If you ever go to Puerto Vallarta, be sure to find your nearest Vallarta Adventures rep and sign up for the Outdoor Adventure. It is definitely worth your money. Though everyone’s experience is different, here’s my account of the day as it unfolded. Have a good laugh, I know a few who already have. I ony hope that I can write the story as well as I can tell it.
It started at 11:15am. We took a cab to the Vallarta Adventures HQ (85 Pesos), and signed a waiver agreeing that we will do exactly as told by the guides. We were also previously advised not to take cameras or valuables, as they would be useless. At 11:30 (or so) about twelve of us were piled into a speed boat and shipped across to the main port in Puerto Vallarta where another 18 people were picked up at the docks. From there it was a 45min ride to the a little town called Garbova (I think).
We were then split into two groups of 15 people each and piled into old military trucks. And when I say old, I mean putt putt bang! We were advised to sit 7 people per side. Once all in, one guy was left standing, “Uh…where do I sit?” he asked nervously. Then the driver closed the tail gate and there was another seat, hopefully that gate is closed properly!
So we all buckled in, then looked up an saw handles hanging from the roof, that’s just a scary thought in itself, If I am buckled in, why do I need a handle? And with a putt putt bang, we were off! Up the winding city streets, and down the highway, off onto a dirt side road, and we realized why the handles were important. Talk about a bumpy ride! Over rocks, and through a stream, up hill, down hill, the truck swaying dangerously from one side to the other. Okay, maybe not dangerously, but it was a little sketchy here and there.
A half hour later we were backed into a parking space at the outdoor adventure starting point. All together, we were told it was last chance to have a bathroom break for the next three hours. Also, we were asked to place all valuables, sunglasses, and anything that must stay dry into a canvas bag to be stored for later. I of course hear this and say, “can I keep my sunglasses? They’re prescription!”
“Of course, we don’t want you to fly into a tree!” Then we were each fitted into a bandana, helmet, and harness.
“Wha’s yer name?” One of the guides looks to my new husband, “Jon, you have big head, need a bigger helmet over here! Where you from? Ah, Canada, what you do there? Tortillas? Oh, little tortilla man! That’s what we call you today!”
Once we were all geared up and ready to go, they led us up a small path, and asked to sit on a bench. This is where we were provided instructions on how to ride a donkey. The guide starts with, “the donkeys, they don’t speak the english. They are mexican donkeys, so you gonna learn some spanish today!” To get the donkeys to go, we are to kick and kiss the air, to get them to stop, we pull on the reigns and say “Woah!” Pretty simple, right? This is where you are really gonna start laughing.
Each person is matched up with a donkey by size and personality (supposedly). I get picked last, they looked at me, looked at the three or four donkeys left, back at me, then pull out a quiet shy looking one. They help me onto the donkey, and off we go. Not so bad at first. I am at the end of the pack, save for the guide following behind, to make sure everyone makes it to the top. I see Jon up ahead, no problem, I can handle this. Kiss, kiss, and off we go!
Suddenly I realized, they matched me up with a smart-ass! No pun intended! Damn ass took off like a bat outta hell! “Woah, woah!” Finally, she slows down, right up behind the middle guide, my donkey literally kissing his ass.
“Senorita, your donkeys too fast…” the guide says with a laugh. I apologize to him, as I do not know how to make my donkey go any slower. You know what works? When the donkey in front of you lets one rip. “Sorry amiga! One too many tacos for this one last night!” OMG!!!!!!
Next time we are on flat ground, I look back and noticed that somewhere along the line we managed to pass Jon. I look back ahead and zoom! Off we go running again! This time I don’t have so much control and I hear a few of the guides behind me sounding worried, “Amiga, Amiga!” It’s okay, I got control again, just in time to be helped off the dumb ass, again, no pun intended. Then it was a small hike up some steps and seated on benches again. This time it was to be briefed about our harness equipment.
Super easy! We don’t have to worry about any part of our equipment, no touchy! The guides will clip us off and on all zip lines and ropes, all we need to worry about is having fun! FUN? Jon’s the one who convinced me that I would be okay, but I am still not sure at this point. And I am still trying to recover from that donkey ride!
Among their instructions they suggest we keep our right hand up behind our head to break and to keep us from spinning. Also, never put your left hand in front of your equipment when zipping down, unless you don’t want to keep your fingers, duh! And we’re off to the first line. Wire rope, 1000 ft long and approx 100 ft up. “Don’t break” they say, “just let yourself go!” Jon and I are the last two to go, and gentleman that he is, suggests I go first! Great, thanks hun! “Are you ready amiga? No? Off you go!”
In moments I am across, not so bad? Maybe next time I keep my eyes open. I thought I was okay, until they reminded me “there’s only seven more.” SEVEN!? Oh dear god, and those are all rope zip lines, not as fast, but rope. I don’t know about this… The next two make me a little more confident. Especially considering one of the guides told me that I was one of the only ones to make it across the first without spinning out of control. Oh, and BTW, throughout the trip, we are to keep an eye open for a guy in a orange/yellow helmet. His name is Oscar and he is our paparazzi for the day! You can only imagine the images he got of me.
So, we get to the next one…imagine my suprise when they go to hook me on, and it is STRAIGHT DOWN! I can tell you, as much as I didn’t enjoy the first one, this was AWFUL! At least it didn’t take too long, look on the bright side, right?! Across another zip line, then its over a wooden bridge, made of two by fours strapped together with rope railings on either side, down a few steps, and we’re at the rappelling portion of the trip. I didn’t realize I signed up for last 10lbs bootcamp!
Waterfall rappell. 90ft down. Hooked up, and told to lean back into the harness. Keep right hand near ass to break, feet apart, and walk normally. Normally? Are you kidding me? There’s nothing normal about walking backwards at a 90 degree angle next to a waterfall. I get about 6ft from the bottom when the guide yells, “Ok, now jump Amanda!” I jumped into the water, which by this point was ALOT colder than me. “Swim to me Amanda!” I am kicking with all my might, but the waterfall just keeps pulling me back, the guide shakes his head, starts to laugh, then says, “okay, take my hand.”
Up and out of the water, it’s off to another two zip lines, whew almost done! Across another bridge, and we are ready to…wait for it…Freefall Rappell, 90 ft. Same as the waterfall, only no walking, just let yourself drop slowly. It’s okay if you lose grip with your break hand, the person at the bottom can stop you! Right, that makes me feel good. Jon went first this time. Then me, according to him, I took a LONG time getting down, so they told him to go on ahead without me.
Of course when I got to the bottom and he had gone on ahead without me I got mad. He should have told them “we’re newlyweds, if I leave her, I die!” It’s okay though, not as bad as the thought that occured to me whilst I meandered through the woods by myself. I am pretty sure that the two guides behind me are making fun of me in Spanish, “silly white girl can’t keep up…noob!” They were laughing pretty hard about something, and I am pretty sure it wasn’t a knock-knock joke.
Up and across, and up and across…to the very top and one last zip line. They called it Homerun, two zip lines side by side. And they were sending couples down. They figured because girls are smaller, and therefore move slower than the guys, they should give them each a push! It was a race dontcha know? Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty sure I beat Jon!
Finally another lengthy jaunt through the forest, through the winding river about a half dozen times, and back to base camp. Once there, we took off all our gear and returned the bandanas (I had hoped to keep mine, but no). We sat for a “de-briefing” and to discuss what was our favorite parts. Mind you, no one said the donkey ride. Mine was the zip lining, after all that, it was my favorite part! Imagine that!
We stopped for a drink and some nachos, paid for our pic ($15 US for one pic, $30 US for all pics of one person, or $58 for all pics of couples). I only got one pic, and afterwards wished I had paid the $30, but life goes on. Once our truck was ready, we piled back in, again 7 to each side, and one on the tailgate. Then just as we were about to leave, one of the employees decided to hitch a ride to the bus stop down the highway. He must’ve been used to riding in the truck standing up, cause he didn’t seem to have any trouble with the bumpy ride back down the mountain towards the highway.
Once back at the docks, waiting for the other group and the boat to return, we sat down in a hut. Some drank a few cervesa, while others, like us, just sat around and discussed who was from where and what they did. By that point Jon and I had both looked at our knees, Oh My! Remember the speed boat ride there? Apparently we BOTH forgot to put sunscreen on our knees. We now have matching sunburns from lower thigh to mid knee. OUCH!
Back into the speed boat, dropped the other adventurers off at the Main Port, and back to head office. We returned to our hotel by about 6pm, went for a swim, dinner, then off to bed early! What an adventurous day, I would do it again in a heartbeat!