I am writing this letter from the Desert Oasis of Huacachina in Peru…so much has happened since I last wrote to you that I could probably fill a novel with the stories. Which, hopefully, I will one day. I started this account in La Fortuna, Costa Rica…so Ill just start there and go chronologically up to Peru…
ve had another incredible day in Costa Rica, perhaps even one to rival the Canopy Tour-zipline day! This morning I tried the sport of canyoneering for the first time, which includes hiking, climbing through rivers, rappelling down wet rocks and waterfalls! It was exhilarating.

Our guides (who were delightful eye candy) picked us up at 7:30am and kitted us out with harnesses, helmets and gloves. We were warned that we were going to get wet, so I just had on my quick dry shirt and shorts with a swimsuit underneath. We were going to be traversing through the jungle, through a canyon called ¨The Lost Canyon” because, apparently, it doesn´t exist on a map. The scenery was lush and spectacular. After a safety briefing we started our first rappel down through the river, holding tightly to our safety ropes, lowering ourselves stepping carefully on the slippery rock, while our guides kicked water all over us.

The entire experience was a thrill, especially the 300 foot rappel down the main waterfall. I had to not look down and just trust that the guides were going to keep the rope taught should I lose my grip on my “speed controlling” rope. We also got the chance to jump, swim, immerse, plunge, traverse and get heavily doused in water for the entire morning…and we were spent by the time the tour came to an end and we had to climb back up to the top of the canyon.

After a quick shower and change into dry clothes, we were delighted by a fantastic home cooked meal of stewed pork, rice, mango pico de gallo, avocados, coleslaw, black beans, and tortilla chips. Yum!

Arriving back to our hotel we all disappeared for a couple hours´ of nap. Then I decided that there is no rest for the wicked and set out to rent a couple of bikes for a ride up to La Fortuna waterfall, which I was assured was an “easy, 7km, 30 minute” ride to the waterfall. Lies. All of them.

The bike ride to the thundering and spectacular La Fortuna waterfall was even more challenging that climbing the volcano in Nicaragua. Sweat poured off of me, I finished my water way too early, and to make matters worse, I had to keep stopping to get off the bike and reattach the chain that kept coming off every time I shifted down. My hands were covered in oil, and then my face too as I kept forgetting not to wipe the sweat off of my forehead with my hands! The last section was so steep that I was forced to dismount and haul myself and the bike the last 500 metres.
We were rewarded upon arrival. Throwing off our clothes we dove into the crisp cool water and swam out to the falls, delighting in the powerful undertow created by the force of the falls. We were told not to swim out too far as some unlucky swimmers had been pulled under by the sheer power , and then drowned because they got stuck in the spin cycle that it creates. I decided to skip that one.
Heading back we raced against time and the beautifully setting sun to have a couple more goes on the rope swing at the swimming hole (where we had spent the afternoon the day before after our long journey from Monteverde). It is a favorite local hangout and the rope is a no joke Tarzan like apparatus which requires you to take a leap of faith and time the release just right so that you plunge 20 feet into the deepest part of the river below. It was a lot of fun, but it took me counting to 3 like 10 times before Angela had the nerve to do it. By the time we made it back into town, it was dark and we were completely spent.
After a welcome ice cold beer, and a much needed shower, the group headed out for our “goodbye dinner”. Thank God. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to these people. Ive never travelled with a more inane and unfriendly bunch in my life. They were the only downside to my time in Central America and I was getting nervous about my organized trip in Peru, for fear it would be a similar experience.
The following day we had the morning to ourselves before our last van ride down to San Jose. The two girls desperately wanted to go visit this animal sanctuary where they rescued and cared for animals that had been hurt, mistreated, or kept as pets illegally. They needed 3 people to arrange the trip which included 4 hours of volunteer work with the creatures (or bubiks as I like to call the cute ones..its a made up word my sister and I invented). So, being the generous person I am, I decided to sign up as well.
It was quite enjoyable. We got to play with a gorgeously cute Kicachoo called Benjamin who had been hit by a car (kind of a red raccoon), and hold hands with a spider monkey who thrived on human contact. They also had baby sloths and racoons that were unbelievable cute. The Asis sanctuary was doing good work and had a lot of volunteers who had come to vacation here for a few weeks and work with the animals. We were put to work cleaning a raccoon cage…which wasn‘t as bad as it sounds…except it was rather strange to be raking leaves for a creature that is considered such a pest back home and often destroyed because of the disease that they carry. In any case, it felt good to be putting some good into the universe for these creatures. I got some adorable pictures too which will follow for sure.
That afternoon we drove the five hours down to San Jose, and it was so winding that it turned out to be, for me, the worst travel day of the trip thus far.
I was starting to get nervous, as I still had not received my email confirmation from GAP adventures for my 21 day Peru extravaganza. When we arrived at 7pm and I still hadn’t heard, I asked my sister in the UK to call them…and that’s when I found out that I hadn’t made it on the trip. I cried for like 20 minutes at the news, then pulled myself together…reminded myself that I could do the same trip alone and that I would be ok. That this might be a blessing in disguise. That I would meet people along the way, that I wouldn’t be lonely, that I’d get a guidebook, and book things as they came up. It would all work out.
Having said that, when I’ve travelled alone in the past, it was after extensive research and planning. I had read nothing, and had done nothing except book my flight. I didn’t even know where I{d be staying in Lima, and was nervous about travelling in a country which is notorious for theft and crimes against travellers, especially women.
SO, it was with great trepidation that I fell asleep that night. Fortunately, my Peruvian friend, Stela, was kind enough to call her parents in Lima, who offered to put me up for the first night. That felt better.
But oh boy, so much has happened since I got here, and its only Day 4!!
However, I will leave it there and complete my saga later…..and so it continues!
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