1.3964° S, 78.4247° W
So I'm all up for a bus journey here and there but I seriously think they're making me delusional. To start with all I dream about when I'm on them is snow. I know this is really bad considering I'm on the other side of the world sunning it up but I really miss the white stuff. This then leads on to endless day dreams about becoming a professional Freeride skier and blah blah blah. Anyway my latest daydream took me to Alaska where I was casually hanging out with all the contestants of last year’s Freeride World Tour. Not only was I chilling with them I was presenting the FRWT Journal. I'm sorry but Hersha Patel just doesn't strike me as the kinda gal who shreds, I feel like they need someone with a little more passion. Oh wait, me. Yeah I'd be perfect for the role, and with this I drifted off in to my little bubble of imagination whilst we headed to Baños.
Baños is the adrenaline junkie’s paradise of Ecuador...in other words it's going to be freaking awesome! We checked in to the Santa Cruz hostel pretty late, paying only for a dorm room. Turns out we had our own private room AGAIN! And only had to share the bathroom. The window was held closed by a broom but who cares, we had a double bed!
Casa Del Arbol $1 entrance fee
The next morning we grabbed some breakie before getting the bus up to Casa Del Arbol. To us English folk it's known as the swing on the edge of the world. It's pretty cool to be fair and great for a photo opportunity, if you’re lucky you can see the volcano in the background. Even if you get a clouded background it still makes a top tourist piccy and you can't exactly complain for $1 entrance fee. There's a slack line you can practice on and also a mini zip wire but after 12.00 the queues seemed to get reasonably bigger so we started walking down
Directions: Take the $1 bus from the corner of Calle Rocafuerte& Calle Pastaza. The bus time are 5.45am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm. There is also a 3 hour hike up the mountain or a 1 and half hour jungle trek but i'm not sure on the exact route.
The long walk down consisted of a mixture between trying to teach Jordan Spanish and trying to convince him that I was going to be the next big thing in presenting. 3/4 of the way down I must of been doing his head in because he stuck his thumb out as a car came past so we could hitch a ride back in to town. There was also another couple in the car from Canada who had jumped in further up, so we got talking as you do and decided to do the waterfall bike tour together tomorrow. I say 'as you do' but this was actually the first time I'd ever asked two random strangers if they affectively wanted to double date. So we swapped details and agreed to meet the following day.
Bridge Jump (puenting) $20 Per person
Next it was time to do the bridge jump. The bridge stands 100m above the river, however the drop is only 22 meters, so nothing to worry about right? The bridge was huge and it was at this point I realised that even though it's only a 22 meter drop there was still enough time for me to shit my pants. Jordan went first so I watched from the side, it looked like a very casual jump and then I ran down to meet him at the bottom. I could tell from his face he didn't find it casual and I still think he was in shock as he was pretty pale. Next up was me, so after tightening my harness, I stepped up on to the platform and began the countdown. As I jumped my eyes closed for a split second. 'No keep them open' I told myself so I didn't miss any of it. It was a crazy feeling, the hardest part is the jump but as I started falling I realised how amazing it was. The best part is you swing back up the other side and do it all again. I had so much adrenalin running through me and when I came to meet Jord I defiantly had more colour in my face then he did.
Yano how I mentioned earlier about this daydream I had. Well it had gotten to the point where I was going to give it a bash and see if it worked. I do this with all my ideas (unless they're really OTT), that's pretty much the reason why I started teaching skiing and why I'm currently travelling South America. I get all excited and make notes about shit I need to do or how I can reach my goal. I thought this would be a good place to interview people and start my new found career of presenting. I mean a presenter who isn't afraid to throw herself of shit would make great TV right? Turns out that wasn't the hard bit. When I tried to speak to the dude at the bridge jump all my words got muddled up and I couldn't understand myself let alone the guy speaking Spanglish. So cheers Hersha but I guess you can keep your job.
Waterfall cycle Tour $7 bike hire
The next day we woke up nice and early to make sure we met our new Canadian buds (Maegan and Terry) on time. We rented some bikes from one of the thousands of Tour Company’s in Baños and began cycling the waterfall route. The last time I rode a bike was in Amsterdam and it ended with me running a lady over, landing face first and the contents of my bag spilling across the road. Not the ideal situation. However this wasn't the bicycle capital of the world so maybe I'd be ok. We were about 20 minutes in and everything was going pretty well, then out of nowhere jumps an Alsatian and wraps its chops around Jordan's leg. We all stopped to check it out and it looked pretty bad. One of the tooth holes was quite deep and blood was dripping from the top bite mark. Jord cleaned it and bandaged it up (luckily were gay enough to carry a first aid kit), and we decided to carry on with the cycle route.
The guy in the shop had told us the best waterfall was Rio Negra. So we cycled along the route and after 15 km or so passed the El Diablo waterfall. We were all pretty hungry but decided to wait until we got to Rio Negra. After 26 km of cycling in the sun and dripping with sweat we finally reached Rio Negra village. We literally couldn't wait to strip down, get in the pool of the waterfall then have some lunch. Shame though because it turns out the waterfall was a further 10 km more and all uphill. In the end we fucked it off and hitchhiked back to El Diablo because by this point we were all starving.
El Diablo $1.50 entrance fee
Lunch was pretty good, and after we walked down to explore El Diablo. You can hear the water crashing down well before you see it and even at the bottom view point the splash back from the fall means you end up soaking. After this there is a build-up of small passages that you have to crawl through to get higher up and there you can stand right behind it. The power and energy of the water gushing down next to you is so strong and a really cool experience. So far I'd say that's the most power I’ve ever felt from water.
When we got back to Baños our next move was to head to Esmareldes, but not before we made a trip to the hospital. It was basically next to the hostel which made life super convenient. Also all healthcare in Ecuador is free which is another bonus because it meant we didn't have to claim on our insurance! The nurse gave Jords bite a really good scrub which left him with a face as sour as ever, but the vaccinations were only available between 8.00AM and 4.00PM when the pharmacy was open. The doctor gave us a prescription and told us to get it the following day in Esmareldes, so with that we grabbed our bags and made our way to the bus terminal.