Doesn’t a morning hike to a waterfall sound absolutely, positively sublime? Arriving in a sleepy pueblo and taking a peaceful walk on a tree-lined path, maybe passing a corn field or two, and who knows? maybe there are cute little monkeys in those trees, and butterflies, ooooh mariposas, their delicate electric blue wings flitting and gliding gracefully around bright green leaves, gently leading you through a strenuous, yet safe hike, with the reward of a beautiful cascade of fresh mountain water that beckons you to splash in its’ pool. Yeah, well, that is so NOT how my hike went.
I was super excited when I woke up this morning and the sun was shining. My actual birthday day was a bit of a bust…bad choice in transportation to Volcan Santa Ana and the weather just would not cooperate so I couldn’t climb up to the crater like I wanted to. I was on the volcano, but couldn’t see a thing. And then, more torrential rain stopped any further ascent. Boo. I should have known when the day started with an earthquake that I should have just worked and taken Friday off. Yup, that’s right, I was quaked out of my bed on my 50th birthday, the bottom of a bunk bed no less (yeah, yeah, I know, why was I sleeping in a bunk bed? Well, because, there are three beds in this room and it was the biggest one I didn’t have to climb!). The entire apartment shook for what seemed like 5 minutes, but I’m sure it was only a few seconds. I thought “Oh my god, is this an earthquake? Or is there a just big ass truck barreling through El Tunco?” Then I thought “Wait, I probably shouldn’t stay in this bed no matter what, that top bed might collapse and crush me.” And that’s when I ran. For a doorway…is that where you’re supposed to run?…and I just stood there for an eternity. I could just see the headline “American Tourist Trapped Between Bunk Beds, Crushed on Milestone Birthday”. Sorta convinced it wasn’t my imagination, I googled “earthquake in El Salvador Today” and bam, instant information! Still not sure if the earthquake occurred here or if what I felt was from aftershocks from a pretty strong one on on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, but just so thankful there were no fatalities and no significant damage. Everyone I spoke with said it was definitely un terremoto and it was felt everywhere. Now I can just think of the whole thing as quite profound, you know a little mid-life shake up, rather than being devastated. And I also found a cool new website to be obsessed with, earthquaketrack.com, and more specifically Today’s Earthquakes in El Salvador. Apparently there have been 5 earthquakes here in the past 7 days. That is loco.
So after a slightly disappointing volcano day out on Thursday, I was so psyched for this hike. AND, it wasn’t raining! Tamanique is a small town close to El Tunco that boasts a good hike down to impressive waterfalls. I wanted to do something adventurous and life-affirming—something espectacular—for my milestone. Well, I certainly got what I asked for. It was spectacular alright. From the very first time I fell on my ass going down to the very last moment I fell on my ass coming back up. Picture this. Me, in shorts and a tank top over my bathing suit, hiking boots and polka dot ankle socks, medium-sized bottle of water in my back pocket, camera bag and small purse slung diagonally across my chest. I might have to draw one of my stick figure pictures because it doesn’t sound that awful as I’m describing it, and I don’t have any before after pics, but it was a disaster. It was like a Saturday Night Live skit. I might as well have been wearing one of those gigantic front and back fanny packs, or one of those hydrating baseball caps with straws coming out of both sides of my mouth. I’m not even worried about how it looked so much as why would I impair my already questionable ability to keep my balance by encasing my body with multiple annoying bags. I usually bring a small pack and shove everything I need in it so I have my arms free and nothing bouncing off the front of me.
I’m not even going to blame it on the slippery mud. Or the steep descent. Or the endless amount of precipitous cliffs that kept begging me to slide off. I JUST HAVE TO STOP DOING THIS SHIT. There was one point when my guide (who was probably between 22 and 25) had a look of sheer terror on his face when I was down on the ground for the umpteenth time. He had that fear-face that people get have when they’re in a situation that might require a rescue helicopter. I honestly couldn’t stop laughing when I saw his expression, which I’m sure didn’t make him feel any better. Poor kid. In all fairness, he fell too, only because it was very slippery and any normal person would have fallen maybe once or twice. But I was averaging a slapstick fall every 7 minutes. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I fell like 10 times. Easily.
Well, I did make it down and back up again without falling off a cliff, miraculously. I had mud everywhere, in my bathing suit bottoms, in my nails, I think even on my teeth. At one point, my shorts just fell down. Yup, they just fell down. I think from the weight of my water bottle in the back pocket. Or maybe they just gave up. The waterfalls were really stunning and I got a peek at the really high one and I did have a wonderful time swimming in the pool and watching those more adventurous dive into the water. And I chatted and frolicked with a few friendly locals who shared their jocotes and mangos with me. I’d like to say it was all worth it, that I felt like I accomplished something like I did when I turned 40, but, well, nope it really wasn’t and nope I didn’t. I did feel bruised and overheated and scared my guide so there is that. Look, I can chat and frolic anywhere, waterfall schmaterfall. You seen one, you seen ’em all.
Lots and lotsa pics!