White water

In Argentina, Sud America on May 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm

So after an hours drive out to the mountains I’m stuffing myself into a wetsuit, making the mistake of leaving my underwear on, and I’m kitted out with a fleece, waterproof jacket, helmet and life jacket and then another twenty odd min drive along the course of a river. Looking down on it as it boils and churns, white water bubbling as the river rolls over submerged rocks.
It’s me and three other Spanish bods a guy Pablo and two girls and I’m at the front, being given the three commands i’ll need to follow adelmante? Paddle alto stop paddling, and one for paddle backwards which I’ve forgotten. And we set off with our guide in a kayak out from amusing himself with barrel rolls, and two guys in the back providing the instructions and experience.
With white water rafting there are six categories of danger going from 1-6 with 1 being tranquilo and 6 being make a mistake and you die and the river for our descent is between 2-3. But I’m not frightened, well okay a bit nervous as we plunge into a depression and the water surges over the front of the raft and soaks us with it’s cold weight. I paddle as directed one foot in the triangular slipper sewn into the bottom of the raft, the other wedged into the gaps in the inflatable ridges.
The canyon soars above us on either side, scarred and jagged, bare rock and low lying bushes. The sun is high warming us even as the water tries to chill us to the bone. I try not to blink every time the boat drops precipitously into a dip of the river and the water rears up over us, but I fail, my glasses holding the droplets of water on their lenses like a chiding reminder, and I’m craning round in my seat to look up at the walls of rock hemming us in.
I’m surprised by how little paddling I have to do, we only paddle for a couple of strokes then stop, and let the force of the river carry us along, I’d imagined it to be a marathon of constant paddling, but the tranquil quiet parts of the river provide plenty of opportunity for rest and watching the view as well as chances for the tour photographer to snap shots of our grinning faces.
The guide at the back keeps up a running commentary, I assume it’s about the river and what we’re doing and how the river is formed and tidbits on the location, but it’s all in Spanish so over my head.
I listen and look and keep looking up to overhanging ridges as if at any moment native Americans could attack, arrows flying towards us, hissing through the air.

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