Baños was Dorine’s little paradise. Traveling for 8 months, she had discovered this little Ecuatorian town and decided to stay, spending 2 months there in total. And now, about to fly back to France, she was spending another 3 weeks in Baños. Needless to say she knew everything there was to see and to do there. And she had made a bunch of friends. Which friends happened to work for one of the numerous agencies offering outdoor activities: canyoning, rafting, bike tour,.. But before testing any of these, she took me to “La casa del árbol”. This place has a swing hanging from a tree and as the tree is at the edge of a fall, it is supposed to give you butterflies in the stomach. Though I didn’t think it was that impressive. Maybe because I had tried a mega swing in Colombia a few weeks before. You become so blasé when traveling so much. There’s a great view from there, however. Except it was cloudy and I couldn’t see the volcano. But still… I had a great afternoon.
As I had all the necessary contacts at hand with Dorine, who was even able to get me a discount, I decided to have a go at some of the activities they were offering. I was tempted by the rafting but as my friend, after having it done about 7 or 8 times, recently had a bad experience, she felt more comfortable keeping me company for the canyoning: rapelling and jumping in pools along the river. Fun. I felt like a kid again. Only a shame our group was so big, which made us lose a lot of time waiting for everyone to finish each activity.
“Travel land” is small – as I most probably already told you – and, by chance, Dorine had run into some of the French guys we had been doing the desert trip with in La Guajira, Colombia. So, in the evening, we met them, as well as other friends of hers, to have a few drinks. I tried what I hadn’t done in Cali: a few salsa moves. Technically, it was a disaster. But my dancing partner didn’t seem to care that much.
As Dorine wasn’t able to keep me company me for a day or two, I thought I might try the rafting. Which, I was convinced, I had never tried before. But then, by the first time I fell into the water, I remembered I had. And also why I probably had preferred to forget about it. Because, of course, it’s not because you are out of the boat that the river stands still. And when the boat flips and you’re actually under the boat, it’s quite a scary moment. Eventually, you get out of there. Not without having swallowed a few deciliters of water. And then you still need to get into the boat again. You have lost your pride, your paddle – which they told you cost 40 $, reason why you need to hold on to it – and the accompanying staff seems busy rescueing anyone else but you. You keep on swallowing water and getting forward. And when you get back into the boat, you get yelled at that you have to pull yourself together and keep on paddling. After looking around, everyone in my boat seemed to have had the same unpleasant experience.
The guy following us with the kayak then came close with his camera, obviously having the time of his life, to show us some videos and pictures of what just happened. At least someone was able to laugh about it…
5 minutes later, the boat flipped again. With the same panic moments, even more water swallowed, the same difficulty to get on the boat again, feeling exhausted and not able to paddle anymore. Me and another girl – also called Sarah – didnt really feel like going any further. But we were given little choice.
We made a halt. The guy from the agency who was accompanying the second boat asked me if I was allright, then reminded me of Dorine’s bad experience and announced:
– Now I’m going to try to make my boat flip.
Whaaaaaat? You’re doing this on purpose, mate? Are you crazy? I just got scared as never before!
We got back in the boats. A few moments later, the other one actually ended upside down. Everyone out of the boat. I was sincerely feeling for them. Then two of the guys who got ejected returned to their group running on the river bank commenting:
– Woaaaw! Crazy! That was fun! I want to do this again!
Ah. OK. Right. Obviously not the same type of experience.
In the meantime, rafting: check. And if another occasion ever presents itself, please remind me I took this off the check list already.
The remaining days were relaxed, and we were able to make humour in French. One doesn’t always think about that but I find it one of the most difficult things when not being able to speak my mother tongue. You’re never quite as subtle and funny. Or at least that’s what I think. Dorine, in any case, was just plenty of fun and I regretted not being able to travel any further with her. Just had to leave her behind and continue towards… the Galapagos. Whenever you feel sad about leaving a person or a place, just go to the Galapagos. It kind of makes it alright.