Costa Rica Highlights: White Water Rafting

When J asked me what I wanted to do on our vacation I told him that all I wanted to do was go on a canopy tour then sit in the sun and read my books all day.  If I did those two things then I would be totally happy.  And I would have been totally happy doing only those two things because this was a relaxation trip, after all.  But then J and I saw an advertisement for white water rafting…

Another Bucket List item for me!  We were both so excited to give it a try in such a cool location so we drove into town and found the most reputable looking tour outfit we could find (and looks were not deceiving on this one).  The nice folks at Wave Expeditions signed us up and told us to be ready by 9:30 AM the following morning.

We had an appointment at our resort’s spa for a yoga session the following morning from 8-9 AM so we thought the timing was perfect!  That was until the monsoon hit the morning of our trip and did not let up.  We sloshed our way over to the spa breaking my flip flop strap in the process, waited around for everyone in the class to show up and then waited some more for the instructor to show up.

J asked me how we would recognize the yoga instructor.  I told him that it’s usually pretty easy to spot one.  They have a certain calm aura about them.  When the doppelganger from Couples Retreat walked in I knew immediately that we were in for a treat 🙂

It was all I could do to keep it together.  J and I started quoting the movie which didn’t help set a relaxing atmosphere.  Either did the walk through a torrential downpour to get to the open air yoga studio hut.

“Encouragement, yes!”

“Feels good, yes!”

I have to admit that listening to the rain was rather soothing after we had dried ourselves off and settled onto our mats.  The class was great, just what I needed after throwing my back out a week earlier, but J and I were a little nervous that we would miss our white water rafting ride.  We bolted back out into the rain after savasana.

Luckily, we made it with just enough time to change our clothes and pack a small bag for the trip.  Whew!  So much for relaxation but it was the only yoga class that was offered before we had to check out.  I am so glad we went if only to look back fondly on J in the back of the room getting felt up by the instructor…  Good times, my friends.  Good times.

Holy crap!  That was a tangent and a half!

Ok, so.  The tour company picked us up then proceeded to go around picking up a bunch of other tourists.  We had a full bus of eager rafters.  After maybe an hour of driving around picking up people we set out for the Balsa River.  The Balsa River run was about an hour away but things didn’t look so good by the time we arrived.  The monsoon that we experienced earlier that morning had subsided but Balsa River had swelled past its banks.

Our guides made an executive decision to head out to a safer river, the Sarapiqui.  Most of us on the tour were inexperienced rafters so the guides wanted to ensure that they took us to class II & III rapids like we had been promised.  The Balsa would have been more like class III & IV.  Thank goodness!  I didn’t feel like dying that day.

The only problem was that the Sarapiqui River run was another two hours away!  Ugh!  But we hung in there for a nice ride through the countryside.  We saw all sorts of farms and villages.  It was a nice but very long drive.

At one point we stopped for a bathroom break at a little roadside fruit stand where I saw these funky fruits.  Anyone know what these are?  I’m intrigued.

The only sloth we saw on our trip was at this fruit stand as well.  It was pretty much a ball of fur that did not move but at least I can say that I’ve seen one in the wild now.

After much driving we finally made it to the river.  J helped launch our raft while the rest of us picked out our safety gear.

The guides cut up a ton of pineapple and watermelon for us to snack on before we set out.  It was probably 2 PM by this point and we had not eaten anything since lunch.  Our group inhaled the fruit.  I guess they didn’t want to feed us anything substantial before our trip in case of seasickness or what have you.  I love how they cut up the fruit into individual portions using the rind as a serving dish.  I’ll have to try that some time!

It didn’t take us long to get used to the cold river water because we pretty much got soaked right away.  We had one other lady in our raft with us.  I’m almost certain that she was on something by the spacey way that she was acting.

Earth to, Weirdo!  Come in, Weirdo!

She didn’t really row much and made a point of flirting with our guide in Spanish the. entire. trip.  She asked everyone their sign and shrieked to a monkey, “You’re beautiful!!!!  You are free little monkey!!!!”  But she did take this funny picture of J and I.  My camera was tied to my life vest for safe keeping so we ended up with this extreme close up.  Whatever.  J and I could get past feeling like chaperons at the front of the raft.

This is our guide, by the way.  He saved my life.  Literally.  He saved my life.


The boat dropped out from under me during a rough rapid run, like you see above.  I was not intentionally standing up.  The boat moved.  My butt stayed.  When I came down, the boat was not there any longer.  I FELL OVERBOARD!

I have never felt more terror in my life.  I thought for sure that I would be carried down river by the current and left to die or, worse, raked over the boulders in the river until every bone in my body was broken.

By the time I realized what had happened and where I was, our guide had grabbed my life jacket and was pulling me into the raft.  Thank God, for him!  Thank, God!

I managed to stay in the boat for the rest of the trip.

Even when we got swamped like this, I stayed in the boat.

Toward the end of our run, J got to steer.  He did a great job.  I’m not sure if our guide thought that he was doing J a favor or if he wanted to get better acquainted with glassy-eyed chick…  The jury is still out on this one.  🙂  I don’t care what his reason was- HE SAVED MY LIFE!!!!!

I will never forget that day for as long as I live.  It was relaxing, exciting, frustrating, scary, and fun all wrapped into one.  Even though I fell overboard I’m looking forward to trying white water rafting again some time.

*The photos of us white water rafting were taken by the Wave Expeditions photographer.  He did a fantastic job capturing our adventure!