Honduras Day 4: Jungle River Rafting

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This morning started with pancakes and honey brought out with really strong coffee. All of my friends here are leaving today so it will be a lot quieter here this afternoon. I waited for others to arrive from La Ceiba for river rafting and spent some time reading on the deck and sipping coffee.

The group arrived around 10:30 am (an hour later than our intended departure time – thus is life in Honduras) and I was almost left behind in the rush to begin. Again, with my nose in a book, I failed to realize they were leaving without me. I grabbed my gear and hopped in the back of the truck with some Slovenian backpackers.

At the river, we took pictures and looked for where the boat drop would be. Our guide informed us that we were to swim across river, hike a few kilometres up river, do some diving, cross the river again and then we would come back down. Sounds fun! Our guide jumped in the river and swam hard against the current to make it across. Yikes. This looks hard. The current wad pretty fast and after paddling as hard as I could, I found myself treading in the middle of the river. I made one final push toward the edge and grabbed on to my guide’s hand for him to pull me the rest of the way. Panting and proud, I sat on a rock and watched the others struggle across while wondering what I just got myself into.

We hiked up river and jumped into a river pool then swam upstream against big boulders and came to a white water rapid area. The guide jumped right in the middle of the rapid, swam hard to the other side and perched himself on a piece of drift wood. Girls kind of nervous, the guys went first. My turn. I jumped in, swam to the boulder and tried to heave myself up on it. My hands kept slipping and my legs were shaking. I was really nervous for the next part. Heart pounding, I threw myself up on the rock, backed up to the wall and held onto a crag to keep from being pulled by the current.

I inched my way out to the edge and couldn’t bring myself to jump. The guide counted to three (for the third time) and I took a deep breath and jumped as far up river and out as I could. The rapids pulled me quickly down but I paddled hard and kicked harder and made it to the eddy on the other side. We were all clapping and hollering and laughing. It was awesome to have made it!

We hiked along some rocks for a while up river and came to another section with white rapids. After showing us how to hold ourselves, he jumped in the water and started floating through the rapids down river. He disappeared under water then around a curve. One of the Slovenians was next and he didn’t jump in well at all. He was too close to the edge and didn’t swim hard enough out. He hit a rock, bumped around it then hit his head on a ledge. He disappeared under water, emerged again and threw us a thumbs up right before going around the bend.

Hm. My turn. I jumped into the middle of the river, swam hard to avoid a boulder and laid back with feet up to enjoy the ride. The rapids were strong and I dipped in and out of the water and moved my arms to try and avoid rocks. I dropped down a couple foot drop and hooplahed the whole way down. What a ride! The surrounding area was beautiful with palm trees, flowers and the big Pico Bonito waterfall. I was laying in the middle of the river soaking it all in. Amazing.  I floated on and saw the boats, swam over and got hauled into one.

We had a blast working together as a team to make it down river and worked hard to make the level 3 and 4 rapids incredibly fun. We had a competition down one of the drops with the other boat. Our guide would yell, “Forward, forward, forward!” And then, “Stop! Get on the ground!” And we would all raise our paddles, and dive down on the floor of the boat to crash down a strong rapid drop. We won! Haha!

The river is fairly low right now so we got stuck on some rocks, had to get out and hike down river a little while pushing the boat. Tricky in fast water!

We hit a slow spot in the river and our guide taught us how to flip our boat on purpose. Everyone moved to the left altogether then we all fell out. We had to help each other back into the boat which was hilarious. D was helping Luka back into the boat and Luka’s face landed right in the other’s junk. Luka had to wiggle up D’s chest to get in and we were all laughing hysterically. D said to Luka, “I saw that look in your eyes and I was nervous you wanted me too badly.” We almost flipped over again because we were laughing so hard and forgot to paddle. Our guide had a good laugh at all of us too.

Our guide is pretty awesome. He is from the Mosquito region of Honduras and has been rafting all over Honduras for 15 years. He knows the rivers well and had a lot of stories to tell about the area and his experiences. He told us that the river is called El Rio Carganja because there used to be lots of crabs but due to over harvesting, almost all are gone now.

We stopped at the lodge and had some fresh fruit and water. I jumped off a 7 meter cliff into the river. Scary and exhilarating! I was the only one out of our group to do it!

We swam back to the boats and hopped back in for another short half hour ride.

Back at the lodge sunburned and physically spent, I ate a huge dinner and spent a quiet evening with the Slovenians sharing travel stories and listening to the river.

I loved the opportunity to connect with others in the outdoors. I love how physical activities and personal challenges really bonded us together. We planned a hike for the morning and said an early good night.

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