“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal – Costa Rica Adventure 10

Whitewater Adventure

Lisa isn’t feeling well (darn it!), so the party consists of Mike, Kaley, Torrey and me. We’re up and at breakfast at 7:30 to be ready for our pickup at 8:10 and the Iguana Tours bus is right on time. We stop at the Iguana Tours office to transfer to a mini bus to take us to the Savegre (Savage) River and the adventure begins!

The ride to the Savegre takes about 90 minutes, much of it very bumpy (but not as bad as that road to Cana Blanca). This gives us a chance to see some of the non-touristy parts of the area, as we pass homes, industrial areas, processing plants, road construction, and more ordinary life.

We stop in Silencio to place our order for lunch, which we’ll get on our way back from the rafting trip. They are developing a small resort at the restaurant that sits right on the side of a mountain and has a great view! Mike and I ordered the tipical pork lunch and the girls order chicken. We get some water and soft drinks and then back on the bus to continue our ride to the river.

Along the way, Eduardo, our guide describes what is going past in decent English with a very heavy Spanish accent. He periodically whistles to the driver (in a cab separate from the rest of the bus) and the driver stops while Eduardo jumps out to get some “nature” for us.

We smell cilantro, the small round berries of which are coriander; ylang ylang leaves, which they use to make Chanel Number 5 perfume; lemongrass; and cinnamon—ok, so I never knew cinnamon was the bark of a tree, did you? All of these grow abundantly in Costa Rica! Eduardo even made us a grasshopper out of a leaf! We tasted lychee, a fruit with flavor like a grape, encased in a skin with soft spikes that you peel. After eating the grapelike portion, you are left with a large hard seed.

We make it to Rio Savegre and get into our life vests, followed by our very impressive safety presentation. Then it’s onto the rafts for our white water rafting experience! Amazing!

The rapids were Class II and III, which was perfect for our group. An exhilarating run through a rapid is followed by a “high five” with our paddles and then we’re treated to calmer waters, perfect for a swim. Getting out of the raft is perfectly easy. Floating feet first down the river, is pretty, peaceful and calm, although occasionally my rear end bounces on the rocks. But no harm done!

Getting back into the raft, however, is a maneuver I perform looking like Shamu at Sea World, sliding up onto the platform to greet the crowd. Not a pretty sight for sure! The guide grabs the “lapels” of my life vest and hauls me into the raft and I slide along the inflated “seat” on the floor of the raft. Just not graceful at all.

About halfway through the trip, we stop for an energy-boosting snack of sweet, tasty pineapple (so fresh and juicy) and water or fruit juice. We eat at a gorgeous waterfall, sitting on surprisingly comfortable boulders. Our river guides were great fun, telling us interesting facts about what we were seeing, splashing us with their paddles, trying to help us catch the small fish in a cup when we stop. And, all the while, we felt very safe knowing we had an expert guide in the raft with us and another one in a kayak close by in case anyone got in trouble.

The adventure comes to an end all too soon and we clamber aboard the bus, returning to Silencio for lunch, which was excellent. Pork or chicken, black beans, rice, a corn and green vegetable mixture and slaw, as well as blackberry juice to drink, which was a new treat for me. I wish I could find blackberry juice in Florida – it’s delicious!

Juices in Costa Rica are common and fantastic—papaya, raspberry, blackberry, pineapple (nothing like what we get in grocery stores at home), guava, and orange. My favorites are blackberry and raspberry. My least favorite are guava and papaya.

We get back to the hotel around 4:00 p.m. after a ride that included about a 20 minute wait at a one lane bridge under construction. That night, our whole group goes to El Avion for dinner watching the sun set over the Pacific from their cliff-side dining room. It was exquisite.

Then Mike, Kaley, Torrey and I (Lisa was still recovering) went over to the Tutu Bar in our hotel for a drink and some music.