“Everything is Bigger in Costa Rica” – Costa Rica day 14

10 Mar

When morning broke, we ate breakfast and had some quiet time. I laid in my hammock in the shade and watched the river flow past. We soon prepared the duckies that had been deflated the night before and we began our trip downriver. After a few rapids, we pulled our duckies off to the side of the river and climbed out.  It was time for us to learn how to scout rapids. The rapid we scouted was a class IV. Our guides made sure everyone knew they could portage around it if they did not feel comfortable with running the rapids. Before we learned to scout, I picked the line I hoped to run through the rapids. I was very happy when I learned that it was the best line to take through the rapids as well. I was the first of the students to run the rapids and I did it well. In excitement, I portaged my boat back to the top of the rapids twice so I could run the rapids three times. The first and last of my runs went quite well. The second run, however, got off to a rough start. My ducky hit a large rock under the surface of the water and flipped just before the main tongue. I quickly righted my ducky and jumped back in just as I hit the speed boost caused by the tongue. I paddled hard and repositioned by boat just in time to make it through the rapids well, but I was unhappy with having flipped. I knew I could do better.

Another interesting rapid came a little later in the afternoon. It was a long class III with many rocks. It turned into quite an adventure. Greg, one of the guys in my group, flipped at the very beginning of the rapids. Another guy in our group, Eric, rescued Greg, but by the time Greg was in the boat, it had wrapped on a rock and was flipping over. I saw two swimmers in the water and went for a rescue. I got Greg in my boat, but Eric was out of reach. In attempt to get both of them in my boat, I had spun sideways. A rock caught my boat and over we went. I quickly righted the raft and we climbed back in. By the time I was back in my seat with my paddle ready, another rock was closing in fast. With some strong strokes and a good reading of the river, I managed to avoid it. Greg enjoyed his free ride as he was without a paddle. After crossing the river and eddying-out, I dropped Greg off on shore. One of the guides had pulled his raft onto the banks just a little ways back upstream after it flipped. I turned around and headed to the pool below the rapids. Once everyone reached the pool, we slowly drifted downstream, enjoying the slower pace and time to play around in the water. When Greg made it down to where the rest of us were, he told a hilarious rendition of the events he had just been part of.  We all shared a laugh, especially at the fact that he was in three different boats in one rapid. Everyone enjoyed the story while we jumped off our duckies and swam in the pool before the next rapid. The end of the day came and we pulled our boats off the river and secured them to a trailer behind the electric-green jeep that our guide’s brother-in-law had come in to pick us up. We piled the entire group, with all the gear and guides onto the jeep and trailer to drive to a home stay for the night. We drove slowly down dirt roads and eventually made it to the house. The family who greeted us was very friendly and had a wonderful house. They even had a television (which was always on and played one Costa Rican soap opera after another).  The porch had a hammock and several huge spiders with magnificent colors. I could not get my camera to focus well on the spider; I guess that’s what you get for trying to be a photographer without an adjustable-focus lens. We found massive bugs to throw in the gigantic web and watched as the spider hungrily devoured its dinner. Everything is bigger in Costa Rica. Those who were not helping to prepare dinner sat around and talked or washed their clothes. There was a long line for the shower, but when my turn was finally called, I was ecstatic. I took my bathing suit off for the first time in over two days and changed into clean[ish] clothes. I slept outside in my hammock and looked forward to learning to whitewater kayak in the morning


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5 responses to ““Everything is Bigger in Costa Rica” – Costa Rica day 14

  1. dirtydog67

    10 March 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Hi Nathan,

    Great blog buddy! I’m a WW kayaker and raft guide in the Pacific Northwest. I also guide kayak tours using the very boats in your vid. If you ever find yourself in the Washington State/British Columbia area give me a shout and I’ll take you down a river or two. Looks like you’re having fun. Keep it up!



    • Nathan Menkveld

      10 March 2012 at 12:48 PM

      I will definitely look you up if I get the chance to come out.
      If you check back in over the next couple days, I have a pretty cool video coming up of my first couple days in a real kayak (mostly a Jackson Villian), I think you’ll like it. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Todd

    10 March 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Great video…..brings your words to life.
    You ought to get sponsors!
    Hope more people get to see this…great writing!

  3. intrepidtraveller

    13 March 2012 at 5:38 AM

    No better feeling than standing under a waterfall! Love it!


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