Mexico: Ten weeks of Tacos, Tequila and Tall Waterfalls Part 3
Whilst I looked at this beaten up 1986 motorhome joint owners, Todd Richey (USA) and Will Hartman (USA), were excitedly telling me how the van was perfect for mexico as its ‘ghetto’ appearance, loud engine, and squeaky steering make it blend in perfectly with mexican vehicles. Personally I was skeptical but since they had made it all the way from Montana (near Canada) I figured they must know what they were talking about. Once Todd had made a few quick outfitting changes and popped some airbags in his boat, jokingly saying “well I do swim alot”, we headed to the roadside section of the Rio Alseseca, which is the traditional warm-up run.
The roadside section is around 8km of steep, pool drop, grade 4 fun. As todd, Will and I made our way down the river, mostly boat scouting as we went (because I couldn’t really remember any of the lines). We came up to one of the trickier rapids of the run ‘S-turns’. Here the river makes a steep S-shaped bend (hence the name) into a narrow channel which is just wide enough for a boat. I went first with out a problem and waited in the eddy downstream from a small hole which forms at the end of the rapid. Next Will zipped past me with a grin on his face, then there was a pause, a clatter plastic on rock and then todd came swimming through with a sour look on his face. Eventually we picked up all his stuff and got him back on the water. No problem we all thought ‘everyone swims’, so we pushed on a little ways further. We had barely gone 1 km when todd took his second swim of the day. His frustration was visible by the time we got to the takeout and I later found out that this was todd’s first swim for years, in which time he had spent seasons in Chile and Uganda. But thats Mexico for you.
Swims aside, another night of heavy rain brought back more chocolate coloured rivers. It also coincided with the return of Nick Troutman (CAN), who was returning after a failed kayak mission to Brazil, and American kayak whizz kid, and ‘kind of a big deal’ Dane Jackson (USA). So our international crew mounted up in the rain and headed for the big banana section blissfully unaware of the water levels.
We got down to the put-on stream, which is usually a bump, scrape and grind, and found it was actually flowing like a small river. A worrying sign for me as I new what lay ahead, but Nick stayed up beat assuring us that he had done it high before. After twenty minutes and the description for each rapid consisting of the words ‘this is usually pretty chill but today it might be fairly rowdy’ I took my first whooping of the day in what turned out to be a shallow hole . Luckily my helmet took the hit but left my neck stiff. Inside ten minutes I had taken whooping number two, but was confident it would be ok. Anyway, long story short, a few kilometres and a whole bunch of portages later, whooping number 3 saw me thrown 10ft-15ft into a wall on what is usually a fairly easy waterfall. This turned out to be swim number two of the trip and left my pride and my face bruised. By the time we got off the river we had made 3 times as many portages as normal but it was smiles and sore bodies all round.
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