Thursday, March 14, 2013

BAÑOS (Day 2)

DAY 2:
Saturday morning we all work up to eat breakfast before meeting with the agent lady at 9 to begin our adventurous day. The hostel that we stayed at provided breakfast on the roof which we thoroughly enjoyed. At 9 we made our way down to the main entrance of the door where we were told to wait for this lady. It was raining, pouring really, but we figured since the activities planned for the day involved getting soaked in water anyways that it didn't matter.

After waiting for about 10 minutes (still getting use to Ecuador time) a man on a peddle bike showed up in front of us. "Good morning! Is this everyone?" Umm, yes, but where is Carla? He assured us that he was there on behalf of Carla and that we were to follow him to the bus that would drop us off at our first stop. With a little hesitation, we did end up following him about a block down where the bus was sitting... well kind of a bus.

We were the only five there and we were told that a group would be going with us so we started getting a little nervous. We sat in the very back of the colorful, open bus on the little wooden benches and waited. A few minutes later  some 10 other people did hop on board, thank goodness. The man explained to us that we would drive for about half an hour until our group was to get off at the white water rafting site. As the bus pulled out, the music came on and we were having a party. The rain was blowing in on us, the music was blaring and we were bouncing all over the place on the rough roads. So basically, we were pretty much just along for the ride without the best idea of what we had planned for the day.

We made it! The package deal wasn't a lie. :) The five of us jumped off and marveled at the view of the river we would be going down. From where we were standing, we could see for miles overlooking the windy rivers surrounded by trees. We waited for our guide to get all of our wet suits ready, but while we were waiting, another guide made us pure sugar can to drink right in front of us. It was pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

Our guides told us to load up into the little truck so that they could take us down to the river; we crammed in the cab while our guides sat in the back with all of the equipment. We made it to the river and then were all given wet suits, helmets and life jackets to put on. We went over a few rules, learned the commands, blew up the raft with a little air pump, and hopped in! Another group was pulling in as we were leaving. They were all older guys, three rafts worth of them, and they ended up going down right behind us. Our guide, Pato, was very energetic and obviously loved his job. Hilary and Elizabeth had never gone rafting before so they were a little nervous about hitting the rapids. Of course they were the two that Pato assigned to sit in the front but they handled it pretty well. They didn't act that nervous until he said, "we are going to flip on this next one". Pato just laughed at how their eyes popped out of their head when they turned back to look at him and told us to keep paddling. We survived without falling in the water...not that it really mattered at this point because we were all soaked from the splashing anyways.


Once we made it to a slower part of the river, Pato ad his other gang of friends started to get a little crazy and wanted to show off in front of us. First the guide from the other raft stood up on the sides acting like he was king. All it took was one rock and he was in the river. The worst part is that when he was trying to pull himself back up into the raft, he made it but his pants didn't; everyone saw his bare bottom. Pobrecito! (poor thing) we couldn't stop laughing. Next was Pato's turn to stand on the sides. He didn't need a rock to knock him in though. Eventually the guys in the other raft started a splashing war with us and Pato ended up throwing us in the river too. The water actually felt pretty nice once we were in.

Well that concludes the morning of Day 2. Pato took us to a restaurant for lunch that was also included in the package deal, and then we were taken to the office where we found Carla. She informed us that ext would be the canyoning adventure. We couldn't have mentally prepared ourselves for this if we tried. Repelling down waterfalls is an awesome thought, but terrifying when it's actually happening. Our guide (I can't remember his name), was tiny but really nice. With our little shoes that could have been bought from Dollar General, and our helmets and wet suits once again, we hopped into another truck and off we went to the waterfalls.


 Four waterfalls were waiting for our scared little souls. Lorene was the first to lower herself down the slippery slope. It made me even more nervous just watching this all happen because the guide had no control when he was teaching us. Granted the first waterfall was a smaller one to practice on, we were still 100% responsible for what we were doing. The rope was looped through our harness with out anything to hold it from coming undone except for our hands. Every once and a while we would slip with our little wet shoes and would smash into the rock wall; bloody hands alert.

The second waterfall was handled a little different than the first. This time, Nicole was the lucky one to go first. Instead being told to loop the ropes as we did before like we were expecting, our guide clipped us on our back loop. The next set of instructions was to sit down at the top of the waterfall...we all stared at each other with horribly confused looks on our faces. Haha, well Nicole listened and we just watched as she took a slide down the waterfall, right in the middle of it. (Our guide was lowering us down, we didn't really just slide off.) After watching this whole ordeal, I was excited to go next, but I am glad that I wasn't first. So here's what it looked like:

Then it looked like this:

And my reaction was like:

Waterfall number three was even more scary. From where we were standing, all we could see was to the edge of the waterfall and the super steep valley in the distance. We were panicking, praying that we wouldn't slip on this one and fall to our death (honestly, that is what I was thinking). One thing that I didn't explain is that to repel down you have to lean back pretty far, pushing off of the rock with your feet and then trust the little rope to hold all of your weight; this goes against every instinct in your body and is a little freaky. It turns out that the waterfall wasn't the whole way down like we had originally thought. There was a little ledge where we would hook up for the final part. As I was taking my turn, Nicole, who was waiting to go last, and I heard Elizabeth scream. When I made it to the ledge, I walked over to where my guide was .That's when I understood why she screamed.

"Just step off." Are you CRAZY?! This tiny little man is telling me to step off of this cliff and free fall to the bottom until he decides to stop me with the ropes? Seriously, it just kept getting more and more scary...but we all did it anyways. I'm really horrible with guessing how high it was so I hope you can tell from this picture: (Hilary is standing at the bottom in her orange helmet on the rock pile in front of the waterfall.)

Our guide hooked me up safely (yay!) and down I went, screaming.

I have never experienced that much of an adrenaline rush in my life! Honestly, that was my favorite part of the entire canyoning experience. Would I do it again? Umm, no lol, probably not. I will say that I am glad that I did it though. Our guide successfully taught us how to repel down waterfalls. We were all excited to have completed the challenge and so we took a victory picture.

Originally we were supposed to fit puenting in on this day too but by the time we finished up at the waterfalls, it was already late. Instead, we decided to go the next day but you'll have to wait a little longer for that post :)

See you next time!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

BAÑOS (Day 1)

First of all, I would like to thank my mom and dad for my adventurous side. As nervous as it makes them now, I am thankful that I have parents like them who are always trying to make the best of every situation and who take advantage of opportunities. I debated on weather or not I should mention to them what all I was thinking about doing while I was in Baños, but eventually I did tell was a mistake (sorry). When I came back that Sunday and skyped with them, they were happy to see me alive and well. Not only did Dad tell me that Mom had been worrying all weekend, but I also received this in an email the next morning:

"Obviously We are concerned with you down there making big decisions that could affect your life forever so all I can ask is think before you go with your freedom instincts. :)   I want you to spread your wings but do it smartly. :)  I support what you do so have fun. Always keep your head about whats going on and don't depend on someone else cause usually someone else falls short of doing what you thought they would!   Ok  enough of that.  Mom obviously is worried and wants you back in one piece.  :) ME Tooo"

As you can see, this weekend brought the daredevil out of me for reasons that I am going to blame on my skydiving/scuba diving parents. Hah! Well, here it goes...

When a group of us decided we wanted to go, we met up at the mall to plan our weekend trip. This involved some time on the Internet, searching for our hostel, calling people about prices and times, and deciding what all we wanted to do. For the most part, everything seemed to be worked out and we were ready to go!

DAY 1:
Friday morning, the five of us met at the bus station early in the morning to get to Baños early that afternoon. Our hostel was perfect, once again, for $8.50 a night/person. Once we checked in we grabbed some pizza and set out for our first planned adventure: zip lining.

Our guides harnessed us up, gave us us our gloves and helmets, and then started describing to us what we would be doing. The map showed four different lines that we would be zipping down, each getting a little longer...over the trees, through the valleys and over the rivers. It was BEAUTIFUL! I wish I would have been able to take my camera with me to show you guys what it looked like from the line, but instead we were able to give it to the guides who took pictures of us coming in.

On the very last line, I was the first to go down and watch every one fly along the river. Nicole came after me and seemed to be going a little slower than she should have been. Sure enough, she got stuck probably 20 feet away from the platform, hundreds of feet above the ground. At this point, she would have been pretty helpless if it wasnt for the guide with the long rope to pull her in. I'm assuming this happens often because he didn't really think anything of it, unlike Nicole who was happy to finally touch the wooden platform; the same thing happened to Lorene. The hike back to the top was a bit exhausting, but I will say the ride was definitely worth it!

After zip lining, we headed back to the hostel to change into our bathing suits to go to the hot springs! The five of us, (the girl you guys probably don't recognize is Lorene, she's from California), were all looking forward to chillaxin' in the warm water until our two other friends arrived to Baños to grab dinner. We got to the hot springs and learned that we had to buy/wear plastic shower caps if we wanted to get in. Boo! They're ugly...and so we didn't take pictures :x. Anyways, we bought the lovely hair holders and were ready to run from the dressing room to the pools because at this point, it was a little chilly out and we were seeing a little too many guys in speedos.

There were about five different pools to choose from and so we chose the natural, brown water one. The five of us got in the luke-warm water and laughed at each other for a while in our shower caps. So were we chillaxin' in the warm water? Yes, until two six-ish year old girls JUMPED into the pool and splashed us all. Excuse me, those shower caps aren't doing anything when they're filled with water, chicas.We sat there and watched these girls swim in tiny little circles in front of us, jumping in and out of the spring...we moved to the crowded, clear water pool and managed to laugh at the whole situation.

Once we made it back to the hotel, a woman greeted us and asked what our plans were for the weekend. We told her we were wanting to go rafting and puenting for sure and that we were trying to fit it in that next day. She smiled at us and said, "You can do rafting, canyoning and puenting all tomorrow for $60." We all kinda looked at each other for a moment before we started asking her who she is and if its a scam. (Hah, we really did tell her that we thought she might be scamming us.) She assured us that she was an agent and that it was her job to sell the package deals. Instead of answering right away, we told her we would let her know in a few minutes. After talking to the people at the front desk, we decided to go for it and pay her the money.

While taking turns getting our showers, our other two friends, Tori and Lauren, made it to the hostel and were ready to get something to eat. A friend that was here last semester suggested that we go to a restaurant called Casa Hood while we were there, and so we did. I'm really glad that she suggested that because it was so good we ended up going back the next night too. Mmm, Roy's Chocolate Shake! <3

After dinner, we were hoping to be able to take the volcano tour on the chiva (party bus with music and dancing), but we got there late and there wasn't enough room. That's okay though because the volcano wasn't erupting at the time so we wouldn't have been able to really see anything anyways. Instead we went out dancing for a little bit and then made it back to our hostel where we just hung out for the night and discussed what all we wanted to do/were expecting for the next day. Hah, just wait to see what it consisted of! :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Happy (very) late Valentine's Day everyone! Valentine's Day is celebrated down here too but they seem to celebrate friendships just as much as the lovely dovey relationships, which I think is so cute. Along the roads they sell beautiful flowers, all the girls were carrying around roses, people were eating chocolates and friends were getting together just to be together.

Initially, our plan for the 14th was to get together with a few of our best girl friends, eat chocolate, drink some wine and watch girly movies like The Wedding Planner and Magic Mike hey ya. This plan, however, ended up changing when Mama Paty informed us that we were going to have a church service in our house that evening with family friends and that there would be a dinner afterwards.

The morning of Valentine's Day, Papa Galo and Mama Paty greeted me with a box of chocolates at breakfast. In return, Nicole and I decided to buy them some flowers on our way home from school because 1.) they deserve it and 2.) it was 30 years of them knowing each other! aww <3

When we got home from school, the living room was rearranged and everything was in order for the service at seven. Mama Paty had been cleaning since I left that morning for class; the alter looked beautiful.

Pretty soon people started coming in to the house, all dressed up and happy to be there. They brought little gifts and Nicole and I were able to meet everyone.  From what I understand, this has been happening for a few years now on Valentine's Day. Mama Paty was so happy that we were able to be there which made me happy because of how important it was to her.

Everyone was given a bulletin before the service started so that we were able to follow along. with there being so many people there, Nicole, Pablo, Mae, Tata and I had to sit in the dining room while everyone else was in the living room, but that was probably for the best. When it was time to sing the songs, Nicole and I were butchering the tune/pronunciation of the words that we didn't necessarily know the meanings of. Pablo and Mae found it amusing but we were really trying!

After the service, it was time for dinner which consisted of  hot wine, a tortilla wrap and a really sweet cake of some sort. We were able to talk with some of the others that were invited, including two nuns. Actually, we probably talked to them the most that whole night. They were very interested in why we were here. :)

The little celebration went on for a few hours and it was a really good time. People were taking pictures, laughing, telling stories, and enjoying all the company.


This Valentine's Day, or Día de Amor y Amisted was different than any other Valentine's Day that I've ever experienced and it was fantastic. The love and friendship there that night was evident. Happy 30 years to you, Mama Paty and Papa Galo. We love you!