San Rafael Falls
As promised, Sandra and a driver picked us up at 630 am. We grabbed leftover cake for breakfast and said goodbye to our last minute host, Alicia. In the light, it was clear how beautiful her home was, and similar in size to a modern large house in Canada.
As the six of us had slept in two singles and a double, there was a lot of tossing and turning. No one admitted to it, but everyone was tired. During the day, Aubrey read most of the first Harry Potter book out loud. Teva, who has decided he would be in Hufflepuff due to his loyalty, was quite the trooper despite feeling quite unwell from the start. Early on, we had to make a couple of sudden vomit pit stops, but he managed to participate in the whole day, with a lot of lying down, crackers, and fluids.
After spending a week with Sandra, a multi-talented young woman who was our facilitator through the jungle, we had discussed with her visiting two beautiful waterfalls near her home. We could also visit her llamas and her mama. We were excited about taking the city bus, but the four hour drive and a few destinations led to her arranging a more efficient mode of transport via minivan and driver. Plus we could give her a lift home as well.
So the drive into the cloud forest near Baesa was beautiful again. We could clearly see many volcanoes and mountains around Quito, and the vistas and waterfalls as we climbed into the mountains and back down on the other side were numerous and natural.
We hiked 1.5 km to see the powerful force of the 160 metre drop of the San Rafael Falls. The water shot off the surface of the river like an explosion and became mist part way to dropping to the ground around. The hills and forest around were spectacular. Unfortunately, a new hydroelectric project (to replace dependence on oil revenue) plans to divert forty percent of the water from upstream to a place far away from the nearby active volcano. Very soon this waterfall may never look the same again.
We stopped for lunch a roadside truck stop where the menu is chicken with rice, chicken soup, or rice with egg and potato. She sold out with our eight meals. It was plentiful, tasty, and the total was thirty dollars. And the food went a long way towards minimizing the ridiculous car conflicts between a few of the boys.
The Magic Falls was a shorter waterfall with a shorter hike. We were prepared to get wet, as this time, instead of a lookout from above and across the valley, we were able to walk right up the base of the falls. Or at least as close as felt safe. The water was falling with such power that a strong wind was created, jettisoning the water droplets outwards along the ground. It was hard to get close due to the winds, but even within 100 metres, it was cold and wet. We were prepared and the boys much enjoyed getting soaked and then swimming against the river flow a few hundred metres downstream.
It was getting late, so we drove Sandra, who had all day been a great source of information, back to her home. We briefly played with her four llamas and met her mother, before Milton drove us home to our apartment again.
Even though it started as a horrible day for Teva, by the end of the drive, even he felt we had had an awesome day. Tomorrow night we fly home. If only we can get Teva’s stomach settled first.