Friday, November 19, 2010

Who Knew Leaving Leaving Bogotá Would Be More Dangerous...

Last weekend was both rainy (not surprising) and a holiday weekend (somehow, also not surprising since there are like 2 a month), and everyone cool was going out of town. So we were very excited when our school organized a little day trip to a pueblita outside of Bogotá for some sun, pool time, white water rafting, and the ability to say that "oh, yeah, we left the City too." (Even if it was not for the whole 3 day weekend). Some of the longer term students had done the trip in the past and told us that the rafting was relatively tame, so our "expectativas" were pretty low, but at the very least, the trip would not involve a rainy and cold day.

We left Bogotá early Saturday morning and drove up and down picturesque mountains, through fog, and along dirt roads, passing the biggest (live) spider I have ever seen, a dead snake, and other unidentifiable fauna, and soon entered the tropical climate zone that surrounds this mountainous city.

Once in our bathing suits and Marc Jacobs flip flops, (this has significance later), we donned our life jacket and helmet, got in the van with the group and headed to the the Rio Negro, called such because of all the minerals in it that make it appear black (see photos). Once we arrived, our training was all in Spanish, but luckily one of our profs was there to remind us what "adelante" and "atras" and "izquierda" meant so we didn't all paddle the wrong way at the wrong time and go around in circles.

One other student asked us to remind him what to do if we fall in the river, and, relying on our present view of the river and what we were told by other students, we said that no one will fall in so don't even worry about it.

Well, within 4 minutes of entry, we realized that because of a lot of recent rain, the currents were much stronger and water levels higher, and we then saw that our "expectativas" were all wrong. After a few "a delante"s yelled at us, the raft hit a rapid the wrong way. . . and. . . we flipped over!

Stuck under the raft in darkness and with 6 other bodies on top of us, all flowing along a strong current in black as night water was pretty frightening, we must say. But we surfaced soon enough, somehow still in possession of our oar, and managed to lift our legs up as told (we remembered! Oops, we forgot to tell our friend!) so that rocks did not kill us. We then watched as the guide flipped the raft back over (while it was moving with the current!), pull the first of us in, and then manage to grab the rest of us one by one, notably NOT with the assistance of the two kayakers who follow the raft for occasions such as this. Upon reentry into the raft and assuring ourselves that we were all alive and present, we realized that two casualties of this harrowing experience were the aforementioned Marc Jacobs flip flops, but we were willing to exchange these cheap plastic designer goods for our life. However, just then, one of the kayakers pulls up next to the raft and hands us said flip flops as if it was expected of him. We then realized the TRUE reason for the kayakers, which is to preserve our material possessions, for which we were truly grateful, and we are sure Rachel Zoe was also really happy and proud as well.

This does not bode well.

This is right before our dreams of a perfect 10 came crashing down...

But this is what a strong finish looks like.

The rest of the trip was less crazy, we managed to stay in the raft (barely) and make it back for some lunch and pool time and recaps of how we survived the Rio Negro. Video coverage of said survival here:

Mañana it is off to Peru where we meet the fam! We are excited to see them and Peru, but really, we are more excited about the Indian food mom promised to smuggle into the country.

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