Monday, December 14

red rafts - 3 years after...

i've always believed in balancing work with play and was glad that the mbb ra's arranged for cdo white-water rafting after the psbmb rev-up and convention in bukidnon early this month.

i was even more glad to know that they arranged it with red rafts ( the same company that took me on my first (and only, before this) white-water adventure on the same river 3 years ago!
in 2006, tere and alex, adri and i took a trip to camiguin and cagayan de oro.  because alex had to be called to work because of some ship disaster, it was only adri, tere and i who went ahead with white-water rafting. even if i'm quite sure i started the morning with a bit of apprehension, at the end of our 12 km, 14 rapids beginners' course, i was looking for more! 
it was quite an experience and i recall seeing the silvery kingfisher after our first rapids, jumping into the river during stretches of still water, having lunch in the middle of the tour, and the adrenalin rush of shooting the rapids!  it turned out to be one of my must-try activities recommended to all my travel- and adventure-loving friends.

so this year, even if i was excited about going through the adventure again, i didn't think it would be so different from 3 years ago.  haha! to my delight, i was wrong.

we were fetched at our hotel early sunday morning.  (well, it wasn't as early as if we were going birding, but after being on a bus for half the day and most of the evening the day before, 7:30am felt like 4:30am).  adri and i quickly chatted up one of our guides, glenn (laki), telling him about how much fun we had the last time asking about our past guides.
this time we were going to try the advanced course: 18 km and 22 (yes, twenty-two!) rapids. i was really looking forward to it!

when we got to the jump-off point i was a little disappointed to see so many people and so many rafts (not just red rafts).  last time, we had the whole river to our selves, with only the large red rafts group practicing for an upcoming competition. fortunately, the number of people did not take anything away from the excitement of the experience, and doing the rapids in succession gave the next group more (or actually in some cases, less) courage. eventually during the course of the river, we would lose sight of the other rafts anyway.
the rapids were no less fun to run the second time around, in fact it was an even more exciting experience!  this time, white-water rafting was more extreme (yes, it can get more extreme!), with set-ups being staged to make the rapids even more exciting.  if my first time i didn't fall into the water once,  this time, falling into the water was part of the experience!  paddling upstream, sliding out of the raft, flipping the raft, standing on the raft while navigating rapids - all part of the fun and adrenalin rush.  the first time i fell into the water, i think i must've swallowed more than a liter of river water, and i thought i was never going to surface!  after the first fall, the idea of falling didn't seem so scary anymore!  so yes, i fell in a couple of times more! (video is worth a thousand words: wearing a life vest and a helmet never felt more useful!  later, when we were talking to one of the guides, richard (who was also there when we tried it in 2006), i commented on how different the approach was this time.  to which he answered "oo, kasi dati and emphasis talaga safety". and to which i jokingly replied, " so ano ngayon, endangerment?"  actually, i always felt safe the whole time, even with the set-ups.  the twists and tricks really added to the adrenalin rush, fun and craziness of the whole experience.

i'm glad all of my raft-mates were game:  adri, kino, xy-za, zee, myka, andoi and our guides glenn and tata.  it made meeting the rapids head-on and the imminent being thrown in the river seem less crazy.

no silvery kingfisher this time, but two brahminy kites soaring above the river was a sight for everyone to enjoy.

after 4 hours on the river, we were still energized enough to paddle-race with the other raft (joey, biji, karen, me-ann, richter, anna) towards lunch:  inihaw na manaok, halabos na hipon, pinakurat, rice, bananas and coke never tasted so good!

cagayan de oro river white water rafting: can't pass this one up! (go for red rafts)
2006:  beginners' course:  14 rapids, 12 km, no spills!
2009: advanced course:  22 rapids, 18 km, 3 spills!
i will never forget:  the sight of nothing but foaming water in front of my eyes.