It started reasonably enough. There´s a cool waterfall near Santa Rita, a small town near Copan, and you would really like to see it, he said to me. We will walk in the water some. It is a fairly easy hike. But I nearly wrecked my knees at the national park near Gracias, I said, because of all the climbing and descending. This is nothing like that, he said. I was convinced. Tomorrow we would go for a few hours to see the waterfall, swim, and walk a bit. Oh by the way, he said, I will bring my climbing rope. And do you have something to keep your camera dry with?
I really should have thought a little more about this. But silly me, yearning for adventures, I just thought the climbing rope was for just in case there was an emergency--like carrying matches in the woods--and keeping the camera dry, well, there might be a little water spray here and there.
However it started, I was now committed. Right after class I headed to the meeting place. There were seven other people going, too, and all were about half my age--students from various places, a lot of
young women and one guy. So when we got to Santa Rita, the guide Jesse says it is only a 20 minute walk to the mouth of the canyon where we will enter the canyon and start the adventure. Of course the 20 minute walk stretched into 35, and it was all uphill along a bumpy dirt road. And it was steamy hot, too, mostly without shade. I was relieved when we got to the mouth of the canyon.
Then our guide says, ¨from here on out we´re going to get really wet. So make ready to get wet. And the security man (a local person with us) will carry anything you don´t want to get wet and meet us in 15 minutes downstream.¨ I´m getting a little suspicious at this point, but unloaded my camera, kept my sandals, and gave the security man my extra clothes and water bottle. I grabbed a walking stick, which broke 5 minutes later. We started trudging on the slippery rocks through the water. There were big boulders, no path, a few obstacles. I was rather proud that I was keeping up with everyone.
Then we reached it. The first ¨technical¨decent. It
was a drop of about six feet from one level to the next, which involved passing first through an impossible meeting of boulders where the water fiercely flowed, then dropping down below into the pool. So I´m first. With my slippery sandals. And Jesse keeps urging me own, now put your foot here, and your hand there, and just get down there. First thing I do is get my behind wedged in the place of the meeting of the boulders, where I´m acting as a plug for the rush of water behind me. I´m stuck I yell. Everyone else is watching. Jesse says, just move. I´m stuck, I say. A ridiculous situation. I finally manage to wiggle my butt around, and scrape along the boulders and unplug the flow. Of course the next move is impossible, and down I go into the pool. Jesse tries to catch me, he falls in too. We both emerge. Yes, we´re having fun!!!
And so goes the rest of the 15 minute walk, which turns into an hour and 15 minutes. Because there are more maneuvers like that, some even harder, and Jesse has to guide each person through it. One woman can´t
swim. Another has really long lanky legs which helps her grab onto the next rocks. Half of us shed our flip flops and sandals and use our bare feet, believing that we have prehensile toes. It is a bit easier after I do this, but then I have to walk on the rough bottom of the river.
I am concentrating so much on getting over the next waterfall that I don´t take much time to enjoy this interesting slot canyon. Dark grey rocks all around, perhaps 40 feet deep, covered by a canopy of vines and greenery above. It would be a death trap in a flash flood, I think.
One maneuver involves passing under a waterfall, and quickly ducking under a rock in order to move into the next pool. Another brings out the climbing rope, which Jesse ties to a log. We shimmy down a tunnnel of boulders, holding the rope, and we have to lean back on the vertical surface of the rock face, water flowing down, and lower ourselves into the pool. I smack into the rock face at the bottom, instead of simply stepping down into the pool.
I watch a few
of the people following me. They emerge from behind rocks through narrow passages, legs dangling and contorting, searching for the next foothold.
Finally we pass through a half dozen ¨tests¨ and reach the first goal. The jumping rock. Local kids are fearlessly hurling themselves from the top, into the deep pool below. I decline to jump. I´m not into adrenaline anymore. Some in the group jump repeatedly. Have fun now, I think, you are young with supple bones.
After a rest, we move on to the next spot, over a ¨trail¨ of sorts. Up and down, I let everyone pass me so I don´t hold anyone up.
The next waterfall we view from above. There is not enough time to swim in the pool far below. A little later, we exit the canyon downstream.
On the ride back to Copan, I sit with Jesse who is laughing about how long the tour took. He and his friends would take half as much time to traverse the water. Our group used more time than he expected.
So ended the Adventure that wasn´t supposed to be. I returned home tired, my feet were banged up, my hips
scraped up from acting as a human plug, and I was a little sunburned. But glad nonetheless for the adventure.
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