By: Anjelica Veca
I have had the very good fortune of being able to spend a hefty amount of time in Costa Rica over the past couple of years, and because of that I can tell you all that this was not my first rodeo—or shall I say, not my first whitewater rafting experience. With that being said, however, rafting the Balsa River with Desafío was certainly unique for two very distinct reasons: the first being the conditions on the river itself, and the second being the utter professionalism of all of the guides.
Our tour guide’s name for this run was Melvin, and I cannot speak highly enough of him. On multiple occasions he called for us to lean into the center of the raft or sit completely within it, and each time this happened I could feel the jerk of the raft as we hit a rock or rapid and I knew that had it not been for his excellent and timely instructions, I would have ended up out of the raft and floating down the river. Our guides were jovial and in high spirits as they playfully splashed us with river water. They knew that falling out of the rafts was part of the experience for some, and though they were careful to keep everyone safely in their seats, they were also prepared to pull people back into rafts and continue with the adventure.
Aside from the professionalism of the guides on the river itself, I was incredibly impressed with the professionalism of the tour guides in the face of far more delicate situations. Ladies, I don´t have the words to express how impressed and grateful I was for the professionalism, discretion, and compassion shown by these guides in my moment of need. When I shyly approached Mey, one of the oldest and most experienced tour guides on the trip that day, to ask if we could stop somewhere so I could buy feminine products, I saw a big, rough-and-tumble man melt with compassion right before my eyes. He graciously accompanied me to a small corner store where I was able to make my purchase, all the while assuring me that he was happy to help and that he was grateful that I had said something. “Many women feel embarrassed,” he told me in Spanish as we walked back to the buses together, “and they don’t say anything. But we are here to help, no matter what the need is.” Ladies, if you’ve ever had to tell an unknown male that you need feminine products, you know how uncomfortable it can be for everyone involved. Mey was an absolute Godsend, and he made me glad that I had asked for help.
All around, my experience on this river rafting adventure tour with Desafío could not have been improved upon. Of course the scenery was beautiful and the river trip was daring and exciting, but what made this trip stand out for me amidst all the others was the human element. The joviality, kindness, professionalism, compassion, and humor of Desafío’s guides made this tour unlike any other. As far as I’m concerned, not only does Desafío offer some of the most creative and adventure-packed tours in Costa Rica, but its personnel sets the bar incredibly high when it comes to treating people with compassion, kindness, and a genuine desire to help.
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