FBT Day 1 - Waterfall Hike

Sunday 2.14.10

A four hour car drive and a one hour wait after a 7:40am time of departure landed us at our Field Based Training site in Chicascó, Baja Verapaz. We ate a lunch of rice and chicken and salsa at the local comedor (like a restaurant but out of somebody’s house, and without a menu) with, of course, all the tortillas you may ever want. After lunch we headed over to the tourist office/visitors center where our Peace Corps Volunteer host Tony works. They briefed us on the rules for descending the trail to a waterfall and then set out on our 7-8km hike.

The day started out absolutely gorgeous, no clouds, warm but not uncomfortable, and a slight breeze. The hike started as a steep and muddy descent down to a valley through which a small stream ran through. We then climbed back up the broccoli farmed hills of the town, only to start descending once again into a foggy cloud forest. This was my first experience in this sort of climate and it was really beautiful. The pictures do not do it due justice. The closest thing I could compare it to is a redwood forest littered with ferns and other low-light plants. Mosses draped all the trees and it was often difficult to see further than a few switchbacks ahead. We saw two waterfalls, one small one and one big one, though the small one looked larger because we could actually see all of it. The last portion of the hike to the big falls was incredibly muddy, slippery, and steep. I made it all the way with only a minor spill and a couple scratches. I could hear the water crashing and smell the fresh clean mist far before I could actually see any running water.

When we finally got there, people that were 10 feet away seemed like they were 100 because the immense amount of mist dampened all the colors and edges of figures. I lost my depth perception in the mist. It was beautiful. As soon as I was able I dropped my pack and shoes and began exploring. I felt so much more sure-footed in my bear feet than in my mud covered shoes. The rocks were either covered in moss or covered in mud so were still pretty dangerous; which didn’t deter me at all from wandering off. I nearly reached the top when I was met by two other guys from our group. We were 100% soaked all the way through our clothes by the time we reached the top from all the mist and backsplash of the waterfall. It was worth it.

It was painful to open my eyes and look up because of the volume and velocity of the spray coming down. Even when I did look up I couldn’t even think of seeing the top of the fall due to all the fog. The visual and auditory input didn’t match up. I was hearing this incredible majestically loud and natural noise, yet it appeared to be coming out of nowhere, flowing into nowhere once again. The walk down slope was much scarier than up; but again I made it down without spilling. I walked the entire way back up the trail soaking wet and loved every step.

For dinner we ate again at the local comedor: beans, eggs, and tortillas, which were okay but nothing incredibly special. After dinner we visited Tony’s house and then he come over to our bunkhouse to hang out, play cards, and play music. It was a really fun night. We had three guitars, a flute, and a mouth piano. I like this group of people. I feel accepted and liked and respected, the combination of which creates a pretty wonderful feeling. Plus I’m having fun which is great too.

Charlas received today: .5 hours

Charlas involved in this week: .5 hours

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