Okay, so this entry isn’t going to be too exciting because it involves a lot of bus time and an early night, but I’ll do my best to showcase the adventures of the day. Because there were some!
Well first of all I woke up almost dead. Thanks, firewater. But by some miracle I made my way out of bed and onto the bus in time to set out for Tena, Ecuador. We also had to pack a lunch for the bus, so we want to a café across the street from the hotel to get a sandwich.
The drive from Quito to Tena involved driving over the Andes, which was treacherous, gorgeous, nauseating, amazing…everything. All I can say is thank god for Dramamine. But despite the windy cliff roads, it really was gorgeous, and quite the experience. We saw waterfalls, rivers, little towns perched on the edges of the highway. We also saw a ton of landslides, which were resulting from some heavy rainfall that Ecuador had experienced a couple of weeks ago. Thank god we weren’t here for that.
We also got to see the highest point on the highway in the Andes, which had a beautiful view of the volcano.
And cue bridge drama.
So, we had been told that one of the bridges was down. And so they’d replaced it with a temporary bridge. We’re not talking about like, the Golden Gate Bridge or anything, it was just like a little bridge over a little trickly river. But like…you still gotta cross it to get anywhere. Well, the temporary bridge was too fragile to go over in a bus. So there was this whole plan to get as close as possible to the bridge, hop off the bus, get our luggage, walk our luggage across the bridge, and then switch buses on the other side.
That was the plan.
Instead our fearless bus driver, Jaime just shrugged, said “Eh,” and then GUNNED IT OVER THE TEMPORARY BRIDGE. Granted it took two seconds and plenty of people missed it because they didn’t realize what had happened. But I was in the front seat so I witnessed it. Thankfully we’re all alive, the bridge is still in tact, and we made it to the other side.
We still had to switch buses though, because we had planned on changing buses with another tour. So we did that. And the tour we switched with was a bunch of high schoolers on a mission trip. They were really friendly right off the bat. And one girl yelled “Are any of you guys from Massachusetts?!” So I was like “New Hampshire!” and she and I had a little bit of a New England bonding moment.
We were back on the bus for quite a bit of time. It was pretty, but uneventful. But luckily it wasn’t too long until we had made it to Tena for our first activity in the jungle: white water rafting.
Disclaimer: I brought my go-pro on this trip solely for activities like this. I found out that the case was broken, which meant it would be way more likely for it to fall out into the river or off a cliff or a waterfall or something. So I forwent the use of the GoPro. But now I have no pictures of my extreme activities. Sad face.
Well, anyways. White water rafting was an absolute blast. I’d never gone before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was just really hoping I wouldn’t be the only person to fall out of the raft. Like, I knew it would happen. But I didn’t want to be the only one.
One weird thing about it was that you had two shoe options, either to go sandals, or barefoot. Now, I didn’t have outdoor sandals, so I went barefoot. But the advice was to wear socks so you have some traction in the raft. So just remember—for the duration of rafting, I spent two hours in completely wet socks.
In my raft was me, Kristina (our guide got a kick out of that, especially cuz we sat next to each other), Max, Trevor, Jordin, and Jason. Somehow Kristina and I wound up in the front, which is the splash zone. For real. We hit our first rapids and we basically got our own personal tsunami. And the water was freezing. You thought the equator would be warm? Nah, not when you’re at this elevation.
Eventually we switched seats and let the boys have a go in the splash zone. Then our guide turns us so the raft is going backwards. We hit another wave. Boom. Tsunami hits us first again, from the back this time.
This guy wanted us all drenched, I swear.
We also each took a turn sitting at the very front of the raft while going through rapids. We had a little rope to hold onto for stability. I thought for sure it would be my downfall, but by some miracle when we hit the wave, I fell backwards into the boat—basically onto Trevor and Max—but at least didn’t fall out.
Some people tried standing at the very front of the raft, holding onto the same rope. They all fell in. Which was bound to happen, it’s so slippery. I weaseled my way out of that challenge. I was in socks. I would have gone right in without a fight. That was my excuse.
The last thing we did was try to….balance the raft I guess? I honestly am not sure what the goal was here, but our guide had us all move to the very back of the raft, packed very closely together. Then he pulled up on the rope that was connected to the very front until it lifted out of the water. So basically we’ve got a Titanic situation on our hands. We all start panicking, thinking we’re going to tip the raft. We all started clinging to each other for stability, but I think we all knew that it wasn’t going to end well. Finally after a solid two minutes of panicking and scrambling, Jordin, Trevor, and I all went flopping into the water. The other ones survived somehow. They were sitting closer to the sides rather than the back. Rude.
After rafting our guides prepared us a little snack of guayusa tea, fresh pineapple, and chocolate cake. It was really quite a spread for people who were soaking wet and covered in bruises, but it was lovely nonetheless.
After our snack, we were able to check into our next hotel. There was a bit of a roommate switcheroo, so rather than rooming with Jordin, I was matched with Marisa from Toronto. We’ve been cohabiting quite nicely. This hotel was a different setup in that there was one room with two small beds and another room with a big bed. So it was kind of nice, we got our own rooms. Though the bathroom was a bit quirky. The doors were super sticky. And the shower? Well…the shower didn’t exactly have hot water. And if it did have it, it was only for a minute.
After some half-hearted primping it was off to dinner by the pool area at the hotel. Dinner was soup, chicken, veggies, plantains, and some other stuff. Oh, and again in the middle of the table we had the triumphant return of mandatory sauce. There was no alcohol at dinner, but Mike was kind enough to buy some community beers. We chatted. We ate. We drank. We tried to ignore the smell of everyone’s poisonous bug spray. Just another fun day in Ecuador.