NOTE: There are no photos in this post as we didn’t take our cameras with us rafting.
It was an early morning here at the Best Western Irazú hotel and casino. Yes, that’s right. Apparently this hotel has a casino, but I haven’t seen it. I’m assuming the kids haven’t either! I was up super early so I visited the hotel gym for a quick workout while everyone slept. Breakfast was at the Denny’s Restaurant here at the hotel at 6am. After a quick bathroom break, we boarded the bus and headed to the eastern part of Costa Rica to go white water rafting. The last time I rafted was in high school. I wasn’t much older than the kids we have with us. I remember the water being freezing cold. I also remember getting thrown from the boat and held under the boat for a brief period of time. It didn’t traumatize me, but it didn’t instill a love for river rafting deep in my soul either. I knew that today would be beautiful and exciting, but I didn’t expect to love it like I did.
The river itself has Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 rapids. In our boat, we had two adults and three boys, Michael, Adam and Josh. Out of all of us, only Mr. Potts and I had ever rafted before today. The boys were very confident and nonchalant as we ventured into the river. The name of the first set of rapids was called “el café de la mañana” which means “coffee of the morning.” That was an understatement! To take kids who have never rafted and throw them into a Class 4 section of the river was truly a jolt to their systems. It got all of our attention rather quickly. No one fell out of the raft, but we quickly realized that falling out at some point today was not only possible, but highly likely. Our guide, Erick, was firm, but gentle with us as he taught us the commands of “forward,” “lean in,” and “DOWN!”
We stopped halfway along the route to have some freshly cut pineapple and watermelon. While some of us ate fruit, others climbed to the top of a cliff and jumped into the water. Almost everyone in our group tried it, including most of the adults (except me…not my idea of a good time). Molly and Ian, our two rising 6th graders thought about jumping, but walked back down the cliff when they saw how high it was. I was really proud of how many kids did the jump! It was much higher than a high board!
The second half of the route was a little tamer than the first half…for some people. Our boat did something wacky and we got turned around in a Class 3 rapid. I got bumped out backwards and landed on the edge of a large rock and got stuck between the rock and the raft. Thankfully, Adam and the guide were able to pull me out pretty quickly. I guess you can say that I was literally caught between a rock and hard place. It was a hard fall, but I think I’m ok. I landed right below my right kidney area. I think I took most of the brunt of the blow to the back of my pelvis/hip bones. I’m sore, but grateful that I didn’t hit in the middle of my spine or worse, my head. I reserve the right to say it was “super cool” falling off backwards like I did until next week when it’s clear that I didn’t do any major damage to my back. I really wanted to be that really cool middle-aged, middle school teacher who rocked the class 4 rapids in Costa Rica during her summer vacation. Instead, I’m the lame old lady who did something stupid and got herself knocked out of the boat.
We had lunch at an outdoor shelter hosted by the rafting company. It was another traditional Costa Rican buffet with rice, beans, fish, chicken and beef. Most of us slept on the way back to the hotel. At around 3:30, we arrived back at the hotel. Some kids shopped, while others went straight to the pool. Dinner was at a buffet across the street from the hotel. It was ANOTHER traditional Cost Rican buffet. Even I’m getting tired of beans and rice and that’s saying something!
We have a 1pm flight tomorrow, so we are leaving for the airport at 9:30am. It will be a very long day! Bedtime is later tonight to give the kids one last chance to hang out and swim together! The bonds that they have formed are so precious! I love this age!