Saturday, June 29, 2013

La Paz ( the peace) waterfalls eased my worries

"The best part is yet to come" said Alberto, the guide for the package tour.  "The waterfalls are the best."

I figured there is always a little bit of an exaggeration in everything any tour guide says and, thus, I discounted his assertion.

It was a pleasant walk through the cloudforest to reach the waterfalls.  A peaceful walk, indeed.

By now, we strangers on the tour bus were a lot more comfortable with each other.  We talked a lot more.  A whole lot of interesting small talk. With the Colombian-American about fried bananas. About goulash with the Hungarian-American. About California and life with the couple from the Sierras.

And then I heard.  The sound of water.

I love waterfalls.  After all, right from my toddler days, I have been to the falls at Courtallam, which was only a couple of miles away from grandmother's home.  We could never have enough of the falls though--we had to return to Neyveli and get back to school.

As the sound of water started getting louder and louder, the more excited I became.  And then, there it was!

Alberto was there to remind me that if this looked fabulous, then I would be blown away with the next one.  I started thinking that he might not be exaggerating, after all.  Perhaps no hyperbole in his guide talk.  Maybe he is one of those rare, honest guides.  I felt a tad guilty that I had hastily dismissed his earlier comments on "the best part is yet to come."

I chatted with Roberto the most.  "The girls in Costa Rica are beautiful" he said. I agreed with him.  "Here and in Cuba, too.  Latin bodies with a European flavor" he added.  I suppose if I were his age, I too would be analyzing women like that.  With age, everything takes on a different perspective.  Beauty is in the age of the beholder.

From the bend, I could see many of my tour group travelers appreciating the waterfalls from the observation deck.  I still had no idea what was in store for me.

And then I reached that deck.

It was magnificent. Awesome. Nope, all those are terrible understatements.

No photo of mine can ever capture what I saw and experienced there.

"Be careful if you want to go down there" Alberto warned us.  I removed my glasses and placed them in a pocket of my cargo shorts. And climbed down.

With every step, the spray from the falls increased.  It was delightful. Soothing. Comforting. Welcoming. Peaceful. I was overjoyed.

I reached the railing at the end. I could feel a lot of the spray. I felt the waterfalls washing away my pain. My disappointments. My problems. My worries. I stood there with my arms stretched outwards on the sides.  I remember feeling one with the waterfalls. There was a strange sense of oneness with the world.

Perhaps that is what the faithful feel when they go for a holy dip in the Ganges. The river washes away the problems if they feel that oneness. Oneness with the water. With the world.

I had always speculated, tongue-in-cheek, that most of my travels are my own versions of pilgrimages. In this case, it seemed so much to be the case.  It was bliss as I stood there getting damp from the spray from the falls.

But, of course, all good things come to an end, eventually. I walked up to Alberto. "Muy bueno" I told him. "Gracias."  If only I knew the Spanish word for "awesome."

It was mostly a silent bus as we drove back to San Jose.  Perhaps it was the exhaustion for some.  Not for me. I felt exhilarated. Re-energized. Revitalized. I reviewed some of the photos I had clicked. I could not believe I had been to all those places and experienced all those that I did.

I am an incredibly lucky guy.  I hope my lucky streak will continue. For a very long time.

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