Alec Voorhees 08/11/2018 | Posted in Creeking, Instructional, Internationalisation, Nirvana, Trip Reports, Trips, Uncategorized, United States, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
As the fall/winter season is coming into full swing, it is just about time for the masses to make their way to the land of endless waterfalls and tacos: Mexico! The Alseseca and Jalacingo are some of the best rivers in the world to go and get your free all fix, or just to paddle some epic whitewater in the Mexican jungle. I have made the trip down to Tlapacoyan four times over the last 4 years, and it is one of my favorite places to paddle. I won’t be making the trip down this year, but my younger brother Hayden will be down there at the beginning of December. As his trip nears, I have been telling him some things that I have learned from going down there, so I figured I would make a little list of my wide range of Top 10 tips I have for your trip to Veracruz.
1. Layers for bugs
Down in Veracruz there are the most subtly gnarly bugs I have come across. Known as “ispinas”, they are these tiny little things that are everywhere. They look like small little gnats that bite, but you never feel the bite. Fast forward to laying in bed at Aventurec, and you will be scratching your legs like crazy with tons of small little red dots covering every inch of your legs. The scratching feels sooo good, but as soon as you stop they just burn. So bring light pants and long sleeves for paddling and off the river to save yourself. Ask anyone about the bugs… they will say the same thing.
2. Customs form – DO NOT LOSE
When you arrive to Mexico at the airport and clear customs, you will get a small piece of paper that you DO NOT WANT TO LOSE. This piece of paper is required when you leave Mexico, and if you do not have it they will hassle you like crazy. My second trip down I lost it, and when I was leaving they said I had to go to the police station and report it. It is basically a normal customs slip with all the normal stuff (name, passport info, trip length etc). None of the information on it is different, and that was my reasoning with the guy, saying that if I fill out a new form now, it is the exact same as my missing form. He eventually gave me a new one to fill out, but I also had to pay $100. Don’t lose the form!
3. Length of stay
With all the waterfalls you will run, along with the inevitable sickness you will get down there, I recommend 10-14 days. From the states it is super cheap to fly to Mexico City or Puebla and to stay at Aventurec. Trust me, it seems like a short amount of time, but you will get plenty of paddling and get on everything you want. Even if levels are off for a few things, doing 7 laps or something on Big Banana is worth the trip. I know people that have gone for 2 months, and everyone says don’t do it. 10-14 is ideal, 3 weeks max.
4. Grippiest shoes you have!
The rock down there is super slippery. Bring a solid pair of 5.10’s or Astral’s. Slippery shoes down there make it even more scary when you are portaging and scouting.
5. Sickness prevention
You are going to get sick. Just know that you will have diarrhea and have a night or a few on the toilet with it coming every which way. The water is dirty and there is not much you can do about it. Only drink bottled water, and pick and choose your vegetables and try to not have ice. A lot of times they are rinsed and made with tap water. Bring some extra pairs of underwear because it is just the reality. Stay hydrated when you are sick, and tough it out and go paddle. You will feel awful, but paddling will help out, even if it is something easier.
6. Sickness recovery
Bring your Pepto, Imodium, and activated charcoal to help out, and just drink lots of water as I mentioned above. When you get “Montezuma’s Revenge”, basically nothing sounds good to eat. My go to when I am like this is to go to the grocery store and get a ton of Snickers. The straight sugar doesn’t mess with my stomach, and it is the best thing for me to eat when I feel awful. When my stomach is upset, I also like some carbonated drinks like coke or sparkling water as well.
The rivers down there are definitely hard on kayaks. Bring whatever you like to repair boats, but I personally like bitchathane + duct tape on the outside. Welds just always re-crack for me. Aventurec has a heat gun and a nice little roller tool to weld, but using the bitchathane works best in my opinion. If you don’t want to bring your boat back, Aventurec buys used boats to stock up on their rental fleet. Even if you break it, give it to them and they might take off some of the price of your stay.
Southwest is by far the best airline for domestic travel. They also now fly into Mexico City, so that is epic! 75 bucks for boat and paddle guaranteed and are 100% kayak friendly . They usually have low fares and I love flying with them. Aeromexico also takes “surf equipment” up to 9’8” and 100 pounds, so they are a great option for a pretty much guarantee with your boat wrapped up in something for a normal price of $150. Just make sure the first flight is a big plane and starts with either of those airlines.
With your stay at Aventurec, they serve you breakfast and dinner each day. Breakfast consists of a buffet style meal that switches up everyday but has fruit, yogurt, pancakes, eggs, quesadillas, french toast, refried beans, and pastries. Dinner is good too, and I suggest having it 2-3 times and the rest of the time go into town to eat. Walk out the gate and wait on the road for a taxi or bus to drive you 10 minutes to “al centro” (the center). Do some exploring and eat super cheap tacos or some really good pizza. Just let Aventurec know that you won’t be having dinner that day, so you don’t get charged, and they don’t make food for you when it’s not needed. You’ll save a little bit of money, and get some more variety. It super fun walking around town with your friends and checking it out. Taxi drivers know where Aventurec is, so getting back isn’t too hard. There is also a really good food stand right across the street from Aventurec that has some epic corn.
10. Bring your game face
Since I learned to combat roll when I was 8 (now 21), I have had two swims, and both of them have been in Mexico! Perfect ledges create super sticky pourovers, and everyday is primed for you to run as hard of stuff you want. 10-14 days is perfect because you will be nervous above rapids a lot, and that’s why you are coming to Mexico the waterfall paradise! Just know that depending on your program, the river will show you who is boss no matter who you are!
Hopefully these tips are helpful for your future trip to Tlapacoyan! Dont be scared away by getting sick, bug bites, and tall waterfalls.. the Alseseca is one of the most incredible drainages in the World that every creekboater should enjoy!
Have fun and charge hard!