Photos and words by Jasper Gibson

Mexico. The land of warm rivers, free-flowing waterfalls, ledge drops, lush jungles, delectable fresh fruits, cheap comida and friendly faces.

The trip started in San Antonio, Texas with the gathering of our intrepid crew: Costa Rican leader Oscar Argedus (whose Spanish helped us navigate some sticky situations), young buck Mitch Noddin (jokester), Wes Gilligan and myself (the wildcard; I hopped on the trip last minute and was the least experienced on the crew). After picking up Wes Gilligan at the airport, we made an evening drive from San Antonio to the border town of Laredo, Texas where we stopped off for the night. With a 15 hour drive ahead of us to Cuidad Valles, Mexico and a fair warning from the motel attendant on how sketchy Laredo and Nuevo Laredo were, a fitful few hours of sleep were had. Before daybreak, we packed into Oscar’s Aerostar van, “Petronila,” and navigated the border crossing quite easily. Our green vessel, with gear and crew in tote, traversed through arid landscapes, which, after climbing up and over the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains, slowly gave way to lush, dense jungles. Descending the eastern side of the mountains, we were quickly mesmerized by our first glimpses of the turquoise waters of San Luis Potosi. We pulled into a dark and stormy Cuidad Valles in a torrential downpour and finally navigated our way to the Ruta Huasteca raft guide house, which would be our home for the next ten days.

After our stint in Cuidad Valles, we traveled to Tlapacoyan, Vera Cruz, where we sampled some of the best whitewater that Mexico has to offer. The following photos are pieces of what ensued. Not pictured: a split and stitched lip, a broken nose, multiple attempts at a body recovery by three members of our crew and many others, countless belly laughs, preemptive plane ticket purchasing and countless good-ol’-shenanigans.

More from C&K

FROM THE MAG | One Life: Mexico’s Rey Del Rio World Waterfall Championships

MADE IN MEXICO: Paddling like a girl south of the border–and being okay with it