Tuesday, May 26, 2009

pictures impossible

I went to two waterfalls today.

The first one was called Cascade du Chien (Dog Waterfall :) and since there wasn’t a trail down to the base we just took pictures from the road. Gorgeous. Then we drove up the mountain some more to see an overlook that provided a beautiful panoramic view of the east side of the island. The ocean was a blue ribbon under distant white puffies. Everything looked small and clean, like most things do from far away.

The second waterfall, Cascade de la Mer, was a 30 minute walk through sugar cane fields and tropical forest that made me think of dinosaurs. When we got there we ate lunch on the rocks and stripped down to our swimsuits. There was a waterfall in the distance that I watched from the edge of the river flowing from it, watching how heavy the water looked as it plummeted into the basin. After lunch we had the plan to get in and swim out into the basin and around a rock wall to see the sister waterfall that you couldn't see unless you swam: which means no cameras. But when I put my feet in, I nearly decided to bail. It was so cold, it was like ice water. It rained yesterday and the day before, so there was a lot of it, moving fast, and freezing. But everyone plunged in, swimming like robots from cold muscles. I was left there, knee deep and undecided. I started to feel left behind, which gave me the final push into the water. Stepping on a slick rock and losing my balance didn’t hurt either.

I’m not sure if it was an abundance of endorphins or adrenaline cascading through my veins from the cold , but I found myself laughing from joy at how absolutely beautiful, absolutely striking this place was. The rocks, the walls, the moss, the height of the falls, the thunder of water meeting water; everything was huge, precise, and with color.

It was awesome.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Excerpt from an email:

I went on a hike to a waterfall, Cascade de Chaudron yesterday. It’s actually closed to the public because it’s dangerous but everyone that knows about it still hikes it. When we were thirty minutes away from the falls it started raining. The rain soon turned into a torrential downpour and I was really glad I had eyebrows. Even WITH eyebrows there was so much rain flowing into my eyes; I was constantly wiping them while trying not to fall off the narrow path into the dwarfing ravine. Even though it was raining, the place was absolutely lush and beautiful I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.

We got to the last leg of the hike where you have to walk along a narrow foot bridge to some rock stairs and down to the basin and we heard a huge crash in the trees. I immediately thought, “What the hell,” while spinning on my heels just in time to see a boulder the size of a car door crash down the side of the mountain on the other side of the falls. It rolled and bounced like it weighed nothing right into the basin making the water explode like a bomb. All of us stood there speechless for a moment and then the two boys that were going first turned around and Luke said, we’ve got to get out of here. We all started to go back the way we came and my mind was in definite survival mode, staying close to the rock wall, keeping my ears open, aware of all noises, moving quickly, but still being aware of my footing. It was kind of nuts thinking about how random everything is, because I could be dead, just like that. We like to think it’s not “just like that,” but it really is. Kind of cool.

Leaves you, supposedly, in a place where you can’t be pissed off at the world for someone dying. It’s just random. I thought about that on the way back to town on the bus. And it felt really strange getting off the bus downtown, completely drenched, after rushing and rushing and fearing and thinking. Stepping onto a dry street where it hadn’t rained and no one was thinking about death. Everyone was just walking, eating, talking, while I walked in hiking boots, my toes squishing water out onto the pavement leaving footprint footprint footprint wondering what it’s all worth.

Apparently it doesn’t take all that much to get me thinking about the big picture. A boulder in the woods should do the trick, or a spider as big as my hand 2 inches from my head. That freaking spider today, before the rock fell, scared me more than the potential landslide to tell you the truth. I’m usually pretty good about spiders, but this one I didn’t get to see: Luke walked through a spider web, so I stepped back to not get tangled in it myself. When Taiki and Luke turned they both pointed behind me and yelled simultaneously while Luke grabbed my arm and pushed me down. Haha-- writing that makes it seems crazy, but they scared the living daylights out of me. I squatted and put my hands over my head-- I didn’t know what the heck was going on. It was such a rush of adrenaline I was literally about to cry from my “flight” response. Whoo-wee.

But everything is A-okay and I'm alive and well. It's raining again today. I'm not sure why --it's kind of strange for it to rain like this. But for the remaining 3 weeks I'm here I'm going to hike and beach and relax.