That afternoon we took a drive down the La Ruta de las Cascadas (valley of the waterfalls). To get there we had to drive through a small flash flood which was spilling over the road. It was also filling people's homes with silty mud and splattered all over the relatively clean Dodge, darn it. Next we drove past an almost overflowing hydroelectric dam that was dumping huge amounts of water on one side while the other was almost bursting and sadly had a large pile of floating rubbish building up. Every waterfall we saw was pumping and every river brown, flooded and wild making for quite the sights. We made use of all this extra water at one point to wash the Dodge and got quite wet ourselves. By far the most spectacular thing we saw was the Pailón del Diablo. We didn't realise what our hostel owner had meant when he said not to go today but we soon understood when we arrived at the falls after the 15 minute walk downhill. The falls were absolutely raging as millions more litres than normal ploughed over the edge sending up huge waves of wash and making the viewing steps a very wet and potentially dangerous place. We pretended like the camera was waterproof and took a short video enjoy the power of the water but getting totally drenched in the wash. One crack in the cliff face even let you crawl right up to the side of the mammoth waterfall close enough to let you reach out and touch it.
The next morning we again drove through the La Ruta de las Cascadas as its also the road north out of town. The river levels had dropped almost back to normal but we still couldn't resist the chance to ride in a small cable car across the gorge over two waterfalls. Especially now that we were dry and warm enough to do so. We paid our 3 soles and climbed aboard. The trip was over pretty quickly though as once we reached the other side the driver flew us back again at break neck speed. We then continued to our next stop Tena where we planed to do some rafting.
The next morning we bummed around on the Internet before returning to the rafting companies but they still had no new bookings. So we went back to stalking any person that looked like they might want to go rafting. It was easy to pic the tourists from the locals and we soon found Bart and Kelly from Belgium who agreed to come and raft the Jondachi and Hollin rivers with us. The next morning we got up early and squeezed into the backseat of a yellow taxi ute which had the raft and two kayaks on the back as well as our three guides for the day. It was a 40 minute drive to the river valley then a 20 minute muddy walk to the river. We carried only our paddles and life jackets while small locals, mainly women carried our deflated raft, cooler box of lunch, and the two kayaks down to the river like they were toys. We then went through a very comprehensive safety talk and did some practice paddling. It was quite interesting listening to the guide give instructions and the Belgium's listening to them as English was not either of their first languages.
We went in a few circles before finding the right road out of town then ran out gas AGAIN! I'm sure we had more in the tank but apparently not. So we gassed up from the roof tanks on the side of the road to the smiling nervous looks of the Belgians who probably didn't want to hear anymore about all the break downs we have had. They came with us after being robbed on a night bus to Tena but probably didn't realise that coming with us wasn't so simple either. On the way to Quito we stopped at the highly recommended Termas de Papallacta. Fist we had lunch nearby at a over priced eatery, Will had trout and ate the salad while I had chicken. The next day Will discovered the chicken without the salad may have been a better choice (more on this soon). The pools were welcomely hot in the cold high altitude weather and we alternated between the hot pools and freezing plunge pools before continuing on to Quito. In Quito our time with the Belgians was over as we dropped them off on the side of the road in heavy traffic. We said goodbye quickly both knowing we were unlikely to ever see each other again.
In Quito we were staying with fellow overlanders seventeenbysix from the UK who had been stuck in Ecuador for eleven weeks and counting with transmission problems on their 1992 VW van. Without ever having met us they offered to take us in for a few nights at their rented apartment in old town. We arrived later than expected but that was ok because dinner was soon ready. Dinner was a magnificent OVEN baked lasagne which we both had two giant slices of. The next day Will woke up feeling crap so stayed in bed all day which is what you get for eating trout and salad from a road side cafe I guess, though usually we are ok. We're absolutely sure it wasn't Paula and Jeremy's wonderful cooking! They even cooked me eggs for breakfast and I then spent the day blogging and doing washing.
The next day Paula and Jeremy were away early to sort out their visa extension after out staying their first ones, instead they got robbed on the bus but nabbed the woman before she got away! After the morning at the police station they finally made it out to immigration. Meanwhile we followed the lonely planets recommended walk through old town and saw many others with guide books doing the same. After stopping to climb La Basilica clock tower we then caught the packed bus back to the Dodge and took a trip to the supermarket as we were on dinner. We were so unused to using an oven that dinner took hours to cook and was finally ready around 9pm lucky we had brought yuca chips to munch on during the wait.
I guess we are both missing home a bit lately our family and friends, the food, the safe driving, the cleanliness but mostly the ease of New Zealand's way of life. Here the rules can be ridiculous and while the people are usually trying to be helpful they often don't quite get it and end up making things more difficult.
We plan to enjoy Colombia but we are ready for Central America and maybe a bit of a change.
Rochelle & Will