Tag Archives: Banos

3 Amazing Ways to Experience a Waterfall

Water is an essential part of life

Our bodies contain about 60% water and we need to drink water everyday to replenish our cells. Our planet’s surface is covered by 75% water and our search for hospitable planets are governed by the search for water. Waterfalls are the perfect metaphor for how powerful and beautiful water can be.

In this post I’d like to share three amazing ways in which I have experienced the power of waterfalls on my travels. Of course, I have to start off with the question:

Awkward or Amazing?

Amazing!

1: Sitting underneath a waterfall

In Brunei, my brother and I hiked through the jungle to the Teraja waterfall. En route I had to remove several leeches from my breeches. The waterfall plunged into a small lagoon, which we had all to our selves. After a brief picnic, we swam to the waterfall. I decided to get as close as I can and sat down right underneath the waterfall. The water came down thundering and the droplets pounded my shoulders and back like rubber bullets. The experience was exhilarating and cleansing. I wanted to scream at the top of my voice to compete with the thundering sound of the water coming down on my head with a surprising amount of force for such a small waterfall.

Such a small waterfall, such tremendous power
Such a small waterfall, such tremendous power

2. Sliding down a waterfall

In the jungles of Ecuador we visited a lagoon for a bit of swimming. The lagoon was the last pool of water in of a cascade of waterfalls leading up to one of the Amazon tributary rivers. We wandered a bit deeper into the jungle to explore some more lagoons. At one point we reached another  waterfall and the guide showed us that it was possible (if you are brave) to slide down the waterfall and to follow the current back to the lagoon. Our G-Adventures tour guide seemed a bit skeptical, but I decided to take the risk. So I had to sit on a very specific rock and then let the water take me. The slide itself was only about a meter before it dumps you into an abyss of water. The pressure of the water was immense and it took me some time to get up (I also had to adjust my bikini). My exit was graceful with all my hair slapped over my face, but it was one of the most adrenaline-fueled experiences I’ve ever had.

Water slide, anyone?
Water slide, anyone?

3. Canyoning/Canyoneering

Canyoning involves repelling down waterfalls whilst strapped in a harness. In Baños, Ecuador we went canyoning with José and 2 dogs. We scaled four waterfalls of 8 m, 12 m, 18 m and 25 m respectively. The first two waterfalls was small enough that we could scale it down directly in the stream of water. It’s an amazing experience to lean back and skulk down the waterfall while the water splashes in your face. For the larger waterfalls, we came down the sides, but trust me, you get an amazing amount of respect for the force of the water crashing down next to you. For the fifth and final waterfall, we slid down like a water slide – a very bumpy one!

Look mom, no hands!
Look mom, no hands!

Life List Entry: Slid down a waterfall

If you can think of any other ways to enjoy a waterfall, drop a comment. Otherwise head to the About awkward and amazing page or the Hire Me page to learn more about the blog and my freelancing career

 

Zip-lining in Banos: The Only Way Out is Up

Zip-lining across the San Martin Canyon – Awkward or Amazing?

Quite, quite awkward. But loads of fun.

Someone brought it to my attention that the brain function I default to in most aspects of my life is my reptile brain.

This is the part of your brain, the brain stem, which is responsible for basic functioning such as breathing as well as for your flight/flight/freeze response to, I’m guessing in my case pretty much everything. I kind of like the idea of going through life altering between states of minding my own business like a gecko in a sunny spot and responding to life with the passion of a fire-breathing dragon.

It also explains my approach to dealing with potentially fear-inspiring situations.

Let me explain with a case study:

Zip-lining at Parque Aventura San Martin in Baños, Ecuador.

The service provider, going by the name of José and 2 Dogs (although I have it on good authority that there are actually 5 dogs), showed us a video of the zip-lining adventure that they offered.

Basically, it was an AC-DC pumped-up action extravaganza showing how we would be zipping at breakneck speed over a massive canyon and through a gorge after which we will oh so casually cross a shifty-looking suspension bridge above a raging river, climb up a perpendicular cliff and then zip all the way back to civilization.

Reptile Brain: EPIC!!!! Let’s do this!!!!

Rational brain: Don’t mean to interrupt, but you’re terrified of climbing remember

Reptile Brain: I don’t see a threat. I only see epic glory.

Rational Brain: But…what about when you’re actually doing it?

Reptile Brain: I’m hungry. Overriding conversation.

Next day we were lining up to zip across the canyon.

Appearing pumped up and ready for action due to over-active reptilian brain chemicals, I was (unfortunately) the chosen one to go first. As I was being strapped into the harness, it occurred to me that I’ve never zip-lined before. I had no idea what to expect. I was being held by strangers, facing a gigantic canyon, seconds from being rocketed straight through two cliffs. Naturally, I went from gecko to dragon in a millisecond dropping a fiery hell of swear-words until I was unleashed.

And it was actually quite okay. Not even scary at all. I even got a few whoops in as I flew over the canyon.

Through the canyon
Made it through the gorge!

Next up: bridge of suspended suspense.

After taking a few corny group shots once everyone finished zipping, it was time to cross the bridge. Seeing as we were getting photos taken, I had to go first again.

Nothing to worry about, just crossing a wonky bridge over a raging river with a metal cable as a security blanket. No biggie. Rather not think about the sizeable gaps between the platforms making the bridge a bridge. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Reached the end, phew.

Bridge of suspense
Bridge of suspense

Now there was a little ledge serving as a waiting station

We were a group of seven plus two guides and a camera man. The ledge could maybe fit four people. So there was not  much time for the guide to give a step by step instruction on how to step by step climb up the via ferrata (iron steps hammered into the mountain side). He explained how to work the safety chains and left me with a “up you go”.

Reptile brain: Oh, f*ck. I can’t climb.

Rational brain: Told you so.

Reptile brain: Freeze

Rational brain: Only way out is up.

Reptile brain: I said FREEZE!

At this point, a line had formed behind me

Oh oh...
Oh oh…

The guide: “What’s up?”

Me: “I can’t go up.”

The guide: “Why not?”

Me: “I’m scared. I can’t remember how my limbs work.”

After some arguing and persuasion, the guide agreed to climb up with me so that he could handle my safety chains so that I could focus on figuring out how to put one foot up above the other.

Reptile brain: Oh man, left leg, right leg, don’t look down, breathe, left leg, right leg, never-a-flipping-gain…..smile at the camera (you kidding me?)…

Fake smile for the camera
Fake smile for the camera!

Reptile brain: Breathe…nearly there, just breathe. We made it!

Rational brain: Told you so.

Reptile brain: And I told you epic glory.  I’m the Dragon Master of San Martin! Oh look, another zip-line. Wheeeeeeee!!!

Whohooo!!!!

Let’s be honest.

If my reptile brain wasn’t in charge, I wouldn’t even have attempted the adventure. I would have rationalized my way past AC-DC to my fear of climbing.  And yes, it was scary as hell, but I made it.

The San Martin canyon is not the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

Not by a long shot.

I can’t say for sure which part of my brain I used to find courage to face the worst task of my life. Or which part I used to endure the almost equally horrific aftermath. But I’d like to think that it is because I live close to my inner dragon that I was able to find courage where others could not.

Life List Entry: Zip-lined at San Martin Canyon, Baños, Ecuador