Each night it had rained a few minutes in the darkest hours. The last night we were in Nueva Israel the rain started and then never stopped. We got up and packed away our things. before the morning service. When the children had gathered, we gave them all a dose of de-worming medicine to at least help fight the ever present parasites for a while. The service itself was our last time with the villagers. In addition to the usual goodbye group pictures, we gifted the pastor with a few bibles and a few of the older women gave a couple of the guys some aji peppers. We were all touched by the hospitality of the villagers and the witness they shared in spite of our language barriers.
The boats came soon enough, in spite of the rain. Fortunately most of the rain had been what I would call a gentle soaking rain so far. We were all wet, but no one was terribly uncomfortable yet. That would quickly change. We all managed to load up our gear and get in the boats without incident. We just hoped and prayed that the rain gear on our packs would hold.
Todd, who was in a different boat, later told us that, early on in the trip downstream, they didn't take a bend well and the side of their boat hit a stump pretty hard. A portion of one of the side planks cracked and was pushed out from the rest of the plank. Needless to say water was coming in at an alarming rate and even the constant bailing wouldn't make a dent in it. The locals quickly communicated that he needed to fix it with force. One solid whack to put the cracked portion back in to place and the water (mostly) stopped. They weren't sinking so it was back to business as usual.
The waterfalls that had been trickles on our way in were now gushing torrents down the steep banks. The rain picked up significantly while we were on the river in addition to the discomfort of being in an open vehicle speeding through it. I knew we were in trouble early on when Nick IV commented on how warm the water felt. It didn't take long to realize that the water was still the cool river we'd known, but we ourselves were getting colder and colder. The extra depth meant that our boat's bottoms didn't scrape quite so much, but the quicker current made some of the shallow areas a little trickier to navigate. I had to hop out a couple times to help push the boat off a bank. Fortunately my boots were waterproof enough that my feet stayed mostly dry throughout. By the time we made it back to Puerta Morona, we were all soaked to the bone.
Once we were all out of the boats and hunkering under whatever small awnings we could find on shore, a slight challenge arose. The bus was apparently stuck at the ferry a few miles down the road. It's operation was in question because of the changing water levels. Joil hired a couple of pick up trucks to take us back to the bus and we all piled in . Despite all of us being crammed in the backs of these trucks and all of our gear just being piled on the covered top without any way to secure them, we were grateful to have something over our heads and just laughed at the new wrinkle in our plans.
Before long we were back in the bus and grateful for the dry clothes we'd each kept ready for the occasion. The rain had brought the clouds down low and the drive back to Sucua was mostly disguised behind heavy fog. Every few miles we'd be slightly delayed where a fresh landslide was being cleared from one side of the road. The coffee and sandwiches someone had brought with the bus were a welcome sight to our chilled bodies.
That evening Joil and Leah welcomed us in to their home. They'd recorded the Super Bowl as a gift for us, though the game itself wasn't much of a gift. The evening of fellowship and rest was followed by a good nights sleep back at our hotel in Sucua. Another long day of driving would greet us in the morning.