Last weekend, I traveled to Tena with a whole bunch of WorldTeach volunteers. Tena is a small town located on the edge of the Amazon Jungle. It is an AWESOME place. It is so hot and humid and nothing like Quito. The people are very relaxed and fun to be around. We had a GREAT weekend! We left Saturday morning at 5am (ugh!) and arrived around noon. Lara, a volunteer stationed in Quito, met us at the station and it was great to see her. She was so tan compared to all of the Quito volunteers!
We walked around for a while looking for a hostel and then had a long and lazy lunch. After we asked the owner of our hostel if he could help us find a local guide to take us to the waterfalls that are nearby. He said he would drive us. So we all hopped in the back of his pick-up and ended up in a place we didn’t expect – The Caverns of Jumandi. We were really confused in the beginning because it was not at all what we expected but, as usual in Ecuador, the unexpected turned out to be a fabulous adventure. We all put on big rubber boots, head lamps, and followed our guide through a cave that had a river running through it. We had a mud bath, jumped into surprisingly deep holes in the bottom of the cave, and ended up on top of a mountain at sunset that looked out over the Andes. If you are heading to Tena, definitely visit these caves!
The next day the group split up. Half of the group hiked through the jungle to visit the waterfalls and swim. My half of the group went rafting on Class III rapids! It was my first time rafting and I knew nothing. The guides spent an hour practicing with us and then we were off. One guide was in a safety kayak that went ahead of us and found the places that were safest to navigate. The other guide was with us in the boat shouting directions at us and steering the boat. I had a blast. At one point, he invited us to hop out of the boat and float down some rapids without the boat. I was a little scared but it was SO FUN! Around noon, we pulled the boat over and they fed us lunch. The guides made delicious burritos and we swam in the river for a bit. Then it was back in the boat and paddling for dear life.I plan on going rafting again while I am here.
As soon as we got back into town we hopped onto our bus and headed back to Quito. I had class the next morning at 7am and that was a bit brutal but totally worth it!