Friday, February 06, 2009

Day 5, January 20, 2009: Rio Reventazon

The first thing we noticed when we pulled up to the put-in area was a thick trail of leaf-cutter ants.

Suiting up amidst cow pies and ants.

Ant-free avocado. (Does the three second rule apply in a cow pasture?)

Ready to rumble on the Reventazon.

Way back in '92 I'd wanted to raft the Pacuare, but the companies going on the day I could were booked up. But they had space on the Reventazon. We riverboarded the Pascua and Florida sections. Neither of them looked familiar. It was probably the Florida section, but rivers do change over time.

Patricia, an expatriate who worked at the Interamericano and would only say she was from "near a city" in the US, told Josh that the president of the Costa Rica whitewater association (there is such a thing?) was very concerned that we were planning on riverboarding the Reventazon. There had been a death there fairly recently, but the flood stage levels had created whole different set of circumstances. While the woman might be honestly concerned, the way she went about expressing it was less than ideal. She didn't want any guests showing up dead, or something to that effect. Making friends. Yah. It was not our final run-in with Patricia.


One of the rapids we came to early on we portaged around. There were two flows coming together and one pushed into a huge, undercut rock. It wasn't in the guidebook. But then, nothing was.

We definitely had big water and most of it was deep.


At the top of one rapid, just after jumping in after a scout, the outer side of my left leg, just at the top of the knee and up the thigh got well acquainted with a rock, the pain being such that I was just hoping I didn't break something. I still had to navigate a couple of drops and had to fight out of a hole afterwards. I made it to the eddy okay and Alex and Kevin ran a slot on a different line. I had to rest a few minutes for the pain to subside. I couldn't put weight on it but I could still kick, albeit with a little pain, but nothing that would stop me.

On another series of drops, I got caught in a hole just before a pretty sizable spillover. While circulating through the cycles, holding onto my craft with one hand, I was unaware of what was coming ahead, mostly because I couldn't see it. After the second dunking, while emerging, I felt as though I could get back up on my board but that process was made infinitely easier by Kevin's hand steadying my board while I slid back on it. I had to dart around rock, and I was not cognizant of the fact that Kevin had pushed me away from the middle of the spillover. It put him in a bad line, just in front of the rock, but he was able to surf the pillow in front of it to get around the other side of it. When we caught up to Alex and Josh, they were clapping. I was not really aware of the situation until hearing the perspectives of the others. Yet I was still not as shaken as I had been on the Spurt.

The hole that ate me, a second before being sucked down. Photo still from GoPro camera video.

A steadying hand. Photo still from GoPro camera video.

Yikes! Where did that come from? Photo still from GoPro camera video.

We scouted every single rapid, since we had no rafts or kayaks to escort us or show us the lines. (For that matter, we saw no other humans on the entire run, until near the end I saw one.) And there were a lot of rapids! Have you ever walked through tide pools, or a cobblestone beach at low tide? Carrying something? With flippers on? and one bad leg? Sometimes we were able to scout from a relatively easy shore walk, but other times it was crawling over boulders or wading through a shallow area with a current tugging at your feet. After awhile I just waited for the guys to give their report, saving my energy for the waves.

I must admit I was never happier to see a bridge and a cable. Was just a wee bit tired by the end of it.

When we got out of the water, we were greeted by several head of cattle. Some had horns. We had to walk about 50 ft through their field then duck a barbed wire fence on a steep slope. Something tells me this isn't where the rafts take out. We got up to the car, which was parked just at a large bridge. Two out of every three vehicles was an 18 wheeler, making it a rather noisy and drafty spot to get changed. Nowhere to really hide, either, and I don't typically mess with a bathing suit under a wet suit. Did the best I could with a towel and a car door. Probably still flashed someone.

One thing I try not to do while in the water is pee in my wetsuit. I've heard that it can be hard on the material, not to mention the odor. I'd been 'holding it' for hours. So we stopped at the grocery on the way back, and I also got ice for my knee. Here is how the bathroom/grocery store works: If you have a backpack or similar item, you ask one of the many employees hanging around the front of the store to use the restroom. They take you to a stack of lockers, put your carry in item in there, and hand you a tag with your locker number on that. I guess they don't want you stuffing your backpack with toilet paper or something. Not that there was any in the restroom anyway...

More day 5 >>


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