I’ll admit, I was never much of a risk-taker. I mean, on my last trip to Las Vegas, I spent less than $10 gambling on slot machines. Additionally, throughout my life, I have always aired on the side of caution and avoided most extreme sports and spontaneous decisions.
That being said, I feel like I had some type of quarter-life crisis last year and decided that life was too short, and I was prompted to take an extreme risk. I quit my job, sold all my things on Craigslist and moved to another country to teach English.
Sure, there was a chance of failure. That will come with any risky decision.
Luckily, after taking this leap of faith last year, I have only experienced countless positive moments by living abroad. Furthermore, it has prompted me to continuing taking risks and challenging myself. 🙂
From numerous solo trips around Mexico, to dabbling in extreme sports, I have found such happiness and a sense of accomplishment in conquering my fears.
Keeping that in mind, I felt like continuing to step out of my comfort zone and took a literal leap of faith this weekend by trying something new. 😀
“Life Shrinks or Expands in Proportion to One’s Courage” – Anaïs Nin
This past weekend I went to Ciudad Valles, a city in the State of San Luis Potosi.
I bought an ADVENTURE package with the tour company Huaxteca for 3 days and 2 nights in the Huasteca Potosina, which is a region known for it’s rapid rivers, cascades, and striking natural beauty. The package included various extreme sports and natural encounters.
The tour company Huaxteca organized all the excursions, and the whole package was ridiculously cheap! For only $250, I bought round-trip bus transportation from Querétaro, and the company provided local transportation during the excursion, entry fees, guides, accommodation, food and all adventure equipment.
I left on Thursday night and arrived in Ciudad Valles bright and early Friday morning, ready to begin my first adventure. 😀 I was initially impressed with how organized the company operated. They have to coordinate 12 different excursions that can be combined into both adventure and ecotourism packages, and this weekend the groups were completely full for the Labor Day holiday.
These are the adventures tours that I chose:
- Rappelling and jumping from waterfalls
- Visiting Xilitla and Swallows Abyss
- Whitewater rafting
Let the journey begin! 😀
Day 1: Waterfall Jumping and Rappelling: Minas Viejas and Micos CascadasOn our ride to the waterfalls, we learned a bit about the region of Huasteca Potosina. For example, their main source of agriculture is cane sugar, which is processed and sold to the distributor Coca-Cola.
Waterfall jumping from Cascadas Micos
Cascadas Micos translates to waterfall of the monkeys, since many monkeys used to live in this region.
Today we would be jumping from seven waterfalls ranging anywhere from 0.5 meters to 8 meters high.
We were suited up with helmet, life jacket and ready to walk to the falls. 🙂
At first I was pretty excited as I scaled the riverbank making my way towards the waterfall. 😀
Then my foot touched the water and I realized it was freezing, and the rocks were very slippery. Hah.
Too late to turn back now. Plus, I met a few travelers from Monterrey, so there were witnesses if I decided to chicken out! 😛
Besides, the waterfalls were gorgeous and the lush vegetation surrounding us was absolutely magical.
Just the inspiration I needed to make my first jump. 😀
Have fun watching this short video of our group jumping from the various waterfalls! Enjoy!
Rappelling from Cascadas Minas Viejas
After that rush of adrenaline we headed to Waterfall Minas Viejas to relax in the turquoise pools of water and mentally prepare for rappel.
Waterfall Minas Viejas is 50 meters high and we were planning to rappel adjacent to the falls.
I will admit my tactic was not to look down. I simply strapped the three safety lines to my harness, listened to my guide, and slowly descended backwards off the cliff.
I shoved the GoPro inside my life jacket, so it would snap pictures every 5 seconds during the descent.
On the bright side, when I finally did look down, I realized that I was already half way, and the scary part was over! 😀Things are going well so far. I think I’ve gotten the hang of this! 😉
I landed safe and sound.
As I gazed up at the top of the cliff, I felt a serious sense of accomplishment. Incredible. 🙂
Another risk reaped another reward, which meant great memories and the confidence to keep pressing on. 😀
We finished off the day with a birthday cake celebration for one of the travelers.
The perfect ending to a wonderful day full of adventure!
We arrived back into Valles and the bus dropped me off at my accommodation, Hotel Rex.
Now I wish I had some scary music to play as I introduced my accommodation to you, but there really are no words or songs that would suffice.
I will say, I was a little skeptical even prior to arrival, since this hotel was cheaper than the hostal in Valles; however, this was the only room available on this busy weekend. Oh dear God! This place was straight out of a horror film and gave me serious flashbacks of the movie Joy Ride.
Now I did not have pink champagne nor Paul Walker to rescue me, but somehow I managed to survive my first night. Hah. 😛
After that I was ready to take on the second day of adventure. 😀
Day 2: Surrealistic Garden of Edward James and the Swallows Abyss
A little pick-me-up and a tasty pastry. 🙂
The Surrealistic Garden of Edward James
Now I may have already been to the gardens of Edward James in Xilitla, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.
The creation of this concrete “Garden of Eden” was both based on the inspiration and financially funded by the wealthy Englishman, Edward James. James had fallen in love with the mystical jungles of Xilitla. He created over one hundred concrete sculptures to emulate nature and the animals living in the forest in order to preserve their beauty for all eternity. As such, James made sure to leave the statues incomplete so that the ever-growing presence of nature could continue to build off of his creations with their vines and raw natural beauty. 😀
Last time I visited Xilitla in winter, when the weather was absolutely freezing. Now I could casually walk around in shorts, plus I was able to experience the trip with my new friends from Monterrey. 😀
Leonardo Da Vinci’s wheel. 😀
Knock, Knock. Anybody home? 😛
La Casa de Ocelotes means “House of Ocelots.” 🙂
These columns represent elephant limbs.
These hands symbolize movement, creation and language. Absolutely beautiful!
Here I am standing in front of a concrete orchid with girls from Guadalajara.
These girls were so sweet, and after visiting the gardens, we stopped to buy a few items at the market.
This is a huge tamale, and the girls tried a plate full of corn dough and flavored pork. Yum!
I also saw the most pathetic-looking dog ever! 😦
I think somebody deserves a treat! 🙂
Also, while shopping at a craft jewelry store inside the gardens, I met their unique store pet. I think I’ll name her Charlotte.
Mom, you might want to look away. 😉
Now, I apologize for any nightmares I may cause. As a peace offering, I did find a cute video, which will hopefully counteract any feelings of fear you may have. 🙂
Feeling better? 😀
OK, moving on!
After a busy morning of wandering, we headed for lunch to try authentic Huastecan cuisine.We dined on Huastecan enchiladas, which are corn tortillas covered in a spicy tomato sauce, served with fresh cheese, black beans, salted beef, avocado and pickled onion. It was tasty blend of sweet, salty, spicy and creamy. Delicious!
Sótano de Las Huahuas
Our next time was to Swallows Abyss or Sotano de Las Huahuas. Upon entering the site, I immediately took note of all the rules and warnings.
For starters, rule #1 prohibits you from entering with any type of pet.
Ironically, I saw that they had broken their own rule.
I think I will call him Wilbur. 😛Maybe I can introduce him to Charlotte. 😉
Anyway, then I became confused by the ambiguity of some important signs.
I mean, I get that the spider venom is probably going to kill me, but what are those other symbols? Are they the leaves where the spider hides? Possibly the stars I will see after getting bit by the venomous spider? Regardless, this is not the time for non-decipherable hieroglyphics. Hah.
Please avoid symbols and make it clear what I need to avoid. Thanks! 😀
Lastly, there were those blatantly obvious warnings that shouldn’t have to be in writing.
Really, a hot air balloon is not allowed? I mean honestly, what kind of common sense are some people lacking?
Yes, I’d love to lower a hot air balloon into a cavern of birds and watch them fly up into my flaming hot air balloon in panic, incinerating them all in some type of bird massacre. That would go over REAL well. Oy vey! Enough analyzing these peculiar signs…moving on to the main event!
All humor aside, the main reason I chose this tour was because we were able to visit Sótano de las Huahuas, which had been on my bucket list for a while now. Sótano de las Huahuas is a cavern also known as the Swallows Abyss, because it is home to thousands of parakeets and sparrows that enter and exit the cavern each day. 😀
To start, we began with a mile long hike through the woods toward the cavern.
I spotted this striking caterpillar on my walk down. 🙂
When I finally arrived, I was able to wiggle myself down to the front row like a kid waiting for the parade. 😀
If only one of the parakeets could have photo bombed this shot! Hah. 😛Photo bombs happen when someone intentionally ruins someone else’s photograph and animal photo bombs are the best, because they are obviously unintentional. Like this one for example:Here are a few video clips I took while visiting the Swallows Abyss. The sounds of the birds flying around the cavern is absolutely amazing! I could have sat there for hours. Enjoy!
Day 3: Whitewater rafting down the Río Tampaón
On my third and final day we drove to Tanchachin, where we would go whitewater rafting down the Río Tampaón.
Río Tampaón has class III rapids, which are great for intermediate rafters, and even first-time rafters with experienced guides.
We split off into seven groups of seven, and I paired up with a group of girls from Guadalajara that I had met on the first day.
Our guide was Lalo, who was very knowledgeable of this river since he takes rafting trips here on a daily basis.
After hopping in our raft, we began the journey with the inevitable safety drills to simulate what would happen if our boat were to flip while rafting.
Then we had the inevitable water fight. 😛
Then, because this is Mexico, we had the inevitable kayaker who came by offering us shots of tequila. ¡Viva México! 😛The landscape surrounding the river was absolutely breathtaking. The minerals in the water calcifies the rock along the bank, leaving the boulders with a striking clash of cream and gray coloring.
I guess the two guides apparently had some type of overly-dramatic love affair. Hah.
Anyway, after messing around for a while, we were ready to make our way through the rapids.
Please enjoy this short video capturing the different rapids and our journey along the Río Tampaón.
If you’re wondering, I had the GoPro strapped to my helmet. Enjoy! 😀
Now after feeling confident enough to brave these rapids, our guide mentioned that the last rapid would be a good opportunity to fall out of the raft. He called it, “the perfect fall.” I asked why would want to fall, and he responded that, “it would be fun to fall.”
Anyway, after a brief pep talk about the fall, everyone seemed on-board with the idea, but I was not so convinced. Why would I fall out of the boat on purpose? Likewise, I remembered the age-old saying, “If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?”
Commonsense told me to stay put, and I’m sure glad I did. 😀
Please watch this short blooper of what happened when everyone else decided to jump out of the boat.
Yes, it turned into a rescue mission! Some girls went flying into the rocks, with cuts and scrapes to show for it. Luckily the rest of the afternoon was spent watching this video over and over, laughing at this disastrous fail. These girls were such good sports with a great sense of humor. 🙂
After a long day of paddling, it was now time to sit back and relax. 🙂My first time whitewater rafting was a success and the memories floating down the river will stay with me forever.
Now on to a well-deserved lunch!
For lunch they served chicken and sausage with mashed potatoes and vegetables.
We feasted along the riverbank and took in the tranquility of nature.
The atmosphere was rustic to say the least, including these pop-up potties in the middle of a field.
There was also an adjacent tent to change out of our wet clothes. No peaking ladies! 😛
To wrap up the weekend, I’d have to call it the ultimate success. 😀
I tried many new activities and foods, and it only inspired me to continue seeking out great adventures like this one.
As quoted by famous writer Anaïs Nin, “Life Shrinks or Expands in Proportion to One’s Courage.”
As my courage grows, new goals appear more tangible and my perception of the world expands.
I also feel there is still so much beauty of the world to see. Here’s to the next adventure! Until next time. 🙂