November 28, 2007
The adventure activity of the day today was rafting. I met up with a couple of Aussies named Adam and Nick that I met yesterday on the waterfall, and we headed out in a van to the Suarez River near San Gil. On the way, we had to read the standard disclaimer document and sign our lives away. They even made us give them a thumb print, probably to help identify the bodies. The strange thing is that yesterday I didn't have to give my guide anymore than my name to rappel down the waterfall.
We started out with some basic instructions on rafting. It had been a couple years since I had gone (even though it was on this trip), so I listened closely. The guide for this trip didn't speak English, so all of the instructions would be in Spanish. My Spanish has gotten pretty good on this trip, but my brain just doesn't work as fast when I'm heading over a rapid and a guy is shouting commands to me like a drill sergeant in a foreign language. It would be a good test of how far I could be pushed without losing my temper.
Our first rapid was a class III+ called "Zapato" (Shoe) because people tended to lose their shoes in the water as they went over it. It was a big rapid to start with, but the raft went over it smoothly. We hit a few rapids of similar size without incident, but then when we hit a relatively easy class III, my poor luxury sandal ripped apart, I lost my footing, and fell over the edge. Suddenly I heard someone shout "Rescue!" and was being pulled back into the raft. My sandal somehow stayed on my foot, but the back strap was torn apart. From that point on, I would have to go barefoot.
Later we came into a rapid a bit out of balance and the right side of the raft went into the air. Nick (one of the Australians) lost his grip and fell into me, knocking us both into the river. The rescue wasn't so easy this time, however, because we were still in the middle of the rapid. I was under the water for a few seconds, then when I came up, I tried reaching my paddle to the raft. Suddenly we hit another huge wave and I was back underwater for several more seconds. Luckily when I came up, the raft was still right there and I got dragged back aboard without bashing myself on any rocks.
We were really in the swing of things when we hit a class IV perfectly and headed toward the confluence of two rivers in the calm water that followed. Just then, our guide told us to paddle to the shore and we were done for the day. It was a nice finish, but the trip was way too short for me. I think from now on I'm going to have to learn how to kayak if I want to have any real fun.
The photo album for this entry is here.