Friday, April 29, 2011

Apocalypse Now Tico Style!

“Never get out of the boat. Unless you were going all the way. Kurtz got off the boat.”

-Captain Benjamin L. Willard
Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”

So there we were staring at the glossy brochure deciding between a class 2 & 3 white water rafting trip or a class 3 & 4. I looked up at my nephew, Richard, and we knew immediately were going to do the class 3 & 4. We didn’t travel all the way to Costa Rica to float down river like riding the “Pirates of the Caribbean” in Disneyland. We came for an adventure!

So the next day our adventure began on the El Rio Toro (the Bull River) with Richard and I sitting in the front of the raft paddling like mad while his wife, Cindy, was clinging on for dear life in the back. It didn’t take very long before I was catapulted into the water by some wild rapids. A baptism by near drowning.

Costa Rica near death experience #1.

After I swallowed nearly half a gallon (oops I mean 1.9 liters...metric system) of water, I was pulled back in the raft by Alex, our awesome Costa Rican rafting guide.

The heart pumping excitement was just beginning.

Halfway through the trip we “refueled” at a nearby river bank where the guides prepared some delicious tropical fruit for us to eat. With newfound confidence and energy we set out to conquer the rest of the river.

After a going through some treacherous rapids, we paddled down a calm section of the river. Richard then came up with a not so brilliant idea, he asked Alex if we could get out of the raft and float down river in our personal floatation devices (a.k.a. life jackets). Alex not only gave his whole hearted endorsement, but advised us to wait a little because further down river we could catch a class 2 rapid. As we quickly approached the rapids Alex revised his statement to a class 2+ rapid.

“Okay guys you can get out here,” Alex instructed.

Richard and I left the safety of the raft for the turbulent waters of the Toro River. I knew once I jumped in the rapids and let go of the raft I had made a huge mistake.

We were instructed at the rafting orientation that in the event we would find ourselves in the water to lie on our back with our feet straight out and not to try to swim and fight the river. Just “go with the flow” was the motto. All that went out the window once I hit the water.

For the sake of brevity I was thrashed, thrown, battered, beat-up, pulverized, demolished, pummeled, pounded, clobbered, jerked, trounced, pounded, bruised, hammered, assaulted, walloped, tossed around and worked over!

After bruising my tailbone, nearly twisting my ankle and ingesting many liters of the Toro River I could truly say I had “taste” of the real Costa Rica!

After Alex pulled me back into safety I regurgitated a good portion of the Toro River into the raft (sorry no photos).

Costa Rica near death experience #2.

After we finally got off the river we dried off, drank a beer, and had a pleasant Tico lunch at a nearby restaurant.

At the end of meal I approached Alex and thanked him for an awesome time.

As I handed him a tip I sarcastically said, “I paid you guys good money so I could kill myself!”

“You can tell all your friends when you get home that you survived a class 3 rapid in your PFD [personal floatation device]!” Alex replied.

“You said it was a class 2 plus?!”

Alex just smiled and laughed out, “Pura Vida!”

Costa Rica travel tip #1 - Never get out of a perfectly good raft.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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