Monday, October 22, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Three

Monday, October 22, 2012

When we woke up this morning, we were energized and excited for the next day of our adventures in Costa Rica. After the fun we had White Water River Rafting, we were eager to go Canyoning. We started out with breakfast at our hotel. I decided to order the Costa Rican traditional breakfast. It was so good that I ordered this dish for breakfast every day until we left La Fortuna. I wanted to be sure I started my morning off with a good breakfast so I would have the energy to keep up on all our adventures!

The view of Aernal, from our breakfast table!
My favorite breakfast - fried plantains, rice and beans, a scone, over-hard eggs, cheese and cream.
Once again we were picked up at our hotel and driven to the location where we would go Canyoning. This drive took through the Costa Rican country side. It was about a thirty minute ride through farm lands to where we would switch vehicles. Our guides told us that we would be switching to a four wheel vehicle and I didn't think anything of it until we arrived to the transfer location and I saw the vehicles. They were Toyota pick-up trucks from the late eighties, with benches welded to the bed of the truck. I had just seen a very similar vehicle carrying cows down the road, and now I was going to ride in one! I told Joel to make a run for the first truck in line, because I didn't want to ride up the mountain in the dust cloud from the truck in front. Good news - Joel successfully secured us all seats in the first truck.

The beautiful Costa Rica country side
The big white "bus" is what picked us up from our hotel, and the trucks are the four wheel vehicles we took to the top of the mountain!
All loaded up and ready to get going!
Joel and I - excited to go canyoning for the first time!
It was a very bumpy ride up the mountain side to where we would put on our safety gear and go canyoning. It really added to feeling of being on an adventure in a foreign country, where else would you find yourself in a half-truck half-bus bouncing your way up the side of a mountain in the jungle? Once we arrived at the top, we put on our safety gear and helmets. Jackie and I decided to wear optional blue jackets that help keep you warm. I figured better warm than cold in the jungle. After a short hike into the depths of the jungle, we found ourselves lined up on a small platform. I was watching the guides get all the ropes sets up and then all of a sudden, one of them just stepped over the edge and they were gone! I could hear the waterfall below us and I started to understand just what I had gotten myself into - and I was so excited!

Chris, Jackie, Me and Joel listening to the safety talk.
Another couple went first and then it was our turn. I remember they hooked me into the ropes and told me to lean backwards. It is amazing how your survival instincts kick in - I had to be pushed out. I just couldn't make myself lean out backwards over a waterfall 300 feet up in the air! But when I saw that Joel had already started on the journey down, there was no way I was going to let him beat me. So I lean back and let myself drop. It was so exciting!

Joel - about to take his first drop off the platform above the waterfall!
Me - Trying not to look as panicked as I feel!
Me and Joel - a third of way down our first waterfall repel. So fun!
Me and Joel - working our way down the cliff. I was trying to avoid the waterfall, so I wouldn't be soaked for the rest of the day.
To canyon, you jump backwards off a platform and let yourself drop toward the ground. You will swing toward the face of the rock wall, so you keep your feet out in front of you to brace yourself on the rock wall. Then you push off the rock wall and let the rope go slack, so that you drop farther down the face of the rock wall. You can control the amount of slack in your line, so you can drop as fast or slow as you want. You continue pushing off the rock wall and dropping down until you reach the bottom. As I gained confidence my jumps became larger and I was at the bottom of the waterfall in no time!

Chris - About to take his first jump off the starting platform.
Jackie - Also about to take her first jump from the starting platform - have I mentioned she doesn't like heights!
Chris is flying down this cliff!
Jackie isn't too far behind!
After everyone in our group got to the bottom of the waterfall, we took a short walk to the next waterfall and did it all over again. It was so much fun! I really enjoyed seeing how few jumps it would take me to get to the bottom of each waterfall. Each cliff brought a different experience and I had a lot of fun going down each one.

For this rappel, you had no choice but to go straight down the waterfall - it was crazy to jump in and out of a waterfall!
Joel tried to straddle the waterfall, but eventually, he gave up and just went for it.
Joel and I at the base of the second rappel.
I'm actually pretty high up, you can just see the guides at the top of the image.
Coming in for a landing!
Look how little we all look from the starting platform, even with the camera zoomed all the way in! That is a long way down!
I could really see how someone could really get into this activity. It seemed like no time at all before we were back at the trucks, removing our safety gear, and heading back to base for lunch. After another delicious Costa Rican meal of rice, beans and protein, we walked around the grounds of the offices for our tour package. They had a beautiful flower garden that Jackie and I wandered through, while the boys lounged in hammocks.

Another delicious lunch.
Joel was ready for a nap.
There were so many beautiful flowers in Costa Rica!
After a short ride back to our hotel, we decided it was time for some fun in the pool. Joel and I had never stayed at a hotel with a swim up bar, so we wanted to sit in the heated pool and have a few drinks. We enjoyed the rest of our evening in the pool and then dinner in the restaurant.

Cheers to Costa Rica!
Joel loves drinking in a pool!
Chris and Jackie - having fun too!
Girl time! (Joel looks like a strange growth on my shoulder...)
Joel ordered a drink called something like "So you think you can stand up?"...
Look how little of his drink Joel had before he was having a good time! It wasn't long before he and Chris were singing songs and being silly... My favorite was when Chris said, "I'm sorry guys, but I just gotta sing!" Jackie and I just sat and watched the boys being silly.

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