12 May 2008

Blazing the Cagayan de Oro Adventure Trail

Whitewater rafting has become synonymous with Cagayan de Oro (or more fondly referred to as CDO), an idyllic city in Northern Mindanao blessed with rich natural resources. When some friends hatched this idea of an adventure that will take us to unchartered territories, we enthusiastically said “yes!”. But while rafting was chiefly in our mind when we started planning four months ago, CDO whipped up a couple more surprises for us.

Our group of 17 arrived last March 28 in the CDO airport at 6AM. A busy day was ahead and so a rushed breakfast and a couple of hours later, we found ourselves packed in the jeepney with our rafts comfortably nestled on its roof and bound for Cagayan River. The trip was smooth and uneventful as brick and mortar gave way to fields and trees. Soon enough, we parked near the raging waters and our hearts skipped a couple of beats. What have we gotten ourselves into?

Seeing the water rush through rocks as it frothed white triggered feelings of both excitement and panic. But I reassured myself that things will be fine. After all, I’ve done this before… sort of. At Splash Island.

After the briefing which was more disconcerting than reassuring (what to do when you fall into the water, how to avoid bruises and broken bones, how not to drown; everybody was silently listening intently indeed). But by the time everybody had their protective gear on, the atmosphere was one of electric excitement.

Our guide stayed at the rear of the raft and barked orders. One helpful tip we learned was to stay at the raft’s edge so that the paddle will be perpendicular to the water, maximizing thrusts. The trip was a combination of excitement (shoot the rapids!), education (fossilized seashells, snake skins on overhanging branches, and gaping holes along the riverbank), and relaxation as we glided along smoothly inbetween rapids.

The beginner’s course lasted for a full 4 hours. By the time we arrived at the end of our journey, we were ravenously hungry. And what better way to satiate our hunger than with seafood, liempo, and fresh pineapple on the side? Most noticeable is the rice serving, which were cooked in woven palm leaves. I learned that they really cook rice this way. Very attractive.

...to be continued
some photos courtesy of friends Yoyo, Dave, and Kagay.
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