What a day! This is the first time visiting Costa Rica for the 5 Adventurers. It’s a popular destination because it’s natural ecology is appealing (volcanos, beaches, tropical forests, waterfalls) and also because it has built a reputation for outdoor adrenaline activities. Ziplines, horseback riding, rappelling, ATV riding tours, hiking, scuba and snorkeling etc etc etc are everywhere around the country. We’ve done some of those already and some the kids aren’t old enough for – but we found a good adrenaline rush for today. White water rafting!
We did our ride with Wave Expeditions on the first timer/family friendly Balsa River. This ride features over an hour of nearly continuous Class II and III rapids (on a scale of I-VI). Only Tiffany had been rafting before but that was 25+ years ago so no one was sure that even counted anymore.
We started the adventure mid morning with a 30 minute bus ride out to the put in spot with about 15 other rafters. On the way, we got a briefing from our trip leader Enzo on all the ways to keep yourself safe. How to get back in the boat if you fell out or how to get out from under the boat if it flipped on top of you. Yikes! The kids were unusually attentive and Brian and Tiffany were wondering if this was a good idea.
After donning helmets and life jackets and getting a crash course in paddle commands, we were pleased to find that our family was assigned to Enzo’s boat. He seemed seasoned, kind and ready to deliver a good adventure. We took the lead of the five boats and quickly found ourselves in one strong rapid and then immediately another. Everyone agreed it was scary, fun, difficult and wet!
The rest of the 90 minutes on the river flew by. We got the hang of paddling together, plunging in some ‘holes’ and avoiding some rocks. CreeperPuppy got so comfortable that he even waved and smiled for the camera mid-rapid.
When we weren’t paddling like crazy, we practiced a little Spanish with Enzo. We also saw egrets, a giant green iguana with orange spikes and a mom and baby cow just standing in the river. Suaram and CreeperKitty even got in for an intentional swim. Later, at Enzo’s urging, Suaram took a flying leap off the side of the boat – super brave!
After a total of 10 kilometers on the river, we had a shorter ride back to town and a tasty lunch at an organic farm in La Fortuna. We had another sugarcane pressing demonstration, but instead of getting an ox to turn the press like last time, they used child labor. Our very own CreeperPuppy and Suaram!
First CreeperPuppy prepped the stalk by whacking it many times with a mallet. Then he picked Suaram for the hard work. She was a champ and managed to turn the press for the whole stalk and create almost a full pitcher of juice. Everyone got to try some (not nearly as sweet as you’d expect, very refreshing). Then Brian and Tiffany got to try a distilled version…80 proof and not surprisingly called moonshine.
We all had a great time and basically fell into the pool to relax our sore muscles when we got back to the house. A great day and all 5 Adventurers will sleep soundly tonight.