We apologize for the long cliffhanger! The lives of a business owner and graduate student are never dull. But we’re back with the final leg of our story. Enjoy!
After our miraculous arrival to Hotel Jimenoa, we were certainly prepared for any adventure that came our way. First up: River Rafting! When we first pulled up to the ranch, we had a multitude of emotions in us, mainly feeling courageous and invincible. We wanted to get our gear on and show that river who’s boss ASAP! Well we had to jump through some hoops first. First things first, we had to marry the adventure (no pre-nup!) and sign our lives away on the liability release form. As one of our guides, Max, was explaining the form, all we heard was “you could lose an eye, a limb, or your life” (not literally those words but that was the gist of what he was telling us). Alex, still floating on her cloud of courage, quickly signed the form while visions of surrender danced in Ayana’s head. As Ayana hesitated to grab the pen, Alex forcefully advised her to “(Wo)Man up and take it like a G!” After Ayana married the adventure, Max escorted us to the provided breakfast buffet (equivalent to our last supper???).
After breakfast, we watched a demonstration video apparently produced by the Dominican version of GQ. With strong men like that to rescue us from any disasters, all our worries dissolved. However, as we took a look around at our actual guides for the day, most of them looked like high school and college students (X_x). All panic flooded back to us as we headed to our launch point. As we got closer and closer, our nervous chatter quickly grew to silence. When we reached the launch point, Max assigned us to our boats and guides. God heard our silent prayers because our boat assignment included us and 3 guides! (The other boat had 4 tourists and 1 guide.) Alex was seated in the front of the raft next to David-in-the-front, Ayana was seated in the middle next to Wiz, and the raft was steered by David-in-the-back. We reviewed the 4 words that would keep us safe on the river: Pa’lante (paddle forward), Pa’tras (paddle backwards), Pare (stop paddling), and Abajo (get down in the boat). As David-in-the-back was giving a final overview of the directions for the river, Ayana had a question about what to do with the paddle in the event of falling out of the boat (since they made it VERY clear that this could happen). David-in-the-front’s response: “F*@K the paddle!” Well, alriiiiight! So we FINALLY get to get our feet wet, literally J
As we are paddling up the river, we see our first rapid approaching. PA’LANTE!! PA’LANTE!! (This was our theme song) We feel the rush of excitement as we survive the first rapid, thinking, “That wasn’t so bad!” We conquer a few more small rapids (and by conquer, we mean ABAJO while our guides paddle us to safety), and our guides inform us that our break is just around the riverbend! What they fail to tell us is there is a HUGE rapid right before our break spot (-__-) When we see what is ahead of us, we are filled with terror and IMMEDIATELY begin to paddle backwards (PA’TRAS)!!! But our efforts didn’t make a dent in the forward momentum of the raft. We knew it was serious when our guides shouted in unison ABAJO!!! We ducked down just in time, but that didn’t save us from rolling in the deep. Alex’s description of the rapid: “It was like we were a tiny dinghy going over Niagara Falls!” The whole raft was submerged! David-in-the-front held onto Alex and Wiz held onto Ayana to keep us in the boat. But the pressure of the water was too much! When the boat forced its way back to the surface, we lost Wiz and David-in-the-back! Ayana was screaming for Alex and Alex was pale and bawling (you could actually tell the tears from the water on her face)! Alex’s account of the horror: “I saw Jesus! I met Him! HE IS REAL! I saw my whole life pass. . .I saw my favorite moments with my family, and my friends! I just knew I was dead!” When Wiz and David-in-the-back made it back into the raft, we floated to the small bank where we could break from the rafting. We both got on hands and knees to kiss the ground and try to recollect ourselves before we had to get back in the boat.
While we sat, David-in-the-back climbed up a small cliff overlooking the river. We thought he was up there to enjoy a nice view and breeze, but in the blink of an eye he had disappeared! We heard a crash below in the water and realized he jumped! Wiz and David-in-the-front had also jumped from two smaller cliffs. As they swam back onto the bank, they coaxed us to do the same. The other tourists had joined us and gladly went to the cliffs. We couldn’t look like cowards after the mom and daughter team jumped, so we ascended the smallest cliff, took a deep breath, and took the leap of faith hand in hand. We became re-invigorated for adventure after the rush of the jump. We wanted to experience the highest peak so we climbed the peaks one more time. Ayana, being slightly afraid of heights, couldn’t make it past the middle peak and stopped there. Alex dared to go further. She jumped with the daughter and experienced the longest fall of her 23 years. Meanwhile, Ayana was stuck at the middle cliff because the way down isn’t as easy as the way up. Alex came up to jump with Ayana because the break was over, and jumping was the fastest way down. As we floated towards the sand bank where our raft was, Ayana slipped off the edge and was swept downstream! Alex tried to grab her and pull her back, but was swept away too! David-in-the-back swam after us while David-in-the-front and Wiz got the raft to pull us into. Well David-in-the-back must have been a fish in his former life, because he got to us with a quickness and got BOTH of us to the raft! We also never should have doubted the strength of our guides. David-in-the-front pushed Ayana into the raft with so much force that Wiz had to catch her. David-in-the-front dead-lifted Alex out of the water in one fell swoop. The Dominican GQ productions ain’t got nothing on our guides! The rest of the rapids were modest. When we made it to the end, our guides were showered with besos for saving us after cliff jumping and getting us to the end without our boat flipping.
Once back at the ranch, we had a Victory Lunch, and a few cuba libres to reward our bravery. Alex was still shaken up from meeting Jesus and was ready to go home. David-in-the-front had taken a liking to Alex and wanted to talk a little longer after lunch. Ayana had a mystery admirer resembling Johnny Bravo who also wanted to chat for a little bit. We had no other adventures planned, and Ayana still wanted to explore the city. Johnny Bravo and David wanted to take us out dancing later that evening, and agreed to pick us up from our hotel on motorcycles! Well when they came to get us from the hotel, David was there with a friend, but Johnny Bravo was nowhere to be found. David brought his friend, Juice, instead. They walked us out to their motorcycles, and we must admit, we were impressed! They were sleek and clean, plus all the lights worked and all the odometers moved! The ride was invigorating. Wind in our hair, open road, hands wrapped around a cutie 😉 When we got to the bar, it was cuba libres for everyone. Things got a little interesting when Johnny Bravo showed up. He was upset because he got played to the left by David! We later found out that David purposely showed up early to our hotel with a different friend to better his chances with Alex. Too bad it didn’t matter because all of them were strangers, and we don’t roll like that. Anyways, we had a great time “dirty dancing” the night away (theme song #2). We had an extra cuba libre for the road because, as noted, EVERYONE was drinking (including our drivers). We didn’t want to feel it if skin met asphault.
This concludes the account of our Odyssey in DR. Unfortunately, there are no pictures from river rafting 😦 Our cameras were not waterproof and we found out at the launch point that their camera was broken. Womp womp. But please enjoy the remainder of our pictures from the beautiful Dominican Republic!
The adventure never stops if you know where to look! Now that we are apart, we are experiencing separate adventures until we are reunited somewhere in the world again. (P.S. There WILL be a return trip to DR in 2013!)
Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the videos included in this post.
©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin