The night before I had to scramble with the front desk staff of my hotel to try and help me find a ride to my activity the following morning, as it was about an hour north. We found a gent that would give me a ride there, but we’d leave at 6:30 a.m. so that I would get there in time.
I sleep well, and awake to be driven to my destination, Rio Secreto.
My driver speaks no English, drops me off and then drives away. Freaking out, wondering how I will get home, I talk to one of my guides that assures me it won’t be a problem and he’ll help me get transportation worked out.
Our group gets loaded into a van, and deep into the jungle we go. I’ve no idea what the day ahead has in store for us.
We come to a small breakfast set up, get a bite to eat as we are fitted with a mountain bike, wetsuit, and a quick tutorial about the cave, river, and the jungle itself.
The trail is slick from last night’s rain, but my riding skills fair me well as I navigate along. Other’s don’t have the same luck as they are slipping in the mud, or slowly pedaling up hills or sliding down the descents. We all make it in one piece to our first cave entrance. We park the bikes and start our hike.
The creatures here observe us in curious fashion, from bats to snakes to scorpions. We all duck down low to avoid hitting the cave ceiling, watching our heads as we go deeper and deeper into Mother Earth. Time to flick on our headlamps.
After a few more miles, we come to another cave opening, which is a perfect place to get something eat and use the restroom before we change into our wetsuits.
“Wetsuits down here?”
We all nervously get changed, then start walking again in the darkness. I feel the cold water on my feet before I actually see the river. Before we realize it, the river is flowing up to our knees, then quickly to our waist. The building excitement is contagious for what is ahead of us.
Deep blue pools of water void of sea creatures, only the haunting formations of stone. I felt like we were the first humans to have witnessed this place, although I knew that to not be true. I dive deep, waiting for the monsters of middle earth to swallow me whole, and revel in the feeling of being so in the moment, so alive.
Eventually our time in this underground paradise comes to an end, and we start the long trek back to the surface. Body full of adrenaline, my smile will not leave my face. It’s a rarity for me when I look back at the pictures and see the constant grin.
Our mountain bikes are right where we left them hours before, and as we ride back, myself and our guide forego speed and safety and fly back down the trail. A light afternoon rain starts to fall as we hit the jumps and let the mud fly onto our face and cover my legs in brown speckled spots.
We have a late lunch ready for us, and I down a cerveza and some cactus tacos and rice voraciously. My guide tells me that our van will gladly take me back home, since my morning driver ditched me.
After today’s glorious adventure, I am feeling like I could run the 3o miles home, but take them up on the offer.