Rollin’ Down The River

This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, December 11, 2007 was originally posted on December 15, 2007.

DAY 22 (Part 2):  I don’t know what it is about rafting, but riding in an inflatable (and therefore inherently puncturable) rubber raft, while floating atop fast moving water between big hard boulders is just plain fun.  I have been on a few rafting trips in my day, from the Zambezi in Africa to the wild waters of the Gauley in West Virginia.  To that list, I’d add the Honduran Rio Cangrejal, whose Class I-IV white waters have thrilled touring rafting enthusiasts since the early 90s.

Two rafts when out that afternoon, one carrying American Mike and originally-from-Montreal Leslie, led by Englishman Jeff; and one with the Calgarians Mark and Jennifer, and Filipino-American me, led by Sam, a New Zealander who was a fan of his fellow countrymen in HBO’s Flight Of The ConchordesGeared up at the lodge, we walked down the path to the put-in on the river for a review of rafting commands that the guides would yell at us from behind the raft, like coxons on a crew team.  There were simple:  “forward” meant “paddle forward;” “back paddle” meant “paddle backwards;” “lean left” meant “lean left,” and “get down” meant “get down” (but not in a James Brown kind of way, although that would be funny). 

We did our safety checks, like what to do in the event of falling out and such, and Sam’s simple conclusion was, “Staying in the raft is good.”  Soon we were off on the river, starting straight away with three 1-2 meter drops, one after each other.  Each drenched us with cool river water succumbing to the power of gravity.  The introductory three drops only led to more and more — as Sam had told me previously, the river may look tame, but it’s actually a lot of fun.  My BFNM (Best Friend No More) Jenny told me that unlike other rivers, where you do a rapid then wait twenty minutes for the next, the Rio Cangrejal was consistent, with most of its rapids in a row. 

Our team of two rafts leap frogged back and forth, taking turns leading the other into each rapid, some wetter than others.  Some rapids set themselves up to be surfed, usually by kayakers, but by us as well as we paddled upstream into the rapid to let it run underneath us.  “These little rafts are great,” Sam raved.  “They’re like kayaks.” 

We caught up with the Dutch Boys, who were at the biggest drop of the lower river, at about six feet.  Our two rafts, along with Jon and Raoul’s kayaks, took turns on it; our rafts sailed through (picture above) but Jon’s kayak wasn’t so balanced; it took him several tries to roll back upright — all while Raoul was on the bank taking pictures of him.

Down river, we arrived at a jump rock, a boulder about the size of a house, that we could jump off of — after Sam did a depth check.  “Try and jump with your bum facing down, in case it hits bottom.”  Bum facing down, it took most of the impact with the surface of the water anyway.  The only one that feared the height was Leslie, who jumped at a much lower part of the rock — only to come up smiling, wishing she’d jumped higher.

The last big of excitement along our rafting trip was at a riverbend in the calmer part of the river where Sam had seen a boa constrictor on the morning trip; he’d proudly taken a photo of it.  “Are we going to see any snakes?” Jennifer asked.

“Let’s see if it’s still there,” Sam said in his Kiwi accent.  In lieu of a boa was a three-foot green snake, looking as if it could slither into our raft if we landed at the rock. 

“What is that, a fer-de-lance?” I wondered.

“Back paddle!  Back paddle!” commanded Sam.  “Those things swim on the water.  They’re fast!”

“Why?  Don’t you want to see the snake?” Jennifer asked.

“Back paddle!  I fuckin’ hate snakes!” Sam admitted in a frenzy, having had a coral snake in his cabin a couple of days prior.  Fellow ophidiophobe Sam and I cringed from afar, unaware of Jeff’s post-commentary.  “It’s just a green tree snake.”

THE REST OF THE RAPIDS were calm, enough for me to space out and look at the beautiful scenery around me.  I marveled at the fact that the river was almost 30 ft. higher, just a month previous due to a heavy rainstorm.  I cogitated on my post-eviction tour plans — or the lack thereof — with many options running through my head, from relocation to blog retirement.  I must have been in a daze.

“You two realize you’re just padding Erik along,” Sam told the two Calgarians.  I shook out of my trance and paddled.  “You don’t have to paddle, just say sorry.”

“Sorry,” I said, paddling.

“You don’t have to paddle to compensate, man.”  He was busting my balls.

For the last leg of the triver, Sam took over the raft so that the rest of us could swim the few remaining Class IIs.  It was a bit shallow though, and so I was advised again to “keep your bum up.”  It helped because a couple of times the water took me right over rocks, and my bum provided more cushion for the pushin’ over the river’s hard, but smooth cobblestones — more than my shins anyway. 

That night it rained, but we reminisced about our day at the bar, with Sam, not in bartender mode.

“This is the best rafting I’ve ever done,” Leslie said, comparing it to her experience in New Zealand. 

“How’s your ass feeling?” Jennifer asked me.  “Mine hurts.”

“Mine too.”

As much fun as rafting is, sometimes it’s a real pain in the ass.

Next entry: From Jungle To Cloudforest

Previous entry: Waiting With Horses While Looking For Snakes

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Comments for “Rollin' Down The River”

  • Tada, there’s the remainder of Honduras… I’m sorry, it didn’t really involve many actual Hondurans, but hey, I’m running out of time.

    Greetings from Monteverde, Costa Rica, where I’m writing this now.  I’m a bit under the weather—body aches and slight fever, on top of general physical and mental exhaustion—so I might be slacking on a couple of entries… I hope to be back to better soon…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  02:53 AM

  • I have also come to the conclusion (with the help of WebMD and other sites) that I have an abdominal muscle strain—I know for sure I pulled something or tore some muscle ligaments in my abs when we jerked the raft up while raft-surfing up the rapids.  (I’ve had the pain since rafting three days ago.)  Currently I have these frequent abdominal muscle spasms (a possible Grade III strain) that often translate in my brain as general abdominal pain and its a little incapacitating.  The only cure for now is ice and rest…

    p.s. i see that the captcha word i have to type below to submit this comment is “english69” hehehe

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  12/15  at  04:02 AM

  • E - Aimee is offering free PT with ultrasound when you get back….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  12:18 PM

  • Hope you feel better soon!  Those rapids must of been real tough. I hate snakes also..creepy pictures of snakes.  How much longer is your trip?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  06:47 PM

  • AIMEE:  Thanks!  I just iced it (well, a cold can of beer), and it seems to stop the spasms for the time being.  I feel it is one isolated ab muscle that got pulled… one of my six pack if it wasn’t buried underneath my gut.  anything else I should do?

    ROSE:  Til New Year’s.

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  12/15  at  08:31 PM

  • FYI:  Realistically speaking, this entry is actually the “End of Part One” of my travels on this “Central American Eviction Tour.”  Everything afterwards (the “Part Two” if you will) is sort of planned out for the next two weeks as I’ll be in “visiting friends and family mode” for the holidays; it’ll be less of the backpacking/flashpacking that is blog usually chronicles. 

    What I’m getting at is that from now until the end of this trip, I probably won’t have as much time to myself (and to this blog), so entries might be less frequent or abridged.  I seriously need a vacation from travel blogging; it’s completely sucking the joy of travel out of my mind grapes—kudos to whoever knows where that phrase is from—and I seriously need time to breathe.  And to be honest, quite frankly, I think three weeks has become my new threshold for blogging day to day, and it’s been three weeks so far—all of my previous trip blogs (minus the big one) have encompassed no more than three weeks of content.  (However, I’ll be taking notes for if and when I’ll write entries up after the fact.) 

    To keep my friends and family updated, currently I am in San Jose, Costa Rica visiting my friend and colleague Paulo, where I am going to work (yes, work) for the next two days for my job in NYC (we outsource here).  Afterwards I’m meeting up with Steph in Bogota, Colombia to meet up with my friend Monica’s family for the holidays, all before we split up but rendezvous again, this time with my friend Elaine in Nicaragua for New Year’s.  There’s much to do and I’d like to enjoy it rather than be tied down to a computer for 4-5 hours a day.

    I’ll be in touch soon… Happy Holidays everyone!

    MARKYT/AIMEE: my ab strain is feeling a little better; I’m going to keep rubbed with mineral ice tonight.

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  12/16  at  04:03 AM

  • Half flashpacking half friends/family makes for a great trip. It’s like eating at a Buffet.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  01:19 PM

  • Get Down!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  07:48 PM

  • NEW PHOTOS UP from the last four days… Check them out whilst I’m not writing anything…

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  12/16  at  08:43 PM

  • You used “whilst” again - yay! I’ve started saying odd British-isms too… strange.
    Feel better and have fun… I know how hard it can be to do what you’re doing, and you’ve always done it so well… so have fun on your trip!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  08:49 PM

  • Erik - Thanks for blogging the past few weeks. It’s been great reading for those of us stuck in cubes. Enjoy the holidays.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/17  at  12:14 PM

  • E - The new pics are awesome. Thanks

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/17  at  12:40 PM

  • yes, we always love the blog in whatever capacity you are able to do! 

    I love it when the white water people let you swim small rapids, it’s so fun!!

    Posted by sara  on  12/17  at  02:27 PM

  • Those rocks are purty… And those kayakers are crazy. It all sounds like good fun. Except for the ab strain…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  06:58 PM

  • Your work is fantastic looking, the site is a snap to navigate… Consider me a fan!

    Posted by thai silk  on  12/13  at  07:04 AM

  • Thanks for the hint, I was looking for sth. like that for months grin

    Posted by Larry Andrews  on  01/11  at  08:06 PM

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This blog post is one of thirty-nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: The Central American Eviction Tour* (*with jaunt to Colombia)," which chronicled a six-week journey through Central America, with a jaunt to Bogota, Colombia.

Next entry:
From Jungle To Cloudforest

Previous entry:
Waiting With Horses While Looking For Snakes


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

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