50 intrepid members of the U3A (University of the Third Age) participated in this exciting white water rafting experience. We set off at 8 am on the 6th June, 2014. The day was overcast but by the time we arrived at about 10.30 am it was hot and sunny.
The driver of our coach got us lost a few times but eventually we arrived at Cieza, 40 kms (25 miles) away from Murcia, Spain. ANALA, the rafting company provided us with a light breakfast of a meat or tuna roll, together with a soft drink.
We kitted up in life jackets and safety helmets and following a brief health and safety talk, including a demonstration on the correct way to hold the paddle, the rafts were launched. Each raft held 10 people and an experienced ANALA employee in the stern.
We followed the fast flowing river for three hours. Unlike last year the river was very low in some stretches, due to lack of rain, which meant we had to climb out of the rafts a few times and carry them across the shallows.
The banks on either side of the river were lined with bushes. Thick branches trailed the water ready to ensnare inexperienced rafters. Some rafters were determined they wouldn't be overtaken and employed 'spurious' tactics when another raft threatened to overtake. This mainly involved sending arcs of cold water over the occupants of another raft, resulting in the 'enemy' being soaked to the skin, but the barging and bumping all added to the fun. It became evident why the hardhats were needed, when a raft crashed into the overhanging branches, spun around, whipping and lashing at our ducked heads to eventually emerge, sometimes stern first behind our triumphant rivals.
During the course of the journey, I saw a kingfisher, and some rafters spotted a golden oriole, a secretive bird which stays mainly in the treetops.
When we landed we were escorted to a sports stadium where we had the chance to shower and change into dry clothes before our coach took us back to Cieza to 'Bar Miquel'. Here we enjoyed a four-course meal; a refreshing salad with crispy chunks of bread, followed by a delicious cold soup with croutons (gazpacho), paella, a huge plate of small cakes with cream, coffee, and as much water and wine as you could drink, all for €12.