Costa Rica trip 2002-2003
Fri 27 Dec 2002 - Sun 29 Dec 2002 -5 °C
Well, it is overcast and cold (a little snow) in Holland.... not a good combination by any measure and especially not after getting back from sunny Costa Rica.
Last time I left you off was in San Jose after a long day of travelling and with all of us except Lucas geared up to go rafting on the Paguera. Now, that turned out to be a day to remember!
It started off beautifully, sunny and bright promising to be a great day on the river. With rain having fallen the night before, the river was up and the rapids were looking exciting and fun. The section of the Paguera we were about to do was registered as grade 3 and 4, highest grade rapids raftable I have been told are 5, so this was going to be good. Of course, it was also the most expensive day activity we had done in Costa Rica so it had better be worth the money!
The four of us and our guide, we'll just call him Pepe for good measure, set off down the river enjoying the beautiful nature and pristine environment we were rafting through. As already spoilt nature observers of Costa Rica we were still impressed by the beautiful countryside we were passing through and spirits were high.
About 10 kms (out of 30) down the river, we were approaching the most dangerous rapid of the river, a grade four. Of course we didn't know this at the time but we were soon to find out. What happened in the next minutes was so quick that recollection is tricky. Approaching the rapid, Pepe told us to paddle hard, we were to pass a big rock in the middle of the rapid on the right at all costs.... well, we paddled a little too hard (Pepe blamed us) and took the rock over the left hand side....first problem. The force of the river pushed us on the rock and there we were stuck in the middle of the rapid. No problem, a little highsiding on the left was sure to help this problem... and it did, but a little quicker than our guide had figured on. Within 2 seconds, we were dislodged and smacked on the next rock down the rapid, this time the full force of the rapid was pushing against this rock and there we went. With we I mean David, Jeroen and myself. Niels and Pepe managed to hang on in the back of the raft, the 1/6th of it that was still above water. With the rest of the raft pushed under water it was no surprise we were lifted out either.
David had a fairly easy ride down the rapid and managed to scramble on to a rock in safety. My ride was a little bumpier, getting recycled in some deep holes a few times on the way down. For those of you who don't know, recycling is where you get pushed under water in holes untill the force of the water against the bottom pushes you back up again. If you are lucky, you get pushed out, if not.... you get recycled... again and again and again. Problem is you don't have time to breath in the short moments you are above water and if you don't know what is going on, it can be a frightening experience. This is exactly the experience Jeroen had! He hit the biggest hole in the rapid and while trying to fight it (apparently this is not smart but we only found this out afterwards) got recycled for a good half a minute; not that long but enough to make him think he was going to die in the whirling waters of the Paguera. Of course I wouldn't be writing like this if that had really happened and sure enough, he got pushed out and further down the river I managed to get a paddle to him and pull him out. Missing one shoe and his paddle, the only words he could manage were "thank you Sam, thank you Sam". Looking back it was hilarious though at the time we were not laughing... I think it is Jeroen's last time in a raft, so next to diving I guess the only watersport he will still tackle is swimming.... You will understand that back at the hotel that evening Luc was happy to hear that he didn't go along and further haphazard his neck!
To be continued... see part 2