Thursday, April 27, 2006

Row, row, row your kayak

Many of my discerning readers seemed to be under the impression that the previous post was the only post about my San Juan trip. Ha! I don't let people get away quite so easily when I get into one of my rambles. And the San Juan story is definitely a ramble. So, not to worry - there are plenty more where the first one came from ;-)! Here goes part two!

Once we landed in San Juan, we quickly found places to park our cars. One of the things to do on our agenda was sea-kayaking. San Juan being an island and everything, sea-kayaking is very popular there. We went into the first place we spotted which advertised sea-kayaking. After a brief chat with the proprietor, we all decided to go for it - the total duration of the kayaking trip would be around three hours. We would be given the gear as well as the equipment. We were asked to eat lunch before we began though.

As we were not too hungry, the girls decided to eat the leftover parathas from breakfast (yup, thanks to C's idea, we had packed yummy parathas from a desi restaurant) while the guys bought lunch. Note, we also had bread and peanut butter in the car, ostensibly for breakfast. All of us refused to touch it with a barge pole even. R, who had bought the stuff, was glared at by everyone "Have you heard of jam? Why could you not have just got jam?". This piece of information is relevant in the context of future happenings. But for now, I will get back to the story. After lunch, we trooped back to the kayaking place.

We were taken to the kayaking start-point in a van. We yacked all the way - we also decided how to split into pairs for it was two people to a kayak. It was decided that the groups would be R & P, S & C, J & D and A & me. Once we landed, we were given the life-jackets and leather "skirt"s to wear. Most of us kept our original jackets on underneath the life-jackets as the wind was pretty cold. I decided to opt for the lighter jacket that the kayaking people had instead. A was perhaps the most over-dressed among us. She looked more like an eskimo than anything else (she even had her hood pulled up :-D).

Then we all sat on the kayaks on the shore and practised rowing with our paddles. I guess we must have looked pretty funny - four kayaks on solid land with eight souls sitting in them, diligently rowing! After a couple of tries, it was time to launch our kayaks into the water. I don't know how many of us knew good swimming. One thing was obvious though - in case the kayaks did capsize, the guide would have one heck of a time rescuing us all. So we all collectively prayed for a capsize-free trip (we had all ready signed what the kayak-proprietor called the "death certificate" stating that we absolved the kayak folks of all responsibility in case of injury or death :-0).

Then it was onto the water. We all started off pretty much at the same time. Then A and me noticed something - everyone else seemed to be growing tinier by the minute. We too were rowing pretty furiously - but for all intents and purposes, our kayak seemed to be standing still. What the @&#$! After a while, all the other folk (who, by now, were quite ahead of our kayak) seemed to stop. We finally caught up with them and stopped to rest, thinking that the other people were admiring some scenery. The moment we stopped, the rest of the them chorused "Don't stop, we were just waiting for you to catch up, lets go." Grrr! This happened multiple times - after which A and I decided that something was wrong with our kayak (hehehehe, convenient excuse ;-)) and besides we were there to enjoy nature and not to participate in a kayaking competition.

The kayaking was good fun though. The water was extremely clear in spots and we could see all the way upto the sea-floor. Some of the vistas we could spot around us were extremely pretty. We also spotted a bald eagle and lots of zoo-plankton. And due to the exercise and the constant presence of the sun, it was no longer chilly - it was very pleasant! That's A and me on our kayak in the pic. R and P are in the background.

After about an hour and a half or so, the two kayaks with R & P and S & C seemed to have gone off in some tangential direction. We spotted J & D's kayak somewhat near one of the shores (we were essentially kayaking around a big island). A & I pulled up beside them and we relaxed for a bit and ate energy bars while our guide went off scouting for the others. After a while, our guide returned with the other two kayaks in tow and asked us to follow him. Thus began our great U-turn saga. A & I would pull out backwards, try to turn completely, and wind up hitting the shore with a scrrruuunnnchh. And repeat the process all over again. And again. It was pretty good entertainment for J & D who were watching us - but we weren't going anywhere. Finally, we managed to pull out, by which time, of course, the other kayaks had long disappeared.

That was the last leg of our journey. A & I were again lagging behind. Our kayaking guide finally gave up on us both and towed our kayak (what an insult!) for some way after which we kayaked by ourselves to the shore. It was some 2.5 hours since we had started kayaking and we were at the end-point. We all pulled up to the shore and lined the kayaks by the beach.

All of us had got plenty of arm-exercise. Poor D was the only one who looked completely washed out though (only later, after seeing the number of movies J had made of the kayaking with his digi-cam, I kinda suspect that D did most of the kayaking on their kayak while J was busy shooting videos ;-) - and to think we girls had convinced D to go with J stating that she would then have an easy ride...!). You can see one of the views captured by J below (he, bless him, was the only one who had got his camera for the kayaking trip - all the pics on this post are from his camera).

While we waited for the pick up van, there was (what else) a lot more general chatter. Once the van came, we helped heft the kayaks onto the attached trailer. Then it was back to main area of the island and time to check into our hotel. Since I have rambled on long enough, what happened next will be the next post :-)! Adios amigos!


T said...

Assuming S is from Seattle, ask her about her prev Kayaking experience. ;-)

Rahul Obla said...

'Sea Kayaking' !! ... thatz something I'd love to do. Reminds me of my Canoeing trip a few years back in Dallas. The river was dry at places and we pretty much carried our Canoes in ankle deep water !! :D

Saranya Kishore said...

Aha the pictures simply lovely! :)

Hey didnt you have to know kayaking to be able to kayak?

And arey, I am glad you are spanning your trip post into multiple parts. ;)

Prasanna said...

Super snaps, archu. My fav are the tulips...

kuttichuvaru said...

seems to be lot of fun!! I never did kayaking.... tried to do once, but wasnt lucky!!

logic said...

Wow kayaking thats cool..
fun unlimited ...great pics there too..

Prabhu said...

Wow! Some nice pics.
Although I did get confused when all of a sudden I read multiple A & I's. Was wondering who this I is, no mention in previous post also. Could it be the Instructor?, then figured out its the author-I and not the name-I.

Anonymous said...

Its funny, how when you write a blog so many people read you stories, but here I was narrating the stories and drew blank gazes like I was in a meeting! Thats it. Am going to write and give hand outs to people henceforth :)

Prabhu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

T ... S was terrified and J was blamed for whatever happened:)

Archana Bahuguna said...

Vow! Kayaking must have been an interesting experience. I really want to do that. Seems you had great fun!

As for speed :-), here's something that'll make u feel on top of the world - when we went for a rafting trip in india recently, after seeing how "capable" I was in rowing, my instructor asked me to leave that and just concentrate my weight in front of the raft to help it glide better! :-(

Archana said...

T - oh yes, we all knew about S's experience. In fact it was used as a warning to C to not be too over-!

Rahul - yeah, probably canoeing would be better with a little water ;-)!

Saranya - nope, apparently not - they did not even ask us if we all knew how to swim :-0!

Prasanna - yup, yup - tulip snaps coming up soon :-)!

Kuttichuvaru - You should try it sometime!

Logic - these pics were not taken by me :-(. Do come back for later posts about the trip and praise the pics I took and I shall accept the compliments gracefully ;-)!

Prabhu - hmm, I was wondering if the 'I' was ambiguous. Next time I shall stick to 'me'!

Anon - lol :-D! Handouts? Thats interesting. Or maybe meeting kooptu u can do a slideshow presentation ;-P!

Prabhu - ? I thought I had seen a comment earlier?

Anon - agree, agree!

Archana - LOL :-D! Yeah, I do feel better now!

Shilpa said...

Sounds like fun Archu !

Thats reminds me...I better learn to swim soon :-P

Archana said...

Shilpa - swim? Adi paavi, how many years have you been talking abt that now ;-P!