Saturday, October 20, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Two

Sunday October 21, 2012

After a very restful night and a delicious breakfast we were picked up at our hotel for our first adventure of the trip; White Water River Rafting! I was very excited for this outing. We were going to be going down Level 3 and Level 4 Rapids (the highest rating possible being a Level 5)! We picked up a few other tourists and headed down the road toward the river. Gerald, our guide was very friendly and full of all kinds of interesting stories and tidbits about the local culture that I hardly noticed an hour and half went by.

My first cup of Costa Rican coffee - It was very, very good!
Joel also liked the coffee and he is not a big coffee drinker!
Because we went in the off-season, Gerald offered to stop at a local iguana sanctuary to see the iguanas. A lot of people will find an iguana in the jungle and take it home to be a pet, without understanding how to care for them. So this place rescues the iguanas and gives them a safe environment to grow old in. It was pretty cool to see so many iguana's just hanging out in the trees, and they were everywhere! To see the iguanas, you had to stand on the side of a one lane bridge while trucks zipped by. It was a bit scary to feel the bridge shake under your feet and feel the air from the passing the vehicle, knowing it was only a foot or two away from you. But it was worth it to see so many iguanas.
This one is a boy - you can tell by the yellow flap under his chin.
Me and Iggy
We stayed for about 30 to 40 minutes before continuing on our way. We arrived at the Sarapiqui River, got into our safety gear, and headed down to the edge of the river. The river is surrounded by lush lowland tropical rainforest, which was just brimming with life. Our guide put Joel and Chris in the front of the boat (which they were so excited about), then another couple, then Jackie and me, then the guide got in the back. They had another guide in a kayak that went ahead of us to take pictures, which was great because I didn't want my camera near all the water nor did I want to worry about taking pictures as I went through the rapids.

We had a quick lesson, which mostly consisted of learning to paddle forward, backward, stop paddling, get down (which means sit on the floor of the raft while we go through the big rapids, so we don't fall out) and get up (which means get off the floor of the raft and sit on the sides, ready to paddle, coast is clear). In no time at all we were off. As you will be able to see from the pictures, I was ridiculously excited. It wasn't long before we were paddling our way through our first rapid. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. The water was everywhere, we were moving so fast, our guide was yelling out commands, were getting on and off the floor of the raft as quick as we could, and the excitement was palpable.

First rapid - what a thrill (you can see that Joel's foot came loose from the strap, and he nearly fell out)!
When we made it to the other side, I thought to myself, well that must have been a Level 2 or Level 3 because that wasn't so bad. I decided to ask Gerald so I could better gauge what to expect for the rapids to come. It was a Level 4! I just paddled my way through a Level 4 rapid! I am a rock star! I can do this! We had so much fun! We went down rapids sideways and backwards, we were quickly soaked through, but having a blast.


About half way down the river we stopped in a calm spot for some swimming. There was a trail that went up the bank where you could jump down into the river. There was no way I wasn't going to do it, but of course I got nervous as soon as it was my turn to jump. After taking a few deep breaths and standing there for a while listening to everyone cheering me on from down below, I finally jumped. It was so fun, I jumped a second time. Then we got back in the raft and continued down the river. Along the edge of the river were passed fields of coffee, sugar cane, bananas, and cocoa trees which we could see from the river.

Jackie's Jump
Joel's Jump
My Jump
Chris's Jump
After we finished our rafting trip, we stopped for a delicious meal, which was provided with our tour. We will quickly learn that the standard meal in Costa Rica is rice, beans, and a protein - we loved it! The food was so good and I was starving, so it didn't stay on my plate for long. After lunch a quick change of clothes, we got back our little bus and headed back to the hotel. It was a quiet drive back to the hotel, where we showered, napped and had dinner. It was an amazing, full first day of our adventures in Costa Rica.

Lunch included pasta salad, cucumber salad, black beans, chicken, and rice.
I forget what they were called, but it a hybrid of a lime and a tangerine - it was very good!
Tia Rosita, the restaurant where we ate lunch.
The bus ride back to our hotel. We forgot the sunscreen and got a bit red on the river.
Joel is loving Costa Rica!
Enjoying our dinner after a very busy day. We just love it here!

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