|Was woken up by Iris waking up at about eight o'clock, and taking a shower. When she saw that I had no immediate plans of getting out of bed (she has found, rather to her surprise, how slowly we are travelling, compared to how she had expected), she declared that she was going to take a walk around the town.
She returned rather earlier than I had expected, and dragged me out of bed, on the grounds of a water rafting tour was leaving right now! I know she wanted to try white water rafting, and I admit, it would be fun too - but something about being woken up early in the morning (especially when we had chatted until almost 4am)... well, I was rather grumpy.
But I promptly apologised to her on the bus, when I had fought off my sleepiness, and ready to embrace the upcoming adventure. Also in the group were a couple from Finland, and a couple from Sweden/Holland. Though the Swede-Dutch ensemble had rafted once before, that was many years ago, and so they felt they were more or less the same as the rest of us - beginners.
Our guide (I forget his name, whoops) ran though the safety procedure, in his wonderfully Spanglish English. It was quick, and I wasn't convinced I understood and remembered everything. Oh well, just have to hope I don't fall out of the raft!
After a practise run of the various commands, we hit the waters of the River Pataza. Though I always say "white water rafting", the water was actually brown from the soil and sediment of the river bed. The current was pretty strong (and as Iris said, we didn't really need to paddle, we could just float!), but there were only rapids every fifty metres or so. It wasn't as hard as I had thought, and to be honest, I got rather bored. The Finnish girl in front of me, lovely as she was, did not "move her body" as was instructed, and it was impossible for me to paddle with my body without knocking my head against her back. The hardest part was the co-ordination between the paddlers on the same side. We managed to tune into each others' rythum after a while.
It got better towards the end, when the instructor shouted for us to stand up, with our feet tucked inside the folds of the rubber raft, and paddle in that position. We rather suspect that he wanted us to fall in the water (it was an easy and fun rapid), but no one, out of the group of six fell. Very almost nearly, but didn't. So, a few rapids further on, he instructed us to jump out of the raft on his count, and grab onto the rope on the side of the raft. That was to practice the rescue procedure. That was a lot of fun, though the rope was tight on my fingers. I was the first to be rescued, and once safely back in the raft, wanted to try out my life jacket yanking skills on Iris. Unfortunately, the instructor didn't understand my motives, and almost knocked me back into the water again. Hey, I wouldn't have minded!!
After that, we were driven to a nearby river - where the water was actually clear for a bath and clean up. The water was colder, but it was fun swimming to some artificial rocks in the middle. From there, I spotted my natural shower, in the form of a little waterfall. That was delicious! The others soon followed, and we were washed perfectly clean.
By then, we were hungry, and was time for lunch. We were driven to a restuarant, where we were offered a three course lunch. With so much chatting involved (the Finnish guy also spent a substantial amount of time in Guatemale a few years back), lunch was a lot longer than expected. The guide was worried that I had lost my shoes, but I was really only practising my Tica feet by going barefoot.
Though I didn't think the rafting experience was altogether tiring, I was in need of some beer to revitalise my energy after only a few hours sleep the previous night. Iris and I parked our bums on some stools on a bar blaring out lovely Bob Marley music, and got ourselves comfortably tipsy, before heading over for dinner, in a very traveller friendly-when-in-need-of-some-home-comfort-food environment.
After that, it was time for the much looked forward visit to the local thermae baths. Baños, in Spanish, means Bath. The town, like my good old university town Bath, had natural hot water outlets, and is rather a health resort. We had aimed to spend the last couple of hours there, before they closed, but if truth be known, I was ready to go after half an hour of dipping in the two variously hot waters (probably thirty something degrees, and one slightly less). But we managed to stay for more or less the whole hour, admiring the view of the waterfall only meters away, but declining taking a shower from the source.
We had planned to drink a box of Clos (a red wine I was acquainted with in Costa Rica) when we got back, but waiting for the hot water in the shower took so long, that Iris fell asleep. Even I couldn't get any further than a few paragraphs in my book before sleep too, claimed me.