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!