When people got back from the coffee tour on Thursday, they were already planning what they’d like to do on Friday. For a while, some people were planning to go horseback riding and I was really excited about that idea. There would be riding for two hours and then strawberry picking and it sounded absolutely glorious.
Unfortunately, that fell through because the local one could only take three people (and there was probably about 8 of us who wanted to go) and the other stable was an hour and a half drive away. So, sadly, that plan was abandoned.
Instead, the group broke into two activities. One group would go on a calm river boat tour. And the other group would go white-water rafting. And some of us, the less crazy and smarter ones, would stay behind at the lodge. Because, remember what I said a few days ago? It was cold! Getting dipped in cold water wasn’t my idea of fun, that’s for sure. And spending $50 for a boat tour? Pass. (Which, I guess, means we broke into three groups . . . .)
So seven or eight of us stayed behind at the lodge. We breakfasted with the others, who then went merrily on their way to the boats. And the rest of us scattered around the lodge for a while. By this time, Justin and I had given up on hot water morning showers while sharing a tiny little water heater between three rooms with seven people. I think this was the morning when we waited a little while after everyone had left to see if there’d be hot water after a short break, and ended up showering in cold water again anyway. If it wasn’t Friday, then it was Saturday. Also, waking up this day, my right arm and shoulders ached terribly from zip-lining the day before. Braking involved pulling down on the line behind your head, and those muscles in my shoulders were not used to that kind of work. And they made sure to tell me that loud and clear.
A few hours after breakfast, Justin and I were down in the game room reading and hanging out near the fireplace because the sunlight was better there, chatting with a few of the other people who had also stayed behind. And it was decided that we would go walking out the same direction Calvin, Justin, and I had walked the day before to see if Jill could find some wine. There were a few small shops and a few restaurants down where we’d been so we thought we’d give it a look. It turned out that none of them sold wine, but they gave us directions to a supermarket down the street that did. Just 2 kilometers. “And look!” Jill said. “It’s downhill!”
We decided to go anyway, because, heck, what else were we going to do with our morning? It was nice out and, really, 2K isn’t all that far. It was a nice walk with fun people—Justin and me, Monica, Jill, James, and Maggie’s uncle Eric who’d arrived that morning. He was expected the night before, but somehow messages got lost between Maggie and Carlos, the driver, who thought he was arriving Friday night instead. He got another car to drive him up, though, and it worked out okay.
We walked and chatted our way down the road to the store, marveling at the landscape and the plant life. Part of the way down it sprinkled on us a little, and then we walked around a corner and right into a cloud. It was so strange! Where it had been clear, now we were walking through thick fog. It was beautiful and ethereal.
We made it to the store, where Jill got her wine and Justin and I got some Oreos, and we started back up the hill. Up was much harder than down. I live at sea level. My body notices a significant lack of oxygen at higher altitudes. Justin and James lead the line, chatting and enjoying themselves and hardly slowing down at all. Monica and I followed, me having a bit of trouble while she was perfectly happy. Jill and Eric, smoker and former-smoker, carrying three bottles of wine between the two, brought up the tail, taking frequent breaks to catch their breath. It was a very long 2 kilometers back up to the top.
Once we got there, we stopped into a restaurant for lunch. By this point of the trip, I’d figured out that of the 17 of us in town to attend the wedding, I was the most fluent in Spanish of all of us. This was frightening because my Spanish was from three years of classes taken in high school, from which I graduated ten years ago. And I took Spanish for two reasons—I needed it for college requirements and the guy I was infatuated with was in the class. I had very little interest in actually picking up the language. Yet here I was, ten years later, the best at translating our wishes into the native language. How sad is that?
While we were ordering our lunch, it started to rain again. The food wasn’t bad, but we’d had better. By the time we were done eating, the rain had mostly cleared up and we went back to the Lodge, slightly more than a mile further back up the road.
The rest of the afternoon, the thing I remember the most was sitting in the game room with Justin, reading and eating Oreos. I even went and got some milk from the ladies in the kitchen. Eventually, the people from the boat trips made it back—several of them utterly soaked through. And Sarah’s luggage finally made it in so she could shower and change clothes and feel much better about life.
For dinner, a handful of people decided to stay at the Lodge, while most of us went to yet another restaurant in the area just down the hill. I think the name of the “town” was Vara Blanca, which, as close as I can figure it, means White Twig. Maybe something about the overwhelming cloud coverage? I don’t know.
This restaurant was a lot of fun. A young girl helped her mom, who was sort of the waitress/cook. I’m not sure what all happened behind the scenes. But the mom took our orders, which was amusing in and of itself while we all tried to figure out what the menu items were, and then when the order was ready, the young girl would collect them from her mom at the door to the kitchen and bring them out to us.
Mostly, it was a light and fun atmosphere and we were able to laugh and chat with everybody there. Most of the people I’d never met before—only Maggie and Wendy, really, unless we also count Justin. But I was able to comfortably chat with pretty much everyone there.
Before the meal, after ordering, Justin ran down (through the rain) to one of the shops at which I’d seen some marshmallows. I’d mentioned earlier that afternoon how I’d wished I had marshmallows for toasting over the fire. So he ran down and picked up marshmallows and some chocolate and cookies, because he couldn’t find graham crackers, so we could go back after dinner and have S’mores. Which was what we did—after dinner we went back to the Lodge, spent a good while getting the fire going again and letting dinner settle in, and then made some of the strangest and sweetest S’mores I’d ever eaten. The marshmallows are pastel colored with different colored middles. And the cookies were really thick and very sugary.
After some more time around the fire chatting, we all eventually made our ways back to our rooms for sleeping. Tomorrow was going to be a long, exciting day.