Banos day 3: adventure!

I’m writing this the next day because I was just too tired last night, and pretty much passed out. Matt took this picture of me and our new friend Melissa pretending to be passed out at the bar of the Stray Dog, trying to drink sample-sized glasses of beer as late as about 21:30.

Anyway, yesterday was brilliant. We woke up early and had breakfast upstairs inside, because it was raining. Then we went across the street to meet our guide for canyoning. He showed up shortly after on a motorcycle with his son in front of him. His son looked about 2, maybe 3. David, the guide, is 24 and has been rock-climbing since he was about 8. The 3 of us jumped into a taxi, which drove us a short distance from Banos, to a canyon where the water formed several waterfalls in a row. I’ll try to look up the name later, but it started with Ch, I think.

We put on wetsuits and hiked up to the top of the canyon. I was struggling to keep up with David, who was lugging the ropes but who was practically sprinting up the steep trail.

When we got to the first waterfall, Matt went first because he has some climbing experience. He had his camera with him in the waterproof Ben (mobile phone plan) case we got from Nicola, so we don’t have any pictures of him going down. In fact, his battery died before we got many pictures at all, but then we were able to get some if we kept it off for a while.

We did 5 waterfalls in all. The first 3 we rappelled down then jumped backwards the last meter or so to splash in the pools. Of those 3, the first was both the biggest and the scariest, although the scary mostly came from the initial feelings of, “oh what!?!? You want me to lean backwards and trust my weight to what?” The next 2 were much easier.

Then for the 4th waterfall, we sat on our butts and slid down facing forward. I went first on this one and really liked it, but when Matt went he was pretty scared and kept trying to put his hands out to grab at passing rocks as he went. Both David and I were shouting at him to put his arms out in front of him, and eventually he locked eyes with me and safely finished the full way down.

When I saw what was coming up next, however, I was really scared. It was a 40m drop, and at first I thought we’d be rappelling again. But no. Instead we were rappelling just a meter or so, then blindly jumping, trusting David to let us down gently. I made Matt go first, and concentrated on my breathing.

Actually, I didn’t jump very convincingly. I kind of just let go. Matt says that when he went, he made his first really good jump (those earlier ones he just let go), but then nearly hit the stone outcropping just below. I nearly hit it as well, but with much less velocity. Then indeed, David gently lowered me down to the bottom, which was actually really beautiful. And, full disclosure: that photo you see with one person in blue coming down that last waterfall is actually David, using his ropes very cleverly to belay himself down. But that’s basically what we looked like coming down.

After this adventure, we had some tea at that departure point area, then climbed into a truck with David’s mom and dad, who drove us back into Banos.

It wasn’t noon yet, so we showered and then went hunting for food. First we went to the plaza in front of the cathedral, a block from our hostel, where we finally tried cevichochos. Yum!

Then we went to the big indoor market, where we decided to have more of the delicious food I’d had at Cafe Hood the night before, only this time it had chorizo, and Matt went to order fresh fruit smoothie from one of the many stands.

After lunch we decided we were up for a hike, so we walked up a steep trail above the town for an hour or two.

The view was amazing, as you can see, and I’m living in this hat, which is increasingly in need of a wash. I think I’ll add it to our next laundry load.

We were really glad to be wandering downhill again when we finished at the top. I decided I needed to get a massage at one of the many massage parlors in town. I chose one of the bigger ones, and thought it couldn’t go wrong, but alas it joined the ranks of one of the worst massages. Fortunately, while waiting for my appointment, our new friend from the previous night popped her head in, and we exchanged phone numbers to meet up for drinks later.

We met up at the Stray Dog again, but went to an Argentinian place for dinner. The restaurant was really good, with a really great staff and crazy decor, but by the time we finished eating, we were exhausted. Still, we headed back to the Stray Dog just one more time, which is where that picture at the beginning of this post comes from.

Right now I’m finishing this the next night, and this one was an even crazier day…

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