Sunday, November 24, 2019


After 6 days it was time to Ramble on and we headed to the mainland. 8000 foot peaks rising from the sea. The largest untamed rainforest in central America loomed off the bow of the speed ferry that flew across the water. Flying fish zipping across the water. I prepared for pickpockets at the terminal. And for all the people that would hassle us…

And instead was met by nice folks. Friendly smiles.

So Hannah and Fabian have a dog, Fluffy (who isn’t actually fluffy at all, lol), whom they adopted from a rescue place in Mexico. The guards said they had to pay some tax for the dog. So Fabian went to the office, said he didn’t have any money, and the lady ended up letting him leave and he just waved at the guards and walked out. It’s common, or so it’s said, for cops to do this kind of hustle to tourists in countries down here. But honestly, this was the only time I saw it happen. Not saying it doesn’t, it’s just not as common as I was expecting.
Sweet Ride!

Which one might Fluffy be?
We hop in their VW, it’s rad! And stop at a techno dancing grocery store, and head up the Rio Cangrejal valley to find the Jungle River Lodge.
The sun set.
We were on a dirt road.
I was jokingly saying “This is how horror movies start.” and going through a whole scenario as we drove.

Well horror movie it was not, instead it was absolutely AMAZING.
A hand made lodge with a deck over looking natural pools. A clear river flowing around HUGE house size boulders that you could cliff jump off of. The sounds of the river outside the treehouse like rooms. Huge jungle covered mountains towering up both sides of the river. Hand carved wood tables and furniture to play games on (Guillotine made it to yet another country! It’s been to almost as many as me. And of course FARKLE!  (Thank you Uncle Kev and Jordan for that one!).  We loved that. 
And the cost: $10 per person per night.

The next day and half were what travel is all about.

It began with a jungle hike in the Parc de Bonito national park. (Beautiful National Park).
The hike was just up from the lodge, and involved crossing a bad ass, Indiana Jones suspension bridge across the boulder strewn river.

Then up into the thick jungle and steep trails all on the way to a big waterfall.

 It was hundreds of feet high, thin and free. The climb down to the bottom was crazy steep, and eventually was just over big slippery boulders… so we stopped on the top of them rather than try to figure out how to get to the bottom. It was awesome to just stand under the falls and let them crash down on me. There’s something magical about waterfalls in the jungle. Not sure what it is, but I can’t get enough.

The hike out ended with a really friendly man and his daughter selling hand made souvenirs, and I got a little canoe keychain that I’ll turn into a magnet. It says Rio Congrejal!


So Hannah and I went for an afternoon rafting trip. It was $25. And worth every penny.
Our guide, Juan Carlos, who’s been rafting the river for 24 years, picked us up at the lodge. He put the raft on his head and carried it up to this old school Toyota 4x4, which just happened to have a 222 on the license plate. (For those who know the 222, or have heard me talk about it. There were so many 222’s on this trip it was almost comical. Phone numbers. Receipts. Gas prices. License plates. On and on and on. That’s good sign… it means I’m on the right path.  And for today that was Definitely true!)

Ride up the river, and Juan Carlos carried the raft solo down the slope. And with our life jackets on, we left the raft behind and did some Canyoning. Which consisted of going up river, swimming in the current, jumping off rocks, sliding down other rocks. Drinking water trickling out of the rocks: 2000 meters of limestone purifying the rainwater in this one spot. Yummy. There was a HUGE spider (okay, the side of hand) that he picked up by it’s legs and then set it on the water (they can hop). Well, it hopped onto his neck and crawled up onto his face! So he ducked under water, and then it comically hopped away on 6 legs, with it’s front ones way up in the air.

There were these red flowers that you could crush up and make soap with! Juan Carlos said that his mom is a healer and there are all sorts of roots and flowers and plants they use to treat illness in the jungle. He’s originally from the Moskito Coast (Eastern Honduras… and a movie starring Harrison Ford (to keep the Indiana Jones thing going). Anyway, they have lots of medicine hidden in the jungle waiting to be discovered (or already known by the locals. ). I’m fascinated by what’s out there.

Back to the river. Locals were fishing off the top of a house size boulder for fish that were swimming up stream like salmon. They were leaping up this small waterfall… most of them failing spectacularly. Bouncing off rocks. Sucked down stream. But every once in awhile some made it. When we watched for 5 minutes, hundreds of fish went for it. It was crazy.

JC and I jumped off that rock to cross the stream to the 11 meter (34 foot) jump. We had to overhand climb out of the river for the first 2 meters. I won’t lie. It was out of my strength zone. So he attached his rafting safety rope to me and LIFTED ME OUT OF THE RIVER. Man! For a thin guy this guy is strong!
We climb up to about 7 meters (21 feet) and I think this is good. He says “nah! we go to 11!”
So we did.
He jumped right off… I might’ve hesitated a little.
Truth is I felt like I was taking forever, but on the video Hannah shot it was only like 20 seconds. lol.
That was fun!

Then we float, swim down the river to our raft and begin one of the wildest, most technical rafting trips I’ve ever been on (and I’ve been on a fair number.) The boulders are the size of cars, buses, houses, and the water snakes through them barely wider than the 3 person raft.

And sure enough, 3rd rapid… I fall right out.
Under the water.
Raft over my head.
Head hits a boulder (go helmet!)
And push out from under the raft.
JC grabs my paddle and Hannah does the river rescue and pulls me in…

… and then my paddle falls out and we have to chase it down the river!
We got it and hit more rapids.
Some, a good 10-15 foot drop around a rock.
It was wild and fun and exhilarating.
I thought “They’d never raft a river like this in the USA!”

Apparently 7 days ago, after a lot of rain, the water was 25 feet higher.
25 FEET HIGHER (That’s 8 meters for everyone not in the USA!)
So most of the boulders we were going around would be under water.
That’s crazy.
(They don’t raft when it’s like that).

Finally we came to the amazing boulders and cliffs by the jungle river lodge, where Fabian, Franzi and Stefi were hanging by the natural pools up above. And Fabian jumped off the cliff right behind us!

What a ride! So fun! Amazing!

The 5 of us sat on the rocks as the sun set, cracking a beer. (not the “Healthy Life” brand, but the almost as good, but much cheaper one! lol). That my friends… was a great day.

Of course there was one more jump off the cliff!

Then tasty dinner, and Farkle to the sounds of the jungle river.


The next morning we woke early, and Fabian and I went to the cliffs and started our day with some cliff jumping! We even brought snorkels into the water for some snorkeling and peering around. It’s spooky down there. All the overhangs and in some places you can’t see the bottom.
We floated around this island boulder, jumped off others, and eventually Hannah joined us.
Not a bad way to start the day!

After breakfast, Fabian, Fluffy and I went for a walk down to a river crossing, where a path leads up into the jungle. We hiked up in search of one more waterfall… one more pool… one more paradise before we Rambled on…

And we found it!

An amazing 30 foot. It was so lovely. Perfect temperature to swim in and stand under the bottom of the falls. Sunlight piercing the canopy of shady trees. And just… AWESOME.

Fun fact:
Rio Cangrejal, to the astute reader (or spanish speaker) means
Apparently it used to be FILLED with thousands of crabs. But the spiders (what?!?!) and some other animal eventually ate most of them so there are very few.
So that means, Hannah and Fabian and I have had yet ANOTHER great crab adventure!

So Many 222s!

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