Friday, November 4, 2011

Zip-lining is both terrifying and exhilerating!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early... again. :) This entire trip has been like this. Go to bed by around 11pm or midnight at the latest, wake up before the sun rise. It's been like clockwork.

Anyway. I realized that I didn't know which room in the hostel Julien was staying. And he didn't know which tour company we were going to go zip-lining through. So again I am kicking myself for not having these kinds of details worked out ahead of time. I wandered down to the thermal baths to check on my glasses, but no dice. And decided, since I had met Julien upstairs in the hostel's terrace cafe, that maybe I'd eat breakfast there and hope he'd show up there.

As it turns out... he was already there when I arrived! He too was wondering about how late I would sleep in, so had made sure to wake up early just in case because he didn't want to miss me at all.

At 9:30 we went down to the tour company to pay our $25 each for the tour. And then, since we had half an hour to kill, we decided to explore a little bit and just kind of wander around til 10am.

We got an old man driver to take us out to where the zip-line company was. It was only about a 15 minute drive, but what a beautiful morning! We got dropped off at the base of the mountain, and then had to hike up to the company's main house to get our gear. When I saw the gear Mario was putting on Julien I was a bit worried that I'd have to say something. I mean, I am not a small person, so really hoped they'd have gear for someone my size. But I needn't have feared! The harness and gear that got pulled out for me was very secure and they gave things a few extra security precautions that left me feeling very very safe. I knew that no matter what, flying through the canopy would not result in my death. This is a good thing.

However, I did eventually wonder if hiking from platform to platform would result in my death! The altitude was killer, and many of the footpaths and trails were narrow and very very steep. I am so grateful that Julien and our two guides were so patient with me, and I am also glad I had decided to wear my sandals and not my hiking boots that day. I never would have made it if I'd been wearing the boots. Just too heavy.

Some areas we hiked to were spectacular in their beauty. We got led at one point to a waterfall slightly off the path, but worth the visit. I took a photo of Mario and Darwin there.

So, do you remember that my first Friday here I fell and hurt my right pinkie finger? Well, I was definitely reminded of this last Saturday! The hurt finger made it impossible for me to do a few things that turned out to be pretty important in being able to zip-line happily. Such as break and slow yourself down while flying through the air! So my first line was completely terrifying for me! I just kept gaining more and more speed, and try as I might I just couldn't get my right hand to do what I needed it to do to slow me down. Mario and Julien had gone across first, and I see Mario making the pumping hand signal trying to tell me to slow down, but I couldn't, and was completely freaked out.

I got to the end and kind of just flew into Mario, who caught me, and then Julien pretty much comforted me til I was able to get my bearings again. After Darwin came across, I asked them if it would be possible to go tandem for the second line. I was told the second line was much mellower, so I wouldn't go nearly as fast, and it's a lot easier to handle.

It's also I believe the longest of all six of their lines. And because of how nice and mellow it is, my speed ran out entirely mid way through and I got stranded in the middle of the air, dangling over a canyon with no way to push myself forward again because of my stupid finger! So there I am, just hanging and going nowhere, and panic set in. I burst into tears and just lost my cool entirely. This was NOT FUN and fuck it all once I reached solid ground I was done done done done done!

Mario had to come out and rescue me, towing me to the next platform. There, Julien again comforted me (Julien was a rock star through this entire thing!) until I was ready to go on with the assurance that I'd have Darwin going with me for the rest of the lines. Cause really, by this point there was absolutely nowhere for me to go but forward.

Julien had no fear at all. He went superman pose (stomach down, head first), and at one point went butterfly pose (totally upside down). We exchanged our cameras a couple of times in order to get photos of each other. And he had mine when I came down that third line, with Darwin at my back.

As you can see, I enjoyed this one quite a lot more than the first two! In fact, with Darwin at my back I was able to just relax and let the adrenaline flow through me. No worries and no pain from my various injuries. It got harder and harder at the end to stand up once we reached the platforms, because the hiking was murdering me. But holy fuck I did it! I did all six lines, and I was more proud of myself than I think I've ever been before in my life.

I have to tell you, after that adrenaline wore off I was more relaxed than I'd ever been. Every muscle let go and I just wanted to melt into the ground. We got done with the zip lines around noon. Good thing, because I still needed to get back to town and find Ryan... because we were supposed to catch a bus back to Quito together and he was waiting for me so I wouldn't have to bus back by myself!

The rain started right as we were finishing up and then waiting for our driver. What amazing timing, right? I was told that the rain makes the lines run even faster. And I am also sure that they make the hiking even more horrible and impossible. So I didn't mind getting wet while we waited.

Back to Baños a little around 12:30, where I asked the lady at the front desk if Ryan had checked out yet. He had! She said he was looking for me, but knew I hadn't checked out yet, and they wanted to catch a 1:00 bus. Eeeep! I had no idea where to find them, but I hoped they'd come back to the hostel. So I went up the stairs to my room to grab my stuff to check out... and there was Ryan... waiting for me on the stairs! :) What a friend. Apparently Thomas was supposed to have come with us as well, but Ryan lost him. Oh no!

We decided to grab a taxi to the bus station rather than walking, because we had all our stuff with us. And Ryan had a quick errand to run. Turns out Hayden's camera had broken a few days before and he'd dropped it off at a repair shop. It hadn't been finished the night before, and Hayden and Josh had to leave earlier in the day than Ryan and I did. So Ryan offered to go pick it up when it was ready. But when he'd checked earlier the shop wasn't open yet! So he'd already sent Hayden a message that he couldn't get the camera, when in fact, he was able to at this last minute before we got on the bus. We knew Hayden had planned to get a new camera, but we hoped he'd be able to return it or something, now that it was unnecessary.

When we got to the bus station, finding the bus was easy. There is someone there screaming Quito Quito Quito and practically dragging you to where you need to go to buy your ticket and then to your bus. Even though we were both hungry, the bus was leaving in two minutes and we decided to grab that one after all rather than wait for the next one.

When we got on the bus it was pretty empty, so Ryan and I were able to spread out in the very back seat. But it filled up pretty quickly and Ryan made friends with the old man who sat next to him. They had some wonderful conversations about religion and futbol while I daydreamed and stared out the window at the spectacular scenery.

Eventually, we both got pretty tired. And the bus opened up again. So Ryan curled up in his corner to nap while I turned on my iPod and instead of napping again just stared out the window at how amazingly beautiful the world was as we passed through it. I recognized Cotopaxi as we drove around the other side of it. And I took a lot of photos from the open window. Most of them aren't very good, but I did get one great one of Ryan.

I was pretty amazed when we reached the bus station in Quito, because I had had no idea we were there already and I hadn't recognized anywhere we passed. Quito is just so insanely long that it's no wonder since I hadn't had the chance to see that side of town yet. But Ryan and I got our stuff together and after getting our bearings we grabbed a taxi back to the hostel rather than taking the metro bus.

Got back in time to sign up for dinner at the hostel, and I hadn't even been back a full hour when Remi grabbed me and asked what my plans were for Thursday night.

"Well, I'm planning to be in Canoa til Friday," I told him.

"Change your plans." He said. Apparently Liga was playing a big Paraguay futbol club for a major international cup quarter-final match, and he knew I'd want to go with him.

:) Plans adjusted immediately!

The rest of the night was just hanging out with people in the hostel. A huge group of people were dressing up for Halloween parties in New Town, but I wasn't interested in that. So I gave Hayden and Josh and Ryan big hugs and wished them good luck for the rest of their travels. They were all leaving first thing Sunday morning to head to the Galapagos, so I wouldn't be seeing them again.

Me, I just relaxed. And deep down I wondered if I shouldn't have looked harder into getting my bus ticket to Canoa ahead of time. I should have.

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