Our friend and unofficial tour guide of the San Luis Potosi paddling scene, Carlos “Xharlie” Castillo piggybacking on the van after changing a flat tire in the sugar cane fields on the way to the Rio Salto. On the way back from the river that day, Oscar’s van broke down in the sugar cane fields, leaving us stranded on the side of a rural road in the dark until the wee hours of the morning.
Xharlie Castillo, sliding down “La Nariz” (the nose) on the Micos.
The first of many roadside tacos shacks on the first leg of our trip, outside of Cuidad Valles in the Mexican State of San Luis Potosi. The abundance of delicious, primitive style roadside cookeries keep our bellies full and our palate satisfied.
Mitch Noddin seal launching down the lush banks of the Rio Salto, our introductory river on the trip.
Oscar Argedus sliding his way through the lush jungle on the beautiful, turquoise waters of the Micos section of the Rio Valles. There was a long instance of revelry as the crew first put into the Micos, it is truly an awe-inspiring place in the world.
The gang waiting to get the car rolling again.
La Pezma section of the Alseseca river. A local elder that we met in Tlapacoyan, Vera Cruz said that the Pezma section is “the most beautiful place is the entire world,” a hard point to rebuff.
Mitch Noddin, Wes Gilligan, Oscar Argedus and our Mexican friend Charlie reveling in the grandeur of the Micos section of the Rio Valles.
Mitch Noddin leaning his way into a boof on the final drop on the Micos section. Noddin is an east coaster turned Pacific Northwesterner and was the youngest, and possibly the most eager member of the crew.
Xharlie handing candy to a group of local school children at the put in of the Rio Santa Maria. The Santa Maria ended up being the longest and the most strenuous day of paddling on the trip with miles of flatwater paddling and some more serious rapids. Xharlie had never taken a group in at such high levels.
The hikes through the jungle were sometimes as beautiful as the rivers itself. At other times they were hellacious bushwacks through a gauntlet of pokey, spiny vegetation. Oscar Argedus hiking through the lush jungle to the put in of the Micos.
Wes Gilligan boofing his way through one of frothing, café-colored rapid of the Santa Maria.
Our crew pondering our options after one member took savage swim resulting in a lost boat and a long walk out of the jungle. The rest of the crew continued on. This section of the Rio Jalacingo was the scariest but most fun stretch of river on the entire trip for myself.
Weaver Froelicher dropping into S-turn on the Rio Alseseca. This rapid dishes out some hard hits and bloody faces if not run upright. If you keep your head above water though, its arguably the most fun rapid on the whole roadside section.
Weaver enjoying the tropical vibes in a cave on the clear waters of the Alseseca.
Wes Gilligan on one of the many Travertine-ledge-waterfalls on the Rio Salto. The whole river consisted of travertine ledges to flatwater, an entirely new and unique style of whitewater for most of our crew.
Transportation down in Mexico was comical at times. We tried to avoid the high prices of the shuttle vans by riding the public transit. As it turns out so was a young kid with 50 bushels of cotton candy.
Xharlie didn’t even hint that we could be taking out at the base of Cascada de Tamul. Needless to say, our crew was speechless when we rounded the last corner before the takeout.
You can’t win them all. This photo was taken after a failed run down the roadside section of the Rio Alseseca. Weaver Froelicher ended up hurting his ankle on the slide above the entry drop, and my stern was blown apart due to me running the same rapid backwards. The rural countryside around Tlapacoyan holds a feeling of mysticism.

Mexico: The Land of Shaking Earth

Photo gallery captures the magic of chasing central Mexico's whitewater goods

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.

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