|Crossing the river to begin our hike through the Belizean jungle|
Cavetubing in Belize was not what I expected it to be. I’d imagined an exotic adventure that started with a hike through the jungle, then being carried downstream on slow river rapids through cave after cave. The actual adventure was a little different.
After an hour-long bus ride (which I loved!) through the scrubby, impoverished countryside, we veered off the road and pulled up to the outskirts of the rainforest jungle. We left everything on the bus and were encouraged to strip down to our bathing suits because we were going to get wet. I imagined this “getting wet” akin to riding the log flume or other amusement park ride that involves water. I thought our butts might get wet through the hole in the inner tube, but that would be about it.
We were handed lifejackets to carry as we hiked half an hour through the jungle. It was hot, so we first thought we’d carry them, but then we were also handed great big yellow inflatable tubes to carry, so we hung our lifejackets around our necks. We walked quickly, carrying these tubes that were not that heavy, but were very awkward. Many of us stumbled a little on rocks and roots as we trotted down the jungle path toward the river. There we found a clothesline that we were instructed to grab onto as we carried our inner tubes across the river to begin the real hike.
We got wet. Very wet. The water was up to our waists and was surprisingly cold. We’d had the good sense to wear water shoes, but they weren’t the best choice for a jungle hike. The lush trail was beautiful, but we were moving at such a fast pace that we didn’t get to savor the beauty. Plus, we had those gigantic inner tubes and lifejackets to contend with. Luckily for the women, the tour guides took most of our inner tubes away and carried them for us. (I think because we were slowing things down.)
We worked up a sweat walking toward our river entry spot where the tour guides had each family or group enter the water together. They tied the group’s inner tubes together so they moved as a unit. Most groups were tied together like a chain, with one person’s feet resting onto another person’s tube. That person would then rest their armpits onto the ankles of the person behind him. A daisy chain effect that was immediately uncomfortable.
Maybe I’m just an old woman now, but we were reclined in an awkward position that left our heads unsupported. All I wanted to do was sit up, but alas, that was not to be. And we didn’t drift lazily down the river through a series of caves. We were pulled by tour guides who waded through the river, splashing loudly as they dragged us along.
The scenery was beautiful. The caves were pretty, the water was nice, and the lush greenery of the banks was awesome to look at. But I was too distracted by the awkward reclining pose of my body, trying to keep my feet latched onto my daughter’s tube, and the pampered guilt I felt as the Belizean men pulled us through the cold rocky-bottomed river. I enjoyed the outing, but the adventure was not what I expected. I found the whole thing UnBelizeable!
Is this how you’d imagine cavetubing down a river?