*We hosted our first official guests at Su Casa Colombia this past week: Haileigh, Ashley, Joanna and Colleen. All four live in or around beautiful San Francisco, making them the San FranTastic Four. These are their adventures.
After five wonderful days with the ladies of San Fran, the exciting climax was upon us: rappelling down a 200-foot waterfall. Although I had done it once before, even I didn’t know the magnitude of the adventure that awaited us. Bring yourself up to speed on what is involved with waterfall rappelling by reading about my first experience and watching the video.
We awoke at 6 am and by 8 am we were suited up and ready to go, along with four other Colombians who would be joining us. Thanks to the cloud cover, our two-hour trek started out nicely without too much perspiration and before we knew it we were practicing rappelling techniques off the side of the gazebo (that won’t make sense if you didn’t read about my first time.)
After thirty minutes of traversing the cloud forest and scaling the rock wall (the ladies later commented that the hike was almost as demanding as rappelling itself) we finally arrived at the cascade. Much to my surprise, the waterfall had changed dramatically in the three months since I last saw it, thanks to a very rainy wet season. The waterfall in April looked like a trickle compared to the gushing water of the present. I suddenly felt like I hadn’t adequately prepared our guests for the intensity they were about to experience; I didn’t feel prepared myself!
I stayed behind as two by two everyone made their descent and made it safely to the bottom until it was time for Colleen and I to brave the waterfall. Because there was so much mist coming off of the waterfall we were FREEZING as we got hooked up to the ropes, but the second we lowered ourselves over the edge the adrenaline took over and the shivers were gone.
Just as the waterfall had changed drastically since April, so had the experience itself. Before, I had ventured across the cascade and relished the sensation of the water falling on my legs. This time I stayed to one side where the water was less abundant and still had trouble seeing my feet under the rushing water. Before, I had descended at a leisurely pace, savoring every moment. This time I proceeded with a greater sense of urgency, trying not to think about what would happen if I got stuck. Before, I had whooped, hollered and yelled with excitement. This time, I was so completely concentrated on every step, every move, I completely forgot to make a peep. Before, I had reached the bottom thinking it was easy peasy, lemon squeezy. This time I reached the bottom feeling like I’d really accomplished something, like I’d really earned some bragging rights.
At the bottom, the rest of the crew was relieved when I reassured them that what they had just experienced was far more intense and difficult than what my video had advertised. Joanna said it was just as scary and adrenaline inducing as skydiving. I was so proud of the four ladies and Noah, most of whom had never rappelled before but navigated the waterfall with confidence and enthusiasm. The ear-to-ear grins were enough to tell me they had really enjoyed themselves.
Upon returning to the finca we received the best welcoming we could imagine: a delicious bowl of beans, chicharón, and freshly fried plantains thanks to the wonderful and talented Mari. While Colleen, Joanna and I relaxed with a book on the lawn, Noah, Haileigh and Ashley went for a horse back ride through the countryside. When they returned, Ashley had a dirty knee and a story to tell. Her horse had lost its footing while galloping and quick thinking Ashley opted to jump and roll into the bushes rather than risk being thrown from the horse. Both Noah and Haileigh attested that Ashley had all the style and grace of a ballerina ninja. There was still a bit of time before sunset so I hopped on Ashley’s horse and rode out with Noah and Haileigh who had bonded with her horse and wasn’t ready to stop. The sunset over the valley was gorgeous and truly unique and I think this photo will show you why:
Our last night was a great end to our time together. It was a warm, cloudless night with a full moon and millions of stars. We grilled my favorite cut of beef on the outdoor grill along with corn on the cob and potatoes and washed it down with wine and aguardiente. The musical stylings of Carlos Vives accompanied us once again and we danced and talked until we (or maybe it was just me) literally fell asleep under the stars.
We returned to Medellín the next afternoon, fed the ladies some tasty empanadas and then saw them off to the airport, on to their next destination on Colombia’s Carribean coast. We already miss the time we spent with these four intelligent, adventurous and fun San FranTastic women, but we know that when we visit San Francisco later this year we’ll have four new friends to see!