by Hannah Nevitt, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Abroad Participant
I am riding the bull. My hands clench the ropes as I attempt not to be thrown off in all directions, I can feel my heart pounding…and I can barely see a thing. I hear screams and yelling all around me. It all happens so fast… as if I am going in and out of consciousness…
I blink for a brief second and Splash! I am instantly drenched with piercing white water and fall backwards into the raft. I was sitting at the very front of the raft, my legs dangling over the edge as I came face to face with thick sheets of water…I don’t know if it lasted for a full five seconds, but experiencing a rapid on the class 4 Rio Toro…a river known as “The Bull,” is still an incredible rush!
My fellow adventure-seekers and I finished rafting the class 3, Rio Balsa last week and now are ready for more. We chose an adventure company called “Desafio,” which means “to Dare” or “to Challenge” in Spanish. They have an awesome team of guides and offer many different activities in La Fortuna, near the Volcano Arenal. Can you imagine going white water rafting or kayaking every day and getting paid for it! These guys must love their job! And I figured with this lively bunch of guys…we were going to have a great time!
Rio Toro is quick-moving and packed with rapids! It is almost a continuous series of curves, bends, and falls…I hardly have time to look around or catch my breath! If I stop to look at a perched iguana, a sun-bathing crocodile, or a stunning waterfall I am afraid I will fall backwards into the river or be whacked with hanging vines!
We are in the heart of the tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, in one of the most thrilling rivers…our raft being whipped around by undercurrents and peaking boulders. Although the sun is beaming down, it is also starting to rain! After all, this is the rainforest! The heavy drops begin to pour from the sky, pelting us from above. We are soaked to the bone, and bracing ourselves for the next set of rapids…hoping once again to make it through without any “swimmers!”
We are nearing another bend, from a distance I can hear heavy water falling; it looks as if the water is falling over an edge! As we get closer I grip my paddle a bit harder and re-position my feet within the raft. I lift my head and see that there is an immediate drop between two large rocks. I hope we can manage to fit in between them!
As we fly over the edge, the high of gravity takes over…next thing I know we are spinning into the riverbank wall…grabbing at any line to keep in the raft. There is a waterfall pumping showers of cold water from the ledge above…just enough to drench us once more before our guide navigates us out of the bend. The water clears from my eyes and I see that everyone is still in the raft! How, I am still not sure…but there are smiles all around…
What a thrilling experience! Here we are in the middle of the tropical rainforest, surrounded by vivid shades of green, hanging vines, and bamboo. The water is fast, although cool and refreshing compared to the humid, hot, sun above. I can see a faint white mist rising from the river and on the rocks along the shore. Birds, howling monkeys, and continuous shouts of “Pura Vida” are echoing throughout the trees… Yep, this is the life!
On my checklist for life: White water raft in Costa Rica……….Check.
Up next…… Learning how to white water kayak!