problem… let’s do this. Later on that afternoon Juan noted that the level 4 rapids was known by the local indigenous as ‘The Cemetery,’ I think you can guess why! We hit the rapids fast and I noticed ahead of us the river dipped deep, almost like a small waterfall, and we were heading straight for it. We were paddling hard and as soon as we hit that fall the raft shifted on its side, everything moved quickly. I felt my body hit the bottom of the riverbed and spin out of control, within seconds I was up and out. I could see Christina reaching out with her paddle to pull me in as we floated quickly down the rapids. Everything was moving so fast. Christina managed to get me to the side of the raft and Juan pulled me in. He was running around the raft almost at a panic. It took me a few seconds to realize that Mom had popped out of the boat at the same time. She noted that she felt the bottom of the river as well but the river was pulling her under a few times. Juan was able to get a hold of her life vest and I helped him pull her into the boat. It took a little while for us all to shake off the experience, as it was not an event we would like to repeat. Never the less, Mom is band from level 4 rapids.

The remainder of the trip was relaxing and at times so beautiful. We stopped for lunch, viewed an amazing red frog and saw a species of piranha that was in the river. Our tour was definitely full of adventure that I’m sure none of us will ever forget.
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