Matt, Mistina and I set off for Llacanora on Sunday afternoon with the goal of finding the waterfalls near the town. Matt and I had previously embarked on this trip but were sidetracked by the cave art of Callac Puma. A worthy diversion, but this time we wanted to reach the waterfalls. Mistina, a teacher from Nebraska, was game to join us and was tasked with keeping us on track to our final destination. What a great time! It was about a 5 mile walk on picturesque country roads from our house to the small town of Llacanora. Once in Llacanora, we saw a sign for the waterfalls, but the directions subsequently became unclear so we kept asking everyone we saw, which included a guy walking down the street, an old lady minding a store, a lady who was actually there to go to the falls for the first time and didn’t know where to go either (we told her once we found out) and a couple of guys getting drunk sitting outside a shop (on our return trip, one guy was passed out and the other had inexplicably removed his shirt). You follow the the road above Llacanora and eventually turn left down an unmarked dirt path. It’s about another kilometer to the first falls. We never figured out what is referenced by the 1000 meters on the sign – perhaps the turn off.
Once on the path, we knew we were on the right track as we passed “tourist restaurants” and knick-knack stores. Eventually, it became even more obvious due to the amount of other people enjoying a day in the countryside. The paths were well traveled and generally easy to navigate. We arrived at Hembra Falls and were impressed.
We kept climbing upward and eventually arrived at the even more spectacular Macho Falls, which are about 30 meters high. Due to their size, we couldn’t get a photo of the entire falls with our i-phones.
On our way back, we decided to walk on the other side of the river. We arrived at this aqueduct, which we either needed to cross or go back down and around to cross the river. Mistina mustered up her courage and went across.
I took one step and chickened out. A man standing below starting shouting up words of encouragement and succeeded in shaming me into crossing. I started across in a most undignified fashion as my coach yelled specific instructions (in Spanish) to me. I froze at the wire I had to step over, a maneuver that required me to actually stand up a little.
Under the direction of my drill sargent, I made it across and then Matt came skipping over. Okay, maybe he wasn’t skipping, but he certainly had no fear – note that he is walking on the edges of the aqueduct and not with his feet in the middle!
We left Llacanora, but not before watching two little kids zoom down a steep hill on a skateboard. The younger one clearly wanted us as an audience and gave a little wave as they set off and then again upon arriving at the bottom. Super cute. We headed back on the road to Baños and stopped at one of the restaurants along the way. These “campestre” or countryside restaurants are very popular and usually open only on the the weekends. They generally have large grounds with play areas for kids, huge tables set up under multiple pavilions and a nice, family feel. We chose one that in a valley that had about 50 cars in the parking lot and cheerful music and felt we made the right choice when Matt and Mistina saw several of their students with their families. We only had one glitch when the waiter tried to seat us in a table off in a alcove. I think he meant it kindly, but nobody puts these gringos in the corner and we asked to sit with the rest of the clientele, a request that was granted. Unfortunately, they were out of about half of the items on the menu as we arrived around 3:00, but Misitina had fried trout, Matt had grilled beef and I had a delicious stewed kid (as in baby goat, people!) dish. We ended our meal with picarones, fried squash/sweet potato doughnuts, and as we had already walked about 7 miles, walked back up to the road and caught a cab home!