The day dawned greyly, matching my pessimistic mood exactly. I had been worried about white water rafting since the group had signed up for it over a year ago and the past few days had left me increasingly nervous. None of us knew what to expect and tensions ran pretty high with the jokes of some battling with the silent anticipation of others.
After a short journey in a cramped mini-bus we arrived by a muddy riverbank and were ushered out of the bus. This abrupt start left us a little bemused and was not helped by the language barrier of stilted English and rapid Spanish.
Slowly we gathered together and were given buoyancy aids and helmets and a short, stilted safety briefing, which was reiterated by Tim. I didn’t feel safe; my buoyancy aid didn’t completely do up and I wasn’t sure the group had followed the briefing properly but we were ushered into the waiting rafts with little ceremony and our adventure began.
Somehow I found myself at the front of the boat, NOT my plan as I could see everything. Unfortunately, so could Bethany. Some early cursing led to an alarmed cry of ‘Oh my God, there’s a hole in the boat’ when she noticed one of the drainage holes in the edge of the raft. Gales of laughter and some reassurances helped to calm her down before a few practice paddles and spins sent us flying towards our first rapid. It looked fast and bumpy but nothing like the rapids in ‘The River Wild’, which had been my greatest fear. We all paddled as instructed and hit the white water square on. Screams at the cold turned into screams of fear as Katie disappeared over the side of the boat and flashed past us, making us forget to paddle and turn sideways into the rapid. After a bumpy few seconds Tim and the guide rescued Katie and we were all soaked yet relieved to have survived our first white water rapid.
From then on it became a competition to see who could fall in. In our boat Gianni was the winner hitting the water twice from the raft and once from the rescue boat that we accidently capsized! But my favourite was Liam.
We were approaching a minor rapid that I pointed out to the casually chatting group. Liam had his back to it and queried my call but turned and paddled as instructed. He then turned round to me and grinned, as if to say ‘see, it was nothing to worry about’ at exactly the same moment as he slid, grinning and almost frozen in time, backwards into the water!
The other boat survived similar experiences, the highlight being Rachel’s disappearance under the boat only to resurface without her jelly shoes, a minor disaster compared to what could have happened.
It all came to an end too soon and everyone agreed that they’d do it again given half the chance.
Once a team photo had been taken and sweet bananas had been consumed we returned to the bus, now bathed in sunshine and smiles and returned to our hostel, ready for our next adventure.