Rolling down the river

The next day I made my way to Turriabla.

Because Costa Rica is so expensive, I have been keen to hit the highlights & get through it fairly quickly. This has meant not spending as much time in one place and travelling longer distances between destinations.

It was a big day of travel: 6 hours on 3 buses to go 240km. And I had another incident with a yet another freakin taxi driver in San Jose.*Apparently* buses to Cartago weren’t running due to an industrial strike or some such. My thoughtful driver even placed a call to the officina to confirm. Then offered to take me as far as Cartago for the very low price of $30. The bus would cost me about $3. I knew I could get a bed for around $12 in San Jos, and then try again the next day. But I was loathe to spend any time in the city.

My gut spoke up and in my shithouse Spanglish, I asked him to take me to the bus station anyway. $12 later (more than double of what it should have cost) & I was at the bus station. Guess what? There was a bus in 15mins. The fucker.

I arrived in Turriabla as the sun was setting. It was a large rural town, with a nice feel to it. I checked into a cheap & clean hotel (the kind where you get given a towel!) down by the railway tracks. I later enjoyed a cheap & super tasty casada at a typical Tico restaurant. Gotta say: The local fare in Costa Rica shits all over the stuff Nicas serve up.  Loads more flavour. Loads more vegies.

The next day I was going white water rafting for the first time ever, so I woke up bouncing off the walls like a pogo stick on amphetamines. It was early – so I wandered about the township looking for a panaderia for some more of the spicy beef & potato empanadas I was acquiring a taste for.

The Rio Pacuare is one of the top 5 white rafting sites in the world. It starts in the Cordillera de Talamanca and flows 108km to the Caribbean. The rapids range from beginner (Class I) to expert (Class V) depending on whether it’s wet or dry season. The river is surrounded by these massive, dramatic gorges and sheathed in dense jungle that’s a million shades of green, just teeming with wildlife (jaguars, monkeys & ocelots, although we didn’t see any). And we were about to spend the next few hours rafting down some 25km of it.

After a quick briefing and a bit of Team Paddling 101, we set off. It took us a while to find our rhythm as a team but we got there in the end. Before you know it, we were gently cascading down our first lil rapid.

The raft was certainly very sturdy but also supple enough that you could feel the shape of the river & her rocks underneath. Under the guidance of the very capable Luis (who i called Guns), we progressed from Class I up to Class IV in a pretty short space of time and ended up manoeuvring through some pretty tight ‘passages’ and some pretty freakin turbulent waters. We got up some real speed in these conditions and I could not stop squealing the whole time. A few of us spilled out overboard around one particularly hectic bend. I got a face ache from smiling so much. I went to bed a very tired and happy girl that night.

The next day I woke up & decided to move on and make my way back to the Caribbean in the hope of getting some more diving in.


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