So on Sunday we once again met at the university at 6 am and boarded a bus to San Jose. We drove about two hours to the river, but the scenery was incredible! We went through Cartago, which is much more rural than Heredia, and there was so much greenery. Seriously, it was the prettiest scenery I’d seen so far, and the entire drive was breathtaking. We stopped for breakfast on a mountain top, at what I think was a hotel, and then continued towards the river. The night before, there was landslide on one of the main roads so we had to take some less-traveled paths, which were interesting. The closer we got to the river, the more rural it got; eventually we were passing farms few and far between, and the other traffic was mostly just horses, some with riders, others without. There was one part that was just a little sketchy (I recently taught that word some Ticos the other day by the way, and they loved it) when we were going down the mountain toward the river. The road was very steep and curvy and of course, there was not any type of guard rail, so the bus was slowing down to go around a corner, and when he applied the brake we actually started sliding! Fortunately, we did not over the cliff and made it to the river.
The Pacuare River was named by National Geographic as one of the top five white water rafting rivers in the world, and it even hosted the 2011 world rafting championship. On the ride, we had been extensively briefed about what to do if someone fell out, so we were all slightly apprehensive when we arrived. We went in a group of probably 10 rafts, and there were three kayakers whose sole purpose was to rescue men overboard that got swept up in the current! Anyway, our guide gave us another debriefing before we embarked and we reviewed the commands for paddling then practiced rescuing each other from the water. Our guide’s name was Manuel, and he was hilarious and knowledgeable about the area.
The very first rapid we went through was pretty intense, but after that we were ready to face anything! Somehow, we managed to only have one person fall out the whole trip, and she was able to hold onto the boat so we pulled her up just as we had practiced. There was one rapid we went through where all of us on the left flew over to the right, which was totally submerged, and I honestly thought we were all goners, but when we resurfaced we were all thankfully still aboard. On some of the calmer rapids, he had us turn around and row backwards with our eyes closed just to keep it interesting, so there was never a dull moment! We eventually stopped for lunch in what was legitimately the jungle and apparently in the province of Limon. We made burritos and had quite a substantial and delicious meal.
Although navigating the rapids was a blast, I think the best part had to be scenery; it was incredible! There were a couple times we went through canyons and we could actually get out and swim. The trip ended up being 18 miles, and we spent about three hours on the river. The bus ride back to Heredia was pretty quite because everyone was asleep! Overall, it was a fantastic day and probably my favorite so far!