First, for a quick recap, make sure to check out parts Uno, Dos, and Tres of my trip to the Dominican Republic.
|Santo Domingo Coffee and Panderia Dick|
|Jay repels down a waterfall in the Dominican Republic|
The tour is rated for beginners, but perhaps there needs to be a fat ass clause. We first enjoyed a scenic drive through the jungles and over mountain ranges on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Starting from Cabarete on the beach we headed inland on a paved road. At some point atop a peak overlooking a pristine valley we stopped by a shack on the side of the road. Mama Iguana's base camp is where we were fitted for wet suits, life preservers, harnesses, and helmets. At this point my gut started turning upside down. If I needed a helmet then at some point I might be in danger of hitting my head, which likely would mean that I'm no longer on my feet. I didn't like this plan anymore. However, it seemed like there would be no way to turn back now. Our entire crew traveled in one van, and that one van, already 45 minutes of drive time up a mountain, continued onward until the paved road turned into dirt. The van stopped when the road became muddy at which point we got out and walked down the side of the hill to a house that perched alongside a flowing stream. We got a few lessons about how to avoid rolling our ankles on the slippery rocks. Immediately thereafter Rob and I had a conversation about turning around, walking back to wherever we could walk, hitchhiking back to the base camp, or really anything we could do to avoid rolling head-first down this mountain current. But we couldn't. We couldn't turn back. So I tried as hard as I could to survive.
Most of the canyoning actually proved to be quite enjoyable. There were stretches where we floated downstream and I thought I could use a cold beer in my hand. There were times when we hiked beside the creek in the gorgeous jungle scenery. But the hiking and swimming, the climbing and slipping, took its toll on me. An hour or so in and I was already starting to feel like I had had enough. We approached a fantastic waterfall thundering down into a pool of cold spring water. The stream flowed over a mushroom shaped rock and then plunged several stories to the calm below. The Magic Mushroom. We took turns, one at a time repelling down the side of the mushroom cap until no more footing existed, then pushed off and enjoyed the ride to the splashdown. My turn came and I nailed it. "That was fun," I thought. "And we must be almost done."
I could not have been more wrong.
|Jay with the Mama Iguana guide who just may have saved his life|
One step at a time I followed behind my hero. He showed me where to place my foot and then I took that step, each one as difficult as the hardest setting on any Stair Master complete with insecure foot holds and while toting a 300+ pound soaking wet and worn out frame. Clutching his shoulder, arm, or hand to help pull me up the mountain, I pushed myself to get there knowing that my salvation rested with the van atop the hill. The ground under my foot gave way and I fell, slamming my arm into the side of the rock, but he caught me and kept me from tumbling down to disaster. Blood poured down the side of my right forearm, so he took a first aid kit out of his bag and bandaged me up while the others continued on. Finally, after what seemed like an hour after everyone else had reached the top, my friend and I climbed over the last ridge to freedom. As I ducked through the barbed wire fence and onto the dirt road where the van waited I felt relieved, accomplished, fatigued, grateful, and, of course, hungry.
|Lunch awaited our crew at the Mama Iguana Outpost|
|My Dominican Feast|