Floating Down the River

We woke up this morning, prepared to go rafting before driving back to Bogota in the afternoon, and to our dismay, it was raining. We drove to Rio Claro anyway to see if the rafting trip was still happening. We are in the rainforest after all. I don’t suppose life stop when it rains in the rainforest.

Siena was undecided about whether she wanted to go again but she made up her mind as soon as she saw the river. The water level was super high and the current was really strong, the strongest we had seen it yet. Even I was a little nervous. But the rafting trip was on, three boats in all, and Jade and I decided to go. The rafting people actually said that Siena could not go today even if she wanted to because it was too dangerous for her. They also told us that while yesterday’s trip took two hours to make it downriver, today we would get there in an hour. The current was certainly adding to the adventure!

There were nine of us in the raft (eight adults paddling plus Jade in the middle just hanging out) and we were all nervous. The other “rafters”, most of whom knew each other, were dealing with their nervousness by cracking jokes (“Where is the restaurant on this thing? I could use a sandwich.”, “Does anybody know of a good song to sing? It might be our last.”). I was dealing with my nervousness by asking our guide what to do in case we fall out and trying to ascertain the likelihood of falling out. The gringo mind works in predictable ways.

All the worry was for naught. It was a fast moving but fairly tame ride down the river. In fact, I would not have minded if it was a little wilder actually. We did get soaked but we did not even come close to feeling like we are going to fall out of the raft or overturn. The river was spectacularly beautiful, with the rainforest and mountains along its banks, even in the rain.

What was interesting for me was observing what I assume are cultural differences. Our fellow “rafters” joked and laughed throughout the trip. They were having a ball! They also weren’t very good at listening to instructions or paddling, even when the guide yelled “Paddle! Paddle as strong as you can! Come on, paddle!” Our guide resorted to counting “one, two, one, two” to get everybody paddling in some kind of synchronized fashion. I hate to say this but the thought that went through my mind is that if I ever do a class 4 rapids trip or put myself in a somewhat perilous situation, I want to be with a group of Germans or other super organized Northern Europeans or maybe Americans or Australians. It may sound prejudiced, but if my life was at stake, this group would make me nervous.

The day ended with a five hour drive back to Bogota. It rained which made the mountain roads slippery and dangerous. The five hour drive took six hours. Everybody was tired and cranky.

I was thinking during the drive that driving back home is never as much fun as driving into the unknown, at least for me. It just feels long and tiring. However, it was surprisingly really nice to get back to our house in Chia, even if we did arrive to a completely dark house due to a neighborhood-wide power outage. “At least we know we are still living in a small town in a developing country”, I said jokingly to Esteban. We lit candles and unpacked by candlelight. The lights went back on, but it didn’t matter, it felt good to be home.

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