On our way to Banos we drove along the most uneven, rocky dirt roads in the pouring rain, but everyone was waving as we drove by, really friendly.
We arrived at our destination about 5pm which was a beautiful hostel/ lodge called Pequeño Paraiso owned by an ex-dragoman leader call Rich who was Scottish, hilarious and slightly mad! It was still raining and we were so cold and damp still from the jungle we decided to upgrade to a room rather than camp. So we got a massive room with 3 bunk beds for $4.50 a night, bargain, especially when hot showers are involved, bliss!
After sorting ourselves out, we went into the main area where Rich had put on a BBQ. Then we started to drink and play Jenga that also had dares written on them which were hilarious, definitely going to have to do that at home! Eventually we got to bed about 1am.
Next morning Ian and I found out we were on breakfast duty, not at our best funnily enough! Then we all went to Rio Dastaza for grade 3+ white water rafting. As some of you know I am prettynervous around water which I continue to try and conquer, so I was pretty nervous that morning but I think the hangover took the edge off!It was freezing cold, we put on our wetsuits then carried the raft to the edge of the river after having safety instructions and what to do with paddles etc. Leah and I got put at the front and it was terrifying and brilliant, I loved it! Further down the river we changed places so everyone got to go at the front, at one point it went up to a grade 4+ and Emma went flying about 4ft but luckily didn't fall in!
After lunch we went back to the lodge and Rich drove some of us in his open jeep to Pialon de Diablo, one of the top 10 waterfalls in the world and it was beautiful.It was quite a walk downhill where we reached a rope bridge that only takes 5 people at a time that led to a café that faces the waterfall.
After a rest and a drink we headed up to the platform that allows you to stand right next to the waterfall.It was terrifying but amazing, after crawling through a kind of cave we reached point where the waterfall was only about 4ft away, it was so loud and powerful, we all got soaked but it was such a rush to be so close to it.
Big climb to get back up and we were exhausted. At the top was a man Rich knows who gave us a lift in the back of his veg van back to the cable car that Rich recommended we go on.
Once we got there, there was this mad character dressed in lots of colours who insisted on putting a feather in his hair before we took a photo. The cable car was pretty fast and wobbly, we were all over the place, then it stops right in the middle over a massive drop and a river, which I'm guessing is so you can take a picture but we got a shock when it stopped!
On the other side we went for a walk through a combination of people's gardens and open area. It was really beautiful, and reminded me abit of Scotland. Afterwards it was back to the lodge for dinner then bed.
Next morning we went canyoning, when we woke it was pouring with rain. After getting all the gear on and instructions on how to abseil etc, I was pretty fed up of being wet and cold but we set off to the place and I thought I'd enjoy once I get there as I´d done it before and enjoyed it.For some reason I was the first to go down on the first abseil on a cliff face/ waterfall, about 15ft and I couldn't remember how to get my technique/ footing at all. The guide came up to walk me through it and to show the others. I was really nervous; heights and water, what a fantastic combination of fears in one go! One part of it was completely flat with nowhere to get your footing, so I was exhausted with nerves. Just when I thought the worst was over I looked over my shoulder and saw I had to get straight on a zip wire over the bottom of the waterfall, which was another massive drop and pretty much started to fall apart, I was terrified even though I knew it was safe and the silent tears started much to my horror but no-one saw but the guides- phew!As we carried on I really enjoyed it, jumping of 10ft rocks into the water, floating down small waterfalls on your back, climbing up rocks but then came the next waterfall drop to abseil down and I was terrified. Not your, oh, I feel abit nervous, maybe abit uncomfortable but I'll do it anyway and then enjoy it. This was rooted to the spot, nauseas, illogical petrified phobia stuff which I have never experienced before and it was horrific! I was a sobbing mess. I hated feeling like such a wet blanket and the guide left me to last to help walk me down the waterfall. I thought of every possible way to get out of it, but the only way was down. The guide was amazing and walked me down this 40/50ft rock face with a pounding waterfall pumping water about 2/3ft away from me, it was awful and I was exhausted! But I made it down alive! The last abseil was about 30ft and the guide walked me down first and there was not a tear in sight, I felt so much more confident and was really pleased I did it and hopefully overcome a horrific fear.There will be another opportunity for me to do it again but we will see then if I can face my fear once more!Back to the lodge for a shower and lunch, some of the others went to do the bridge jump (not on your nelly!), whereas Leah, Emma and I went into Banos town centre for a facial and reflexology.We were supposed to be able to get a bus from outside of the lodge but none of the buses stopped for us so we had to walk round a massive hill which had a tunnel through it round to Rio Verde where we got a bus eventually. The buses are long distance ones that stop on the way, dark and hot, filled with locals that don't speak, very strange. Once at the bus terminal we passed lots of sweet stalls that were making there own toffee type stuff out of sugar cane. They have wooden pegs in the door frames of the shop that they pull out the sugar/ toffee, softening and stretching it.
The facial and reflexology was brilliant but they really have ago at your blackheads, we all came out with red noses and chins shocked at how many blackheads had been found! Off to dinner with everyone in a really nice Italian type place (very good looking owner that all the girls dribbled over) and then we all got a lift in the veg van again for a small fee where Leah and I kept taking pictures of everyone as it was so dark, everyone got blinded by our flashes which we thought was hilarious- too much red wine obviously! Back to the lodge to pack and to bed as another early start