Another sleepless night for the Plavins’/Andino gang. Son-of-a-b****!!! The positive to all this? For sure, the MOST COMFORTABLE BEDS and PILLOWS to date, along with the best hot shower to date. You can’t win ‘em all, right?

Today we were leaving Baños, but not before stopping to partake in some more shenanigans. Up the road a bit was the infamous zip lining I had seen advertised all over town. But this was NOT quite what I was expecting. Let me try and set up the scene for you. Literally off the highway, across a seriously high canyon with waterfalls flanking both sides, for $10, you could fly like superman along the windiest valley ever. Ummmn, no thanks! Having zip lined before — Guatemala, Costa Rica and even outside of Thunder Bay — I was accustomed to going from tree top to tree top. Even the one we did in Guatemala could not hold a candle to this guy. I felt like such a chicken but soon succumbed to the ever-popular “you only live once!” peer pressure and decided I would give it a go. Saffy was all gangbusters and had committed to accompanying Joaquin in a tandem ride across. Piper and Alvi were on the fence and not sure they would even do it at all (I think they were waiting to see if we survived; Alvi kept mentioning something about my insurance being up to date).

At the launch site they strapped Joaquin and Saffy in simultaneously as they did me. I was holding onto the railing for dear life and about to change my mind when my hand was ripped off the metallic gate and my backside was given a push. SHIITTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! Make the wind stop!!!!! Soaring beside me were the dynamic duo, all taking it in, giggly and loving it whilst I made a super attractive grimace and tried not to soil my underwear. It was so windy up there!!!!! As if by some fluke, we did not die. No, not at all! I arrived first while Saffy and Joaquin managed to stop about 50M short of the end zone. One of the guides had to climb on and pull them back in. I confess I should have been more concerned for their safety but I was trying to calm myself the “F” down since the adrenaline had my legs shaking like leaves. It kind of reminded me of childbirth: once you’re there, you’re there; there’s no escaping, and no turning back, you have to just do it, and when it’s over, you’re all like “well that wasn’t so bad!!!” (Not everyone’s birth story, I realize lol).


Excited little Saffy! Nothing was going to stop her!


I was freaking out. Piper was upset. She thought everyone would laugh since she was thinking of not going.


Getting ready for the big push!


Strapped in together with Superman — er, Joaquin!!


Picture of a picture. Had to include… was absolutely freaking!


You see why I had to include it. Full on pants-pooping right there!


Across the canyon we fly!


Waiting for us on the other side of the canyon!


Return via cable car, with me giving the thumbs up to Piper!

After taking the cable car back across the canyon, Joaquin, Saffy and I took a look at the pictures and could not resist. I’m such a gomer — “look at the mountain climber now!” I could hear myself mocking me in my head. We ponied up $16 and bought them all lol. At this point, Piper had gathered up her courage and she and her father decided to suit up and see what all the fuss was about. They were total champs! Alvi had the go-pro on and I could hear Pipe screaming across the valley. (Not that I screamed, definitely not, lol).


Piper and her Daddy about to get this thing done!


Someone is feeling good about this now….


Thanks to Joaquin for many of these shots. Love my girl.

So that was an adventure! But wait, there’s more! Act now and you, too, can enjoy the most insane waterfall experience ever! Joaquin was up to something. But first, we took on a bit of a hike across the canyon to explore. Beautiful vegetation, an array of tropical birds and more roaring rivers ensued.


Saffy enamoured with the gigantic leaves!


Our fearless guide catching some of the Gong Show in action.


Rainforest vegetation!


Quiet moment on the river stones. Joaquin Andino photo.


Cloud forest.

We then stopped for lunch where my dear sweet Saffy, once again, begged to take home one of the many street dogs. She has such a huge capacity to love and animals mean everything to her… See for yourself below.


This little guy stole her heart.


She shed a few tears of leaving him.


Souvenirs to cheer her up!!

And now, Joaquin’s surprise. For $1 each, he took us on another wee hike alongside Rio Verde, which ordinarily is a relatively peaceful, almost green-like river; but had been transformed into a violently over-flowing monster with class 5 rapids. At this point, we were literally on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, and appropriately, it was pouring with rain. Didn’t bother us at all, we continued to meander through tropical vegetation and enjoyed the view of the river, until it took on a new form: Cascada del Pailin del Diabolo. Translation? Waterfalls of the Devil’s Frying Pan. Now I understood why Joaquin had said it was NOT a good idea to attempt to white water raft through this stuff. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. Niagara Falls got nothin’ on Ecuador’s waterfalls!!!!


The power of these falls was intense.


We were on the stairs getting drenched!


A look half-way down into the gorge.


This was before we realized how wet we were going to get!


Before we realized the insanity of the falls…


A go-pro shot of where we were down below.


Enjoying one of the many suspension bridges on the way down to the falls.


I assure you Saffy was having fun! She was just not wanting to “pose” for a picture.



Got along so well on this day!

The power and force behind the rushing water was something to truly behold. After passing through a number of soaking wet swing bridges, we arrived at the actual “pan” itself and once again, I had to remind myself I was down to one pair of clean undies. Ecuador has done a fabulous job building in infrastructure around all of its captivating natural wonders, and this was no exception. We walked right down beside the falls, revelling in our soaking wet glory, unable to hear anything other than the deafening roar of the rushing water. What a bang for a buck, I kept thinking!!!!


Can you imagine what it must have taken to build all of the stone steps in and around these falls?


Photos do not do the integrity of the falls any justice!


Fearless photographer. Only Alvi and Piper had the kahunas to be perched on this little stone ledge so close to the falls!

And now we’re back in the Prado heading to Quito as I type this. Joaquin gets to reunite with the love of his life, Diana, and we get to rest up before the Gong Show heads to Peru, via bus, for 36 hours. (That’s only the first bus, lol. There’s another one that goes for 21 more hours in order to bring us to the Sacred Valley!!! But the cost difference was $2,400 to fly vs $600 to take a pretty schnazzy bus).