"Steve! Wake! Steve, you wake now!" I was being violently shaken.
"Uh. Eh? Wot?" I open my eyes to find Carlos, the hostel owner in my face.
"Raft people. They phone. You not there! You wake now!"
"Eh?" I check the time, 6:00 am. Crap. I was supposed to be starting my mini-rafting trip half hour ago. Good job I gave them Carlos's number!
I jump up and gather my things. Luckily I'd already packed most of my stuff last night but I still had lots of crap littering the room. I begin to gather it all up only to have a finger wagged in my face by Carlos. "No, no, I do. I do. We go now!" Good ol' Carlos, he's a trust worthy fellow and seemed to have taken a liking to me. So I just grab my main pack and Carlos and I jog the 15 minute route to the rafting shop and meeting place.
The group I had booked with had already departed. Crap. But I'd been moved onto a trip with Eric Adventures instead, I was still going! Bonus! I pile onto a mini-bus with my group and let the 3 hour long journey begin.
Man, I was so heavily hung over! We stop at a market and I immediately jump out - I need liquid refreshment and I need to line my stomach and I need it NOW! I return to the bus clutching multiple bags of mystery fruit juices and a sea food fry-up. Not exactly what I had in mind but it had to do!
When we reach the put in point I'm still feeling pretty rough so I'm happy to watch the guides unload the bus and set up the rafts. Our main guide is a little guy called Jesus! But by all accounts a very experienced rafting guide who'd personally been doing the Apurimac on a weekly basis for many, many years.
Gear stuffed in to dry bags and us blokes stuffed in to wet suits it was time to get wet. We all jump off a rock one by one and practice getting rescued by either rope or safety kayak. We dry off, get in a raft and our guide capsizes it!? What the...? Okay, so we're to practice getting back in it! The water was pretty cold and certainly helped wake up the senses from the hangover!
It tends to be a rafting thing that when ever you finish a named rapid, those who're left in the boat do some sort of gay ritual - like high-5 your paddles together and shout something absurd. When asked what to do, me and my macho boat crew felt our helmets and decided to head butt each other instead. Our guide was impressed - he said in all his time of rafting he'd never seen that one!
So... The Apurimac, mainly Grade 3 and 4 (I think) - so like, how hard can it be...? O'Boy!
In at the deep end I certainly was. I mean, just look at the pictures!
Jesus, our guide, knew the rapids well and was able to relax the millisecond we were out of immediate danger. So as soon as we cleared our first big drop, but still in the middle of 3 foot waves, I was quite unprepared for the full on ferocious head butt that Jesus launched at me - nearly knocking me overboard! But I learn quick and after the next rapid I happily returned the favour! Whack!
We set up camp on a sandy beach after a long half day on the water and made fire, followed by food.
So, my crew. On the supply raft was two Jewish Israeli guys who enjoyed the weed and seemed permanently stoned. On my raft were a group of 4 Ozzy blokes who'd come to Peru for a bit of surf. They were all built and pretty much stereotypical in every respect. Their main concern in life seemed to be getting laid as often as possible. Despite this they were happy there weren't any girls on the trip for it gave them a open opportunity to brag about previous conquests. I was quite happy listening in. I mean, I have to admit the story with the girl with the surprise wooden leg was quite funny!
Posted by Steve Eynon