Saturday, December 31, 2011

Renegade Rappellistas (by Todd)

The adventure began with a hike of about 3/4 mile to one of the pools of the Juan Curi waterfall, where we had the obligatory safety briefing. Like all the tourist activities we´ve done so far in Colombia, the briefing was available only in Spanish (to us, this is an indication of how few English-speaking tourists have been though San Gil - yet). Fortunately we had rappelled before and there was a Brazilian who knew some English and helped us out. Then it was over the edge and on down for each of us - hopefully you can pick me out in the photos below!

At 180 feet, the plastic helmet should definitely protect my dome from any serious damage
We let the adrenaline rush dissappate by hiking back along the river, checking out many smaller waterfalls and clambering over some ladders, ropes, and muddy trails to make it back to the starting point. The Brazilian family asked if we wanted to go rafting with them, and we almost took them up on their offer simply for the ride back to town, but they were rafting the Rio Fonce which is a Class 1-2-3 river, too tame for us! So we waited alongside the road for the next bus back to town.

Once back in San Gil with an afternoon to kill, we asked about caving, another of the popular activities for the area. At first we were told it was too late to go caving, but after asking why it would matter since there´s no daylight anyway, we were told that a guide would take us on a trip that day. We grabbed a taxi for the nearby town of Curiti to explore Cueva de la Vaca with our guide Luis.

As one might guess, caving is not an activity for the claustrphobic - although there were plenty of large rooms within the cave that were 30-40 feet high, there were other stretches where a military crawl was necessary to get though a tunnel, and one part where you had to swim through to get to the other side. It was not as painful as my face may appear below (fortunately for us the water level was on the low side - a five second swim vs a twelve second swim where you cannot come up for air or see anything).

The trip though the cave lasted about 90 minutes - we saw a few large spiders and bugs, a few bats that lived in the cave, some little waterfalls, and of course many requisite stalagtites and stalagmites. Overall it was a really fun ´hike´ and our guide was funny and entertaining...I think he was working hard to speak Spanish slowly and use some of the English he knew, and it was much appreciated. Soaked once again, we rinsed off, dried up, and waited for the bus back to San Gil.

On our last day in San Gil, we had hoped to raft the Suarez - unfortunately this time it wasn´t a lack of participants but a water level that was too high that kept us from rafting the river! We were sad but still had an option that at least was something we hadn´t done before called Hydrospeed on the Rio Fonce. Rather than try to explain it, here´s a video - Juli flies through first, and Todd comes through third - enjoy:

After drying off, we hopped on a bus to spend the night in a town called Giron, which was near the departure airport for our flight the next day to Cartagena. Juli was very sad to leave San Gil where the people were very nice and there was always an adventure activity to try (in addition to rapelling, caving and rafting there is paragliding, kayaking, and hiking).

No comments: