Learning about Mexico
29 November 2010 | La Cruz de Huanacaxle Mexico
We went on float down the Rio Mascota yesterday. I'm out of bed now and healing nicely!
It was a very interesting experience. We learned that the crocodiles we were worried about reside downstream from the bridge where we were planning to get out of the river. Miss the bridge and ... well at least it's not going over a waterfall that you usually would worry about. The buses we took gave us a great tour of the city and its adjoining countryside. The bus was crowded but most of the people got off at the prison. We learned later that it was visiting day. There are farms in the flatland suburbs of Puerto Vallarta. They appeared to be truck gardens (growing vegetables), not the large scale farms that we know from Kansas. The weather now is beautiful and apparently pretty stable. Clearly, looking at the riverbed, it is not always so benign. There is the rainy season (hurricane season) when being here is not such a great idea. The river had shrunk to a tiny vestige of its size during the rainy season. All the stones of the river were rounded and tricky to walk on. We could see later that this an important property for the air mattress adventure.
We met at a restaurant near the bridge where we would get out of the river. The plan was to walk up the river to another jungle restaurant and then get on our air mattress and glide down the river to where we began. So we get a double adventure, first the hike, then the drift. There were 14 of us doing the trip. The hike involved 12 river crossings, each in waist (sometimes chest) deep water with strong current and unstable footing (remember those rounded rocks). In between the river crossings there was a trail along the river. The river is fronted by a string of primitive farms raising cattle and goats and on one a small cactus garden. It is very remote. The roads that connect to these farms don't connect most of the year. They are interrupted by mud slides and floods. But there is access to the restaurant where we turned around. They have a zip line connecting them to a 4 wheel drive "road" and to the entertainment industry in Puerto Vallarta. It is a very cool spot.
First of all, you may be picturing a float down a lazy river laying on air mattresses on our back. No way. You couldn't stay on top of the air mattress in that position. Instead, we lay on our stomachs and held on tight, trying desperately to keep our legs on top of the air mattresses. This isn't easy. The rapids were in places shallow where minimum draft and slippery rocks were the only way to progress. That worked pretty well. But when the river speeded up the rapids would toss you off the air mattress and it was simply not possible to remount it. Instead you kept your head up by holding onto the air mattress and your legs got pummeled by the rocks that you hit. If this doesn't sound like a good plan, you are reading this correctly. Some of our group were pretty skillful at staying on top of their air mattresses. The rest of the group (about half) ended up walking. Karen and I both did the whole float, though perhaps we shouldn't have. I took a major hit to my left thigh that is making walking difficult. Just about everyone suffered some bruises. And 14 people made it out before the bridge. About half way down the float we discovered that our waterproof bag wasn't waterproof. Everything in it got soaked, so we had a wet bus ride home. The busses work really well though so it was pretty easy to actually get home. The drivers of those busses are quite skilled but they drive those busses like they were sports cars in a road rally. Pretty soon you have to look away from the road and trust to the fact that they continue to do it without apparent fatalities.
Today we are drying out and resting. The hike wasn't really all that tough, but we can feel our age.