Saturday, February 24, 2007
Rafting in Pastaza
This was the highlight of the trip for me and I nearly didn't make it. The raft can carry up to 12 people and we were 16. Three got the jitters and so one had to be left out.
The gentleman in me came out and I decided to stay with the younger kids; but Amore came to the rescue as she had rafted here in November.
Now, as I mentioned in a previous post, the logistics for this adventure were amateurish. Luckily we all did have a helmet and a life jacket. But the rowing practice, weight distribution and instructions were on a hit or miss basis.
We carried the raft to the river, climbed aboard and launched the raft.
The first thing that happened once the current got hold of us is that we gently rested against a rock. The guy in front of me, from Argentina started to lean back in slow motion. I just watched as he played the fool. I have to admit I was surprised when he continued to lean over until he fell in. The two guides were still in the water holding the raft before climbing in.
That was the first baptism of the Pastaza. We had two more, the same guy, the same slow motion, different stages.
Once we started rowing he caught on fast, the only thing is he kept confusing his right and his left. When left was ordered to row, he rowed, being on the right. Little by little things began to get into some sort of order. "Left, row! Except for Norbert".
Then the river began to show its might. The adrenalin began to pump us up as we rushed into white water, with the raft bucking in diferent places, amidst squeals of laughter and a few frightened shouts. We took the first stretch with hardly a mistake. All over corrections we put down to experience.
A smooth stretch and a Norbert ducking.
White water ahead, and old grumble bags who was at the front and therefore having to use his eyes, his common sense and his rowing arm, refused to row. He was tired out. He passed the oar to his daughter who made a very credible effort and only splashed him a couple of times.
We were coming to the "Peña". This is a great big wall, studded with small stones, right on the edge of a curve. The river rushes at this wall with great strength and speed, amidst white water. No raft has ever passed this curve without crashing into the cliff. The left side rowers have to place their oars against the cliff and soften the blow. They did beautifully.
Grumble bags was the only one who lost his seat. That set him off again, but by this time we couldn't care less.
We went through a few more white stretches getting better and better at it, until after what seemed five minutes, but turned out to be 50 minutes, we saw our landing stage.
To keep up with traditions, Norbert decided then and there to slip into the water again, but this time decided to walk to the shore.
A safe landing, a quick toast to the river gods and a Grumble Bags ducking, brought an end to a lovely morning.