One of the Best Days of My Life

 

If you’re looking for more info on Ecuador, check out my other blog! Once, someone asked me what the most perfect day for me would look like. Honestly, I was stunned…how do you answer that? Was I a bad person for not knowing this about myself? I believe my answer was, “sleep in, make pancakes for breakfast, watch a movie, do something active, eat Mexican for dinner and fall asleep by someone I love.”

The normal safe bullshit, I suppose.

It wasn’t until I had one of the best days of my life that I knew what it took to make happy: challenges.

So I started off my New Year in Ecuador, a place I’ve fantasized about for years. I’ve planned this trip like three times, never quite taking the leap. The ex and I were even planning it for our honeymoon, but it’s funny…now that the trip is almost done, I realized how much he would have hated it, how much he would have complained. He’s a Caribbean vacation kind of guy…not a leap-off bridges kind of guy. That’s cool, just not lifemate material, obviously.

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So I found myself in the most adorable little town called Banos, working with Imagine Ecuador for all of my adventure needs. They’re pretty badass, not gonna lie. Every day, I showed up after breakfast and they told me what I was doing that day. On this particular day, I actually had just taken an overnight bus from Lago Agrio. Overnight buses are NOT my favorite, but with some drugs, I got about four hours of rough sleep. I showed up to IE and they informed me I would do white water rafting and canyoning that day.

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I did the rafting first, and I made quick friends with some of the girls, practicing Spanish with them. By practicing, I mean, the guide only spoke Spanish, so I quickly had to learn the words required to not die. I found myself getting frustrated, especially once we were on the water and it was clear these girls had no upper body strength.

Then we hit the rapids.

God, that was awesome. We even rode some class four rapids, slamming into the waves with vigor, water filling my mouth, my bones jarring from the impact. The adrenaline coursed through my veins and my frustration melted away into exultation.
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We even made it through the class four rapids….but we approached some waves sideways and I remember thinking, “there is no way.

SLAM. I could feel flung into the water, the rafting covering my head. Pure blackness filled my vision and I reached up to see if there was an air pocket I could gulp. No dice. I reached around, pushing myself out into the air. I panicked a little bit, but thought to myself, “this is water Jenna..you’re home here.” I immediately calmed down and surfaced, taking a deep breath. I immediately fished around, making sure there wasn’t anyone stuck under the raft. I couldn’t see anyone but my instructor so I made my way to the other side of the boat, where only one girl was left. The other six were already 100 meters behind us!

Juan pulled me up and slammed into the boat and we both whirled around to pick up the other girl. I scanned the horizon to see if I could see anyone else, but they were all safe. So me and the lone girl, with our instructor in the back, rode through the waves, to the next safe spot.

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I. WAS. IN. HEAVEN.

I was so proud of myself, for the quick thinking, for the physical strength to not fail. I thought nothing of myself in the moment, only of others. I found some real new respect for myself, as well as knowing that in high-stress situations, I don’t fuck it up. Thanks to five years of wedding photography, I’m sure.

I couldn’t stop laughing, asking if we could DO THAT AGAIN. I found a new hobby that I love so much is refreshing. Juan watched me thoughtfully for a few minutes and then asked me, “do you want to ride Titanic?”

I was puzzled, but after figuring out the words, I realized what he was allowing me to do. In the front, no foot guard, NOTHING. I screamed in happiness, swallowing mouthfuls of water, wondering if THIS was the moment I would fly into a rock and die. I didn’t care, I just clutched the thin rope even tighter. More and more water went into my belly because I couldn’t stop laughing. I hope nothing in this water kills me.

After too-short of a time, we were done. And I immediately began brainstorming how to do it all over again. We peeled off our wetsuits and went to a simple Ecuadorian lunch of chicken and rice. Then we girded our loins to jump off, rappel and zipline off seven different waterfalls. It was ALL girls, minus the awesome instructors, which was rad. We cheered each other on, lending a hand when needed.

They took photos as a part of the service, and sometimes asked us to do sexy poses in between leaps off the edges.

I loved rappeling, I really do. I have a fear of heights, that I refuse to let keep affecting me. I do everything height related, to make it better. Never works, I’m still always afraid! haha! However, as we drew closer to the end of the day, not sleeping well began to catch up to me, as well as a depletion of my adrenal glands.

 

I was EXHAUSTED. Everything shook, nothing scared me. By the last waterfall, as the guide said, “let go!” I was like, “fuckkkkk it” and just fell backward.

After all of the adventures, I went and found a delicious restaurant, where I consumed a burrito in less than three minutes, guzzled a margarita, and then ate the most delicious chocolate bread pudding. Seriously, if sex was food…it would have been that bread pudding.

I then went and had my first hot shower in two weeks. Do you know what that’s like? I spent two weeks washing each appendage independently, hoping I didn’t miss anything in between. I would shiver as I washed my hair. But my new hostel had HOT HOT HOT water, great pressure and a soft bed. I crawled into it, feeling relaxed and fulfilled. To find new respect for myself and the most delicious dessert of my life…how is that NOT one of the best days ever? 

Check out this blog for my favorite travel moments!

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