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Fifty Shades of Green

HammockFollowing yesterday’s long hike, I wake expecting to feel more sore than I do. With just a little tenderness in my quadriceps, I choose to have a relaxing morning hanging on the farm and writing. A light on-and-off rain is falling and the various chairs scattered on the porch surrounding the building are very comfortable. I’m sure the hammocks also are but I have yet to perfect the skill of hammock-writing.

By 3:00 pm both the writing and the rain are finished and it’s time for a horseback ride. There’s no need to schedule the ride with a tour company as, La Cabaña Eco Hotel, doesn’t only have cows, but horses too. While my guide, Andrés, saddles up the horses, I get to know Carrot and Caroline. No, these aren’t the horses, but a couple of twenty-something Dutch women who will also be riding today. While her real name isn’t Carrot, it’s something which sounds quite similar and, understanding that non-Dutch people have difficulty with it, she throws me, well, a carrot, and invites me to call her that. Immediately, I impress them with my knowledge of the Dutch language which I learned from sailors, saying in Dutch both, “Hello, how are you?“ and, “Your fly is open, Dickhead.”

With our flies closed, we climb up on our horses (some more gracefully than others) and begin walking off the farm. My horse, a beautiful mare named Tequila, seems to have a crush on the male horse which Carrot rides, getting her nose close enough to his butt to catch a whiff of his farts the second they exit his rear, which they do quite often.

The ladies have never ridden horses before and, while I got quite good at it during my adventure tour-guiding days, it’s been some time so, when they request to go slow, I have no problem with it.

Crossing the road, we ride through a field which, like all fields here in the Corcora Valley, is blanketed by greener-than-green, soft grass. Three of the ranch dogs accompany us, running alongside seeming to Horseunderstand their job of taking care of the riders and making sure the horses behave. The field soon takes us to a trail just as muddy as yesterday’s, only this time it’s the horses’ hooves being covered by the slippery brown mess. Before long the trail skims the side of a green hill and I reflexively lean in towards the hill as, should the horse misstep or slide in the mud as I did all day yesterday, I’ll get a close-up look at the bottom of a canyon. The ride takes us through paths of flowering trees which open up to beautiful tree-dotted hills displaying every shade in the rainbow, as long as that rainbow is green. With the variable weather, the clouds which hang over the hills sometimes giving way to sunshine provide a hundred-different views of the same vista.  All the while Tequilla, my slutty horse, has her nose so far up the ass of her boyfriend in front of us that, one good sneeze and she’ll be flying out of his nose.

Horse TunnelAbout 45-minutes into the ride, we enter an old railroad tunnel. As the horses click along the partially-buried old trestles, I look to my left and see a statue of the Virgin Mary placed in a small arch carved into the wall. I’m not sure if it was placed there when the train was active, or even if it’s a tradition in all tunnels in Colombia, but she stands there now keeping watch over less-than-skilled horse-riders during the day and the jungle flora and fauna at night.

An hour into our ride, we park (does one park a horse? maybe dock?), Andrés helps us dismount and, walking with our “I just got out of the saddle and can’t seem to bring my legs together” gate, we take a short, somewhat painful stroll to a waterfall. This one isn’t like those in Minca where swimming was an option, as there’s no easy place to enter the water. Still, it takes nothing away from the beauty of it.

WaterfallAfter some time, we head back to the farm on the same trail we came in on. My horse continues to chase after the one in front even though I try to explain to her that she’s acting a bit slutty. Besides the amazing scenery, part of the fun of this trip is watching the dogs do their jobs. It’s clear which is the alpha who spends all his time bossing around the other two and sending them on missions.

“Hey, you, get back there and make that horse get a move on.”

“Check up on that redhead because I’m not sure she knows what the hell she’s doing.”

Arriving back at the farm, I hop in the shower and head back across the road to the main house. It’s a special night as Hector, the owner, is making his famous Lomo al Trapo. Coating a loin of beef in salt, then Beefwrapping it tightly in cotton and tying it with string, it looks like a Indian baby swaddled in a cradle board. He places it into a fire pit filled with gray coals emitting bright orange heat from a fire he started an hour before.

TableA long table decorated with wine glasses, bread, a salad, potatoes, and sauces is set out on the lawn under a tent next to the fire ring. There are also marshmallows which, some of my fellow travelers, two little girls from Switzerland, decide make great appetizers (who am I to argue?). We eat our marshmallows and drink our wine and, soon enough, the steaks are done.

Firepit

 
 
 
 

From the wonderfully prepared meat and the fresh salad, to tasty red wine (oh, and the marshmallows), this is an excellent meal. Of course, there’s a dessert of fresh fruit (Colombia is all about the fresh fruit and you can buy at least ten different kinds of freshly-made juice on just about any street-corner) and cream.

GuitarWe finish our meal and Hector pulls out his guitar. This is not “Karaoke Night on the Farm,” but a wonderful local experience of dinner and entertainment, both provided by Hector. It turns out, not only is he an excellent cook and welcoming hotelier, he is also a fine singer and guitarist. He sings traditional Colombian songs and, Gustavo, another guest, originally from Colombia, invites me to dance. The night is magical as, fueled by good food and wine, we dance to music under the stars. Calm down, there’s no magic between myself and Gustavo as he is joined here with his husband Leo.

In the past week, I’ve done a four-hour walking tour, a five-hour hike, and a two-hour horseback ride. All I can think is, why am I not skinnier? Oh, and then there’s the marshmallows.

 

Tomorrow – Wake up and smell the coffee.

Chasing Waterfalls

There’s nothing like relaxing in the jungle and today is proof of that. I came down with a cold last night and, between that and the really hard beds of Colombia, sleep was difficult to come by. As I’m in Minca for four nights, which seems a bit longer than most who come (though I don’t know why as it’s beautiful), I take this day to catch up on work, reading, and hammock time (not to be confused with Hammer Time). This a reason I like slow travel. You don’t feel the need to run and see everything quickly, even when you’re just not in the mood. Also, when you’re location independent, you need those days to relax or catch up on personal hygiene and shopping needs.
HotelMost hotels here include breakfast in the price and I awake in time to eat before it ends at 9:00am. While I plan to spend most of the day catching up on work, the relaxing atmosphere of the Hotel Minca La Casona draws me in and, though I finish my breakfast, I seem to have some trouble going to my room to fetch my computer. Instead, I choose to open my iPad and read the New York Times. (I subscribed to the app last week which, with the news lately, might not be such a good thing. Still, I choose to be involved in the world and not bury my head in the sand.)
PoolI finally get vertical and decide to walk around the small hotel (14 rooms in all) and explore the Hotel Minca Las Casona used to be a convent and I see signs of that in a few small paintings hanging in the halls, as well as the arches lining the walkways. I stumble upon a swimming which I wasn’t even aware the hotel had (ah yes, I really don’t research a whole lot prior to coming). Once I know of it, it’s too tempting not to take a dip. As I exit the pool, I notice two hammocks lining the walkway outside some rooms which seem like the perfect place to lie down and drip dry. Reading Vanity Fair on my iPad (I’ve subscribed to their app since I left home for Germany, and it’s excellent), I soon become drowsy and take a short hammock nap. (Yeh, this getting work done thing is going well.)
HummingbirdFinally, it’s time for some work which is made more enjoyable given the view from my traveling office – the hotel veranda looking over the vast jungle, hummingbirds flittering about sucking up sugar water from the feeders. These incredible creatures are growing on me as they seem to defy the laws of gravity by stopping mid-air with only their wings flapping. And, it turns out, they’re not so nice. I watch them knock each other around when one tries to hone in on another’s feeder. You can actually hear them crash into each other. I remind them that sharing is caring, yet they remind me that all’s fair in sugar and water.
As I sit working, thunder rolls in from the distance and, before long, tropical rain begins pounding on the tin roof. I take a break from working to enjoy some spaghetti bolognese for lunch (you can also have lunch in the hotel restaurant for a fee) while watching and listening to the storm pound around me. Tummy full with the storm continuing, I become a cliché writer, sitting on the veranda overlooking the jungle while sipping ginger tea.
StormThe hotel doesn’t serve dinner so I choose to skip it instead of breaking my day-long fast from the outside world. I write, I read, and I watch a movie which I’ve downloaded from Netflix. (Hooray for Netflix now having downloads!) I also wash some clothes in my sink. As they soak in the bubbly water with the assistance of my shampoo, I turn my back for a moment only to find, when I turn back, large ants crawling through the bubbles and on my clothes. Emptying the water in the sink, I flick the ants off only to have more appear from the overflow hole in the sink. They’re coming out so fast, they look like they’re on the last hill of a log-flume ride. I throw on some clothes (I’ve also just showered), head to the front desk and ask the owner Iliana to come to see them.
She looks and heads out to call her husband Sergio, the other owner, to come with a can of get these ants the hell out of here. Spraying loads of the stuff in the sink and down both the main and overflow drains, they then call the housekeeper who sweeps up the carnage. Apologizing, they tell me this is due to the unusually warm temperatures the last few days and hasn’t happened since they bought the place five years ago. They’ve taken care of it quickly and, with both the ants and Tarantulina Jolie gone (I haven’t seen her since we both chose to ignore each other), I’m mostly okay. Still, for the next twenty-four hours, I have Insectus Epidermus Imposter Syndrome, also known as that feeling of itchiness from imagined creepy-crawlers climbing on you. (I may or may not have made that term up.)
After a long day of relaxing, I’m exhausted and head off to sleep.
 
I awake today, grab some breakfast (the standard in Colombian hotels seems to be scrambled eggs with Roadtomatoes and onions) and head out to grab a moto-taxi at the bridge. The power has gone out this morning which means it’s a great time to head to the jungle. I run into my driver Luis Alberto again and we head to Cascades Marinka (Marinka Waterfall). After the pounding rains of yesterday, the roads are even worse than they were a couple of days ago. And the road to this waterfall is even more rutted and steep. I hold on and try to distract myself with the beauty of the jungle. Minca is known for its 350 species of birds and, along the way, Luis Alberto stops and explains that he hears the call of a beautiful bird, a toucan. We look in the tree but have trouble spotting him (yes, we follow our nose as it always knows). We never do find him but there’s so much beauty here in Minca, I can’t be disappointed.
Jose Luis stops the bike at the side of the road near a restaurant in a wooden shack. He points down the rocky side-road saying “siete minutos” (seven minutes) and indicates that he’ll wait for me at the restaurant.
The road is steep and, nueve-minutos después (nine-minutes later), I walk through a gate, paying the guy attending my 4,000 peso entrance fee (US$1.34) before hiking down a series of rocky steps until I finally arrive at the bottom. There’s only one person there and, after chatting, he tells me he’s from Argentina and is traveling long term. As I’m entering the water, he’s stepping out.
WaterfallThe water is slightly warmer than the previous waterfall and I’m quickly up to my chest in water. One of the travel rules I have for myself is to be sure to put my head under every waterfall I come across, and I swim over and accomplish my mission here. Swimming in these spots deep in the jungle, with few tourists around is an amazing feeling – peaceful and freeing.
After a bit of chatting with the Argentinian (my Spanish is getting better while here), I step out of the water and the Argentinian leaves. I hike back up the rocky stairs and stop for a beer at the shack at the top before hiking down the steep path to meet back up with Luis Alberto. We have another harrowing, twenty-minute ride back into town.
Arriving in town, I find the power-outage still going on and it’s city-wide. Still, being Minca, everybody seems to take it in stride. I sit down outside a restaurant and order one of the things they can make without electricity, a ham and cheese panini. This is made using their gas burners and is served with various sauces. Minca caters well to vegetarians (there’s hummus everywhere) and environmentalists and I enjoy a walk through the few shops there, buying some natural mosquito spray and macramé bracelets.
I head back to pack while there’s still daylight in case the power remains off. Still, as the window in my room provides minimal light, I make good use of the various flashlights I travel with. I shake out all of my clothes prior to packing them just in case Tarantulina Jolie has decided to hitch a ride and walk back down to town to enjoy a vegetarian stir-fry back at Lazy Cat.
Tomorrow – A visit to a city formerly off-limits.

Minca – A Gem in the Jungle

After a long day of traveling to Minca, Colombia, I tear myself away from the spectacular view from the terrace of my hotel while I’m shown to my basic twin bed room (though there’s one bed, no twin). It’s simple but has all I need – a bathroom, ceiling fan, and nightstand. No air conditioning as it’s not really Hotel Roomneeded up here at a cooler temperature and no TV. Each room in the Hotel Minca La Casona is named after a type of tree here in the jungle. Mine, room number 5, is called the Guayacán. This area,, and particularly this hotel, is known as a bird-watchers’ paradise. Most who know me know that I couldn’t give a flying, uh, bird about the bird watching. To clarify, I enjoy watching them and even appreciate the different music they provide to accompany a day in nature, I just don’t care what they’re called. The way I figure it, they don’t know what they’re called, so why should I? I’ve been on safari in Africa when I’ve spotted a giraffe and a lion, yet all the bird watchers wanted to know was, “What kind of bird is that?” Perhaps it also involves a bit of jealousy as I’ve always wanted to have the ability to fly; not in an airplane, but just me, levitating freely above the earth. Still, I consider that this place might increase my appreciation for our fine-feathered friends.
As I unpack my bags (I fully unpack if I’m staying in a place three nights or longer so I feel more settled) TarantulaI notice a black spot on the wall near the floor. As I approach to see what it is, it uses its multiple legs to begin moving. I inhale and hold my breath. The front desk closes at 6:00pm and I arrived just before. The owners live in a house down the driveway which you can go to in case of an emergency but I’m not sure a tarantula in your room in the jungle qualifies as an emergency. I decide to take a shower and hope it will just disappear.
When I step out of the shower (yay, hot water!) the tarantula is still there. I decide the only way to come to terms with it, is to consider it a pet. I name her Tarantulina Jolie (I’ve used this technique before when I worked on a ship and had a pet cockroach named Fred). Keeping one eye on Tarantulina, I quickly throw on a dress and head out to enjoy the view from the lobby balcony. I get just a few minutes of light as the sun sets early here in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At 6:45 I head out for dinner.
It’s tough to navigate a town in the dark when you haven’t seen it in the light. I bring my flashlight which, though not vitally needed, helps me navigate down the long drive to the main street. On the way, I meet some other tourists who point out the main area of town. It’s about a block long and it’s here that I find the Lazy Cat Restaurant. One of the hotel owners has told me this place has a nice atmosphere so I walk in. There’s a back porch sitting high above the Minca River which seems like a lovely place to eat. Unfortunately, many have the same idea and there’s not a seat to be found. I wander down to a lower balcony which, with its one light bulb, reminds me either of an interrogation room in a third-world prison, or that time I sat in the hotel restaurant in the Indian jungle. This is where my flashlight comes in handy.
Passion Fruit MargaritaAfter a dinner of a fine hamburger (I had a craving) and an even better passion fruit margarita, I walk the ten minutes back to the hotel. As I enter my room, I notice Tarantulina Jolie has moved to the wall just outside the bathroom. I grab one of the many brochures of the region I’ve picked up and attempt to entice her to climb aboard so I can relocate her outside. Apparently, I startle her and she jumps; so I jump and scream. I look for her and she’s disappeared so I decide my best move is to climb into bed and hide. I place a pair of shoes on the nightstand so, if I have to get up in the middle of the night, I won’t step on her nor will she be in my shoes.
After enjoying breakfast on the main balcony while watching the hummingbirds enjoy theirs from the many feeders hanging around, I walk down to the main road and find the gathering of motor-taxis at the bridge. These motorcycle taxis are the way one travels in Minca as they can navigate the muddy, steep mountain roads better than any other type of vehicle. I’ve heard of a coffee plantation in the hills here as well as some wonderful waterfalls with pools to swim.
Luis Alberto, one of the many drivers,  has offered a ride up the mountain to the coffee plantation COP15,000 (about US$5.00). He offers me a helmet (unlike Cartagena, they mostly use them in Minca) and I hop on the back of his bike (actually, the hard beds have exacerbated a hip issue and his bike rides high so I not-so-much hop on as I do negotiate my way from the side of a curb).
Dirt RoadWe ride a few-hundred-feet down the road before we hit dirt and begin climbing into the mountains. Jungle surrounds us on both sides and, the more we climb, the worse the “road” gets. In most parts, it’s simply mud, surrounded by rocks, with deep holes. Sometimes there’s a strip of firmer dirt or even cement which Luis Alberto traverses like a tightrope-walker working without a net (remember, we’re climbing up a mountain with steep drops on the side). With the incredible jungle and views surrounding us, I would call this a dangerously beautiful ride. At one point, dozens of bright blue butterflies flitter around accompanying us on our ride.
coffeeTwenty-minutes-later, we arrive at the coffee plantation. A tour in English has just begun so I join in. We learn about the coffee bean process from picking to bagging. It’s fascinating that most of the movement of the beans throughout the process is done through a combination of gravity and water. It’s on this tour that I meet two Irish lasses, Ailbhe and Caoimhe, pronounce Alba and Queensly, I think (those crazy Irish names). They’re on a day tour of Minca from Santa Marta with their guide Luis. We enjoy good conversation over a cup of coffee at the end of the tour and decide to stay and have a beer and chat some more.
Irish Girls at WaterfallThe next stop for Ailbhe and Caoimhe is Pozo Azul which is partway down the mountain. As this is also my plan, we decide to go together. Luis calls a mototaxi for me and we head back down the muddy path, through a gate, and onto a rocky path. Ten minutes more and we’ve arrived. Walking down some dirt and rock steps, I catch my first glimpse of Pozo Azul. As “azul” translates to “blue,” Luis tells us the name came because some people hiking at night saw it and, in the moonlight, it was a striking color of blue. As we look at it, it’s a murky marrón (brown). It’s not dirty, just colored from the soil and rains.
Removing our clothes (we have swimsuits on underneath, get your head out of the gutter) we wade into the frigid waters. The bottom is sandy and there’s no need for water shoes. Within a minute, the Irish girls have dived in. Being Irish, they’re used to cold, wet places. It takes me a few more minutes to wade in but, once in, I slowly warm up (or, perhaps, I just become numb). Luis joins us as we play in the water and under the falls. He then climbs up the side of the waterfall and jumps in. The Irish lasses soon follow. For me, I already have prior experience cliff-jumping, as well as both climbing up waterfalls and repelling down, not to mention jumping off, backwards, into a tube in a cave (read about that blackwater rafting experience in New Zealand here), and decline the invitation as I’m just not feeling the climb in me today.
Luis soon appears in the water with a fresh pineapple and begins slicing off pieces for us to enjoy. After an hour of hanging out at the falls, dried off (well, sort of), we say our goodbyes and the girls and Luis head off down the mountainside on their motorcycles, while I decide to walk down, enjoying the jungle at a leisurely pace.
Mountain ViewOn the way down, while enjoying the beautiful views,  I stop at a restaurant (actually a wooden shack with picnic tables) and ask to use “el baño.” Walking through the curtains, I find a toilet next to a large bucket filled with water in which to wash my hands. The guy running the place seems to be around seventy and wears a straw cowboy hat and a big smile. I can’t resist him and we jokingly trade hats while I sit down to enjoy a beer and some chorizo sausage.
Restaurant OwnerI say my graciases and adioses and hike the rest of the way down the mountain. A light rain begins to fall yet I hardly get wet given the cover from the jungle flora. Between the friendly beauty of the people and the glorious natural beauty, I’m pleased to have found this gem in the jungle.
 
If you’d like to book a tour with Luis, you can book contact the company he works for here.

Lady and the Tramp

Having zipped away my morning in Rotorua (read Flight of the Jungle Bee), it would be a shame to drive the hour straight back to Taupo without exploring. They day is young and I’m, well, not that old. I ask my guide Dan about some hikes in the area and he recommends the Okere Falls Track. The Kiwis have a few different names for things and walking or hiking trails are called tracks. Oh, and they don’t go hiking, they go tramping. As I’m going tramping this afternoon, that would make today Lady and the Tramp. Anyway, this “track” parallels the Okere River, also known as the Kaituna River, and assures some great views.
I drive the twenty-minutes from Rotorua Canopy Tours to the track, park the rental car and step out towards the trail. This is an easy tramp (only 3 Kilometers or 1.9 miles) which takes me walking through history, a lush forest and along a wild river. Rotorua was only the fourth town in New Zealand to have power and the Okere Falls Power Station generated it. At the beginning of the hike I pass one of the turbines which was used when the power station went into action in 1901.
I continue tramping (oh so many jokes) and soon reach the turn off for Okere Falls. As I walk down the steps, sound of rushing water gets louder and louder. I turn the corner and see a photographer sitting on the rail and I hear a whistle. I look down to see an enormous amount of water gushing down the waterfall tumbling out of the trees. The photographer sounds his whistle in response to the one I’ve just heard and, after just a moment, a yellow-raft loaded with seven people appears from the trees. Like the log flumes which used to be at amusement parks (what happened to those?) the raft glides down the falls and I watch as two people tumble out into the water. As I used to whitewater raft quite a bit, I know that this is sometimes the best part. The photographer, myself and a few other bystanders watch as two more rafts appear on the top of the falls and a few more people do some whitewater swimming. When the photographer announces there are no more boats coming, we disperse and I walk back up and continue tramping on down the trail.
RaftingI soon come to the signs for Tutea Falls and Hinemoa’s Steps to Tutea’s Cave. I walk down to the overview to see Tutea Falls, otherwise known as Kaituna Falls (see, they can’t decide on names), where I see what looks like something out of the Disneyland ride It’s a Small World. It’s the perfect, blue waterfall spilling out of the lush, green forest and emptying into a tropical pool. As I walk up, rafts begin appearing from the top. At seven meters, nearly twenty three-feet, this is the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. As before, there are photographers and screams, but no swimmers this time. This is the last rapid for the rafting trips because, well, after this, everything else would be a let down (or perhaps they just need a stiff drink).WaterfallFrom here, I head down to Tutea’s Cave, which is less a cave and more a dent in the rock. Actually, it supposedly goes far in but, as the walkway extends just a couple of feet in, and the cave is dark, there’s just not that much to see.
I start the climb up the steps and continue on the dirt path where I stop at another viewpoint of the river and the falls before exploring some of the dirt paths I come across. I return the way I came, climb in the car and head back to Taupo to the cold house (two words New Zealand – Central Heating) and warm dog.
I decide to head out to a local restaurant in town for dinner. I hope to grab a Guinness at the Irish Pub I’ve found online as I’ve stopped by Irish pubs in most of the countries I’ve been and found them really friendly (perhaps it’s simply due to the whole getting drunk on Guinness thing). On their website, this place talks about their music and trivia nights and seems like a genuine Irish pub. In reality, this is a dive-bar. It’s a cold, dark room with a small bar. While they seem to have Guinness, I’m looking for the warmth of a traditional Irish pub and this has none of that. I politely tell the bartender that I might be back (I really need to stop worrying about insulting people) as I slip out the door.
This town has many fine-looking restaurants and I pop into one of them. There are only about ten customers inside this very large place. I sit at the bar which is far away from the door leading to the cold outdoors and ask for the menu. I order a Pinot Noir (not my choice anywhere else, but these New Zealand ones are fabulous) the young bartender seems confused. I point out the wine on their menu and he seems to understand. I then order the Cioppino (a seafood stew). Once again, I’ve confused bartender boy and, once again, I point to my selection on the menu. He nods his head and appears to understand. I then ask for the Wi-Fi code as my phone has detected a guest network. Bartender boy looks at me, shifts his eyes and says, “Um, I have to check.”
He disappears and, eventually, returns with the code “coffee.” I can see how that one might be difficult to remember. I slap on my best understanding look and say, “So, has this place recently opened?”
“I work twenty-hours a week,” he responds.
Um, okay. He disappears again and, after a while, returns to begin wiping the counter. I ask if maybe I could get my wine (I’ve been here ten minutes). He looks up, surprised (he’s obviously forgotten it), and asks the lady around the corner if she can pour my wine. He then heads over to the table of three middle-aged men sitting behind me and sits down. (I have a feeling these are the owners and he’s related to one of them.)
After another twenty-minutes, my meal is placed in front of me. Okay, perhaps not my meal, but certainly a meal. And while I like salmon, it’s not what I ordered. I point this out and the waitress apologizes, takes away the salmon and assures me it won’t be long. I notice one of the men at the table behind me where the boy bartender is sitting mentions this to him. Finally, after another ten-minutes, my meal is placed before me. While the food is not incredibly impressive, my expectations have been lowered and I’m simply impressed that I finally got the Cioppino. I snarf down my food and, as the boy bartender has returned, I ask for the check. I go through the process of paying and the boy never apologizes for getting things wrong, or even looks at me. I want to give him a nice little lecture on customer service and how, if you get things wrong, and apology goes a long way, but I feel it would be wasted. I actually question whether boy bartender might be wasted (could that be the problem?)
The next day, after some morning work, Frank and I head over to Huka Falls. It’s in Taupo and there’s supposedly a nice hike there and, well, who am I kidding, I just really like the name. Frank and I head over to the trail-head where there’s a lot of water flowing over a very small waterfall. It seems more like a dam with rapids at the bottom. I see a sign pointing out trails in either direction and turn right down the one for Huka Falls. I take a deep inhale (ha!) and begin my Huka tramp.
Huka Falls HikeThis tramp follows the river and offers stunning viewpoints of the surrounding area. I keep Frank on the leash until I see another dog run past free as a, well, dog off a leash. After a few more minutes of walking and contemplating whether I’ve established myself as alpha dog enough so that Frank will listen if I call, I decide to trust (something I’m relearning after Asia as well as My Man Friday). Frank doesn’t disappoint Frank the Dogand, while enjoying running around, he waits for me every few hundred yards, as well as stopping when I tell him to. (Why can’t all men be like this?) I stop for a while to chat with a German guy sitting on a bench enjoying a sandwich, as well as some Australian women. When I ask the German guy how far Huka Falls is, he points to where I’ve just come from and says he doesn’t know as he came from the other direction. It turns out the unimpressive falls I saw near the parking lot were Huka Falls and the sign was just indicating the trail called the Huka Falls Trail.
It’s time to turn around as the beauty of this hike seems to be the trail itself and I’ll be approaching the parking lot on the other end soon. Frank has a great time running along the trail and I enjoy the beautiful views on the return trip.
Tomorrow – Bath Time.