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Mexico Trip Report '06/'07

Our most recent trip to research for "The River Gypsies' Guide to North America" took us south of the border to Mexico. We decided at the last possible minute that a trip down there was needed, since Mexico is a North American paddling destination with plenty of whitewater. We decided to explore the Eastern Slope - the Sierra Madre Oriental - in the states of San Luis Potosi and Veracruz. Here's the report:

Jalcomulco and Actopan
Then next day, Leland and I ventured over to Jalcolmulco via an awesome drive over some intense mountains. Jalcolmulco is a beautiful little tourist town set down in the Rio Antigua Valley, which has a cooler more arid climate than where we had been. The climate here seemed to be perfect for mangos and a variety of gorgeous flowers.

The Antigua Valley with Jalcomulco in the distance.

Our first day of paddling was on the class II, III Rio Actopan. As we were changing clothes at the put-in and discussing how Leland was going to tell a cab driver at the take out to take him back up to the put-in, a van pulled up and out jumped two guys who were definitely raft guides--they really are the same everywhere! We ended up befriending them and going to tour their eco-tourist hostel and campground for a tour. This place was amazing, as well as Ernesto's English as he explained the environmental problems of the area and how he was combatting them. If you go to the area, you should stay at his place: --it really is immaculate. And thank goodness Ernesto ran our shuttle for us and saved us the time and difficulty!

The Rio Actopan is unique because it starts with a 15 footer that lands in a giant pool that anyone can run.

Leland practicing for bigger his Recoil.

I was trying so hard to get forward all the way, but only my head was making it! It really is hard to have good waterfall technique, but I will keep trying because it is my dream to run a bigger drop one day.

Just for fun, we had to make fun of old school technique!

The Rio Actopan is also unique because the river bursts out from under the earth right there at the put in!

After the put-in waterfall, the river reminded me of the Nantahala, but warmer. It was fast, bouncy, and continuous class III with some bushes to avoid and a few flippy holes. And there were waterfalls bursting through the walls.

It didn't take long for the river to calm to interspersed class II with giant mango trees galore.

There was one good playspot that, as you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed in my Ammo!

When we got to the take-out at a restaurant in the town of Actopan, we couldn't help but notice there was a group of drunk Mexican men dancing and singing to Mili Vanilli in the parking lot. They ended up coming over to us to hang out. They bought us drinks and we proceeded to party right there in the parking lot. These men were fun and crazy and we made friends for life. They taught us how awesome the Mexican people are. They never could get Leland to dance to Milli Vanilli though...