From the center of the city, we went onto Weir, the shop owned by Marcela Luciani, where kayaks are built by request and products related to this activity are commercialized.
As we had made contact by phone, they were already waiting for us. After meeting Marcela –who would be our guide during the voyage– we stopped for a few minutes at the show room in order to see the various models built there and the elements part of the basic equipment needed to go rowing.
We were provided with neoprene clothes, deck hatch, hatch cover, stuff sacks, life-jacket, plus the paddles and the kayak, of course. We went to the site where the kayaks were stored, which was two blocks from Weir. We looked for some carts in order to move the equipment more easily and we headed straight towards the river, more precisely to the northern coast.
As we had previous experience, a short thirty-minute instructive chat was enough to remind us how to get on the kayak, take the paddles and make the basic movements in order to advance, turn or go back. In a few minutes, we were ready to start the voyage.
“To carry out this activity, conduct is essential. Apart from taking all the necessary precautions in order to avoid any possible accident, it is necessary to have a good power of reaction before some kind of danger. Basically, we are taught not to panic in case of difficulties, and thus enjoy the experience to the utmost” –explained Marcela, as we set the kayaks on the brown waters of the Paraná.
After verifying that the equipment was in order, the voyage upstream began, up to about two hundred meters before the Rosario-Victoria
Bridge. Marcela Luciani, every inch from Rosario, told us that her passion for kayaks had started when she was a little girl. “At the age of eleven, I would go rowing to the city regatta club behind my parents’ back” –confessed boastfully in-between strokes.
When her parents learnt about their daughter’s skills, they encouraged her to try her hand at this activity by training at a national level. But after a while, she herself realized that in fact she liked seeing new places, beholding nature, and enjoying the quietness the river had to offer.
“At the Paraná, people find themselves. When I am upset, I come to the river. Once you cross it, you fall in love and you cannot leave it… This river has its magic and the kayak enables you to feel it directly, as you imitate the landscape”
–asserted Marcela, when she told us her experience in this particular environment.
Touched by its eloquent story, we continued with good pace.
We crossed the river across a buoyed area, near the bridge that joins the provinces of Santa Fe
and Entre Ríos
. That is the narrowest area along which large draft vessels sail. In this way, we would considerably reduce the risk of crashing into one of them.
On the other side, we were welcomed by the Isla Verde (Green Island), where we stopped for a rest and checked that everything was in perfect condition. “The best is about to come” –revealed our nice young guide.
We continued rowing upstream, and after taking “the bend” everything turned into beholding. We went into the old Paraná, leaving the Rosario-Victoria Bridge behind.
We could appreciate the wonders unfolded by the Paraná in its delta. Islands, channels, streams and lagoons lodge a great animal and vegetal richness. The wetlands of the high delta –formed by the sediments dragged by the river– constitute an ecosystem with a biodiversity which is unique in the country and which has suffered hardly any modifications by the action of man.
The landscape was formed of plain islands lined by dry river beds, lagoons, soft hills covered by the water and dunes, stretched in parallel with the large water courses.
A bright green, coming from the forests of willows and alders, captivated our senses. “Within the fauna dwelling this area, it is possible to find coypus, long-tailed otters and capybaras, together with a large variety of birds typical of the island environment. Among the fish of these waters, the sábalos, surubíes, armados, patíes, dorados, bogas and the delicious pacúes stand out.”
After a five-hundred-meter stretch, we got off the kayaks at El Sitio, a very particular place, so-called by those who usually practice this activity.
Marcela did not hesitate to collect some willow branches, light a fire and thus heat the water to enjoy some delicious and comforting mates. While we were drinking, we beheld the landscape and noticed the fishing boats sliding along the channel.
Our guide commented that some meters towards the South, in the old Paraná, it is possible to get deep into streams and brooks and find exceptional spots, such as the Charigüé. This place encouraged us to see more; therefore, we resolved to return some other time with that excuse.
Relaxed, we enjoyed the contact with nature and the matchless silence of the area. After carefully putting out the fire, we started our way back. Some menacing dark storm clouds prompted our return to the city. As the way back was downstream, it was not too hard to reach the starting point. Very grateful for the adventure we had experienced, we said good-bye to Marcela, till we met again.
We stood alone on the beach opposite the wide Paraná. Suddenly, some cold drops started to wet our bodies. Within fifteen minutes, the drizzle turned into rain and got us totally soaked. Smiling and without any worries, there we stood, in silence, watching the islands located in front of the city.